IAF Book Discussion, Session 2017.09 – How Propaganda Works

The IAF Book Discussion Group is an ongoing effort to provide interesting intellectual conversations for members of IAF and other interested parties on texts and topics relevant to the Secular perspective.

For this session the group will begin a three-part series on the mechanics of Propaganda, a particularly relevant topic in this day and age. The text of choice for this series is “How Propaganda Works” by the author Jason Stanley.

The Reading Schedule for this series will be as follows –

September – Preface, Introduction, Chapters 1 & 2

October – Chapters 3 & 4

November – Chapters 5 – 7 & the Conclusion

For this, and all subsequent sessions, please be prepared if possible, to present things from the reading assignment that stood out for you so that we can gain a good cross-section of individual perspectives where the reading is concerned. Consider questions of content, such as particular passages that really jumped out at you or particular facts/ideas you found interesting that you might want to explore further. Definitely don’t be afraid to ask questions about concepts and ideas that are new to you.

The conference room that has been reserved at Kirkendall Public Library has a maximum capacity of 20 so RSVP early to get a seat. Social time will be available from 6:30 to 7 PM if you want to come and just chat before the discussion begins. We’ll see you there. 🙂

You can read about the book by going to the Goodreads page for the title HERE.<a href=”https://images.gr-assets.com/books/1348990566l/5470.jpg”></a>

If you prefer, though, here is a brief synopsis of the title from the same –

Our democracy today is fraught with political campaigns, lobbyists, liberal media, and Fox News commentators, all using language to influence the way we think and reason about public issues. Even so, many of us believe that propaganda and manipulation aren’t problems for us–not in the way they were for the totalitarian societies of the mid-twentieth century. In “How Propaganda Works,” Jason Stanley demonstrates that more attention needs to be paid. He examines how propaganda operates subtly, how it undermines democracy–particularly the ideals of democratic deliberation and equality–and how it has damaged democracies of the past.

Focusing on the shortcomings of liberal democratic states, Stanley provides a historically grounded introduction to democratic political theory as a window into the misuse of democratic vocabulary for propaganda’s selfish purposes. He lays out historical examples, such as the restructuring of the US public school system at the turn of the twentieth century, to explore how the language of democracy is sometimes used to mask an undemocratic reality. Drawing from a range of sources, including feminist theory, critical race theory, epistemology, formal semantics, educational theory, and social and cognitive psychology, he explains how the manipulative and hypocritical declaration of flawed beliefs and ideologies arises from and perpetuates inequalities in society, such as the racial injustices that commonly occur in the United States.

“How Propaganda Works” shows that an understanding of propaganda and its mechanisms is essential for the preservation and protection of liberal democracies everywhere.

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