Image by Ehimetalor Akhere Unuabona on Unsplash

In his book, Drums in the distance – journeys into the global far right, Joe Mulhall describes his experiences of far right movements around the world.   He watches these movements, often from the inside by going under cover to infiltrate various groups. 

One such group was an American vigilante group set up to police the border with Mexico.  Their views are extremely racist, incredibly violent and based on utter fallacies. 

Mulhall goes to the home of a man named Cornbread and sees for himself the deprivation this man endures. He works for an undocumented Mexican, but it was clear that the people he had a problem with were the Black people and Mexicans he didn’t know. Mulhall’s impression of the man was that he was actually quite nice but his views were not based on reality. Cornbread has constructed his attitudes from his experiences. However, he fails to understand why he has had these experiences and so wrongly attributes it to the presence of immigrants.

People’s experience

If we are to ever get a country that supports a socialist government, it will be people’s experiences that will drive the change we need.  But it is not simply enough to wait until more people are suffering at the hands of this Tory Government before we get change, because, as Joe Mulhall witnessed, people also need to understand why they are suffering.  

Alongside the outrage expressed about the tragic deaths of refugees in the Channel recently, there have been many expressions devoid of sympathy.  Worryingly, these racist and inhumane comments are not being made behind closed doors but on public platforms.  

A common argument used to justify hostility to refugees is the one about how we need to house British people before we house immigrants.  People are witnessing the growth in the number of street sleepers on our streets but fail to recognise what is causing this growth. Our politicians have deceived the nation into thinking our country cannot afford to do the right things.  It has so often been said that Britain is full up. We are directed by those at the top to blame those at the bottom. Refugees and migrants are paying a heavy price when British people have their attentions turned away from the corruption at the top. 

Lies and propaganda

The lies and propaganda our population has been fed throughout their lives are getting in the way of socialism.  The propaganda is channelled through our education, in our news media and even through fiction books and on cinema screens.  Many people are now suffering at the hands of this Tory government but not enough people understand why.

There have been many discussions about cognitive dissonance and how you can get people to change their beliefs when they feel those beliefs are fundamental to who they are.  People want to feel proud of their country and that does not have to be a bad thing.  But our national pride now seems to be dominated by right-wing, union jack waving supporters of the military.  And it is these people who are most inclined to think their racism is acceptable on public platforms.  Any sort of suggestion that their country has lied to them all their lives is a prime example of cognitive dissonance.

Even the more moderate opponents of socialism can find suggestions that their country has always lied to them difficult to digest. We need to be discussing the level to which our population has been fed propaganda time and time again.  Once people can accept this fact, then they will soon find themselves questioning all their long-held beliefs.  It is like an enormous hurdle that we need to cross before we can race ahead and create change.  

What we need

We need fiction books, films and music as well as accurate news media to start getting this fact across. We need to redirect national pride away from the right-wing respect for the establishment and unquestioning acceptance of propaganda.  British history has been tarnished many times over but we need to start creating a history we can be proud of. Providing a reason for national pride may be an essential part of helping people accept that their country lied to them. 

Organisations such as Jeremy Corbyn’s Peace and Justice Project, The Canary and even Critical Mass are already working to create an honest and independent media. We all need to be supporting these efforts, because when people have crossed that hurdle they will see the barriers they once believed stood in the way of socialism fall away.  They will be empowered by their ability to assess what they are told and make their own judgements. The future for all of us may then look a lot brighter. 

One thought on “Why people believe right wing propaganda”
  1. Thank you Lucette.
    A great article. Yes. It is so important to grow the alternative media, and challenge the anti people tropes being drip fed by the elite media propaganda club. We socialists benefit and we can share widely and hope others can benefit too.
    So. How to change that narrative that sees local people repeating those tropes over and over? With, seemingly, little understanding how they are being divided and ruled over; how they are doing the job of the ruling classes in taking the heat off those who are making a packet off the backs of the exploited.
    Locally, we have sometimes been able to change some of these self defeating narratives. We have, for years, been engaged in endless discussions, on the Town wide social media forums, challenging such narratives and offering the alternatives. It is a lot of work. Years of repeating and challenging over and over. But we have had successes. The racists are no longer in charge of the Town wide discussions. When a boat of refugees arrives it is now the anti racist message that predominates. We used to be about 5% on the Town wide platforms. Now, we have the reins of that narrative. Our Town’s BLM demonstration helped, as too did setting up a Stand Up to Racism Group.

    Moving on, though. The next narrative to challenge has now began. During our Town’s bin strike we had all the expected anti-union , divide and rule announcements by the Lib Dem Council bosses. Stirring up resentments. To many locals surprise the strikers’ secured a massive 19% fair pay offer. The online discussions across around 10 platforms at once had been full of the repeated divide and rule rhetoric. The strikers were “greedy” for not accepting 3% like the nurses etc. But we were there, challenging that narrative, supporting the strike and putting across the alternative. And, even though the strike is over, this type of discussion continues.

    Local activists are busy trying to change those elite serving narratives that undermine unity and fighting for a decent standard of living for all.

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