Propaganda - hatred toward humankind

Valeria Sokolova

Governments attempt to place citizens in a cage of binary oppositions through propagandistic sources and justify the control of “dangerous ideas” with a vague image of this  ‘security’

Imagination is a great and, at the same time, bitter engine of human evolution. From the very moment, we are aware of our existence and able to comprehend external processes, imagination begins to unfold multiple storylines in our heads. Therefore, humankind took its course of development thousands of years ago. Its greatness that urges the rolling stone of evolution is indisputable, as well as its bitterness that at times seems to be turning the “clock” back. Similar to Hegel’s sublation (ger. Aufhebung), which means simultaneously two opposites: negation and preservation, imagination, having reached one of its limits or extremes, pushes itself on to its opposite, and that’s how it goes up and down its infinite scale. Both conceiving something evil and foreseeing it demand imagination. The weapon against humanity is one of its tricks, namely propaganda.

“The western enemy”, “the Jews”, “the Chinese spreaders of covid”, “the homosexual”, “the imperialistic Russians” etc. are labels used in titles of news reports and TV shows, and they are not rarely warbled out of mouths of those to whom propaganda has become a monarch. The definite article that you can see at the beginning of each phrase in inverted commas is that very “generalization” that chills down my spine today. I turned again to the dystopian novel by Ray Bradbury, Fahrenheit 451, and to the words of the Soviet-Russian doctor of psychology Aleksander Asmolov. These generalized labels are directed at dividing humanity into friends and foes and they are the cause of dehumanization and homophobia (as hatred towards a human being itself). [1]

What is more important here is the explanation of the propaganda to the ears of the recipients: security. Asmolov declares that one of the greatest risks of today is the substitution of ideals with idols, where so-called security is one of the idols. In other words, idols are made to worship them, and so the idol of  “universal” security has become the one that governments pretend to serve. Asmolov denies the ideology of security in the form of an idol that appears to justify any mischiefs, tragedies and dehumanization. But what brings Fahrenheit 451 in relation to this? It’s that Bradbury foresaw the events that we are living in now. Governments attempt to place citizens in a cage of binary oppositions through propagandistic sources and justify the control of “dangerous ideas” with a vague image of this ‘security’. Mildred that sleeps with “seashells” (a sort of modern headphones) at night and spends time surrounded by her TV walls, playing in virtual reality, and watching TV parlour with her friends during the day, is the representation of an endeavour to distract and secure oneself of facing oneself’s thoughts that in less than an hour might be unbearable. [2] There are more people like Mildred in that town, that simply wish to gratify their sense of security and conformity and choose not to be bothered by reality. That is exactly what the government gave them: books were replaced with tv-shows and regular news reports. As a result, ‘security’, manufactured by gradual obscuration, took over and firemen that burn books and sometimes even their owners, burn them because television has explained to them what is good and what is evil very well,  as well as who is a friend and who is a foe, what to listen to and what to deny. 

Is being born human sufficient to remain human? It’s unlikely. Maintaining humanness is proving it throughout our entire lifetime. Recalling Sartre’s bad faith, we see how easily a person can metamorphose themselves into an inanimate object (being in itself) giving up their capability and their gift to be conscious, thus aware of reality (being for itself). [3] The process of dehumanization is fueled by the ones who wilfully simplify the complexity of the world, that is the enigma of humanness. But the ones who follow this path and stand under these flags, albeit unconsciously it may seem at first, also make a choice in the end. 

[2] Rad Bradbury “Fahrenheit 451”

Illustration by Valentina Cima

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