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Propaganda in /united States in First World War

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I examined the use of propaganda in the United States during the First World War and how it was similar to the propaganda used in George Orwell's novel 1984. According to Alfred McLung Lee, "propaganda is opinion expressed for the purpose of influencing actions of individuals."(Lee, 62) This systematic manipulation of people occurred in the novel. The centralized government used slogans to control everyone's mind. It also occurred in a democratic country namely, the United States in the onset of World War 1.

Woodrow Wilson was re-elected as a so-called peace candidate in 1916. Yet after elected he changed his opinion and manipulated his countrymen into joining the war with intense propaganda. According to the pacifist, Randolph Bourne, pro war propaganda was rampant. He wrote "the murmurs became monotonous chant and finally a chorus so mighty that to be out of it was at first disreputable, and finally, almost obsene." (Bourne,2)

In the novel, 1984 ,the government manipulated and controlled the people through four ministries, The Ministry of Peace, The Ministry of Plenty, The Ministry of Love and the Ministry of Truth. The main character of the novel, Winston Smith, worked at the Ministry of Truth. This was an ironic name as his job was to revise the history of Oceana to coincide with the current needs of the government. In this society, people who disagreed with the state were not only killed, their entire existence was eliminated from official records. The point of this was for the government to manipulate the people by controlling the information available.

In the United States the government tried to control the information as well through different forms of propaganda. On April 13, 1917, President Wilson created the Committee on Public Information (CPI). This organization's purpose was to promote the war domestically while publicizing American war aims abroad. George Creel led this operation. He elicited help from leaders in business, media, and the arts. They utilized modern advertising techniques along with knowledge of human psychology to manipulate the public and promote U.S. involvement in WW1.

Creel led CPI and developed voluntary guidelines for news media. He also helped pass the Espionage Act of 1917 as well as the Sedition Act of 1918. The news media complied with these guidelines in order to stay in the government's good favour. In America, the CPI used the media to outsource its message. Whereas, in the novel, the government was the media and continually repeated it's unified message to people. In the United States the CPI had 19 divisions to cover all forms of media. The Division of News distributed more than 6000 press releases a year. CPI also created the Division of Syndicated Features that recruited writers to present the official message in their artistic written materials. As well as this, The Division of Civic and Educational Cooperation used scholars to write pamphlets of pro war.

Posters were used to relay messages. The colours were usually patriotic and bold. Here is an example of a poster used to manipulate through nationalistic pride.

Posters were also used in the novel. In Oceana huge billboards were covered with posters that said 'Big Brother is Watching You.' (Orwell, 5). This had a duo meaning. The first was that everyone is being watched and must obey. The second meaning was that life is fearsome but in Oceana the people can relax as the government is watching over everyone keeping them safe.

In the United States, The film industry was even infiltrated. The Division of Films appealed to producers to increase their respectability by helping the government's wartime goals. In an editorial printed in The Motion Picture News it was proclaimed that, "every individual at work in this industry



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