Belmont Club

Still I look to find a reason to believe

The two videos about the Waxman-Markey climate bill after the Read More are a study in contrasts. The first is by Glenn Beck and Peter Schiff and the second from Amy Smart of Environment America.  The Beck-Schiff video features two men talking at length about reasons why Waxman-Markey is bad; why in fact it is a tax.  The second video is much shorter than the first  It features a beautiful woman and gorgeously photographed scenes calling not only for Waxman-Markey to be passed, but to be made more draconian, more intrusive, more punitive. She gives almost no reasons why any of her proposals would be good or even reasonable.  Rather, she presents a set of bullet points which are calls to action as if she assumes that you are already convinced of why these actions are all desirable. She ends with the challenge: ‘we have the power, let us use it’. It is, by objective standards, a fascist message based on no given reason. But as propaganda it works and it’s important to discover why.

  1. While Beck and Schiff are still out introducing their product to the public (their product being a rejection of a tax), the Environment America video is already making a closing sales pitch.  Amy Smart can do this because the product has already been marketed extensively in various forms and has been for years. Save the Whales, Save the Earth, Global Warming, Big Oil=War, etc, etc. There are no reasons left to give. So Environment America can hire a woman with the right looks, the right appeal and the right name, to make focus-group tested closing points. All this, while Beck and Schiff are just getting started.
  2. Environment America has reduced their message to a level that an idiot can act on. They even have the slogans appear in the background. By contrast, you have to understand what Beck and Schiff are getting at.
  3. Environment America has outlets and channels ready to capture the simple button pushes of their audience and focus them on politicians. Where exactly do you go if you agree with Beck and Schiff?

Glenn Beck and Peter Schiff

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Environment America

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It’s all basic marketing. In fact it’s all basic propaganda. According to Wikipedia, Hitler explained it all in Mein Kampf.  He wrote:

Propaganda must always address itself to the broad masses of the people. (…) All propaganda must be presented in a popular form and must fix its intellectual level so as not to be above the heads of the least intellectual of those to whom it is directed. (…) The art of propaganda consists precisely in being able to awaken the imagination of the public through an appeal to their feelings, in finding the appropriate psychological form that will arrest the attention and appeal to the hearts of the national masses. The broad masses of the people are not made up of diplomats or professors of public jurisprudence nor simply of persons who are able to form reasoned judgment in given cases, but a vacillating crowd of human children who are constantly wavering between one idea and another. (…) The great majority of a nation is so feminine in its character and outlook that its thought and conduct are ruled by sentiment rather than by sober reasoning. This sentiment, however, is not complex, but simple and consistent. It is not highly differentiated, but has only the negative and positive notions of love and hatred, right and wrong, truth and falsehood. …

Propaganda must not investigate the truth objectively and, in so far as it is favourable to the other side, present it according to the theoretical rules of justice; yet it must present only that aspect of the truth which is favourable to its own side. (…) The receptive powers of the masses are very restricted, and their understanding is feeble. On the other hand, they quickly forget. Such being the case, all effective propaganda must be confined to a few bare essentials and those must be expressed as far as possible in stereotyped formulas. These slogans should be persistently repeated until the very last individual has come to grasp the idea that has been put forward. (…) Every change that is made in the subject of a propagandist message must always emphasize the same conclusion. The leading slogan must of course be illustrated in many ways and from several angles, but in the end one must always return to the assertion of the same formula.

A feeling of outrage would be the worst possible way to respond to the message of Environment America. A better way would be to understand the power of their marketing methods. After all, Waxman-Markey passed the House and reasons have nothing to do with it.


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