Let's begin with the first modern government propaganda. That was by U.S. resident Woodrow Wilson's government. Woodrow Wilson was elected President in 1916 on he slogan "Peace Without Victory". That was right in the middle of World War I. The population was extremely pacifistic and saw no reason to become involved in a European war. Wilson's government was actually committed to war and had to do something about it. They created a government propaganda commission, named the Creel Commission, which succeeded within six months in turning a pacifistic population into a hysterical, war-mongering population... a population that wanted to destroy everything German, tear the Germans limb from limb, go to war, and save the world. That was a major achievement, and it led to a further achievement. Right at that time and after the war, the same techniques were used to whip up a hysterical Communist (Red) Scare-- which succeeded pretty much in destroying unions and eliminating such dangerous problems as freedom of the press and freedom of political thought. There was very strong support from the media and the business establishment, which in fact organized much of this. In general, it was a great success. Among those who participated actively and enthusiastically in Wilson's war were the progressive intellectuals, a circle that took great pride, as you can see from their own writings at the time, in having shown that what they called the "more intelligent members of society" (themselves) were able to drive a reluctant population into a war by terrifying them and eliciting fanaticism. The means used were extensive. For example, there was a lot of fabrication of atrocities by the Germans-- Belgian babies with their arms torn off, all sorts of awful things that you still read in history books. Much of it was invented by the British propaganda ministry whose goal was to (as they put it) "direct the thought of most of the world". But most crucially they wanted to control the thought of the more intelligent members of the United States, who would disseminate the propaganda that they were concocting and convert the pacifistic country to wartime hysteria. That worked. It worked very well. And it taught a lesson: State propaganda, when supported by the educated classes, and when no deviation is permitted from it, can have a big affect. It was a lesson learned by Hitler and many others, and it has been pursued to this day.
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