Why does propaganda sometimes stick — and sometimes not?
Consider the Catholic kids who got strict Catholic dogma in the 1940s and 1950s. Most of them moderated or turned away from Catholicism altogether. While the nuns succeeded in teaching them to read and write, they couldn’t stop them from thinking for themselves.
Yet with today’s millennial generation, most of whom attended America’s government-run schools under the ideologically left-wing Common Core curriculum, it’s quite different. Young people are running with the left-wing brainwashing, well into their 20s, 30s and maybe beyond.
As Investor’s Business Daily writes, “Americans’ heavy flirtation with socialism continues, and nowhere is that more evident than in America’s youth. For many millennials, socialism appears to be both a viable and desirable replacement for capitalism. It isn’t, on any level. America’s older generations have no one to blame but themselves. They delivered their children and grandchildren into the hands of unionized public schools run by leftist administrators, with their dumbed-down, biased curricula … Among those aged 18 to 29, support for capitalism has plunged 12 percentage points in just two years. Among that age group, 51% say they have positive feelings about socialism, compared to just 45% for capitalism.”
So what’s the secret of good propaganda? 1950s Catholic nuns could not turn good Catholic boys and girls into ultraconservative grown-ups. Yet today’s government-run schools have succeeded spectacularly, at least based on these polls.
Here’s a key factor: Ignoring the other side. Kids who went to Catholic schools in the 1950s were taught about the evils of alternative ways of thinking. They were told about Heaven, but about Hell, as well. “If you don’t do what we say, you’ll end up in Hell.”
From what I can tell, that’s not happening so much in public schools. Public schools proceed as if the leftist-socialist-environmentalist-progressive way of looking at the world is the ONLY way. Any other way of viewing things is simply ignorant. At least according to the propaganda.
Left-wing propaganda is sophisticated. It perversely appeals to the best within young people — their capacity for reason — by implying that any other way of thinking is inherently unreasonable, irrational and therefore not cool or desirable. They convey shame without explicitly asserting it.
Catholic schools explicitly imposed shame on anyone who dared to question the nuns’ and priests’ dogma. “If you have sex outside of marriage, shame on you. You’ll go to hell. Sex is only for married people who want children.” Or: “Masturbation will make your hair fall out.” It’s easy to refute these claims from real-life experience, because nuns — unlike today’s progressives — didn’t have the veneer of science and truth (however fallacious) behind them.
Progressives who run and administer government-run schools take it a step further. They simply act like there’s no other way of thinking. If you think differently from how the leftist elites think, you’re simply out of your mind. That’s why schools routinely grant excused absences for students who wish to march in favor of gun control, or against Trump, but not for students who want to march in favor of the Second Amendment or President Trump. If you want the latter, it’s a federal case.
Leftists and progressives have one other HUGE advantage in the propaganda department. When good little progressive children end their time in government-run schools, they enter a culture infiltrated with leftist sports stars, musicians, rock stars, rap stars, television personalities, talk show hosts, YouTube and gamer personalities, on and on and on, where virtually everything young people pay attention to is leftist, Democrat, socialist, progressive. Successful businesses such as Apple, Facebook, Twitter and Starbucks extol what they see as the virtues of socialism while in practice they made their fortune — and continue to make it — on the fading remnants of capitalism they now find reason to detest. This leads young people to falsely assume that the road to self-interested fame and fortune — two qualities condemned by socialism — is actually through socialism!
Good little Catholic children walked into a culture preaching almost precisely the opposite of what they were taught in 1950s parochial schools. Good little progressive children walk into a culture where leftism, Democratic socialism and faith-based environmentalism are just about all there is.
Don’t misunderstand me. Propaganda is not a proper goal for a rational individual or society. Propaganda implies substituting independent reason, thought and judgment for dogma imposed by others. The worst form of mental abuse is teaching a child to adopt dogma over reason, logic, facts and rationality. But if propaganda is your game, the left has got it right. That’s why, on our current course at least, the United States will look a lot like the old Soviet Union or today’s Venezuela in another 30 or 40 years.
Good job, Common Core. If ever there were a case for privatization of education, what’s happened to America via its government-run education system is all you need for Exhibits A, B and C.
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