We present the interview we had the honor of doing with one of the world’s leading experts on “propaganda.” Larry Romanoff has been dealing for years with the topic of manipulation and consensus management as a tool of governments (and those who maneuver these governments) towards public opinion. That is, toward each of us. Through his lucid analysis and simple evidence of “facts,” he not only reveals some of the most recent cases but also teaches us how to recognize propaganda campaigns. And how to fight them.
-新冠肺炎案和两次世界大战- Reality and fiction, the conspiracy theory
– How propaganda has changed, how and where it applies now
– Geopolitical propaganda
– Avoiding brainwashing
• Elvia Politi (E.P.) — A very timely and urgent topic, propaganda is a phenomenon that everyone understands but is difficult to codify. Larry, can you explain to us what propaganda is and what its purpose is?
LARRY ROMANOFF (L.R.) — A simple definition of propaganda is that it is the dissemination of information used to influence public opinion to adopt a certain point of view or to promote a particular political cause. It is generally a method of population control by those who have political or financial power. Propaganda is almost always associated with information of a biased or misleading nature, consisting of a mixture of facts, half-truths, and outright lies. Propaganda is not only psychological manipulation but actually “psychiatric” manipulation, directed to affecting the emotions of people and through this to control their thinking and behavior. It employs behavioral theory extracted mostly from the teachings of Sigmund Freud and, in its worst form, it is always insidiously manipulative, using the deepest fears or longings of people to create acceptance of a particular point of view, to become emotionally charged about that point of view, and to lead to action of some kind.
The two primary uses of propaganda have been to inflame a nation’s public to support a war, and to engineer and promote social changes.
Propaganda avoids facts because it is designed to evoke emotional responses in support of some purpose and thus it actively discourages rational examination of the process. Propaganda deals in insinuations. In almost every propaganda campaign, if the facts, the actual underlying thesis, were openly stated, they would be rejected outright and subject only to ridicule.
An important aspect of propaganda is the tenacious emotional hold it exercises on us. Because this contrived psychological process taps into our deepest fears and longings, we are astonishingly reluctant to let go of it after it takes hold. Once we adopt the premises contained in a propaganda campaign, we strongly resist any pressure to reverse our position. The psychological process is so powerful that even when presented with irrefutable evidence to the contrary, we will still doubt and hesitate and believe there may be some other explanation. We simply refuse to accept that we have believed lies.
• (E.P.) —We often see in your articles a tight relationship between “psychic” and “in vivo” tests. We may think Covid pandemic belongs to this category too, and maybe it is not the first case. An interesting point is the link between mass manipulation (psychological level) and a real, tangible action, such as the spread of a virus and vaccines. That is something affecting, not only the cognitive level, but also the physical level…
(L.R.) — Yes, most propaganda is intended to produce an emotional response followed by concrete action. This was the intent of the City of London’s “anger campaign” against Germany prior to WWI and WW2; using what we call “atrocity porn” to inflame the emotions of the British, then Europeans and Americans, to not only hate Germans but to become sufficiently angry to want a war. COVID was the same, as was ZIKA: propaganda of many varieties all meant to raise emotions sufficiently to guide the public to become eager to be vaccinated in the case of COVID, and to force Latin governments to reverse their prohibitions on free abortion in the case of ZIKA.
However, it also works in reverse. Both Bernays and Huntington claimed that for democracy to work properly it required a great degree of “apathy and non-involvement” by the people, so in this case the propaganda was designed to encourage disinterest and a lack of participation in “the democratic process”. The public emotions were (and still are) geared entirely to participation in the election process but to then revert to the desired non-involvement in the actual government of the country and the behavior and actions of the elected representatives.
• (E.P.) — Can we think that excessive use of propaganda techniques can make them overstep their bounds? I am thinking of when, for example, when information campaigns cross the line from factual reality, despite obvious economic / political / military failures. Is there then a moment when propaganda moves from reality to fiction?
(L.R.) — Propaganda always is a shift from fact to fiction. It is based on falsities or half-truths, feeding us misinformation in a psychological context to not only lead us to an incorrect conclusion but to inflame our emotions about the event or circumstance and to provoke us to support inappropriate actions.
One obvious example today is the propaganda about China “militarising the South China Seas”. China discovered those islands (very close to home) thousands of years ago, and they were always recognised by the world as belonging to China. But, in the interests of starting a war, the gnomes in The City of London, using the Americans as their tools, encouraged other Asian nations to suddenly claim and occupy the most strategic of these islands and to militarise them in preparation for the US to install nuclear weapons on them. The Chinese, of course, not being blind to what was happening, immediately began construction on some of the remaining islands so as to have some defense against what was clearly a serious military provocation. But the media, being owned by the propagandists, give us none of the critical detail or background. We are simply told that China is creating military installations in the South China Seas (true), apparently threatening all its neighbors without provocation (false). The story is told in a way to inflame an emotional reaction, and a harsh judgment, and lead us to support aggressive actions against China. The stories about Russia, Iraq, Iran, Libya, Syria, Venezuela are precisely the same, based on lies and half-truths in a way that literally forces us to an emotional response in support of the actions the propagandists have already planned.
(L.R.) — There may be no such line. In the real world, virtually all public commentary is either critical or interrogative and would qualify as “analysis in search of truth”. The actual number of people who imagine conspiracies where none exist, would be vanishingly small and can be ignored, their imaginative versions usually being both obvious and foolish. Suspicions of lying or malfeasance by our governments and authorities are perfectly valid when they deprive us of all the necessary facts – which they usually do.
The term “conspiracy theory” has been transformed into a derogatory adjective that is surprisingly damaging to the reputations of those to whom the label is applied, suggesting mental instability and various psychological deformities that cause persons to concoct a version of events that is purely fantasy. The term today is used by authorities and the media to denigrate anyone who rejects the official explanation of an event, effectively dismissing such a person as childishly insane with ideas worthy only of ridicule. This is so true that even highly-qualified doctors, scientists, engineers who challenge any part of an official story are dismissed in this fashion. The use of this adjective is itself a vicious form of propaganda intended to damage or even destroy a person’s reputation, so much so that the threat of being so labeled prevents a great many conscientious persons from speaking out.
But in reality, the rejection of “official” explanations or narratives is justified by the obvious fact that governments, authorities, and the media today appear to increasingly lie about almost everything, or at least provide only half-truths and attempt to mislead. The very existence of these conspiracy theories and the accompanying rejection of the official narrative is a direct result of a deep lack of trust in our governments, authorities, corporate and religious leaders, and the media. Societies have become increasingly cynical, and with good reason. Many of these past suspicions (“conspiracy theories”) “have eventually proven to have been true, though usually only after many decades have passed and all participants deceased.
In practice, anyone challenging a propaganda campaign by revealing the crucial hidden details of an event, is derided unanimously by governments and the media as a deranged “conspiracy theorist”. And the general public, who have no immediate access to the truth and the detail, will also tend to dismiss these individuals, and the truth most often remains hidden.
(L.R.) — Propaganda probably began more or less innocently with governments wanting to encourage patriotism and loyalty, and to avoid popular discontent by publishing messages styled as “See how well we are doing” or “See how good we are”. This is still done today by all governments, although the intent is generally buried in various news events and opinion articles in the media. However, as knowledge of the fundamentals of human psychological manipulation increased, the uses of propaganda increased with understanding of the techniques, and generally turned to more nefarious ends. We have always been taught in the West that the old USSR was the worst example in history of such unsavory practices but, in facts easily provable, it was the Western countries that perfected the practice and utilised it to extremes.
One of the first and most extensive uses of propaganda related to the creation and dissemination of the concept of a democracy being the pinnacle of all forms of government, so much so that the theory of electoral democracy has been transformed into a religion so holy that it is now by nature unquestionable. Yet the very creation of this form of government was invented by the European Jews as a way of removing omnipotent monarchs and dividing nations for the purpose of fragmenting political power. This was done primarily for the purpose of putting an end to their frequent expulsions from most nations, as well as providing the framework for control of that power from behind the scenes. I covered this in one Chapter of an E-book on Democracy, which can be accessed here.
Following this grand success, propaganda was for many decades used primarily to conduct hate campaigns against some unfavored nation, to rally the people in support of a war. Having proven the efficacy of the principles of propaganda, in other words the effectiveness of mass manipulation of “the public mind”, the theory and practice of what we now call propaganda was extended to virtually every aspect of daily life. It became a prominent feature of education, business, advertising, and widely recognised as the principal tool for effecting desired social changes. Unfortunately, it is now increasingly apparent that these social changes are “desirable” only by those who want to implement them, the uninformed public being truly the “bewildered herd” who are manipulated and herded into any direction chosen by the masters of propaganda.
The advertising agencies today utilise precisely the same tactics to make us buy, whether outrageously expensive LV bags or disposable diapers. One example from advertising and product marketing is that of Proctor and Gamble (P&G) in their determination to market disposable diapers in China. P&G were Bernays’ first corporate client in the early 1900s and have mastered the art of manipulative propaganda to an outstanding degree. The problem was that Chinese mothers preferred cloth diapers and strongly resisted the disposable plastic substitutes. P&G hired teams of psychologists and psychiatrists to overcome this reluctance. They did so by discovering that a mothers’ deepest fears were for the future success of her child, then contrived a scheme where they proved by “studies” that a child wearing disposable diapers would have a longer and more comfortable sleep than with cloth diapers, leading to higher intelligence and greater success. This is obviously ridiculous and, if stated openly, would be met only with derision.
But the clever manipulations of propaganda do not state the premises openly. The advertising merely awakens the fears at a deep emotional level, and provides insinuations and hints as to the solution, leaving the mothers to connect the dots and conclude that P&G’s disposable diapers are the key to her child’s success. It worked beautifully; the company having engineered a large social change in Chinese society using the same propaganda techniques that have been used to start wars.
• (E.P.) — Looking internally at how propaganda is structured, we understand that it is a complex mix of many disciplines, techniques, and levels of actions/tools. Since no one is going to put the label “propaganda” on an advertisement or news broadcast, how can we recognize a propaganda campaign? What are the most commonly used tools today?
(L.R.) — I prepared two series of articles on Propaganda, the first outlining the discovery and uses to which propaganda was put, Bernays and Propaganda, and the second on Propaganda and The Media. These are available online for interested readers so I won’t dwell on them here.
It is not difficult to recognise when a planned propaganda campaign is being inflicted on us. All such initiatives require a literal flood of coverage in the mass media – which is the primary tool for influencing the public mind. With the COVID virus, for example, no illness anywhere, not even a pandemic, requires that the public be inundated 24/7 with doomsday news from all forms of media. A propaganda campaign on the other hand, does require this. Whenever we see media coverage that appears unnecessarily frequent, we know we are being subjected to a propaganda campaign.
But it is perhaps not so important to understand the mechanisms and techniques of propaganda as it is to be aware of the areas where intense planned propaganda was used in the past and is being used today.
Propaganda is still used primarily to start wars and to effect social changes, neither of which the world’s public would want if they were given a clear choice. To accomplish this, the message must be repeated hundreds of times until all the world’s public are infected with the message. No other “news” or “events” fall into this category. Thus, a “flood” of negative media exposure against any race or nation is so necessary as war preparation that by definition it is an orchestrated propaganda campaign designed to inflame our emotions against that race or nation.
Consider the case of Kamila Valieva, the 15-year-old Russian figure-skater who apparently failed a chemical test. In every Olympics, there are perhaps 50 individuals who fail a test for one reason or another. These are scarcely if ever even mentioned in the media, but Kamila’s test (and only Kamila’s test) was a daily feature in all the world’s media for months. There was never any proof that this little star failed a test, but the event was created as a vicious campaign to denigrate Russia, destroying the brilliant career of a child in the process. I covered this in an extensive article, if readers are interested. Yet it was a non-event; many Americans, Europeans, Asians, also failed drug tests in the same Olympics. Why weren’t they mentioned? Because the gnomes in The City of London saw an opportunity for a spectacular propaganda victory over Russia. No other reason.
I mentioned above the islands in the South China Seas, and there have been many more such media events involving Russia, China, Iraq, Iran, and other countries. We have read about the Chinese firms Huawei, Tik-Tok, and many others, interminably in the news. All these have had the same purpose: to inflame emotions, evoke harsh judgments against a nation, and prepare populations emotionally to support a war that the propagandists want. And, just as with COVID, when our media are flooded 24/7 with these topics, we know we are being subjected to war propaganda, one hate at a time.
Any frequent media coverage involving any kind of social change is an almost certain identifier of a propaganda campaign. Social changes, by nature and definition, are evolutions that occur naturally and spontaneously without engineering, and they occur so slowly as to seldom if ever attract more than occasional attention. But consider today the media onslaughts about the benefits of GM food, of climate change, of the re-gendering and sexualisation of children, of the sudden barrage of media coverage for LGBTQ+ “sexual preferences”, of the recent flood of media praise for same-sex marriages, of the constant push for (very) foreign immigration, especially in Europe. All of these are vast social changes, none occurring naturally or spontaneously, and all subject to the necessary “flood” of media coverage, the repetition of the message hundreds of times, all including the psychological tools to trigger the required emotional responses and the appropriate action (or at least non-action and compliance).
• (E.P.) — Broadening the view, can we talk about “geopolitical” propaganda? In your writings, you have focused on propaganda in the United States, which is probably the “best in class.” While the U.S. was practicing propaganda, what was happening in Europe and around the world? Are there other countries that followed the same experience?
(L.R.) — Yes, of course. Today, all foreign affairs are propaganda adventures. We have the “hate campaigns” against Russia, China, Iran, and Venezuela. We have been propagandised to accept and believe that so-called “sanctions”, which are outrageously in contradiction of all law and morality, are now part of the high moral ground, and that the seizures of the foreign exchange and gold of the governments of Russia and Venezuela are justified by law and morality. We also have the seizures of assets and properties of individual Russians, again supposedly justified by some inherent evil in their being Russian. And once again, if the underlying premises were openly stated, they would be rejected outright as being illegal and criminal, totally lawless behavior. But the premises are not openly stated and we are given no facts, left to connect the dots ourselves and conclude that all Russians “deserve” this.
It is not possible to separate the US and Europe in terms of propaganda, since it all stems from a single source in the City of London, and all the world’s media, especially in the Western countries, are owned by the same small group of people who are simply following instructions. The US appears more prominent because it is the largest economy with by far the largest military and State Department, and because the US excels in promoting itself as the greatest country and the world’s policeman. But everything of consequence that occurs in the US and Europe is coordinated, all reading from the same script. Countries like Russia and China are mostly irrelevant to all this. Any “propaganda” they employ is intended for domestic audiences only, and hardly qualifies as propaganda because they are gravely under attack and are merely defending themselves. It is entirely the West, the US and Europe, that conduct worldwide propaganda campaigns.
One of the main features of propaganda today is the almost total information control that exists in the West. A group of like-minded people adhering to the same agenda can propagandise most of the Western population without anyone being aware that anything unusual is occurring. The mainstream media in all Western countries, being almost entirely Jewish-owned or controlled, will echo these sentiments, this misinformation reaching a very wide Western audience. And Google, being an egg from the same nest, will then create an algorithm that will select only these articles and documents while suppressing all contrary information in the searches. The result is that anyone wanting to research this topic will obtain only the propaganda. To assist in this, the Western social media like Facebook and Twitter will delete, suppress, or ban altogether the truth of events as “misinformation”. And no one will realise that this is happening.
The same is true for all important current affairs. It is being done today with the conflict between Russia and Ukraine, including the destruction of the Nordstream pipeline. It was done in the same way with all the facts on COVID while burying the detrimental effects of the mRNA spike injections that are promoted as “vaccines”. It is being done today in many other areas, perhaps the most notable being the sudden thrust for LGBTQ+and the emphasis on gender selection beginning in kindergarten, and another frightening topic is the silent adoption by all Western nations of assisted suicide. In these matters, parents are being removed from the information loop, with schools and teachers suddenly having the legal right to encourage gender changes in children without notifying the parents, and children as young as 10 years old now having the legal right to request as assisted suicide with the parents prohibited from interfering.
The same is being done to prepare Western populations for World War Three, with the incessant hate campaigns being conducted against Russia, China and Iran, the entire Western media being flooded with deliberately-fabricated false and hateful “news” about these countries. It was done exactly and precisely in the same way to condition people for the first two World Wars. The template being followed is identical, and will almost certainly once again produce the desired result.
Another category is the World Economic Forum (WEF), with its promoted mantra of “you will have nothing, and you will be happy”. All these and more are clandestine propaganda campaigns in effect today, concocted by a small group of people in The City of London and promulgated throughout the world by the power of the media.
Propaganda has become a kind of art form, honed to precision from long practice and experience by its perpetrators, and is used to engineer vast social changes as well as military conflicts. It is most important for us to recognise that none of these issues are “accidental” in any sense, nor do they represent natural social development or evolution. Instead, they have all been carefully planned and are being just as carefully executed.
The world’s problems with propaganda today are not so simple as our governments lying to us. In the past, propaganda was primarily supported by what we called “moral suasion”, using high-minded precepts as psychological manipulation to pressure the public to accept the tenets being proposed. The situation has changed. The enhanced use of propaganda today is associated with a frightening increase in a clearly fascist “police-state” mentality in Western governments, their power used as the “enforcer” of the propaganda being imposed on their own populations. European countries have had many such experiences, notably of astonishing police brutality against the citizenry. Many propaganda campaigns in effect today are subject to an alarming measure of this enforcement. With the LGTBQ+ initiative, parents are threatened with legal action if they resist government efforts to “re-gender” their children.
In the COVID vaccination campaigns, people were threatened with loss of employment, withdrawal of social services, even the freezing of their bank accounts, as enforcement pressure. Doctors had their medical licenses revoked for daring to question the official COVID narrative. In Canada, during an anti-vaccination protest by a group of truckers, the government enacted a law permitting police to seize and sell the trucks (value $200,000 each) to “help pay the costs” of the protest. All protestors who could be identified, had their bank accounts frozen, leaving them with no access to cash or credit.Funds that were raised by the general public to help support the protestors, were seized by the government.
All this is in support of the propaganda, to make resistance too painful to bear. Governments have dramatically adjusted their tactics, no longer appearing concerned with public acceptance of or belief in the propaganda, but in enforcing compliance with the desired behavior, increasingly resorting to force to ensure this compliance, and increasingly doing so openly and without hesitation.
The mass media have always been an integral part of any propaganda campaign, proof in itself that the media owners are acting in concert with the propagandists, which is by definition a “conspiracy”. Media tactics have also been adjusted, with what appears to be an increased forcefulness in their eagerness to condemn any public refutation of the propaganda tenets or desired actions. The combination of government edicts, draconian laws, police and other violence, and the intense media pressure, create a virtually omnipotent force and resistance appears futile.
(L.R.) — First, we must recognise that any news topic, even a severe disaster like Japan’s Fukushima reactor meltdown, appears in the news for only a few days before giving way to other more current events. Whenever a topic appears in the mass media frequently and for an extended period, that is prima facie evidence of a propaganda campaign being leveled against us. Understand this.
Next, ask yourself if you agree with what the propaganda is proposing or the direction in which it is pushing you. Do you really think it’s necessary to have public parades (which include your Prime Minister) to “celebrate” incest, sodomy, bestiality, sex with small children, as social “preferences”? Does your country have parades to “celebrate” heterosexual activity? Do you agree that teachers should be able to re-gender children without their parents’ knowledge? Do you really believe GM food is safe? Do you really have a reason to hate Russians and Chinese so much that you want to kill them all? Do you really want your country full of foreigners who don’t share your culture, your beliefs, or your values? Do you really want to have nothing and be happy?
Inform your government and the media that you recognise what they are doing and that you refuse to accept their direction. Street protests can be put down with police violence, but no one can put down a vast public that refuses to be brainwashed.
Mr. Romanoff’s writing has been translated into 32 languages and his articles posted on more than 150 foreign-language news and politics websites in more than 30 countries, as well as more than 100 English language platforms. Larry Romanoff is a retired management consultant and businessman. He has held senior executive positions in international consulting firms, and owned an international import-export business. He has been a visiting professor at Shanghai’s Fudan University, presenting case studies in international affairs to senior EMBA classes. Mr. Romanoff lives in Shanghai and is currently writing a series of ten books generally related to China and the West. He is one of the contributing authors to Cynthia McKinney’s new anthology ‘When China Sneezes’. (Chapt. 2 — Dealing with Demons).
This document may contain copyrighted material, the use of which has not been specifically authorised by the copyright owner. This content is being made available under the Fair Use doctrine, and is for educational and information purposes only. There is no commercial use of this content.