This Dark Age

A manual for life in the modern world.

By Daniel Schwindt

NOTICE:
This Dark Age is now available in paperback on Amazon. The print version is MUCH cleaner than this online version, which is largely unedited and has fallen by the wayside as the project has grown. If you’ve appreciated my writing, please consider leaving a review on the relevant paperback volumes. The print edition also includes new sections (Military History, War Psychology, Dogmatic Theology).

Volume 1 | Volume 2 | Volume 3| Volume 4 | Volume 5 | Volume 6

The Age of Propaganda

To say that you live in the “information age” is true but inexact. More precision is needed, because the ocean of information in which you are immersed is a very specific kind of information which is delivered to you in a very specific way. If you turn on the news you will never see images and hear words at random, but in a planned order and with a purpose; and the purpose is always persuasive. There can never be any such thing as an “objective” news broadcast any more than there could ever be an “objective” advertisement. Objectivity in the human order is as impossible as perfection. Even a program properly categorized as “entertainment” carries a persuasive element in it seeking to win the viewers’ attention over other programs of a similar type and tenor. It does this by a variety of appeals, either to the emotions or the intellect. Because not every person uses the intellect, while every person alive uses the emotions, emotion appeal quickly becomes the standard technique used to achieve the goal of persuasion. The field known as advertising was the true forerunner of modern political discourse, which is but a perversion of traditional political discourse. When men spoke in person to small crowds of their fellow elites who were as educated as they were, the discourse had no choice but to seek a pure intellectual conviction within the listeners. Clear argumentation was a necessity. If a man was going to be dishonest, he had to trick the mind, but even this required him to appeal to it—he could not bypass it altogether. Advertising, on the other hand, seeks to produce a reflex action which will appeal to the intellect only secondarily, if at all. Needless to say, for the reasons already mentioned, the techniques of advertising eventually proved themselves far more efficient in regard to “persuasion” than those of traditional political discourse. Appeals to the intellect require not only certain levels of education within the person, but also a certain degree of truth must be contained within the “argument” itself. Advertising requires none of this; it only asks that the subject be alive and equipped with certain standard human reactions. Its successes or failures can teach anyone what sort of responses can be expected from various words, colors, situations, images, etc. Thus, while traditional political discourse favored rhetoric and reason, the modern form of discourse, modeled on advertising, favors a purely pragmatic method which, while based in psychology, does not achieve its goals by working on the critical faculty. Advances in psychological understanding have also given immense powers to the media planners, as there are stimuli the response to which can now be predicted with a very high degree of certainty. This knowledge about the mind, combined with the machine of dissemination which we call “the media” forms a very finely tuned apparatus which directs itself toward the persuasion of the viewer’s mind—and the apparatus never sleeps. It runs at every hour and through the entire year.

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