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A Democratic Response to the Hostile Propaganda of Dictators and Demagogues Anthony R. Pratkanis University of California.

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Presentation on theme: "A Democratic Response to the Hostile Propaganda of Dictators and Demagogues Anthony R. Pratkanis University of California."— Presentation transcript:

1 A Democratic Response to the Hostile Propaganda of Dictators and Demagogues Anthony R. Pratkanis University of California

2 Why is the audience hostile? Enemy combatants in battle (Response: psychological warfare) Realistic conflict (Response: “Getting to yes;” peace-building; diplomacy) Hostile propaganda: A demagogue (attempting to gain power) or dictator (has power) uses propaganda (playing on emotions & prejudices) to convince a people or nation to hate someone

3 The seeds of hostile propaganda and the Road to Wigan Pier Orwell was right: Hostile propaganda thrives when people feel relatively deprived & frustrated Frustration leads to feelings of inadequacy & fear and a desire for an explanation & solution The successful dictator & demagogue uses frustration as the basis of propaganda by providing “explanations” for the feelings, “solutions,” and self-esteem boosts may create frustration & fear with imaginary “threats” to the group (ala Jim Jones in Guyana)

4 The nature of hostile propaganda and how to counter it An historical analysis of the propaganda of demagogues and dictators shows a surprising pattern of the same tactics used over and over again A democratic response requires Countering the propagandist’s tactic Providing positive influence to establish a positive relationship and democracy

5 Some Common Hostile Propaganda Tactics of Demagogues and Dictators

6 Fixation on a phantom goal A phantom is an unavailable option that is made to look real Juche is an advanced ideology that will free world of US & Japanese imperialism Islamist brings the City of God on earth Powerful tactic because Gives hope & meaning to replace frustration Motivates the faithful to achieve the phantom Social control (enemies don’t want phantom) Makes alternatives look unattractive and the regime important

7 Counters to phantoms Offer real hope (after listening to what the target audience wants) A vision of what can be A reasonable plan to get there Demonstrate progress to obtain the goal Point out (indirectly) the weakness of the demagogue’s phantom (such as publicizing internal complaints)

8 Of god & history (leader credibility) Leader creates myth of personal divinity/ordained by history Kim can stop rain, bring Spring in the fall, and turn the sea into fertile land Bin Laden’s flight out of Saudi Arabia compared to Mohammed’s flight from Mecca; speeches laced with “Allah willing;” fatwa’s; release of sweet odor of martyrs’ body after death Powerful tactic because it is hard to disobey “god;” extreme behavior is acceptable Leader provides a solution to frustration (escape from freedom)

9 Counters to leader credibility Publicize people’s criticism of leader Support multiple leaders and alternatives Use subtle communications to undermine leader’s grip (e.g. body of martyrs did not smell sweet) Do not strengthen the leader’s position by playing into leader myths

10 Granfalloon with scapegoating Use or create a superior in-group identity (Aryans, Islam, Juche in N. Korea) and an inferior out-group (Jews, Americans) Powerful tactic because Cue to what is truth Induces conformity (to be in the group) Provides excuse (scapegoat) for frustration and leader’s failures Couple with other tactics results in moral disengagement

11 Counters to granfalloon Use superordinate identities whenever possible (us humans, God-fearing) Use other’s identity to promote own message (“Islam says;” Khatami, 1998) Don’t reinforce granfalloon boundaries Use jigsaw method to reduce intergroup conflict (Marshall plan) Humanize the out-group/scapegoat (RFE & Jews) Promote multiple, flexible identities

12 Projection & innuendo Projection: blame an enemy for your misdeed Innuendo: false rumor or slur Kim Jong-Il: US is planning to invade the Korean peninsula bin Laden: America is seeking to control Saudi Arabia Do not underestimate the power of these tactics Can be used on internal foes to remove alternatives to the regime

13 Counters to projection & innuendo Damn it, refute it, damn it, replace it Inoculation (if you know it is coming) Stealing thunder (if there is some truth to it) Admit mistakes immediately

14 Commitment via rationalization trap Commitment is created via escalating actions moving from small to increasingly more difficult Attend rally, give money, join group, wear distinctive garb, etc. Viet Cong asked villagers for small favors Changes the nature of thought and action from rational to rationalizing and the true believer

15 Counters to commitment trap Frontal attacks rarely work; creates defensiveness Small hypocrisies Aum leaders eat sushi bin Laden kills Muslims; Muhammad: “To insult a brother-Muslim is sinful, to kill him is unbelief.” Use foot-in-the-door to create commitment to United States interest

16 Agenda setting and control Media discuss only a small set of issues that can favor one side or the other US is out to get our oil Crusade against Islam Should there be an attack in Ramadan? Terrorism as agenda control Works because As long as these are the issues being discussed others cannot be discussed Repetition = Truth & Liking

17 Counters to agenda setting Select a message and stay on message Counter specific criticisms and then get back on message Find ways to get on the media ala a political campaign Develop relationships with foreign reporters

18 Censorship & self-censorship Complete control of the media, arts, education in totalistic regimes (North Korea, Islamist schools) Self-censorship of thought Rote-like chanting of responses to political and other questions Outside thought is from “imperialist” Americans who want to control the world

19 Counters to censorship Create alternative communication channels if need be Find alternative sources for message other than US (exiles, local clerics, friendly regimes) Point out small but important hypocrisies as opposed to frontal attacks Remember: Any dissent is better than no dissent in breaking the censorship spell

20 Some Positive Influence Tactics for Creating Democratic Persuasion

21 Goals of democratic influence Ralph K. White in 1952: “candor, respect for the target of the communication, and assure others that US is not belligerent or domineering” Listen to the other to find out how they think and feel (RFE gathered extensive info on audience) Not just “brand America” (positioning) but relationship marketing – create trust Build self-confidence of target that democracy can be accomplished as a counter to frustration

22 Getting attention and building rapport Establish physical means of communication Embedded message within communications that attract attention and begin to establish trust Entertaining (RFE’s rock ‘n roll in Hungary) News (RFE’s news about the target country) Advocate for those abused by dictator & demagogue (RFE’s criticism of abusive communists) Provide information, dialog, debate that cannot be obtained elsewhere

23 Building trust Be perceived as empathetic, warm, and genuine Conspicuous candor – admit mistake as “yes but” Get the target to do a favor for you Agree with the target (when you can) Show liking for the target Don’t seem perfect (pratfall effect) Constant praise loses its effect (gain-loss) Reciprocating self-disclosures Limit perceptions of self-serving motives Don’t lie. Actions = words.

24 The altercast Altercasting is placing the target in the role needed to produce influence Expert snare & tidy 5 th graders Inadvertently place others in negative social roles “We are here to help” (implies dependency) Bully-coward Select role sets that promote positive relationship Friends Democratic citizens

25 Self-generated persuasion The most effective influence tactic is to have the person persuade him or herself Lewin’s sweetbread study Examples of use Marshall plan had participants come up with own rebuilding plan to obtain grants Ask target to come up with own plan for a common goal with US

26 Set expectations for confidence building Expectations determine perceptions of success and thus confidence Goebbels and lowering expectations Give people realistic expectations of what can be accomplished and then meet and exceed those expectations

27 Create pro-American action involvement Find small things that people can do to begin the foot-in-the-door process Exchange programs; help an American Identify small objectives to create self- efficacy Equal status contact with a superordinate goal Jigsaw classroom The Marshall plan

28 Goals for democracy Co-participation of citizens to discover solutions (not predetermined by elite) System of checks & balances on power Decentralized communication structures Flexible group boundaries Minority opinion encouraged (toleration) Agenda & goals set by citizens Persuasion as debate, discussion, & argument

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