— Noam Chomsky, Media Control: The Spectacular Achievements of Propaganda
Context: Harold Laswell … explained a couple of years after this in the early 1930s that we should not succumb to what he called democratic dogmatisms about men being the best judges of their own interests.… In what's nowadays called a totalitarian state, military state or something, it's easy. You just hold a bludgeon over their heads, but as societies become more free and democratic you lose that capacity and therefore you have to turn to the techniques of propaganda. The logic is clear—propaganda is to a democracy what the bludgeon is to a totalitarian state….
interview on WBAI, January 1992 http://www.chomsky.info/interviews/199201--.htm.
Context: Walter Lippmann … described what he called “the manufacture of consent” as “a revolution” in “the practice of democracy”... And he said this was useful and necessary because “the common interests” - the general concerns of all people - “elude” the public. The public just isn't up to dealing with them. And they have to be the domain of what he called a "specialized class" … [Reinhold Niebuhr]'s view was that rationality belongs to the cool observer. But because of the stupidity of the average man, he follows not reason, but faith. And this naive faith requires necessary illusion, and emotionally potent oversimplifications, which are provided by the myth-maker to keep the ordinary person on course. It's not the case, as the naive might think, that indoctrination is inconsistent with democracy. Rather, as this whole line of thinkers observes, it is the essence of democracy. The point is that in a military state or a feudal state or what we would now call a totalitarian state, it doesn't much matter because you've got a bludgeon over their heads and you can control what they do. But when the state loses the bludgeon, when you can't control people by force, and when the voice of the people can be heard, you have this problem—it may make people so curious and so arrogant that they don't have the humility to submit to a civil rule [Clement Walker, 1661], and therefore you have to control what people think. And the standard way to do this is to resort to what in more honest days used to be called propaganda, manufacture of consent, creation of necessary illusion. Various ways of either marginalizing the public or reducing them to apathy in some fashion.