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To what extend did (propaganda) change the relationship between the state and the masses? Illustrate your essay with specific examples.

One of the biggest impacts that the twentieth century had on philosophy was the fracture of knowledge. Through the actualities that saw two World Wars and absurd and grossly inhumane social systems that incorporated the people's submission and acceptance to such regimes, reality had been called into question with harrowing consequences. Due to the colonial situation and the fall out of the European empires, the purchase of modernisation became the driving force of the nation states. Under the guise of such seemingly contrary ideology these nation states gained sway not only over their people, but over the realities of their people. Whether communist, fascist, democratic or liberal, the state had found a new approach; to manipulate the reality of its people through language, idea, rhetoric and the arts so as to control them. Due to the culmination of such seminal ideas pertaining to the schools of knowledge and scientific endeavour such as evolutionary theory, social equality and national identity, the state became an interpreter and dispenser of the ideas that dictated not only the actions, but the beliefs, attitudes and will of the masses. The tool that offered the state this power was propaganda. Propaganda was perhaps not new to the twentieth century. However, its development as a science throughout the nation states of primarily modern Europe gave it a new and confounding guise, the likes of which had not been seen before. The development of state propaganda as a science can be seen explicitly coming to fruition in Nazi Germany and less explicitly, but just as effectively, in Communist Russia in the twentieth century. Given the title of 'Ministry for Propaganda and the New Enlightenment' by Leader of the Nazi party Adlof Hitler, Joseph Geobbels outlined a notion of propaganda that suggested a new relationship between the state and the people. Indicating the power of propaganda, Goebbels stated that,

"The essence of propaganda consists in winning people over to an idea so sincerely, so vitally, that in the end they succumb to it utterly and can never escape from it." (Goebbels)

In this we can see clearly how the states use of propaganda in the First World War had changed the relationship between the state and the people. Essentially, German nationality had gone from being the premise of propagating the people into fighting a War (WW1) into a state sanctioned totality into which the people went from being behind into being only to conform to. To emphasise this united feeling of nationalism and persecution of the Jews amongst the people, the state then censored art and literature from public book burnings to stripping art deemed to liberal from galleries. Similarly, in Communist Russia, ideologically specific art and culture was put in place that extolled Stalin and the working classes. This cultural control was realised during the First World War and the states emphasis on a national need to take arms that had been reflected through the schools and institutions of Europe at the expense of all else .

However, propaganda is not merely confined to the recent dark history of Europe that immediately followed the First World War. It is still apparent today in a variety of guises and has been the source of philosophical enquiry ever since the War. In the Eastern states comprising of the Eastern Block of Europe, critics looked at how language was being altered by the state to distort reality. Czech republican and author, Vaclav Havel, highlighted in his novel The Memorandum the ways in which propaganda could be used as an absurd tool by any institution as a means to disrupt reality to the point that reality was entirely lost to rhetoric (Havel, 1993). Although a literary work of fiction, the play showed how reality could be determined by the language itself and mirrored the warning of how reality could be distorted to make people accept truth as lies. Even in the contemporary age we can see evidence of this. For instance, recent comments regarding the contentious notion of global environmentalism and the need for change in western habits, reveals that this still exists. Criticism has been raised at comments justifying the insignificance of a lacking in truth such as 'These points…are trivial details in the context of the main argument of the film, which is unambiguously correct in its portrayal of mainstream scientific understanding of climate change' . This overlooking of the actual incorrectness of certain specifics regarding a film in light of the greater political message is reminiscent of the acceptance of lies for the benefit of the greater truth that is at the heart of propaganda's agenda. Although the west and its people may consider themselves free of propaganda and its emphasis on fabricating truth, it is certainly the case that many people still remain vigilant with regards to any states use of it. Essentially, as a consequence of the use of propaganda amidst the nations of the First World War in particular, the relationship between the state and the masses will never be the same.

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