submitted 1 month ago* (last edited 1 month ago) by [email protected] to c/politicalmemes

even this one.

political memes serve as a potent form of propaganda, irrespective of the viewpoint they espouse or the degree of nuance they convey. the term "propaganda" itself is morally neutral*; it's the adherence to facts, level of honesty, and underlying goals of either empowering or oppressing that determine the moral value of political propaganda. thus, the essence lies not in the mere act of influencing opinions but in the integrity and intentions behind the message conveyed.

this principle also applies to other terms including “shill” “bot” and others. for example, calling someone spreading pro-maga sentiment a “russian bot” achieves little rhetorically and is essentially an ad hominem. more effective approaches might highlight how such behavior is rooted in protecting the status quo of violence against vulnerable communities.

*****or at least the morally neutral definition can and will be used against you if you make the error of not engaging with the actual wicked of wicked propaganda. this is a post about semantics, see the faq below.

tldr call them out for their shit, not just for how they are doing it.

caveat, of course, do not feed the trolls. calling out trolls for their behavior is effective because it encourages dismissal of their behavior altogether in the form of moderator reports and blocking.

FAQ: Isn’t this just semantics?

yes, and intentionally so. semantics exist and are useful to engage with when it comes to countering the malicious propaganda of bad actors.

calling out the propaganda itself rather than its malicious intent or falsehoods only scratches the surface of the issue. to effectively counter propaganda, one must expose the underlying agenda driving it. focusing solely on the term "propaganda" risks missing the broader context and allowing the harmful narrative to persist unchecked.

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[-] yesman 18 points 1 month ago

Sure a neutral definition of propaganda will encompass any type of public message.

In popular usage, it means nefarious and deceptive messaging for wicked purposes.

juxtaposing the two meanings, especially to argue that one is more "correct" is just semantics.

[-] rockSlayer 9 points 1 month ago

In popular uses, it means deceptive messaging in opposition to your ideological position. Notice how people never call out propaganda on their "side".

[-] [email protected] 2 points 1 month ago

this is the correct nuance for the “popular definition,” nice work.

it’s not about arguing one definition of a term is “more correct,” as top comment suggests. it’s about having the self awareness to construct effective rhetorical takedowns of offensive propaganda.

[-] [email protected] 2 points 1 month ago

That doesn't mean that they wouldn't perceive something on their side as propaganda. Everyone is less likely to use a negatively connotated word for “their team”.

[-] [email protected] 5 points 1 month ago

My side doesn’t release propaganda, it’s educational materials. Their side releases 100% propaganda.

[-] [email protected] 1 points 1 month ago

Which by itself is propaganda.

[-] [email protected] 5 points 1 month ago

i made this post on purpose to be about sementics, so your “just semantics” is doing nothing to dismantle my position unfortunately. semantics happen to be incredibly important when it comes to making compelling rhetoric and engaging with bad actors.

if you see wicked propoganda and call out the “propoganda” of it rather than the “wicked,” you are failing to counter said propoganda because you are attacking the weaker term.

if you see a meme you disagree with and cry “propoganda,” you are opening yourself to a mirror image counter attack. if you see a meme you disagree with and engage by calling out its falsehood, deceit and oppression, you are getting somewhere.

semantics quite simply exist and can be engaged with. not every point dealing with semantics is somehow automatically in bad faith and irrelevant. :/

[-] Ultragigagigantic -1 points 1 month ago
[-] [email protected] 2 points 1 month ago* (last edited 1 month ago)

unsure if satire or if ur actually actively trying to be an antagonistic person , either way why was this the comment you chose to make

[-] [email protected] 2 points 1 month ago

Propaganda, is advancement of public message related to politics. But something like classified, while public, is not political, thus not propaganda.

[-] [email protected] 6 points 1 month ago

the term “propaganda” itself is neutral

I disagree. The OED definition says it is informal ‘particularly of a biased or misleading nature…’

[-] [email protected] 5 points 1 month ago* (last edited 1 month ago)

updated to say “morally neutral” to clarify this. thank you.

obviously all propaganda has bias. but not all propoganda is evil or deceptive, which is my intended point.

edit: added even further nuance to the semantics since i made the mistake of nuance-posting online. :P thanks again for calling out my non-specificity there.

[-] taanegl 5 points 1 month ago

This is technically correct, the best kind of correct.

[-] [email protected] 3 points 1 month ago

So are articles. Best you can do is realize everyone has an angle they're trying to push and no one is immune to it.

[-] TempermentalAnomaly 2 points 1 month ago

Ive come back to this post several times over the last twenty four hours. It took me several reading and combing through the comments to gain clarity on your thesis. And still, I'm not 100% sure I'll represent it well.

As I understanding it,

  1. All memes are propaganda
  2. Propaganda is morally neutral
  3. The deceptive content arises from framing and presentation of ones position
  4. To effectively deal with bad actors, address the underlying position and not the fact that the meme is propaganda

I think your ultimate conclusion is correct. Attack the structure of the argument and not the fact that it is being presented.

However, I think you've flattened the negative connotation of propaganda so it ends up being indistinct from media bias or even an individual publically sharing their position. I don't think you do anything to support the need for this shift.

Second, memes by nature and contextually thin. They are a pathos based argument relying on, usually, outrage and addressing only people who agree with you. This, I think,would separate it from some of the above conceptual neighbors. So being conceptually thin, a lot of what supports the argument is hidden and then difficult to deal with.

All in all, while agree that's how to deal with it, I'm not sure memes are necessary worth the argument, either structurally or emotionally. I'm still on the fence about it because the occasional meme seems to break through into public sentimental consciousness. But picking that out is difficult. And by the time that level is reached, dealing with it logically and not pathetically. Ridicule might be a better approach.

[-] [email protected] 1 points 1 month ago* (last edited 1 month ago)

thanks for your comment. good analysis and i appreciate your critique of how seriously i am taking this. i could definitely use some levity as there is variance to the degree of “propaganda-ness” a given post is. nevertheless, i still stand by my overall position of self-awareness, than any and all can both participate in and be influenced by propoganda from all sides of a conversation.

if you have seen this meme

essentially all im trying to do here is extend awareness that memes are included in this reality.

few things:

  1. i am of the opinion that memes are more or less deadly serious, given their historical use in instances of nationalism and violence up to and including genocidal action. i recognize that this is an extreme opinion and i try to regulate this with the understanding that it is a potential weight that a given meme may have, not an actual threat from every individual meme.
  2. “To effectively deal with bad actors, address the underlying position and not [just] the fact that the meme is propoganda. (key word missing in your representation but overall correct)
  3. ridicule is absolutely a method which can be used to construct strong takedowns of bad propoganda. i agree with you. again, said takedowns will simply be more effective if they attack the bad of bad propaganda, rather than just the propoganda. and both is also an option.
  4. and yeah i agree there is a sense that the negative connotation is overly flattened. my intent is to suggest care and caution, to treat memes as potentially dangerous or costly media and not content of neutral value.
[-] TempermentalAnomaly 1 points 1 month ago

Sorry for this incomplete reply, but I read this much earlier and just haven't had time to address. But I'd love for a compelling argument for #0. I'm open to it, but lean strongly towards it being over represented in online spaces with some tragic spillover events. Relatively, it's spillover are of course horrible, but there are traditional forms of propaganda like a trump rally that presents an immediate, festering danger that spans several thousand or more people willing to act.

[-] [email protected] 1 points 1 month ago

You're seeking a direct cause-effect relationship as evidence, but it's often a longer chain of events, akin to dominos falling.

Take the "RIGHT WING GRIFTER destroys FEMINAZI" meme on mid-2010s YouTube, for instance. Did these videos directly incite violence against women? Unprovable. Did they significantly alter the prevailing sentiment among young men, fostering behaviors that normalize violence? Indisputably.

Another instance is the stochastic terrorism of Libs of TikTok. While not directly inciting violence, this account has indirectly resulted in literal bomb threats.

Not all serious matters are as overt as a MAGA or Nazi rally. All memes are a form of speech with the potential to effect change. Some speech and memes are hateful and violent.

Consider your example of a Trump rally. Do you believe everyone just showed up one day to support him? Of course not. Persuasive media, including FOX News and Facebook, played a role. Racist, sexist, and xenophobic memes also doubtless played a part for many. Hence my conclusion, memes have the potential to he deadly serious.

[-] TempermentalAnomaly 1 points 1 month ago

I'd be open to statistical cohort analysis demonstrating construct validity for a population when a threshold exposure to memes create a set of results. Which is to say, this group of people, when spending time online in these meme heavy sites are more likely to engage in certain behaviors relative to their peers who don't. The reason I'm saying this is because it's hard to isolate memes are being more influential than other forms or propaganda.

Secondly, let's assume the effect is large, what is the relative size of that population to other populations who may have be exposed to a set of propaganda that has a smaller effect?

None of this is to say that propaganda shouldn't be taken seriously. It should. But where to address it and how to address it become a crucial question. Memes exist within a complex web of media through which propaganda is distributed. You acknowledge this fact in your reply. Your conclusion that "memes have the potential to be deadly serious" isn't clearly differentiated from "propagandas have the potential to be deadly serious".

[-] [email protected] 1 points 1 month ago* (last edited 1 month ago)

i uh… what is your goal with this lol. is this some new form of trolling im not aware of? you had my position right earlier but now you have left that and are building some crazy strawmen that i don’t stand by. here’s one:

The reason I'm saying this is because it's hard to isolate memes are being more influential than other forms or propaganda.

not my intent. the italicized statement above i neither believe to be true nor have ever implied to be. you came up with that on your own.


“memes have the potential to be deadly serious” isn’t clearly differentiated from “propoganda has the potential to be deadly serious”

just… huh? what does “clearly differentiated” mean? again you’re putting words in my mouth or something? my position can be expressed quite simply as:

all propaganda can be serious
all political memes are propaganda
therefore, all political memes can be serious

i feel like this is pretty straightforward. that’s a valid syllogism, so if the first two premises are true the conclusion must necessarily also be true.

this thread is getting weird. i don’t know what’s going on and i feel that one of us is quite out of our depth here. i’m not a researcher i am a dumb person who posts memes to the internet sorry if i somehow came across otherwise lol

[-] TempermentalAnomaly 2 points 1 month ago

Sorry. Didn't mean to unintentionally troll. I just don't understand the value of focusing on memes specifically over propaganda in general.

I wish you well on your journey and I hope you can forgive me for being too pedantic. Cheers!

[-] [email protected] 2 points 1 month ago

no problem. i focus on memes cuz they are my “thing.” its not only a way i socialize with my friends, but it’s also a way that i learn about the world and the human condition. i know that sounds stupid and over-serious but i mean it genuinely.

id never ask anyone else to involuntarily take up the same specific relationship to memes as i do, this post is only me sharing information which i have found to be generally valuable when it comes to the political subset of memes. cheers :)

[-] TempermentalAnomaly 1 points 1 month ago

#1 point taken.

#2 I think we agree fundamentally. But I'm not sure what you mean by "bad" in "bad propaganda" when addressing it through pathos like ridicule. You, if I recall correctly, constructed the bad through logical means. Address these logical bads through pathos seems unclear to me.

#3 I think I get what you're saying, but I think the premise escapes me. Are there those who are saying that memes have neutral value content? I understand that all memes are propaganda and their framing is the issue, but all propaganda is potentially dangerous.

[-] [email protected] 1 points 1 month ago

"Propaganda" has become the "Everything I don't like is political" for people who think they're smarter than guys who label everything they don't like as political. It's diluting the potency of the term as an efficient identifier

[-] PugJesus 1 points 1 month ago

this principle also applies to other terms including “shill” “bot” and others. for example, calling someone spreading pro-maga sentiment a “russian bot” achieves little rhetorically and is essentially an ad hominem.

An ad hominem is an argument that "You are bad, therefore, your argument is wrong."

Calling someone a shill or bot is usually more of a "I am highlighting that you are a shithead not worth listening to in the first place, I am not addressing your arguments at all."

When someone says "I think all the minorities need to be genocided" and I call them a "Fascist fuck" in response, the response is not meant to counter the argument itself; the argument itself is not worth addressing. It is meant to highlight that the other party is a shithead.

[-] [email protected] 3 points 1 month ago

read my tldr

“call them out for their shit, not just for how they are doing it”

if you are doing both, i am glad and this post is not about you. feel free to ignore.

[-] homesweethomeMrL 1 points 1 month ago

“Ya gotta catapult the propaganda.”

-Gee Dubz

this post was submitted on 20 Apr 2024
125 points (81.4% liked)

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