Propaganda seems to be around us all the time, yet many people would find it difficult to provide a definition of propaganda. It becomes one of those words that are easy to use, but hard to define. Scholars have been writing on propaganda for centuries, yet the definition still remains illusive. Lay people simply call propaganda all communications they disagree with. Propaganda becomes brainwashing or, even worse, psychological warfare. The article seeks to address this problem of identifying propaganda. The article develops a theoretical argument by bringing a psychological and psychoanalytic work of Fromm into the real of communication sciences. The author argues that propaganda is more than just a profanity for communication activities we disagree with. In fact, this essay suggests that propaganda is best understood through a psychoanalytical research on sadism and masochism by Fromm. Fromm using a biological concept of symbiosis explained sadism and masochism as a way of building symbiotic relations making an individual bigger than just oneself. Applying this theory to a society makes propagandist and propagandee not that different from a sadist and masochist, both gaining meaning for their lives through propaganda and becoming parts of something bigger. Propaganda's symbiotic relations rely on groupthink and participatory rhetoric focusing on building group cohesion and establishing “us versus them” mentality. The article concludes that propaganda's symbiotic relations work through groupthink and participatory rhetoric focusing on building group cohesion and establishing “us versus them” mentality. Propaganda removes an individual, focusing instead on many; propaganda eradicates individual's desires focusing instead on needs of the group; and propaganda draws sharp boundaries where own group ends and the enemy territory begins. Propaganda becomes an aggressive symbiosis aimed at its own survival and protection from the others. The study, building on this explicating of propaganda through symbiotic relations, proposes several areas for future research on propaganda to better understand its connection to psychology and psychoanalysis.Le texte complet de cet article est disponible en PDF.
Keywords : Symbiosis, Symbiotic relations, Erich Fromm