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Dearborn independent. [volume] (Dearborn, Mich.) 1901-1927, February 07, 1920, Image 3

Image and text provided by Central Michigan University, Clark Historical Library

Persistent link: https://chroniclingamerica.loc.gov/lccn/2013218776/1920-02-07/ed-1/seq-3/

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f Mr. Ford's Pag lpjl
WE HAVE seen a reat deal of propaganda during the last
live years and have had ample opportunity to appraise
its wisdom, sincerity and effectiveness. The fact that
it still continues to be used tor oik- purpose or another, with an
assurance that the human mind can he wheeled into position
and marched th is way or that as the propagandist desires, is
beginning to get on the nerves of the people: they are reaching
out beyond the propaganda for the facts, just as in a lawsuit
the jury reaches out beyond the contentions of the lawyers t
get at the knowledge which the witnesses may have.
Like the great financial "drives," this new business of prop
aganda has become so very obtrusive that it is compelling a
rather critical scrutiny. There was a time when all you had to
do was to start a "drive," threaten the non-contributors with an
unpopular stigma, and millions rolled in. But even the "drives'
are falling down. And the simple reason is that you
cannot "drive" people to think any more than you can
"drive" them to give.
Legitimate propaganda during the
war period is very simply described
The nation was agreed that, being rightly
in the war and on the right side, it had
to win. It did not have to be urged to
a desire to win. The desire was there.
Propaganda did not create it; propa
ganda did not increase it. All that
propaganda did was to tell the people
how they could help to win. It was a
distribution of information, not a storm
of argument ; it was knowledge and
education, not mere exhortation.
And that is the mark of legitimate
propaganda at all times the facts. A
fact is like granite it stays. Winter
will not freeze it, summer will not melt
it, rains will not wash it away. Men
may neglect it for a long time. They
may stumble over it and curse it many
times. Hut after a while they begin to
build with it. The man with a fact need
not worry about the indifference of the
multitudes; let him tie up to his fact.
In due time it will find its place. Hut
he must be careful that it is a Fact, and
not merely a notion of something he
thinks could be made a fact if he could
get enough people to agree with him.
Agreement doesn't make facts. Hut
facts make agreement. People who
don't agree with facts get bumped by
them. Hut it is not your place to do the bumping the fact takes
care of that.
What kills propaganda is the obvious purpose behind it. One
little admixture of self-interest and your effort is wasted. You
cannot preach patriotism to men for the purpose of getting them
to stand still while you rob them and get away with that kind
f preaching very long.
You cannot preach the duty of working hard and producing
plentifully, and make that a screen for an additional profit to
There has been too much of this kind of psychological crime
committed in the world these past few years the crime of bringing
men to act from the highest and sincerest motives of self
surifice, and then using that high spirit for the lowest purposes.
We are going to pay the price of that sort of trifling, for there
il nothing that heals so slowly and hurts so long as wounded faith.
JUST now the country is being flooded with propaganda de
signed to improve the state of mind in which the people find
themselves with regard to industrial and economic questions.
This new propaganda contains much truth, a great many things
which the people need to know, and knowing which they would
be saved from some very grave errors of thought and action.
Hut for the most part it is propaganda from a class to a class,
tad it has a design behind it which arouses suspicion.
The workingman is not going to take his views of duty from a
mm or a class whose privileges or profits depend on the working
man taking that point of view.
Kmployers or capitalists or close corporations of international
speculators who think they can mobilize the mind of the common
liiVCH of the industrial
rJ- propaganda used today
is an effort to make words do
the work of acts. If an em
ployer would convince his men
that he is square, that his in
terest is in their welfare as well
as his own, he cannot do it by
speeches and bulletins. He
must do it by acts acts that
cost him something. Too much
of the progaganda which is
used to abate unrest is devoted
to telling the workingman what
he ought to do. It would be a
good thing if the initiativ&came
from the other side. Mr. Em
ployer, isn't it your move?
people and issue orders to it, or who think they can hire a few
writers and speakers and solve the whole troublesome situation
with nicely selected words and phrases, are either very ignorant
of human nature or are unbalanced by an exaggerated urn ft of
their own importance and wisdom.
TJie plain people have stood in line a long time and have been
lectured and ordered about. As long as they were persuaded that
it was for the good of their country to be thus regimented. the
agreed to it. Hut the wastes and shameless profiteering which
accompanied the war have brought them a disgusting sense that
fa sacrifice as in other things there may be class lines too; one
mass may do all the sacrificing, while one class reaps all the gains.
Propaganda issuing from a recognized class whose interests
are all bound up in the preservation of the old order of
things, is not only a waste of effort, it is a positive irritant
to the people to whom it is addressed. They resent it. and
there is hot blood in their resentment.
Undoubtedly the employing class
possess tacts which their employes ought
to know in order to construct sound
opinions and pass fair judgments; and
undoubtedly the employed class pOMfii
facts which are equally important to the
case and which everyone ought to know.
It is extremely doubtful, however,
that either side has all the facts.
And this is where propaganda, even
if it were possible for it to be entirely
successful, is defective. It is not de
sirable that one set of ideas be "put
over" on a class holding another set of
ideas, but that out of both sets of ideas
the true, constructive and harmonizing
truth may be brought forth.
If you are going to rely on ideas,
that is the way you must get them.
But there is something better, more
immediately effective than the propa
ganda of ideas just now, and that
is the Act that illustrates the Idea.
THe best propaganda an employer can
use is to do right now for his own men
what he knows he can and ought to do.
We have been waiting too much for
"social changes." We might make a
start with shop changes.
We have been talking too much about
"the conflict of the classes." We might
make a start toward abolishing classes
in our own sphere of influence.
The best propaganda you can ever have is the reputation of
being square, humane and thoughtful of others all the time.
There are some things you can never tell men. nor persuade them
of by speech or literature. But if the things are there, the men
will know it you may be sure of that.
There is a great fever and flutter in certain high financial
circles, and much speaking and discussion, about getting in closer
touch with the men, introducing the human element, and so on.
It is all very good. But you will have to take it out of
speeches and committees ybu will have to get it into your own
heart first. You have got to do something that no one but your
self can do. That is, what you do must be personal and it must
fOJf you something. It is too late in the day for mere "jollying"
and "gladhanding." Men are ready to meet you half way. but it
must be something more than a sentiment they meet ; it must be
the real thing; actual, manifest, worthy.
Society isn't something thrust down upon us by some law :
we make it ourselves. Social conditions are not made for us
from outside, like the weather; we make them ourselves; tin
are the net result of the daily relations between man and man
We give them high-sounding names, but this is all they really are.
Every shop can become a center of a new social order simply
through the introduction of a new social spirit a new social
spirit evidenced by some i which eosts the management some
thing and which benefits all. That is the only way you can prove
your good intentions and win respect for your attitude. Prop
aganda, bulletins, lectures, everything that can be hired done
or made by machine fades into insignificance beside the persuading,
compelling power of a right act sincerely done

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