Propaganda about Propaganda
Jason Stanley’s How Propaganda Works intends to offer a novel account of what propaganda is, how it works, and what damage it does inside a democratic culture. The book succeeds in showing that, contrary to the stereotype, propaganda need not be false or misleading. However, Stanley offers contradictory definitions of propaganda, and his theory, which is both over- and under-inclusive, is applied in a dismissive, highly ideological way. In the end, it remains unclear how much damage propaganda does. Voters in modern democracies would be ignorant and irrational even without propaganda.