world war two posters

basicwolfiex  asked:

hi! I'm writing a story with the 'government keeps dark secrets from the people' trope, but I'm having trouble developing the political aspect of it, like the power balance of different classes of society and such. do you have any tips for me?

Hi!

Every governmental balance is messed up to some extent – no system of power is perfect, because corruption doesn’t lie in the government as a whole, but in the people in the government. That said, “corrupt government” can encompass a few things.

1. Propaganda.
“Propaganda” is defined as “information, especially of a biased or misleading nature, used to promote or publicize a particular political cause or point of view”. That said, propaganda can be issued by way of political posters, spoken statements, or written articles. If you’re familiar with the concept of rhetoric from AP Language and Comp, propaganda is basically rhetoric (“language designed to have a persuasive or impressive effect on its audience”), but not confined to words – it also uses pictures. For example, the “I WANT YOU” posters featuring Uncle Sam were World War Two propaganda – they were meant to show U.S. citizens that they were valuable to the war effort – not necessary (Uncle Sam said he wanted citizens, not needed), which could have incited feelings of guilt or resentment, but valued and important. It was also meant to bolster pride and determination – Uncle Sam’s stern face and stiff pointing finger were meant to imply that he held high expectations for you, but he felt you could meet them and possibly even exceed them. In fact, he almost looked similar to a father figure: stern but not angry, holding you to high expectations but not too high. (All of the observations are mine – this is simply my take on Uncle Sam.)

2. Class Systems
The most effective class system for an oppressive government is an abundance of poor people/people living in poverty, and a few people on top that hoard all the riches and fortune (there can also be a middle class – well-off but not rich – but they don’t necessarily matter). What this does is keep the people divided – the poor hate the rich because they have everything handed to them, and the rich hold the poor in contempt because they feel the poor should just “work harder”. If the people are divided, they won’t come together and defeat the system oppressing them all. (And anyways, the rich wouldn’t want to defeat anyone, because this system treats them well.)

3. Fear-mongering.
This point kind of piggybacks off the former point, but the government can also use fear-mongering to control the people and keep them under its thumb. They can fear-monger by claiming things are worse than they are (for example, if war is happening, they can say that their armies are weak and require monetary donations), or by turning the classes against each other. Mainly when I think of the classes being at odds, I think of the government telling the rich that the poor are lazy, that the poor are criminals, that the poor hate them and want to steal their riches. This will cause the rich to fear the poor, and that my show itself as aggression.

4. Making things out to be better than they are.
The opposite of fear-mongering. If fear-mongering is the government telling people things are worse than they are, then the opposite is telling people things are better than they are (instead of “our armies are poor and need donations”, it would be “our armies are doing great!” even if they’re retreating and giving up territory to the enemy). That inspires a sense of patriotism and trust in the government (”the government has things all under control!”).

5. Giving no information at all, or at least as little as possible.
This necessitates people blindly trusting the government. Without any information, the public can’t fight. Knowledge is power, as they say.

I would also recommend you read 1984 by George Orwell – you’ll see a few of these tactics in action, and also learn more about others.

I hope this helps! If you need anything else, please feel free to ask. - @authors-haven

Though printed during the World War II era referring to when the Nazis burned books and art that they considered “degenerate”, FDR’s quote is as relevant today as it was back in 1942. Knowledge is indeed power.

File name: 07_01_000011

Title: Books are weapons in the war of ideas

Creator/Contributor: Broder, S. (artist); United States. Office of War Information (sponsor)

Created/Published: U.S. Government Printing Office

Date issued: 1942

Physical description: 1 print (poster) : color

Summary: Poster of Nazis burning books, with quotation by Franklin D. Roosevelt on a large book in the background: “Books cannot be killed by fire. People die, but books never die. No man and no force can put thought in a concentration camp forever. No man and no force can take from the world the books that embody man’s eternal fight against tyranny. In this war, we know, books are weapons.” Poster produced by the United States Office of War Information (OWI) for distribution to libraries and book stores.

Genre: War posters

Subjects: Books; Propaganda; Book burning

Notes: U.S. Government Printing Office : 1942—O-487131; OWI poster no. 7; For additional copies write Division of Public Inquiry, Office of War Information, Washington, D. C. Specify O.W.I. No. 7

Location: Boston Public Library, Print Department

Rights: Rights status not evaluated