Thomas Merton’s voice is heard decades after his death. Maybe it has a lot to do with human nature and who we are, and who we think we should be in the world we live.
I often wonder what Merton would think today if he were alive about Propaganda. The 60s really didn’t have the avenues of social media, cable television, and phones that give us access to the history of western civilization at our fingertips any time we want.
As you watch the evening news, and the various news shows this week on all the networks think about what Merton has shared with us fifty-six years ago.
“The real violence exerted by propaganda is this: by means of apparent truth and apparent reason, it induces us to surrender our freedom and self-possession. It predetermines us to certain conclusions and does so in such a way that we imagine that we are fully free in reaching them by our own judgment and our own thought. Propaganda makes up our minds for us, but in such a way that it leaves us the sense of pride and satisfaction of men who have made up their own minds. And, in the last analysis, propaganda achieves this effect because we want it to. This is one of the few real pleasures left to modern man: this illusion that he is thinking for himself when, in fact, someone else is doing his thinking for him. And this someone else is not a personal authority, the great mind of a genial thinker; it is the mass mind, the general “they,” the anonymous whole. One is left, therefore, not only with the sense that one has thought things out for himself, but that he has also reached the correct answer without difficulty – the answer which is shown to be correct because it is the answer of everybody. Since it is at once my answer and the answer of everybody, how should I resist it?”
― Conjectures of a Guilty Bystander