Randal MarlinPropaganda and the Ethics of Persuasion (Second Edition)

Broadview Press, 2013

by Bruce Wark on November 17, 2014

Randal Marlin

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It’s been 100 years since the start of the First World War, a conflict that cost millions of lives. In his recently revised book, Propaganda and the Ethics of Persuasion (2013), Randal Marlin writes that Britain pioneered propaganda techniques to sell that war that have been imitated ever since. He tells how the British spread a false story about Germans boiling the bodies of their dead soldiers in corpse factories. It was designed to paint Germany as a uncivilized, ghoulish nation that had to be fought. Marlin also tells how American propaganda during the First World War helped foster the modern public relations and advertising industries.

Marlin, who studied with the French propaganda theorist Jacques Ellul, sees propaganda as a manipulative exercise of power and he argues that in order to defend ourselves against it, we need to recognize its methods and techniques. His revised second edition analyzes how the Bush administration used fear to persuade Americans to support the invasion of Iraq.

The book traces the history of propaganda from ancient times to its present, post 9/11 forms

Randal Marlin is a professor of philosophy at Carleton University in Ottawa.

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