Everyone knows that the concept of The Big Lie was invented by the Nazis in the 1930s, and its basic theory is that if you repeat a lie often enough, from as many different directions as possible, then people will blindly believe it without question. At about the same time various neuropsychologists discovered a phenomenon called "extinction of the signal", which means that the same sensory input, repeated often enough, eventually fades into the background and becomes ignored. The Nazis chose to believe the first theory and ignore the second.
Another theory they chose to ignore is that nothing teaches quite as well as personal experience. As Will Rogers once put it, "There are three kinds of people: those who can learn from reading or hearing about something, those that can learn from seeing something done, and the rest of us -- who have to learn by pissing on the electric fence for ourselves." What he didn't need to mention is that if you ever do piss on an electric fence, you'll remember the lesson no matter what the media, your politicians, or your neighbors tell you. The single worst enemy of propaganda is the unavoidable truth.
Totalitarian countries like Nazi Germany, the USSR, and North Korea have used the Big Lie to a fare-thee-well, but their people eventually pissed on the electric fence of reality and stopped believing. The official propaganda faded into the background, and people concentrated on their own survival regardless of what their governments preached. In every case, those governments neglected to learn from being shown; they only increased the propaganda in hopes that it would somehow keep working when piled higher and deeper.
Private advertising companies have a better record of success, simply because their goals are more modest: to promote sales of goods and services rather than whole factions and policies. To that end, it's often enough just to make the public generally aware that the product exists, along with a simple statement of "it's good", and broadcasting the ad as far and wide and fast as possible. Of course, to avoid rapid onset of boredom/extinction of the signal, the simple positive message must be altered slightly -- "tasty", "long-lasting", "improved", etc. -- and rebroadcast often, usually accompanied by visual images of smiling children or handsome adults. Unless the product being sold fails noticeably in public, the propaganda campaign can succeed for a long while. Firestone Tires lasted longer than the Nazi empire.
The flip side of The Big Lie is that its perpetrators have to somehow keep their victims from getting any other information. This requires total censorship, which is ultimately impossible. You can censor the newspapers, the broadcast news, the mail, large entertainment companies and even -- today -- the Internet, but contradictory news always leaks through. If nothing else, there's always word of mouth. "Rumors" can spread with amazing speed through households, neighborhoods, cities, and even prisons -- and once a "rumor" is proven true, there's no stopping it.
This is why, to remain effective, propaganda has to be minimal. It should stick to the truth as much as possible, repeat itself as little as possible, and not censor opposing arguments but be content with ignoring, belittling, or counter-arguing them.
Fortunately, professional propagandists -- whether government agents or advertising companies -- can never resist trying to do more, and more, until they saturate the listening market and become unbelieved background noise. The Big Lie is ultimately self-destructive, yet political factions -- the more fanatical, the more willing -- insist on playing with it.
Perhaps this is because the chief appeal of fanaticism is the promise of superiority over the "other", which includes superior intelligence; the fanatic assumes that his/her targeted victim is too stupid to see through the propaganda under any circumstances. This is particularly true when your faction includes the operators of the educational system. After all, it should be "obvious" that someone with a Ph.D. in Oppression Studies from Harvard is mentally superior to some knuckle-dragging mechanic who studied Engineering in some farming-county community college, right? This attitude makes it easy to seduce academics into fanaticism.
It also contributes mightily to class resentment and class warfare, since a less-than-elite education does not aromatically equal stupidity-- and remember that electric fence of experience. Some laborer's kid who joined the military, served a term in Iraq, used his/her GI Bill to fund his/her way through police academy, and rises to the rank of sergeant is likely to have had experiences that counter the claims of the popular media. This could explain the Democrats' total astonishment that the working class -- of whatever color -- voted for Trump in the last election. The very arrogance that feeds fanaticism blinds the fanatics to the competence of their victims.
The best propaganda engine in the world can't guarantee power. Lincoln understood this thoroughly when he made his famous statement: "You can fool some of the people all of the time, and all of the people some of the time, but you can't fool all of the people all the time."
--Leslie <;)))>< Fish