Propaganda, censorship, and surveillance are attributes of the same underlying aspect: Monopoly. Centralised control.
All three problems have the same effective solution: Break up the monopolies.
Propaganda is a function of amplification, attention, audience capture, selective promotion, discovery, distraction, stealing the air supply or acquiring of any competion, and coöption of the platform. Propaganda is an inherent property of monopoly control.
Censorship and Gatekeeping are functions of excludability, audience gating, selective exclusion, obfuscation, distraction, stealing the air supply or acquiring of any competion, and, again, coöption of the platform. Censorship is an inherent property of monopoly control.
Surveillance whether of the state, capitalist, or non-state actor varieties, is a function of population and provider capture, coercion or gatekeeping of vendors and pipelines, and, again, coöption of the platform. Surveillance is an inherent property of monopoly control.
Audiences, a public, divided across independent networks, with access to different editorial selection, from different distribution networks, with access to different input message streams, are far less subject to propaganda, censorship, or surveillance.
It's importance to realise that the key is not nominal control but actual control, which may be nonobvious or unapparent to many participants. A system with appearances of decentralisation may well be centralised under the surface. Retail brand labels vs. brand ownership, or Luxottica's stranglehold over the eyeglasses market, for example, give a false sense of "consumer choice" in a case of actual tight corporate control.
And why is this? What's the fundamental connection between monopoly and control? Control is about maximising desired outcome to applied effort. In monopoly, there is a central focus of influence, the monopolist. Even a very partial controlling share can still be effective. In a first-past-the-post majority scenario such as elections or corporate share ownership, the bloc which swings the majority has control, even if it itself is numerically a minority. In markets, networks, organisations, etc., a single place to permit or deny input or output increases control by decreasing effort and increasing effect.
Shout-outs to Cory Doctorow (@pluralistic -- a great profile to follow, and https://pluralistic.net), Matt Stoller (https://mattstoller.substack.com/?no_cover=true), Lina Khan (https://www.yalelawjournal.org/note/amazons-antitrust-paradox), Zephyr Teachout (https://bookshop.org/books/break-em-up-recovering-our-freedom-from-big-ag-big-tech-and-big-money/9781250200891), and others breaking through some seriously Borked chickenshit thinking on this topic.
Propaganda, Censorship, and Surveillance are attributes of the same underlying aspect: Monopoly and Centralised Control
As a Diaspora post, somewhat further extended.
(As is usually the case, I do a lot of thinking through writing.)
Specifically, that propaganda, censorship, surveillance, and, to add a fourth elemend, targeted behavioural manipulation (adtech, computational propaganda) --- micropropaganda vs. macropropaganda --- correspond to different elements (input, output, transit, memory + logic) of the informational network.
Which seems to me a possibly novel realisation.
Increasing the number of entry, exit, and distribution points decreases the efficacy of propaganda (input control), censorship (output control), or surveillance (network control), as well as of targeted manipulation such as adtech and computational propaganda (data retention and algorithm control).
Careful readers may note the close correspondence with the ancient trivium of the classic liberal education: grammar (input), rhetoric (output), and logic (processing based on inputs and stored memory). The ancients had limited network control, widespread surveillance to them was exceedingly expensive, though small-town gossips and palace spies offer analogues.
@dredmorbius Nice that you mentioned "micropropaganda" because I was going to reply to the previous post.
Propaganda is not (no longer?) limited to centralized control. Advertising is an example of fully decentralized propaganda, where the actors don't have any kind of real central control, but if their goals align, they'll amplify a single message to the level much larger than a monopoly ever could.
Perhaps we could call it mob-style propaganda. Mobaganda?
or to even be on behalf of anything
Actually, propaganda specifically benefits (or is intended to) the originating or amplifying entity.
The etymology highlights this:
1718, "committee of cardinals in charge of Catholic missionary work," short for Congregatio de Propaganda Fide "congregation for propagating the faith," a committee of cardinals established 1622 by Gregory XV to supervise foreign missions. The word is properly the ablative fem. gerundive of Latin propagare (see propagation). Hence, "any movement to propagate some practice or ideology" (1790). Modern political sense dates from World War I, not originally pejorative. Meaning "material or information propagated to advance a cause, etc." is from 1929.
The modern definition:
information that is spread for the purpose of promoting some cause.
Additionally, propaganda need not be false. The defining character is promotion and not falseness, though it very often is deceptive in at least some means, whether through the lies of commission, omission, or distraction.
Otherwise, what you seem to be discussing are various forms of untruthful information. There's a range of these: disinformation (false, though possibly unwittingly), misinformation (intentional), bullshit (disregard for truth, see Frankfurt), misattribution (true fact A mislabled, accidentally or intentionally, as B), myths, urban legends, folklore, trolling, jokes, and even just entertainment and fiction (often rebranded).
There's also a strong element of psychology involved. Propaganda would be ineffective if it didn't tie into hooks of emotion, engagement, novelty, simplicity, extant tropes, tribalism, and the like. And those can, on their own, give rise to similar memes and myths.
Propaganda, though, is the deliberate harnessing of these and other dynamics to a specific purpose and cause. As such, it requires some element of control: curation, development, strategy, amplification, targeting, assessment.
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