Goebbels’s Principles

Reich Minister of Public Enlightenment and Propaganda, Joseph Goebbels, left an account in his diary of the tactics used to promote the Nazi cause.  These principles are reprinted below as summarized by Leonard W. Doob in his essay, Goebbels’ Principles of Propaganda[i].

 

The purpose of reprinting these tactics is to recognize just how universally applicable they are and to draw parallels to current forms of persuasion. 

PRINCIPLE 1: PROPAGANDISTS MUST HAVE ACCESS TO INTELLIGENCE CONCERNING EVENTS AND PUBLIC OPINION

 

PRINCIPLE 2: PROPAGANDA MUST BE PLANNED AND EXECUTED BY ONLY ONE AUTHORITY

 

PRINCIPLE 3: THE PROPAGANDA CONSEQUENCES OF AN ACTION MUST BE CONSIDERED IN PLANNING THAT ACTION

 

PRINCIPLE 4: PROPAGANDA MUST AFFECT THE ENEMY’S POLICY AND ACTION

 

PRINCIPLE 5: DECLASSIFIED, OPERATIONAL INFORMATION MUST BE AVAILABLE TO IMPLEMENT A PROPAGANDA CAMPAIGN

 

PRINCIPLE 6: TO BE PERCEIVED, PROPAGANDA MUST EVOKE THE INTEREST OF AN AUDIENCE AND MUST BE TRANSMITTED THROUGH AN ATTENTION-GETTING COMMUNICATIONS MEDIUM

 

PRINCIPLE 7: CREDIBILITY ALONE MUST DETERMINE WHETHER PROPAGANDA OUTPUT SHOULD BE TRUE OR FALSE

 

PRINCIPLE 8: THE PURPOSE, CONTENT, AND EFFECTIVENESS OF ENEMY PROPAGANDA; THE STRENGTH AND EFFECTS OF AN EXPOSE; AND THE NATURE OF CURRENT PROPAGANDA CAMPAIGNS DETERMINE WHETHER ENEMY PROPAGANDA SHOULD BE IGNORED OR REFUTED

 

PRINCIPLE 9: CREDIBILITY, INTELLIGENCE, AND THE POSSIBLE EFFECTS OF COMMUNICATING DETERMINE WHETHER PROPAGANDA MATERIALS SHOULD BE CENSORED

 

PRINCIPLE 10: MATERIAL FROM ENEMY PROPAGANDA MAY BE UTILIZED IN OPERATIONS WHEN IT HELPS DIMINISH THAT ENEMY’S PRESTIGE OR LENDS SUPPORT TO THE PROPAGANDIST’S OWN OBJECTIVE

 

PRINCIPLE 11: BLACK RATHER THAN WHITE PROPAGANDA MUST BE EMPLOYED WHEN THE LATTER IS LESS CREDIBLE OR PRODUCES UNDESIRABLE EFFECTS

 

PRINCIPLE 12: PROPAGANDA MAY BE FACILITATED BY LEADERS WITH PRESTIGE

 

PRINCIPLE 13: PROPAGANDA MUST BE CAREFULLY TIMED

 

PRINCIPLE 14: PROPAGANDA MUST LABEL EVENTS AND PEOPLE WITH DISTINCTIVE PHRASES OR SLOGANS

 

PRINCIPLE 15: PROPAGANDA TO THE HOME FRONT MUST PREVENT THE RAISING OF FALSE HOPES WHICH CAN BE BLASTED BY FUTURE EVENTS

 

PRINCIPLE 16: PROPAGANDA TO THE HOME FRONT MUST CREATE AN OPTIMUM ANXIETY LEVEL

 

PRINCIPLE 17: PROPAGANDA TO THE HOME FRONT MUST DIMINISH THE IMPACT OF FRUSTRATION

 

PRINCIPLE 18: PROPAGANDA MUST FACILITATE THE DISPLACEMENT OF AGGRESSON BY SPECIFYING THE TARGETS FOR HATRED

 

PRINCIPLE 19: PROPAGANDA CANNOT IMMEDIATELY AFFECT STRONG COUNTER-TENDENCIES; INSTEAD IT MUST OFFER SOME FORM OF ACTION OR DIVERSION, OR BOTH


[i] This essay was printed in Propaganda, ed. R. Jackall (New York: NYU Press, 1995)

2 responses to “Goebbels’s Principles

  1. The government of B.C. premier Gordon Campbell has established a Public Affairs Bureau which meets most of these principles … and is a matter of concern.

    Established in the basement of the provincial legislature, the P.A.B. has a permanent staff of 223 with an annual budget of between $28- and $31-million. Operating 24/7, it has the latest media-monitoring equipment, capable of responding almost immediately to radio, TV, digital, online or virtual situations.

    The British Columbia Public Affairs Bureau is larger than any newsroom in Canada. No other newsroom is focused entirely upon the public, political affairs of a single province. [See Miro Cernitag, The Vancouver Sun, on this topic.]

    The unpopular premier with an environmentally devastating agenda was returned to office for a 3rd time in B.C.’s most recent election on May 12, 2009 a majority government.

  2. Pingback: Audience theories (decoding hypodermic gratifications) | Unit 6- Critical Approaches

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