Arts & International Affairs: Volume 3, Issue 1, Spring 2018 - Page 13

THE ENDURING VISION OF A WORLD WITHOUT WAR Propaganda might be an age-old practice (see e.g. Taylor 2003), but as a concept, it has its roots in the Roman Catholic Church. As a response to the threat to the spiritual uni- ty of Europe posed by the Reformation, a commission of cardinals was established to spread Catholicism in heathen lands. In the seventeenth century, the commission was made permanent as the Sacra Congregatio de Propaganda Fide (Holy Congregation for the Propagation of the Faith) (Welch 2014). Propaganda as a word is derived from the Latin propagare, the gardening practice of planting shoots to reproduce new plants— thus one implication of the sense in which the Roman Catholic Church used the term was that spreading ideas this way was a cultivated dispersion to “lead the heathen from darkness into light” (Brown 1963:10–11). The term was soon applied to any organisa- tion spreading a doctrine; then it came to be applied to the doctrine itself; and finally to the methods employed in putting the dissemination into force (Welch 2014). The latter sense is how we understand the term in modern usage. Film has been linked with propaganda since its outset (Reeves 1999), and the connec- tion has also drawn attention in the UNESCO context. As Suzanne Langlois (2016:76) phrases it, “propaganda for peace, education and international cooperation” has been a defining characteristic in UNESCO’s approach to cinema since the early years of the organisation. Following Langlois, the Orient project’s aims are analysed here through peace propaganda. “The propaganda of peace is the work of a variety of social forces through a range of media and cultural forms, and its purpose is to bring society, culture or nation behind a core idea or principle, in this case, the promise of peace and its eco- nomic dividends after decades of conflict,” as defined in the context of the Northern Ireland peace process (McLaughlin & Baker 2010:11). While a rather well-functioning definition, this formulation does not address the global level as a possible target, nor does it mention individuals—it addresses people as collectives or social units. As UNE- SCO specifically aims to address the minds of men and does it on a worldwide scale, this definition requires some massaging. Combining this with Philip Taylor’s (2003:7) defi- nition of propaganda as “a deliberate attempt to persuade people, by any available media, to think and then behave in a manner desired by the source” helps to address these issues and to emphasise propaganda as an ethically neutral concept. It also sets focus on propa- ganda as a process, again reminding us of the connection between propaganda and rhet- oric, but in the likewise neutral Aristotelean sense—as the ability to detect the available means of persuasion in any given situation (Aristotle 350 B.C.E.:Book 1, Part 2). Building on the definitions by Taylor, and McLaughlin and Baker combined with the Aristotelean approach, peace propaganda in the UNESCO context is understood here as the conscious, coherent process of employing techniques of persuasion by any media available in order to unite people behind the ideal of peace. Like Taylor’s, the focus of this definition is on the process of propaganda, but also on the idea behind the acts. In addition, this definition does not suggest that the ones targeted are merely passive re- cipients—they can also become active participants involved in the production and dis- semination of ideas, ideologies and values. It also steers away from two widely held mis- 13