Propaganda: The Formation of Men's Attitudes

Propaganda The Formation of Men s Attitudes A far frightening work than any of the nightmare novels of George Orwell With the logic which is the great instrument of French thought Ellul explores and attempts to prove the thesis that propaganda

  • Title: Propaganda: The Formation of Men's Attitudes
  • Author: Jacques Ellul
  • ISBN: 9780394718743
  • Page: 485
  • Format: Paperback
  • A far frightening work than any of the nightmare novels of George Orwell With the logic which is the great instrument of French thought, Ellul explores and attempts to prove the thesis that propaganda, whether its ends are demonstrably good or bad, is not only destructive to democracy, it is perhaps the most serious threat to humanity operating in the modern world A far frightening work than any of the nightmare novels of George Orwell With the logic which is the great instrument of French thought, Ellul explores and attempts to prove the thesis that propaganda, whether its ends are demonstrably good or bad, is not only destructive to democracy, it is perhaps the most serious threat to humanity operating in the modern world Los Angeles Times The theme of Propaganda is quite simplyat when our new technology encompasses any culture or society, the result is propaganda Ellul has made many splendid contributions in this book Book Week An exhaustive catalog of horrors It shows how modern, committed man, surrounded and seized by propaganda, often than not surrenders himself to it only too willingly, especially in democracies because he is educated for his rule as dupe The most favorable moment to seize a man and influence him, Ellul writes, is when he is alone in the mass it is at this point that propaganda can be most effective This is the situation of the lonely crowd, or of isolation in the mass, which is a natural product of modern day society, which is both used and deepened by the mass media Los Angeles Free Press

    967 Comment

    • Brian says:

      This is the third book concerning technology and society that really changed the way I think about the world. As with The Technological Society and Mumford's Pentagon of Power, this book contains many ideas and concepts that turn our normal worldviews upside down. He states that Propaganda is necessary for modern societies to function and that they play an integral part in the power structures that run them. This is all the more true for our modern, so-called Democracies. He also states that the [...]

    • Jeff says:

      This is, put quite simply, a MUST read. It was written shortly after WWII and focuses on the propaganda machine of Goebbels. It is shocking how much of what is described in this book is the norm in today's "quality" of discourse. Truly prophetic.

    • Lynn Waddell says:

      This book is the most influential of my career in journalism, and one of the top 10 of my life. I read it almost 20 years ago, and I often reflect on it. It changed the way I analyze news media, politicians, and marketing. Although written in the 1960s, the components essential to propaganda that he outlines hold true. Given the weighty subject matter, it isn't a quick read, more one to pause and contemplate over coffee before moving to next chapter. Even still, Ellul's extreme passion for his t [...]

    • David says:

      Wow. My biggest take-away from this book is a question - what would Ellul say today? Because the way he talked about the power of propaganda, what it does to people and the threat it is to democracy and thought seems incredibly relevant to today. Ellul books are always a bit tough, but certainly worth it. He defies many definitions of propaganda, saying that propaganda actually uses facts, not lies as most think. Also, rather than uneducated people being susceptible to it, it is the most educate [...]

    • Jed says:

      Parts of this book are amazing, even today. While portions of it are a little dated or too caught up in the Cold War or focused on the forces which brought about the second world war, the insights he draws from them are not. I've never read a description of just what propaganda is or why it is so dangerous and effective that was close to this good. Ellul's background in Theology shines through in a lot of places and he is also concerned with understanding how the modern state and the ideologies [...]

    • Erin says:

      I'm actually reading this right now, so I'll update this as I am amazed and transformed by this highly underappreciated and brilliant Frenchman.

    • Todd says:

      Despite its age, it remains a penetrating, insightful must read for how people's actions are influenced by deliberate and even incidental propaganda, and how this propaganda becomes (even without design) essential to adapting people's behavior to mechanized mass society. Typical of Ellul, his work is filled with sweeping statements not specifically supported by empirical evidence (though he cites legion other works for more technical analysis of specific subjects), but when one considers most of [...]

    • Mark Gring says:

      Jacques Ellul's book is what I consider the definitive work, thus far, on propaganda. I have not found another text that covers this topic so well as he. The work is comprehensive, thoughtful, subtle, and historical-philosophical. First, Ellul himself is an interesting enigma. He is born into a historic (reformed) Christian home but accepts a more neo-orthodox (Karl Barth, et al) perspective along with an extreme libertarian political perspective. He ends up with what he defines as "Christian An [...]

    • Jake M. says:

      This is among the few books to alter how I think of how the world presents itself. Ellul has a talent for presenting complex ideas in readable text. The book focuses on the conditions, uses, mediums, structures and belief systems needed for propaganda to flourish. In addition, he identifies a working definition of propaganda that is repeated throughout the text to remind the reader of its ever-present influence in our daily lives. This is as much a dissection of propaganda as it is a warning aga [...]

    • Ki Seung says:

      A dense (with some technical jargon) philosophical work on the nature of man in a technical society, whether it be democratic or fascist. To consider that propaganda (as described by Ellul) is not only necessary, but also a natural outcome in a large and diverse modern society, is a rather bitter concept to swallow, but for me, Ellul makes an excellent case as to its diverse means and forms.

    • Ietrio says:

      As probably most products of the French educational system Ellul proves to be an intellectual fraud. Like Bergson who used to base his ramblings about life on popular drama characters he had seen in a play the night before, Ellul describes life on what he has seen on TV the night before. E. g. the last annex that describes as real an imaginary technique of "brainwashing." No wonder France is a top consumer of Homeopathy. Yet, somehow, his literary and rhetoric technique are good enough to convin [...]

    • Michael S says:

      Scary, scary, scary.

    • Adam Ross says:

      An interesting book on the way in which comprehensive propaganda is employed in the modern world (a bit dated now, but still good and helpful, covering ground others have ignored). Ellul is a Christian as well, so his approach is more interesting than just an academic approach to the subject.

    • Joyce says:

      I think I was halfway in reading this book before I got it, (a good thing I did too because it was required for school) and when I did, there is nothing like that feeling. It will challenge you and stretch your mind and thinking.

    • Jacob Russell says:

      As in The Technological Society, Ellul examines, not the practice of propaganda, but the the underlying assumptions and ideology that gives rise to it--a much broader category of communication than commonly assigned to the term.

    • Jacob says:

      A very scary book.

    • Ed says:

      An important book

    • Ivica says:

      Depressive, but needs to be read.

    • Daphne says:

      Should be mandatory reading in college, if not before. I was quite a bit older when I came upon it. But it's never too late. Provides a clear description of the mechanics of INFORMATION.

    • Walter says:

      Essential reading if you live in a mass society.

    • Dan Douglas says:

      This one will get you thinking. Propaganda, Ellul insists, is not simply wartime films put out by authoritarian regimes, spinning away in 1950s movie houses. Nor is it normally put together via conspiracy, as we tend to imagine, although sometimes that does happen.No, Ellul points out that most propaganda is the benign, sometimes even well-intentioned, shaping of public opinion as a necessary sociological consequence of mass, technological, democratic societies. Whoever resides at the top of cul [...]

    • Μάτζικα Σπελ says:

      Excellent, unfortunately not published in Greek.

    • Rodney Harvill says:

      Mr. Ellul wrote this book in the 1960's in French, and it was later translated into English. Although the propaganda tactics of NSDAP Germany, the Soviets and communist China are discussed, other tactics applicable to democratic societies are also discussed. If I mention examples, they are my own, chosen for relevance to Americans of the 21st century.In the book, there are two different groupings of propaganda: integration vs. agitation and political vs. sociological.Integration propaganda is us [...]

    • Roslyn Ross says:

      I found this book hard to get into, but by the time I was halfway through, hard to put down. Way overly wordy. Very repetitive. But otherwise super interesting.Great book for people who think they would like to stop wasting so much time consuming media, but haven't found the motivation to do so.NotesPropaganda cannot exist without the mass media. The only way to not be exposed to constant propaganda today is to not use the mass media. No one is immune to propaganda and the more a person thinks h [...]

    • Sestius says:

      Modern readers, especially perhaps readers in the Anglosphere, might face a few hurdles caused by Propaganda's time and place of origin. (I know I did.) Ellul draws on French experiences of the Second World War, of the first decade of the Cold War and of the end of empire in Indochina and Algeria which seem distant now. He is also much less concerned with evidence than I imagine (and hope!) modern theorists of media and politics are. But this only means that reading Propaganda is a chance to ste [...]

    • Katie says:

      While it is clear that at times Ellul has no bloody clue what he's talking about in a factual sense, his ideas are intriguing. The proposed chicken-and-egg quandary is especially engaging--as one begins to read more they are compelled to examine their current situation. How much does propaganda effect us? To what extent is thought genuinely independent? Philosophic questions with a spin.One certainly starts to look at things a little differently after being exposed to the ideas presented here.

    • Joel S says:

      An excellent discussion of propaganda not as the base tool of ideologues but as the pervasive force in most modern nationalized countries. Propaganda emerges as a technique of communication that is amplified by modern communication technology. Ellul questions the foundations of modern industrialized societies and questions whether current modes of public and political discourse can really engender free thought or encourage that activity which makes us human, to speak and act originally.

    • Laura Hallman says:

      If you have studied/are studying communications, this book is for you. If you have any interest in the way media works on people, this book is for you. It is brilliantly written and thoughtfully executed. While written in the mid-1960s (a very interesting time for Propoganda), the reader can fairly easily surmise how Ellul would feel about current media (social networks, political races, etc). A great read, though not terribly casual.

    • Rose says:

      this is an amazing book on propaganda. certainly you'll come away with a new view of what propaganda is and what needs to exist for it to manifest. this is not the kind of book that you'll breeze through. some parts you'll have to read several times. it's probably best read twice. my brother said that you almost have to have read the entire book to really understand any of it. read it and find out for yourself.

    • Farhad says:

      "A man who lives in a democratic society and who is subjected to propaganda is being drained of the democratic content itself-of the style of democratic life, understanding of others, respect for minoritiesThe means employed to spread democratic ideas make the citizen, psychologically, a totalitarian man"

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