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Friday, February 22, 2013

BB45: Propaganda - for Better or for Worse

(I'm not the first to have this idea. *LOL* But, you have to start any discussion on the same page.)
In a socially-driven game environment such as EVE Online's, everyone has an agenda. CCP promotes its products and has an army of volunteers to do the same; corporations and alliances deliver entertaining recruitment drives, CSM election candidates solicit for voter favour, bloggers and podcasters opine to their audiences.

In this intricate web of communication, influence and control, what part does propaganda play in your game?

In my bio section, The Meaning of Being Mabrick, I give a brief outline of what I stand for in this game. It is propaganda. That does not mean it is somehow sullied or is something of which I should be ashamed. Quite the contrary, I am proud to have my own standards of play. Otherwise I would not have written the bio in the first place.

For some reason, when the word propaganda is used people immediately associate it with the worst of human behavior. What Hitler used to dehumanize Jews. What Jim Crow used to repress freed slaves. We see propaganda as a lie couched in the folds of believability because it came from "official sources."

That is how most see propaganda today. But it is propaganda only in the way a Volvo is also a car. There are many types of cars on the road today. There are expensive cars and cheap cars. There are reliable cars and POS (pieces-of-shit) cars. They come in all colors, shapes and sizes. They are made by many companies from many countries all over the world. Yet they are all cars.

So it is with propaganda. And just as we will disagree on the best car available, we will disagree on what is good propaganda and what is bad propaganda. Loose lips sink ships. That too is propaganda, but was uniformly seen as good for the country in World War II. It does indeed work both ways.

What it really boils down to is personal choice - just like a car purchase. Some readers have heartily agreed with some of the things I've written for this blog. Some have vehemently disagreed - even unto the point of acting on that disagreement in more tangible ways than simple words. That is the power of propaganda. It can cause people to act as they might not normally consider. Especially if that action is seen as part of a larger momentum. When a person sees themselves as part of a group outraged, there is no ethic on the planet that can stop "bad" things from happening.

And it all depends on people's chosen version of "the truth." Each of us decides what is truth and what is falsehood. I fancy that I use reason and logic to make valid rational choices. So does everyone else. When what "we" believe diverges from what "they" believe propaganda grows like the poppies in Flanders field. It becomes the weapon of choice in a set-piece battle of wills; a proving ground for wiles.

We all use it. We all abuse it. We twist reality into shards of belief we hope will persuade others to our cause. For without others, we are powerless to affect change.[1] It is only through strength of numbers we realize our full potential for destruction - or as I like to think, disruption.

Disruption of the current order. Disruption of power blocks in existence long before I became a capsuleer. Disruption of their vainglorious propaganda machine. A foil against the perceived entitlement which is their chosen play-style! A bludgeon to counter the bellicose and belligerent...

It's an insidious thing, propaganda. It levels the playing field in a way no amount of training and practice can. It is a weapon anyone can wield. It provides the illusion it harms no one, and yet has the potential to bring down nations and entire races.

That is why we can't walk away from it. That is why we can't avoid it. From the caveman looking for a mate, to the used car salesman in Cincinnati, to the Goonswarm Federation in EVE Online, propaganda has been as much a part of human existence as sweat.

So is it really that bad a thing? Yes... and no. As in all things, we have a choice. It is up to us to put limits on propaganda. We must decide what is truth and what is someone simply trying to sell something. We do that by having a free and open discourse concerning ALL points of view. We must never exclude anyone no matter how strongly we disagree with their play-style. That is the road to real horror.

So when you read this blog keep that in mind. This is my "truth." This is my propaganda. My advice is that you read all the other blogs too. Give equal billing to EN24 and Don't forget Reddit or the forums. Between the webs of propaganda we all spin, there is truth. And so long as all sides are equally vetted, truth abides - and we will all be better capsuleers for it.

Fly Careful

You can read other responses to BB45 over on Freebooted.

[1] I'd like to point out that Jester is a perfect example. How many of his current followers remember the last time he ran for CSM? It wasn't a successful campaign. Who out their now doubts a seat is within his grasp?


  1. Not to be picky, but I think you meant diverges instead of divulges.

    1. Damn you auto-correct! Thank you for point that out. I've corrected it.

  2. "For some reason, when the word propaganda is used people immediately associate it with the worst of human behavior. "

    The reason is historical. The Nazi German government openly practiced propaganda to the point of having a government ministry that was actually called the Ministry of Public Enlightenment and Propaganda. It was also a central element in Mein Kampf.

    Although every government does it no government has done it so openly.

    Another point is that propaganda is antithetical to democracy. We can't choose our leaders well if we can't judge them and we can't judge them without balanced impartial information.

  3. On reflection I think you're conflating opinion with propaganda. Propaganda is a message written with the intended effect uppermost in mind. For example your blog is (I think) just telling us what you think. If your blog were intended to demoralise and humiliate pvpers so that everyone in Eve turned into carebears then it would be propaganda.

    Propaganda is not merely information. Goebbels (Hitler's propaganda minister) made his first act in office the burning of books. Suppressing or discrediting the other side is a big part of it.

    1. Opinion is merely propaganda without an agenda.

    2. I disagree with that. Opinion can have an agenda. You might want to convince someone that your opinion is more valid than theirs. Then you engage in discussion and use arguments. One of the other contributors to this blogbanter pointed out that difference quite nicely (can't find it now though).

      It is propaganda when you knowingly and willfully use fallacies for the purpose of manipulation on a large scale. That last part makes it again different from lying to and manipulating people on a personal level.

  4. I know how to counter the Bellicose, but what do you do when facing down a ganking Belligerent?

  5. I agree with Stabs to some extent - this here blog expresses Mab's opinions, it is quite distinct from some Goonswarm propaganda campaign.

    Now, the insidious part here could be that Mab really wants to eliminate all PvP in this game entirely. This blog is the spearhead of a massive underground movement that uses public media to convince the rest of us that PvP and Goons are evil. It is propaganda masked as opinion. Ohh, tinfoil!

  6. Master Mabrick

    This is a fine piece here! Well done and thank you.


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