Education teaches one how to think, while propaganda teaches one what to think. Information offers opportunities, while propaganda tells how we should use these opportunities. Propaganda narrows people's views, while education broadens them. Education opens minds, while propaganda closes them; education will ultimately lead people to question the values upon which society is based, while propaganda aims to make people accept those values and act upon that acceptance. As consumers of information it is imperative that we learn to recognize and analyze the true purposes of propaganda. It is also imperative to understand that one person's truth may be another person's distortion of the truth.
Propaganda, an emotionally loaded blend of rhetoric and art, has existed for centuries. The aim of propaganda is to persuade and to manipulate, and patterns of propaganda are similar throughout the ages. Often infused with nationalistic or localized sentiment, political propaganda can be full of lies and "alternative facts" that parades themselves as truth. This exhibit features three series of propaganda, each with a distinct political goal. First, we will examine 1830s French propaganda depicting scenes from Napoleon Bonaparte's life, which attempted to rally the populace against the Bourbon Restoration. Next, we see images from a Union of Soviet Socialist Republic's Five Year Plan depicting the importance of agriculture and a strong work ethic. Last, we consider American representations of propaganda with anti-Vietnam War themes.
Credit: Exhibition overview from museum website
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