From Ivory Tower to Privy Wall: On the Art of Propaganda
Introductory Note: This essay first appeared in the inaugural issue of National Socialist World (Spring, 1966), journal of the World Union of National Socialists. There are multiple online versions of this essay available. However, as with many of Lincoln Rockwell’s writings that may be found on the Internet, these other versions are corrupt and contain errors. We have assiduously gone through the version presented here line-by-line, to correct mistakes, so that it is reproduced here exactly as Commander Rockwell wrote it.
* * *
IF EACH OF THE MEN in the fable about the blind men and the elephant were required to construct a model of an elephant, there would be three very different models. The blind man who felt only the tail would build a model as he described an elephant in the fable — as “a sort of rope.” The blind man who felt the leg and said an elephant was like a tree would produce a tree-like “elephant,” while the man who felt only the trunk would construct his “elephant” like a snake.
Most men I have met in politics consider themselves automatically experts in the field of propaganda. But almost all of them make the same type of basic error in their propaganda as did the blind men in describing and reconstructing an elephant; both suffer from insufficient experience with the subject. A right-wing businessman, when he gets sick, doesn’t try to doctor himself, nor does he try to practice law himself, nor does he even try to do his own advertising. He hires professional experts to do these highly technical jobs for him. But when that same right-wing businessman wants to move the people of a whole nation to an understanding of our national peril, he doesn’t hesitate to spend relatively huge sums trying to write and produce his own amateur propaganda. In almost every case he produces propaganda which he likes, completely forgetting in his political excitement that the art of propaganda (and advertising) is not in producing that which one likes and admires one’s self, but that which will produce the effect desired — sales in the case of advertising and political conviction in the case of propaganda. Because he is able to think, he presumes that his audience is also able to think — a completely unwarranted assumption. Because he himself is repelled by crudeness and exaggeration, he makes his pitch factual, logical, and usually subtle. In addition to this foolishness, he also forgets that the average man in the street is emotionally assaulted during all his waking hours by advertising brilliantly designed by experts to capture attention through the most powerful kind of psychological impact. The average right wing piece, crowded onto a page, verbose, and dull, is not only not able to win the attention of the average man amid all this competition, but positively repels him.
Even worse propaganda mistakes are made by both those at the top and those at the bottom of the right-wing intellectual spectrum. Because they can’t read and understand “them big words,” the Klan types are “agin’” anything other than the crudest and most brutal of approaches. “Hit ’em ‘longside the haid with a two-by-four,” is the motto of these boys, and any attempt to produce anything else is likely to get you called a “Communist-Jew spy,” or get you hit “‘longside the haid” yourself. This type loves the American Nazi Party’s “Boat Ticket to Africa” and the Stormtrooper, for instance, but rages that the Rockwell Report is too “long” and “dull.”
At the other extreme is the Ph.D. right-winger who hurriedly claps his hand over his mouth and gulps in nausea when one shows him something like our all-time most popular propaganda piece, our “Boat Ticket to Africa,” full of expressions such as “nigger-armpit stench” and the like. Because this refined gentleman prefers to read Spengler or Gobineau, he can’t imagine that the ideas of these men might be gotten across to a semi-literate farmer better with a “boat ticket” than with a volume of Houston Stewart Chamberlain.
In the middle group are the Birch-type blind men who produce millions and millions of dollars worth of wasted propaganda; wasted because it is not designed to do the job they really want and need done, but is instead what they like to hear. These people have never yet stopped to reflect that in order to win they need not just the thinkers — the right-wingers, the bourgeois, rich folks, and the rest of the elite minority — but the vast masses of the people who support demagogues like Johnson, FDR, and Kennedy. Goldwater’s catastrophe was the result of producing propaganda and campaigns designed to win thinkers instead of masses. The result was that twenty-seven million Goldwater thinkers were swamped at the polls by some forty-three million Johnson wishers and hopers, who can never, never, never be reached by “conservative” logic, facts, and boring, sissy tea parties.
The worst waste of money I have ever seen in the whole field of propaganda was the special Sunday supplement the Birch Society put out not so long ago in newspapers all over America. It cost as much as a quarter of a million dollars in some cities. Had it been designed to appeal to the mass, the “average man,” the man who votes with his heart instead of his head, it could have been worth the millions it took to publish. But it was foolishly aimed at a relatively tiny minority. On the front cover, in full color, it showed a typical Birch Society meeting, in the home of a man obviously wealthy — in the kind of living room which would make the average, working-class, overalled American uncomfortable. The Birchers were sitting around sipping tea with their pinkies daintily extended, and the whole atmosphere was foreign, ridiculous, and even painful to the man in overalls — as America’s millions of “ordinary Joes.” There might have been some sense in printing that piece in Fortune. But to spend money to put that advertisement (which could reach only the rich and the sophisticated) in a mass medium, at the cost of a mass medium, was the kind of thoughtlessness which keeps the right wing powerless, eternally defeated, and discouraged.
Does this mean that the Birch Society’s high-level appeal is a total waste? Should all their propaganda be like that of the Klan? An elephant is neither all leg nor all tail nor all trunk. A complete, whole elephant needs all of these parts to live. The Jews, masters of the art of propaganda that they are (unlike the right wing), have understood this fundamental truth and have organized their “pitch” to appeal to all levels.
For the kids and the primitives — for the “masses” — the Jews produce comic books and comic strips; crude, apparently “obvious” television programs, movies, and radio presentations; and the sort of printed material one can find in True Confessions and similar magazines — or on privy walls.
For the lower-middle classes, they provide pseudo-“objective” and thoughtful television “documentaries,” which flatter the unthinking bourgeois into imagining that they are participating in a scholarly and high-level “study” of a controversial subject, while actually the Jews are pumping into their smug, ego-blinded minds massive doses of raw lies and hatred. They also provide this kind of “intellectual” pap in Look, Life, and other mass-circulation periodicals.
For the upper-middle classes — the college graduates, professionals, and business executives — the Jews produce their Harper’s Magazine and Atlantic Monthly “think-pieces,” which are genuinely intellectual but nevertheless so subtly poisoned by false basic assumptions and misdirections that all the thinking in the world is bound to lead only to error. This is the sort of thing one finds among the sincere race-mixers and liberals, who have been taught, as religious dogmata, that anything other than democracy is unthinkable, that black men are only white men with dark skins, and that all opponents of liberalism are “fascists” who seek to murder almost everybody and who have no ideas other than bloodshed and tyranny. Starting with these as unquestionable premises, the most sincere and well-intentioned “thinking” in the world can produce nothing but the race-mixers, liberals, beatniks, rebels, and lost souls who are swarming like maggots in every intellectual center of our civilization.
Finally, there is the devilishly clever, ivory-tower propaganda designed for the truly intellectual and highly sophisticated academic community, which actually does examine even basic premises. For this latter, elite class, even though it is tiny, the Jews spare no effort or money. For were the intellectual leaders of a nation to see through all the propaganda on the lower levels, it would sooner or later be disastrous to the Jews, when the elite had warned the masses. For this minute, top group, the Jews actually produce manufactured “facts” of the most basic nature.
To give an example of this incredible process, let me cite the method they have used to make it a dogmatic “fact” that there are no measurable, scientific differences between races and, therefore, no races at all! The Jews first got a few of their boys into top university spots (Columbia University being an outstanding, but by no means unique, example) with the express purpose of giving academic respectability to their “there-is-no-such-thing-as-race” lie. One of the first and most important of these was Franz Boas, a Jew heavily involved in communist causes, who sent congratulations to Stalin on his birthdays (1) and whose red record cannot be doubted by any objective observer. This communistic Jew began teaching anthropology at Columbia University in 1896 and dominated the anthropology department there until his death in 1942. Meanwhile he produced one book after another “proving” that there were no such things as racial differences among men (2). The whole of Jewry pitched in to boost their boy. Boas was praised in every Jewish-owned newspaper and periodical and given every academic prize they could promote. Little by little, Boas gained such “stature” by this Jewish mutual-admiration society technique that he became an “acknowledged authority” in social anthropology and ethnology. His students and colleagues at Columbia — Herkowits, Klineberg, Ashley Montagu, Weltfish — as unsavory a collection of left-wing Jews as one might hope for — spread his doctrines far and wide, deliberately poisoning the minds of two generations of American students at many of our largest universities (3).
Meanwhile, honest race researchers were given the opposite treatment, full use being made of economic boycott and unlimited intellectual smear. Honest anthropologists couldn’t get their books published or, if published, distributed (4). As just one instance, at the time when Boas was at the height of his destructive activity, Madison Grant, president of the New York Zoological Society and a trustee of the American Museum of Natural History, wrote a study of the racial situation in America, entitled The Conquest of a Continent, or the Expansion of Races in America (New York, 1933). The book was flatly contradictory to the Boas-Jewish racial propaganda and sounded a clear warning of the impending danger of serious racial degeneration in the United States. Whereupon the Anti-Defamation League of B’nai B’rith issued a circular letter to publishers, dated December 13, 1933, in which they blatantly stated that Grant’s book was “antagonistic to Jewish interests” and demanded that it be “stifled” — as it has been. Copies of this book — and any honest book about race — are very hard to find. They are almost nonexistent in the university community — in such places as college bookstores and all but a few of the largest university libraries.
This whole intellectual fraud would never work if our side had sense enough to understand it and courage enough to stand up to it. But our side can never understand, let alone fight, this vicious Jewish perversion of our people and their minds as long as our side, like the aforementioned blind men, remains utterly mulish in its insistence on amateur and one-level propaganda efforts. The left wing has its organizations and its propaganda at all levels. And the whole left aims the same way — right at your heart! They have their Dean Achesons, their Harvard professors, their White House presidential aides. But they also have their brutal goon squads in the streets of the steel towns, ready to crack the legs of their opponents over a curbstone, as is their quaint custom. In between, they have their “soldiers” at all levels, and they are all part of the same army of hate against the white man and Western civilization.
Let one of my supercilious, intellectual critics just spend an evening watching television or reading a teenage magazine — not for pleasure, but to analyze the masterful methods of the Jewish brainwashers, and he will see that they do not use intellectual propaganda exclusively to do their devilish work, but also the most stupid, obvious, and brutal anti-intellectual stuff imaginable. At the same time, let him examine the explosion of scatology on any big newsstand and see just what primitive, rough propaganda the Jew produces for the mass mind. Even the pornographic, illegal “comic books” smuggled from kid to kid and man to man are loaded with propaganda for race-mixing and degeneracy. And there is nothing subtle about the disgusting magazines openly sold for queers.
The Jews do not confine their attack on us only to gutter propaganda or only to goon squads; God knows, they certainly have flooded America with their filthy and degenerate “literature,” “art,” and “poetry,” with their “comedians,” their warped stage plays, and their savage, jungle “music,” while there are still plenty of communist muscle squads to break your head open if they can’t pervert it. In short the enemy has brought about a “black miracle” of subversion of our people with his multi-level propaganda, while the reply of the leaders of our people has been almost entirely an attempt to “prove,” with facts and arguments, that all this is “wrong.” Right and wrong in propaganda have no meaning. There are only effective and ineffective. Jewish propaganda couldn’t be more wrong, objectively speaking, but it is almost always right, psychologically. It is carefully aimed; it is designed for a specific audience; it is not concerned with what the producers think and feel, but with what the audience thinks and feels; and it is uniformly excellent and successful in doing the job for which it is intended.
Right-wing propaganda, to choose a contrary example, is almost always wrong. It is invariable, single-level material — usually aimed at the upper middle class. It is utterly disdainful of the audience and endlessly insists that “the truth will make us free,” if we just get out enough “literature” (almost none of which is read by prospective converts). Almost all right-wing literature is read by other right-wingers who do not need it. It is basically reactionary, concerned almost wholly with money, taxes, and protection of wealth and vested interests (masked, of course, with “deep concern” for the Constitution, “our American way of life,” and the like). It is incredibly snobbish and contemptuous toward the kind of horny-handed, working, hard-pressed “ordinary Joe” who, in his millions, makes up the masses which have kept FDR, Truman, Ike, JFK, and now LBJ in office.
Surely we need the truth and facts and arguments — but only to win over the officers and noncoms of our counter-revolutionary forces and then to educate and train them for intellectual combat with the well-trained forces of the enemy, not to convert the masses. To try to use the “facts and arguments” method with the masses of the people is the eternal stumbling block of the right wing. By insisting on only this method, in its pure (and dull) form, not only the right wing, but any movement of national regeneration, insures that its material is read only by itself and the few Jews whose professional job it is to study and neutralize its material.
Hitler’s National Socialist movement not only did not make that stupid mistake, but brilliantly exploited every field of propaganda with inspired material, scientifically designed not only to appeal to a few stuffy professors — but to move people, to move millions of people in the direction desired. Hitler had Julius Streicher’s Der Stuermer, full of the wildest and wooliest sensationalism, designed to smash its way into the consciousness of the masses, as it did. He also had the regular party press, designed to reach and convince the great middle class. And, for the university community, he had the esoteric material of Alfred Rosenberg, Gottfried Feder, et al.
Again I stress that, whereas the academic scholar is most powerfully influenced by a logical, heavily footnoted dissertation at the highest intellectual level, the simple farmer or worker is utterly perplexed and repelled by “them big words” and is moved most effectively by a brutal and earthy presentation of a thoroughly subjective, grossly exaggerated picture of any situation. Only the latter class of propaganda can yield the sheer weight of numbers of persuaded people needed to sweep into legal political office. The major propaganda of a mass movement, therefore, must be of the elementary, direct, and emotional kind which alone can win honest hearts (and empty heads) — “boat tickets” and the Stormtrooper.
When I began, I purposely made my propaganda as brutal and shockingly rough as I could, simply to force attention. And I have kept everlastingly at the business of building a simple and direct image of all-out hostility to “Jews and niggers” in the minds of millions of Americans, regardless of the costs in other respects. (And when I have the rare opportunity to use some mass medium, as was recently the case when I gave a long interview to Playboy, I am forced to walk a careful line between what I should like to say and what the enemy would like to hear me say. Unless I deliberately sound at least halfway like a raving illiterate with three loose screws, such an interview would never be printed. This is another thing that most people fail to understand about my “Nazi” technique.) After I had become known to most Americans, I published the Rockwell Report at a somewhat higher level than my previous material to begin to recruit some of the brains and funds we needed to proceed. When this had begun to bear fruit, I used the talents obtained with the Rockwell Report to get back down to the people’s level and produce a publication designed for the masses, for the “average” man, the comic book reader, kids: the Stormtrooper. As planned, this is now our most popular and largest-circulation publication. And were it not for the Jewish ownership of the news distribution business, we could sell Stormtroopers literally by the millions.
My Ph.D. critics regularly berate me for the vulgar and brutal material in the Stormtrooper. Because these gentlemen don’t like to see the word “nigger” in print, or crude drawings of Jews, they often insist that I am a damned fool, a hoodlum, or an agent provocateur, trying to ruin the whole movement by printing such rough stuff. These sincere but pitifully blind men are going to have to understand that one can’t win elections with Ph.D. votes. As Goldwater proved, one can’t win elections even with all the upper classes. It is the vast masses of the lower classes, the beer-and-dirty-joke-loving workers, on whom we must depend finally for survival. The Stormtrooper with its pages full of cartoons, violence, insults, jokes, and general hell is exciting and readable to men who would never, in a million years, pick up and read a right-wing tract.
With a base of operations established and with successful publications directed at both the lowest and the middle-class levels, the movement is finally in a position to afford the relative luxury of a publication directed exclusively at the academic intellectual-professional class. The National Socialist World, now in your hands, is designed not only to reach but to move people in that category. Perhaps our material is not what you, personally, enjoy most. But our aim, and the aim of the World Union of National Socialists, is not to produce material to please our friends — but to win over millions of those who are now our enemies or who are oblivious to both sides. The years of success with the Stormtrooper and the Rockwell Report give me confidence that the new National Socialist World will also do what it has been carefully designed to do — that National Socialist World will beat its way into the highest intellectual circles just as the Stormtrooper smashed its way into the minds of the juveniles and working folks.
Finally, if you’ll permit me, I’d like to drive my principal point home with one more analogy. If you own a grocery store, and a man comes in from a painter’s truck in overalls to buy groceries, you don’t try to sell him a one-ounce jar of Russian caviar at two bucks a throw. You offer him beef, potatoes, and bread. If a French diplomat comes in, you don’t offer him hawg jowl; you might try the caviar. It is the same with propaganda. If you wish to win the “trade” of all potential “customers,” as we must do if we are to survive, you must have in stock a complete line of goods, especially the kind of goods most desired by the majority of your potential customers — and that means bread, potatoes, and beef, not caviar and truffles. If you can open a special store to peddle only caviar and truffles, do it in the silk-stocking district. Conversely, if you want to open another branch to sell only chitterlings, hawg jowls, and the like, then do it in the “nigger” section of town. And if you want a mass grocery business, in the name of sanity, stock up on something besides caviar and truffles. We intend to win enough “customers” to become masters of the grocery business, against the competition of the greatest and most complete “chain” operation the world has ever seen: “The Sheeney Supermarket,” which stocks something for everybody. To do it, we have designed some great products to appeal to specific customers: the “hawg-jowl” Stormtrooper, the “Delmonico steak” Rockwell Report — and now the “Cherries Jubilee” which you hold in your hand — National Socialist World.
Now go ahead and light the brandy!
1. Jewish Voice, January, 1942.
2. Kultur und Rasse (Leipzig, 1914); Anthropology and Modern Life (New York, 1928); Aryans and non-Aryans (New York, 1934); General Anthropology (Boston, 1938), The Question of Race: Aryans and non-Aryans, Are They Distinctive Types? (New York, 1940); Race, Language, and Culture (New York, 1940): Race and Democratic Society, a post-mortem collection of his writings (New York, 1945), to name but a few.
3. Carleton Putnam, Race and Reason (Washington, 1961), pp. 18, 47.
4. Ibid., pp. 19, 49.
* * *