No, really I do. I buy books published by Taschen with all sorts of material culled from the twentieth century. Amongst the volumes of commercial advertisements from 1910 onwards – divided into decades – are the ones that deal with the political propaganda of the century. I’ve got British, French, German, Russian and American examples as well as some visually gorgeous books of Chinese and North Korean posters.
Lots of famous people appear in the material: Mao Tse-tung, Charlie Chaplin, Leni Reifenstahl, Hitler, Churchill, Stalin, Lysenko, and Gary Cooper. There are large complex examples and tiny crude ones – blatant lies and subtle suggestions – movies, books, pamphlets, pictures, and poetry. There is an infinite variety but it all comes down to one thing – it is propaganda – made to woo or dominate me.
I am comfortable with it when it is accessed at my behest. I can open a British wartime book…or not. See a crude Hollywood communist film…or not. Read SIGNAL…or not. I can deal with it when I am at my most critical or analytical and need not be driven to it by the day’s anxieties.
Unfortunately this is not the case when the daily feed on Facebook contains this sort of material. It is on me in a flash and opens into my home – for good or ill – without any let or hindrance. It is analogous to someone forcing the door and waving banners and slogans at me as I try to eat my dinner. It is the electronic equivalent of a political or religious zealot at a cocktail party – unwilling to change their mind and unable to change the subject. I am lucky if it amounts to enticement – frequently I think it is abuse, and fraudulent abuse at that.
I would have this stop. Of course I understand that it will do so if I withdraw entirely from Facebook, but the utility of the program in forming a tertiary means of communication when the email and telephone are unavailable means that I wish to continue. I am indifferent to the invitations to play Candy Crush and don’t worry about the commercial flapdoodle on the side of the main messages – I would just ask that the people who wish to maintain an electronic friendship with me to:
1. Refrain from telling me how to vote in Australian elections. I know how to read and write, and the Electoral Commission gives me a small pencil and a ballot paper whenever needed. I can manage very well, thank you.
2. Resist the temptation to show me your children sticking their tongues out at me. I do not do that to them, nor to you. I do not make rude gestures at you or your children with my fingers or any other portion of my anatomy. I could, but I do not.
3. Cease telling me how drunk they got. I have been in that condition myself, and do not feel it a source of pride or benchmark of acheivement. I have had the decency to vomit in my own bed and leave it at that.
4. Stop rehearsing the political propaganda of the extreme left/extreme right/extreme mohammedan/extreme christian factions before me. If I wish to be extreme I can do so using my own delusions – I do not need you to throw others’ at me. Note that punctuation and spelling…
5. Restrain your passion. I should not welcome your hands groping in my trousers – far less do I wish your busy political tongues in my ear. Should you care to leave a pamphlet urging temperance or the advantages of the bimetallic system, I have a letterbox. I assure you I will give it careful consideration.
Lest you think this post is entirely complaint, I hasten to add that I do like humour, but for its own sake – not as a wrapping around a manifesto. Jokes, not speeches, please.