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"Your 'reality', sir, is lies and balderdash and I'm delighted to say that I have no grasp of it whatsoever."
— Karl Friedrich Hieronymus, Freiherr von M√ľnchhausen

American Propaganda, Then and Now

I've begun work on a new game based on Cold War ideas: the Atomic Bomb, the Red Scare and J. Edgar Hoover's FBI. So I've begun doing some research on the period: McCarthyism, American propaganda, and the blind jingoism of political discourse of the day.

As a result, I stumbled upon the work of artist Micah Wright. He creates what he calls "Remixed Propaganda" posters, taking classic works of this age (such as Rosie the Riveter of "We Can Do It!" fame) and Photoshopping them to provide new messages from the "Ministry of Homeland Security". His work is smart, poignant and extremely well executed. Here are some examples:

I've added Micah's book to my Amazon wish list and you should, too.

Another thing I stumbled across was an absolutely fascinating reprint of an interview of J. Edgar Hoover conducted by U.S. News and World Report, on the subject of communism. It's a fascinating look at what amounts to mass hysteria. Remember: this is words spoken by the man who runs the American federal police:

QDo your investigations show that the basic allegiance of a Communist is to a foreign government rather than our own Government?

A Most emphatically. As I mentioned in my previous answer, the ultimate loyalty of fully indoctrinated Communist Party members is to Moscow. Stalin is represented as the foremost leader of international Communism, the omnipotent oracle from whom all wisdom flows. The Communist Party is today a Trojan horse of disloyalty, coiled like a serpent in the very heart of America.

It may mouth sweet words of "peace," "democracy," "equality," and flourish gay slogans of "international solidarity" and "brotherhood of men," but its body and feet are from the Russian bear. Wherever the Trojan horse of Communist fifth columns has walked, the indelible footprints of Russian imperialism remain behind.

Read this next bit, replacing "communist" with "terrorist" and "club" with "mosque" or "madrasah", and suddenly you gain a whole new perspective on today's political landscape:

QHow do the Communist "cells" operate? Are these the training units out of which larger numbers of Communists are recruited?

A The basic unit of the Communist Party is the club. These clubs may be "shop" or "industrial" clubs, that is, Communist units within a special manufacturing or industrial plant, or "neighborhood" clubs, drawing members from residential areas. These clubs are co-ordinated through an elaborate apparatus, from ward, city, county, State and district organizations to national headquarters in New York City. Because of security reasons, they have now been divided into small groups consisting of three to five members. In these clubs the Communist Party conducts its basic and fundamental activities: instruction in Marxism-Leninism; organization of pressure campaigns; the passing out of leaflets and handbills; the circulation of petitions. Here Communist literature is sold; dues collected; instructions received from "higher officials" disseminated. The club is the basic operating unit of the Communist Party. Through the club, of course, new members are recruited and indoctrinated.

I think the imagery and rhetoric of the fifties still has a lot of power in a way that is uniquely American and should cause any thinking person to step back and question the hysteria he's surrounded by. If anyone has any additional suggestions for material, I'd love to hear about it.

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The Red Bull Diary is the personal pulpit and intellectual dumping-ground for its author, an amateur game designer, professional programmer, political centrist and incurable skeptic. The Red Bull Diary is gaming, game design, politics, development, geek culture, and other such nonsense.