“Millions of leaflets, pamphlets, cartoons, comic books, articles — and more recently radio and movie scripts — have been produced and disseminated in the propaganda war.” Samuel H. Flowerman, Mass Propaganda in the War Against Bigotry, 1947.
The Protocols of Samuel H. Flowerman
Samuel H. Flowerman, as Research Director at the American Jewish Committee, as colleague of the Institute for Social Research, and as a kind of hub for the expansive Jewish clique of mass communications scholars, was at the center of the drive to put Jewish “opinion research” initiatives into practical action. The clearest articulation of what this practical action would look like was articulated in his 1947 essay, “Mass Propaganda in the War Against Bigotry.” Flowerman’s foremost concern was that, although millions of dollars were being spent by organisations like the American Jewish Committee and the Anti-Defamation League on propaganda, propaganda may not by itself be sufficient for the mass transformation of values in the host population — in particular, for the weakening of its ethnocentrism.
Flowerman begins by explaining the format and extent of existing efforts: “Millions of leaflets, pamphlets, cartoons, comic books, articles — and more recently radio and movie scripts — have been produced and disseminated in the propaganda war (429).” Flowerman’s use of the language of warfare is of course interesting in itself and will be discussed further below. For now, we should focus on what Flowerman lists as the five aims of the “propaganda war”:
1. “The restructuring of the attitudes of prejudiced individuals, or at least their neutralization.”
2. “The restructuring of group values toward intolerance.”
3. “The reinforcement of attitudes of those already committed to a democratic ideology perhaps by creating an illusion of universality or victory.”
4. “The continued neutralisation of those whose attitudes are yet unstructured and who are deemed “safer” if they remain immune to symbols of bias.”
5. “Off-setting the counter-symbols of intolerance.” (429)
Flowerman concedes that the level of work and control required to achieve these aims would be extensive, and that the project was highly ambitious, seeking nothing less than “successful mass persuasion in the field of intergroup relations (429).” But he is equally clear in the conditions required for such success. Read more