“. . . within an established totalitarian regime the purpose of propaganda is not to persuade, much less to inform, but rather to humiliate.” Theodore Dalrymple
In the early stages of a totalitarian political upheaval, propaganda is always used to win the hearts and minds of the people being groomed for take-over, so it sounds soothing, reasonable and just. Once a core of supporters is established within a society, propaganda takes on a different purpose and is used to shape minds and make sure no one questions the purposes of the movement or its leaders. This is a very dangerous time for anyone on the inside who wavers in their commitment to the movement.
Once a totalitarian regime is established, propaganda takes on yet another purpose. The people as a whole now need to be controlled so new methods are set up for everyone but the strongest leaders. They control by trusting no one and intimidating and humiliating everyone below them. Any one who questions will be destroyed by any means at hand, whether it means blackmail, loss of home and fortune, threats to family, exile, prison and even death if deemed necessary.
This is also a dangerous time for the leaders because a Strongman will always arise and destroy any one he perceives to be a threat. No one is ever safe.
Eventually everyone in such a society is forced to participate in the evil used against them in order to assure their own survival. They are afraid to speak out against what is happening and give their silent assent to the destruction of their neighbors. They will eventually bear witness against even such neighbors and friends out of fear for their own safety and prosperity. All children are taught to turn against their parents and siblings. And the propaganda includes visible punishment so that everyone knows what awaits them if they speak up. Everyone is humiliated by the lies and ugliness they are forced to participate in. Few people in such circumstances have the strength or will to resist and so they suffer even greater personal shame.
Solzhenitsyn’s novel The Third Circle paints a horrifying picture of people caught in Soviet communism and how they are all subverted by their leaders. In The Black Book of Communism actual first hand witnesses retell the true history of communism in several societies during the time they were under USSR domination and the Soviets were militarily meddling in other countries (which they still seem to be doing).
Why no one pays attention to the histories of the USSR and those countries left within their control after WWII, or China, Laos, Cambodia, Vietnam, Cuba, North Korea and all other countries who have endured communism (you can safely read “socialism” here) is a continuing mystery to me.
What but soothing propaganda from on high keeps us believing we will never face such a fate?