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The power of pithy propaganda

This is a post about propaganda. But I am not using that word in its negative sense, but rather as a neutral technical term. Yes, yes, as it happens I pretty much agree with the sentiments being expressed by the slogans below. But this is really just me marvelling at what good sloganeers the people behind these are.

These slogans started appeared in early 2021, at least that is when I started noticing them popping up around London. And they have been steadily and tirelessly appearing every day ever since, pretty much all over town, at least the Central London parts I tend to visit (Kennington & Chelsea, Notting Hill, West End, Battersea, Wapping).

I am a sloganeer myself, and this is really just an admiring post about pithy propaganda. So, if that is not what you are going to comment about below… don’t. This post is not about anything else.

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39 comments to The power of pithy propaganda

  • Nicholas (Unlicensed Joker) Gray

    I’ve always liked a picture I saw in an Australian political magazine, years ago. It showed mainly empty shelves, with the slogan “Freedom. You’ll miss it when it’s gone.”

  • Nicholas (Unlicensed Joker) Gray

    Wasn’t the White Rose a German Anti-Nazi group? Is this an act of cultural appropriation? Who can I squeal to?

  • John B

    Origine.

    Sacra Congregatio de Propaganda Fide = The Congregation For The Propagation of the Faith. A body of Cardinals created by Pope Gregory XV in 1622 to spread the Faith particularly in non-Christian lands.

    So ‘propaganda’ was originally a neutral term in the word’s literal sense. Just spread the message as effectively as possible.

  • AndrewWS

    @N(UJ)G:

    Indeed it was; there’s a memorial to them in Munich University, where many of them studied.

    https://www.weisse-rose-stiftung.de/white-rose-memorial-exhibition/

    I gather that they get pretty annoyed by anti-lockdown campaigners in Germany who compare themselves with them, and no doubt they feel the same way about such campaigners in the UK.

  • Bell Curve

    I gather that they get pretty annoyed by anti-lockdown campaigners in Germany who compare themselves with them, and no doubt they feel the same way about such campaigners in the UK.

    Tough titties. They should be flattered people resisting tyranny of any time are inspired by them & are standing up in a way that’s relevant to the world right now, rather than waiting until standing up is pointless.

  • Mr T

    I saw these in Harpenden, Herts. Very good.

  • Bulldog Drummond

    Contra what some commenters seem to be assuming, these are actually posters by three different groups. Very good indeed.

    Saw some of these in Carlisle and Darlington.

  • Mark Pollock

    Brilliant. Thanks. Made my day. And I’m writing in from sunny News South Wales.

  • pete

    Pithy, but pompous.

    Probably written by people who think they are quite clever, smarter than the average person, who feel the need to warn the rest of us against our alleged unthinking obedience, conformity and gullibility.

    The kind of person who sometimes uses the word sheeple to describe others, and who sneers at people who consume Murdoch products, drink at Wetherspoons and vote leave.

  • People who use the word “sheeple” are telling us what they think of us.

  • Jussi

    Seen some of these on railway paths in Co Durham.

  • Probably written by people who think they are quite clever, smarter than the average person, who feel the need to warn the rest of us against our alleged unthinking obedience, conformity and gullibility.

    Well they’d be right on all counts.

    The kind of person who sometimes uses the word sheeple to describe others, and who sneers at people who consume Murdoch products, drink at Wetherspoons and vote leave.

    I would bet good money most of those slogans are written by folk who voted leave. And rather a lot of people are indeed sheeple.

  • pete

    These little posters warn us against our own ignorance and unwise decisions.

    Now who does that remind you of back in 2016?

  • Flubber

    Pete in 2016, the establishment were telling us that to leave would be an act of folly.

    In 2020, the establishment are pushing masks, fear, mass vaccinations and any contrary thoughts are folly.

    Seems to me you’re mixing up your sides.

    The modern world is a war of narratives, primarily in my opinion, between free people and those who want power and tge people to be enslaved.

    You seem to be moaning that people won’t simply submit.

  • Druid144

    Don’t just applaud from the side-lines.
    Do something!

    https://t.me/JoinTheWhiteRose

  • What Flubber said.

    Pete is clearly annoyed people are not being even more subservient to the authorities than they are.

  • undercover gnome

    Pete in 2016, the establishment were telling us that to leave would be an act of folly.

    In 2020, the establishment are pushing masks, fear, mass vaccinations and any contrary thoughts are folly.

    UK establishment, not European one. What difference “voting leave” made in this case?

    If you want to reopen the Brexit debate from 2016 in 2020, tell us who is more free?
    someone who can travel, live and work in 27 countries, or someone who is stuck on one little island?

  • Haydn

    We have a load of these around my neck of the woods in the midlands, I actually saw the guys sticking some of them up and it was heartening to see they were in their late teens/early twenties.

  • UK establishment, not European one

    Really? In much of Europe, there are no mask exemptions whatsoever outside your own home (in UK they are not required outside, not required anywhere if you state you are except). Sounds like things are even more hysterical in parts of Europe than the absurdity here.

    someone who can travel, live and work in 27 countries, or someone who is stuck on one little island?

    Oh really? Explain that to a mother I know in Slovakia who can’t travel to visit her son & grandson in Czech Republic. So much for travel, live and work in 27 countries 🤣

    We are all unfree at the moment. But tell me, who has more of their vulnerable population inoculated? Personally, I think mass vaccination for anyone *other* than the genuinely vulnerable is pointless at best & crazy at worst, but Europe didn’t even do well with vaccinating their vulnerable.

  • I wanna stick my fingers in Offa's Dyke

    I saw them in Gloucester & Stroud too, so not just London. More and faster please!

  • Rob Fisher

    The kitten one really has an impact. What does this tell me? I should employ more kittens to get my points across, I guess.

  • Mr Ed

    I am impressed, I saw one of those slogans in, of all places, Cambridge, the other day, a city where wearing a mask whilst walking down the street goes beyond teenage girls and people over 70, which seems to be the ‘rule’ in most towns.

  • bobby b

    “If you want to reopen the Brexit debate from 2016 in 2020, tell us who is more free? someone who can travel, live and work in 27 countries, or someone who is stuck on one little island?”

    Seems a stretch to me to say that adding an overarching and more powerful “federal” layer of government with its unaccountable and distant leadership over your already-existing independent country – ceding control of your own country to the whims of the citizens of other countries – somehow adds to your freedom.

  • Jon Eds

    Saw some similar ones in Penge (SE London), also anti-woke ones. Cheered me up no end.

    I tend to agree with Pete though that they aren’t likely to convince any of the sheeple. But they do serve a purpose. They boost the morale of the sticker-putter-uppers and also people like us. There are also probably quite a lot of people who are sitting on the fence, just going along to get along, hoping that it will all end soon. This might help push them over to our side.

    Propaganda is effective. But it needs to be emotive and not clever or pompous. Keep reminding people of the cost of the lockdown – a sticker stating “lockdown caused 50,000 extra cancer deaths in 2020” should give pause for thought (I made that up by the way, but you get the idea). It’s a bit hard to ‘yeah, but’ yourself around that statement. We should also not be afraid of attacking the man and not the policy. A picture of Boris with his pants down with a text to say ‘now he also fkd the economy’ could be effective.

  • Jon Eds

    Oh, and let’s not forget that it’s only in the UK and US where vaccine passports are controversial. It will get whisked through in most of the EU – they already have ID cards in most countries. The only reason perhaps we’ve not heard so much about it is that they are so far behind us in vaccinations that it’s not really relevant yet.

    Ditto the Far East (obviously China but also Japan, Korea…)

    The only reason why Biden has ruled it out in the US is that it is totally unenforceable there, what with the diversity: blacks, illegal aliens and… Republicans living alongside the Karens. Yeah, good luck with that.

  • Flubber

    “It will get whisked through in most of the EU – they already have ID cards in most countries. ”

    Maybe. For the sake of our European cousins I hope not.

    The vaccine passport is not an ID. It is a precursor to the implementation of the Chinese Social Credit System in the West.

    It also marks a crucial transformation in the relationship between the state and the citizen.

    Before the state was supposed to protect your freedoms and rights; after, it becomes an issuer of revocable permissions.

  • bobby b

    Jon Eds
    April 28, 2021 at 8:14 pm

    “I tend to agree with Pete though that they aren’t likely to convince any of the sheeple. But they do serve a purpose. They boost the morale of the sticker-putter-uppers and also people like us. There are also probably quite a lot of people who are sitting on the fence, just going along to get along, hoping that it will all end soon. This might help push them over to our side.”

    Over here in the US, there’s a rampant slogan/meme of “Buy more guns and ammo.”

    It probably convinces none of the unbelievers, nor does it sway fence-sitters. It likely has value in boosting morale insofar as it is singing to the choir.

    But I’d bet more than half of its value lies in the fact that the progs can see that we’re saying it, that we support it, and that overly-intrusive government should fear it.

    When people see those anti-lockdown memes being spread, it forces them to recognize that the world isn’t quite as monolithic as their approved media lulls them into thinking it is. The more they encounter, the more often they must recognize that their paradigms aren’t universal.

    In a healthy society, it would be apparent that there were dissenting views. In a society that quashes “disinformation”, you need illicit memes to remind people that there are other views.

  • Sam Duncan

    I’ve seen these around my way, in north Glasgow. Which was a surprise.

    “someone who is stuck on one little island?”

    There are 123 islands in the UK. The British mainland is the ninth largest in the world.

    Taiwan is about a quarter the size of Britain. It closed its borders to China in January 2020. It has never “locked down”. Its government policy is that healthy people do not require masks in open spaces. It has one of the strictest border-quarantine régimes in the world. Barely 100 miles from China, it has seen 12 deaths from COVID-19.

    Who is more free? Someone who has been forced to stay indoors, apply for permits to leave his home (in France), and must now prove his health status in order to go about his daily business, or one who has been able to live more or less as he pleases for the last year on one little island?

    No, Taiwan is not Britain. Britain should have followed its lead, and failed. But I mention this to point out the fatuousness of your argument. Foreign travel is not the be-all and end-all of liberty.

  • John B

    undercover gnome

    ‘ UK establishment, not European one.’

    I live in France, that’s European right? Masks are obligatory everywhere except in the street, but at street markets, and some cities require them in the street too. Currently ‘non-essential’ businesses are closed, schools too, restaurants and bars have been closed since October after being open for the Summer, we cannot travel more than 10km without an approved reason. If we wish to stray more than 10km we need a signed form showing our reason from an approved list, but we cannot go more than 20km. We cannot travel to another region. Travel to another EU Country only with an urgent approved reason, travel to non-EU Country not allowed. Arrival from an EU Country means 14 days self quarantine, unless recent negative PCR test. Nobody is allowed into France from a non-EU Country, even returning French citizens.

    The current confinement (lockdown) supposedly will end on 02 May, but we are yet to learn whether restriction like masks, limits to numbers of people in shops will be lifted. My money is on not.

  • Paul Marks

    “undercover gnome” – if you think that “Build Back Better”, “Great Reset” lockdowns and so on were thought up by Prime Minister Johnson and co – then you are mistaken.

    I rather doubt that Klaus Schwab and the rest of the international establishment (World Economic Forum, World “Health” Organisation and-so-on) are supporters of British independence.

    “Ah the British government has independence in theory – but choose to submit in practice”.

    Now if “undercover gnome” said that, that would have been a real point – but instead we get nonsense about how these policies were invented in Britain as part of “Brexit”.

  • Paul Marks

    On the posters.

    I especially like the first one – the small poster that is put on top of the government propaganda poster, utterly subverting its message.

    I remember, from my FCS days (some 35 years ago now), a man by the name of Jon Dobinson – not that I am saying he has anything to do with this campaign. The name has just entered my semi senile brain for some reason or other.

  • barbarus

    The main point of Brexit is that Boris can no longer go on telly and say, as his predecessors could and did, ‘Oh, I don’t like it either, I argued against it, but we are bound by the EU’. Whether or not his government’s lockdown is a copycat of something being done abroad, it’s still their responsibility.

    Brexit was not the endgame. Brexit is just the start of getting the politicians under control.

  • The following can both benefit from more detailed statistical examination and debate – but that’s OK: slogans that prompt thought and discussion are the aim.

    UK death rate, by age and population ratio:

    – 2020:  1,043.5 deaths per 100,000

    – 2019:    925.0 deaths per 100,000

    – … 2020 beats every year till …

    – 2008:  1,091.9 deaths per 100,000.

    – … and now 2020 is beaten by every year this millenium …

    – 2000:  1,266.4 deaths per 100,000

    – … and last.

    We’re safer than we were a decade ago, safer still than we were two decades ago – safer, but not braver.

    Source: https://www.ons.gov.uk/peoplepopulationandcommunity/birthsdeathsandmarriages/deaths/adhocs/12735annualdeathsandmortalityrates1938to2020provisional

    (The population is larger than in the past, and, especially, people are living longer: the UK had more very aged people in 2020 than in previous decades.)

    Illness in the UK:

    – Average age of death with Covid: 82

    – Average age of death without Covid: 81

    Hove you ever felt you were being unduly alarmed?

    Source: https://www.dailymail.co.uk/debate/article-8821113/The-average-age-death-coronavirus-82-4-years-writes-DAVID-ROSE.html

  • […] from Perry de Havilland posting on Samizdata from London, these are being posted all over central […]

  • Paul Marks

    barbarus – good point.

    Now if the government attacks liberty it can not say “the E.U. made us do it”.

    Such things as the “Online Harms” Bill are, legally, entirely the responsibility of the government – yes they may have been suggested by officials and “experts” (such as the totalitarian “Law Commission”), but ministers could say NO.

  • Paul Marks

    Sadly the political culture of the United Kingdom is that if something comes from officials and “experts” it is considered “POLICY” (a sacred word in both national and local government), politicians of all political parties assume it is beyond question (indeed anyone who questions POLICY is a “Conspiracy Theorist” or just a “Nutter”).

    Just as in education (both school and university) people are taught WHAT to think – if a student questions doctrine then they are a “racist”, “sexist”, “homophobe”, “transphobe”, “Islamophobe” for questioning the need for higher government spending and so on.

    “Social Reform”, an ever bigger government – controlling everything, is sacred – it may not be opposed. It is “science”.

  • APL

    Niall Kilmartin:

    – Average age of death with Covid: 82
    – Average age of death without Covid: 81

    To which I would add;

    – Average age of death after taking the COVID-19 vaccination: TBA*

    * It’s probably not going to be 83.

  • APL

    barbarus: “The main point of Brexit is that Boris can no longer go on telly and say, as his predecessors could and did, ‘Oh, I don’t like it either, I argued against it, but we are bound by the EU’.”

    I don’t think British politicians ever said ‘it’s the fault of the EU’.

    It’s my recollection they were all engaged, Labour, Tories and Liberals/SDP – Whatever, in a conspiracy to cover up the shortcomings of the EU.

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