The Formation of Mens Attitudes
TRANSLATED FROM THE FRENCH BT KONRAD KELLEN AND JEAN LERNEB
WITH AN INTRODUCTION BT KONRAD ZELLEN
VINTAGE BOOKS A DIVISION OF RANDOM HOUSE NEW YORK
VINTAGE BOOKS EDITION. FEBRUARY »973 Copyright 1965 by Alfred A. Knopf. Inc.
AÜ rights reserved under Intematiimul and Pan-American Copyright Conventions. Published in the UnitedStates by Random House, Inc., New York, and simultaneously in Canada by Random House of Canada Limited. Toronto. Originally published in French as Propagandes bv Librairie Annand Colin. Copyright © 196a by Max Leclcre et Cie, proprietors of Librairie Annand Colin. This edition was first published by Alfred A. Knopf. Inc., on October 25. 1968.
Library of Congrus Cataloging in Publication Data Ellul.Jacques.
Heprint of the 1965 ed.
(HM263.E413 1973] 301154 72-ÍS053 ISBN 0-394-7I&74-7
MANUFACTURED IN THE UNITED STATE* OF AMERICA
% 38 37 36 35 34
Jacques Ellul’s view of propaganda and his approach to the study of propaganda are new. The principal difference between his thought edifice and most other literature on propaganda isthat Ellul regard« propaganda as a sociological phenomenon rather than as something made by certain people for certain purposes. Propaganda exists and thrives; it is the Siamese twin of our technological society. Only in the technological society can there be anything of the type and order of magnitude of modem propaganda, which is with us forever; and only with the all-pervading effects that Sowfrom propaganda can the technological society hold itself together and further expand.
Most people are easy prey for propaganda, Ellul says, because of their firm but entirely erroneous conviction that it is composed only of lies and “tall stories” and that, conversely, what is true cannot be propaganda. But modem propaganda has long disdained the ridiculous lies of past and outmoded forms ofpropaganda. It operates instead with many different kinds of truth— half truth, limited truth, truth out of context. Even Goebbels always insisted that Wehrmacht communiques be as accurate as possible.
A second basic misconception that makes people vulnerable to propaganda is the notion that it serves only to change opinions.
That is one of its aims, hut a limited, subordinate one. Much moreimportantly, it aims to intensify existing trends, to sharpen and focus them, and, above all, to lead rnen to action (or, when it is directed at immovable opponents, to non-action through terror or discouragement, to prevent them from interfering). Therefore Ellul distinguishes various forms of propaganda and calls his book Propagandes—that plural is one of the keys to his concept. The mosttrenchant distinction made by Ellul is between agitation propaganda and integration propaganda. The former leads men from mere resentment to rebellion; the latter aims at making them adjust themselves to desired patterns. The two types rely on entirely different means. Both exist all over the world. Integration propaganda is needed especially for the technological society to flourish, and itstechnological means—mass media among them —in turn make such integration propaganda possible.
A related point, central in Ellul’s thesis, is that modem propaganda cannot work without “éducation”; he thus reverses the widespread notion that education is the best prophylactic against propaganda. On the contrary* he says, education, or what usually goes by that word in the modem world, is the absoluteprerequisite for propaganda. In fact, education is largely identical with what Ellul calls “pre-propaganda”—the conditioning of minds with vast amounts of incoherent information, already dispensed for ulterior purposes and posing as "facts’* and as "education.1* EUul follows through by designating intellectuals as virtually the most vulnerable of all to modem propaganda, for three reasons: (1) they...