Thomas Merton on Modern Propaganda

“[In] an evolved society there are no innocent victims of propaganda. Propaganda succeeds because men want it to succeed. It works on minds because those minds want to be worked on. Its conclusions bring apparent light and satisfaction because that is the kind of satisfaction that people are longing for. It leads them to actions for which they are already half prepared: all they ask is that these actions be justified. If war propaganda succeeds it is because people want war, and only need a few good reasons to justify their own desire.”

— Thomas Merton, Conjectures of a Guilty Bystander (1966)

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  1. Matthew Feldman

    Wonderful – he is such a wide-ranging theologian and thoughtful author.

  2. I was a Roman Catholic seminarian in my youth, and though I happily left the notions of priesthood behind, Merton’s writings deeply influenced me and my notions of justice. Thanks for reminding me of his wondrous writing and vision.

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