Goebbels’ 11 Principles Of Propaganda

Goebbels' principles of propaganda

Authoritarian states, due to their own founding ideas, always aspired to control all the individuals covered by their ominous ideological umbrella. In this sense, defining the path through which to shape the most intimate part of every human being (his or her thinking) was always one of his main goals to achieve.

Propaganda techniques have traditionally covered this intention, taking advantage of all developments in knowledge about basic and group psychology. In fact, there was even a time when many countries “had on the payroll” true experts in such matters, occupying responsible ministerial positions. Each of them racked their brains thinking of programs to achieve this.

Without any doubt, the one that transcended the most of all of them was the one articulated in Germany during the Second World War, from which sprang Goebbels’ well-known principles of propaganda (which became a source of inspiration for others who came later).

In this article we will detail each of the points that Joseph Goebbels, a figure of great historical infamy, conceived to spread Nazi ideology among the German population of his time. Knowing it is essential, since it is an important part of our saddest history.

The 11 principles of propaganda by Joseph Goebbels and the Nazis

Goebbels is surely one of the most enigmatic characters in recent history. To his credit he has a close friendship with the dictator Adolf Hitler, thanks to which he held the position of Minister of Enlightenment and Propaganda during the years of the Nazi regime. His peculiar physical appearance (he suffered from a permanent limp and very short stature), along with the fiery speeches he gave, are two of his best-remembered characteristics. However, it should be noted that he was a convinced anti-Semite, and that he was one of the very few public officials who expressly recognized (with pride) the genocide of the Jewish people.

His attitude of savage hatred, seasoned with a very notable talent for oratory and art (especially literature), composed an indigestible mixture from which emerged works of praise about death. One of the objectives that he pursued until his death (one day after that of Adolf Hitler) consisted of the construction of a German morality based on the principles of the regime, and which required the extermination of those who were considered his enemies. . All of this required, without a doubt, an unparalleled propaganda apparatus.

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One of the first tasks he developed in his political role was censor any media that opposed his party’s ideas, as well as encourage art and information that aligned with him He had a great interest in audiovisual resources (cinema, music, etc.) as useful tools to disperse his ideology among the German population of those years. He was a censor and a self-sacrificing promoter of the fundamental purpose of building a country mired in war, which is why an enormous number of artistic careers (in all types of disciplines) were born and died while he was in ministerial office.

The unknowns that prevail regarding his figure are disparate. Many consider that he did not really have such an important role as a politician, that he was nothing more than a charlatan who never contributed to the big decisions of his country or even that he suffered from a narcissistic personality disorder. Even with everything, Goebbels’ propaganda principles have survived to this day witnesses of the horror that that period left forever etched on the face of history.

Let’s see what these laws of Goebbels’ propaganda are and the scope of each one. The effect that this author sought could only be achieved if all of them were met, in a perfectly tuned “symphony orchestra” of social manipulation.

1. Principle of simplification

This principle is based on the reduction of all the complexity of the different enemies to a much more discreet reality, devoid of diversity and very easily identifiable. The purpose is to infuse everything that opposes one’s own ideas with a common and simple trait where its edges are reduced to the same caricature. In this way, there would never be a battle against multiple antagonists, but rather a war in which only a single contender would fight: evil, brutality, injustice or ignorance.

Through this process all the nuances of the opponents would be abstracted, which would be concretized into a much simpler idea loaded with the worst connotation imaginable. The enemy would therefore be common to all those who embraced such propaganda, focusing their hatred against the primary concept in which the rival was incarnated.

2. Principle of the contagion method

This principle would be associated with the previous one. Its objectives are simple: in addition to simplifying the facts, it would seek to disperse a series of attributes to all subjects who embrace ideas opposite to their own. They are often adjectives with negative, humiliating and/or ridiculing content; that would be assigned, without thinking about it, to the opponent. This is the logical step after having diluted the sensation of multiplicity, through which stereotypes would be spread based on what the propaganda apparatus considered “undesirable” (all Jews are thieves, pe).

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The formula that would be used in this case would be extremely simple, and would be based on a reinforcement of the perceived homogeneity of the outgroup (which is currently considered a common trait in those who have xenophobic or supremacist ideas).

3. Principle of transposition

The moment one becomes the object of an inescapable accusation, it would be necessary to point out the other for exactly the same “error” that has been found in our way of proceeding. In Politics it can be observed when cases of embezzlement or misappropriation reach public opinion, which motivate an exchange of reproaches in which it is extolled that: “well, you did it too, and even worse than me.”

With this attitude the aim is to generate a distraction that diverts attention from the figure itself and let it be located again in others, keeping every shadow of suspicion out of our vicinity.

4. Principle of exaggeration and disfigurement

This principle provides that every error of the other must be taken advantage of immediately. To do this, its relevance and scope would be blurred, so that it would appear to be a much more serious or negative event (for one’s own interests) than it really is. Threats would be sought in almost any act that the enemy carried out, including those to which only anecdotal or circumstantial importance could be attributed. In this case, it would not be the individuals or groups that are caricatured, but rather their way of behaving, thus closing the malicious circle of demagoguery.

5. Principle of vulgarization

This principle proposes that the properties of the messages to be communicated must be adapted to the level of the individuals who are going to receive them, and specifically to the least intelligent of them all. Through such a process all the complex nuances would be eliminated, and the aim would be to spread something so “simple” that any human being could understand. This way of designing propaganda ads was aimed at the masses and not at those who formed them, taking advantage of the fact that groups are easier to convince than isolated individuals (and who also forget more quickly).

6. Principle of orchestration

The ideas that you want to transmit to the masses must be repeated continuously, using different prisms and angles but insisting on the same concept. It is important that everything is reduced to the most basic possible, so that it is almost impossible for a hint of doubt or annoyance to be perceived in the content of what is transmitted. This strategy is basic, since it increases the occasions in which the message is available, which increases the degree of credibility that people attribute to it and its availability in individual consciousness. That is, the essential thing would be the repetition of the speech until exhaustion.

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7. Renewal principle

This principle refers not to the content, but to the forms, and more particularly to the pace with which information is transmitted. The purpose would be generate so many accusations that the victim did not have sufficient time to excuse himself or demonstrate their falsehood, because by the time he tried to free himself from all his burden, the passage of time would have relegated him to a situation of irrelevance, or the public would no longer be interested in what he had to say (given that there would already be new “news” in which to gloat). Ultimately, the purpose is to overwhelm the rival and oversaturate the people.

8. Principle of verisimilitude

All information should be supported by the greatest number of sources possible, something that was very viable in the Germany that this Nazi Minister of Propaganda projected (since he had banned any media that did not agree with the ideas of his party). In the same principle The possibility of “camouflaging” lies within objectively true news was also contemplated, making these more easily digestible for the target audience. The self-serving selection of which details to outline and which to omit/hide (known as “fragmentation”) is essential to this law of manipulation.

9. Principle of silencing

This principle has the objective of silencing all positive news about rivals, using media related to the cause. One would also seek to omit adverse news about oneself or that discourages the spirit of the population that one intends to manipulate. The goal would be to bias the information available to them, and even reserve negative or false news for the moment when the adversary’s achievements emerge, counteracting their effects on the listener. For this principle, what is fundamental is tempo and distortion.

10. Principle of transfusion

Through this principle, the aim would be to make use of the history of a nation, and even its popular myths, to connect them in a direct way with the opponent to be overthrown through analogies and comparisons. The goal is to take advantage of a pre-existing hatred, whose roots sink into the common cultural and social heritage, to put it directly on those who oppose a regime. In this way, both would be developed from the same premise, and the argument with which they intend to attack would allude to atavistic affects transmitted from one generation to another.

11. Principle of unanimity

The aim of this principle is make believe that the ideas you want to spread enjoy the consensus of the entire population, so that those who accept them as their own will tune in to the “opinion” that they want to pass off as general. This principle aims to take advantage of the well-known phenomenon of social conformism, to which an enormous capacity for persuasion is attributed, especially among those who distrust their own criteria to guide them throughout life.