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Free Thought and Official Propaganda

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This is a reproduction of a book published before 1923. This book may have occasional imperfections such as missing or blurred pages, poor pictures, errant marks, etc. that were either part of the original artifact, or were introduced by the scanning process. We believe this work is culturally important, and despite the imperfections, have elected to bring it back into pri This is a reproduction of a book published before 1923. This book may have occasional imperfections such as missing or blurred pages, poor pictures, errant marks, etc. that were either part of the original artifact, or were introduced by the scanning process. We believe this work is culturally important, and despite the imperfections, have elected to bring it back into print as part of our continuing commitment to the preservation of printed works worldwide. We appreciate your understanding of the imperfections in the preservation process, and hope you enjoy this valuable book.


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This is a reproduction of a book published before 1923. This book may have occasional imperfections such as missing or blurred pages, poor pictures, errant marks, etc. that were either part of the original artifact, or were introduced by the scanning process. We believe this work is culturally important, and despite the imperfections, have elected to bring it back into pri This is a reproduction of a book published before 1923. This book may have occasional imperfections such as missing or blurred pages, poor pictures, errant marks, etc. that were either part of the original artifact, or were introduced by the scanning process. We believe this work is culturally important, and despite the imperfections, have elected to bring it back into print as part of our continuing commitment to the preservation of printed works worldwide. We appreciate your understanding of the imperfections in the preservation process, and hope you enjoy this valuable book.

30 review for Free Thought and Official Propaganda

  1. 5 out of 5

    Mario García

    Perhaps the sickliest racist ending I've seen so far in my whole lifetime, this short text is quite a brilliant analysis on the topic of propaganda and its ill effects on social development. Russell traces exceptional connections between the problems of education for intelligence, making a living and free thought (which he does not confuse with superfluous free speech) as far as I can tell. His political views are to be paralleled with Orwell's Animal Farm to the point that economic monopolies (ca Perhaps the sickliest racist ending I've seen so far in my whole lifetime, this short text is quite a brilliant analysis on the topic of propaganda and its ill effects on social development. Russell traces exceptional connections between the problems of education for intelligence, making a living and free thought (which he does not confuse with superfluous free speech) as far as I can tell. His political views are to be paralleled with Orwell's Animal Farm to the point that economic monopolies (capitalism) and State control (URSS so called socialism) become antithesis of healthy development. Each one on his own merits. Thus, critical thinking is crucial to escape the barriers of social exclusion, nationalism and most of the current problems of mankind furthered by propaganda. It is difficult to find sane political stances in a world shaped by media. Russell's projections from ninety-one years ago (early 20th century), are still fresh, relevant and open for consideration. If there are social ideas and alternatives you have to dig for, you are subjected to propaganda. Note: Russell's book appears to have been meant for publication some years before Edward Bernays, Propaganda. This fact alone makes it remarkable.

  2. 4 out of 5

    Gurleen Kaur

    "Our system of education turns young people out of the schools able to read, but for the most part unable to weigh evidence or to form an independent opinion." Reading this in 2018 and thinking, "We sure have made no great progress". Kids in schools and people who get easily swayed by political/religious/state propaganda should try going through this short essay. "Our system of education turns young people out of the schools able to read, but for the most part unable to weigh evidence or to form an independent opinion." Reading this in 2018 and thinking, "We sure have made no great progress". Kids in schools and people who get easily swayed by political/religious/state propaganda should try going through this short essay.

  3. 4 out of 5

    George

    CLEAR THINKING ON FREE THOUGHT. “None of our beliefs are quite true; all have at least a penumbra of vagueness and error” (Kindle Location 118) Bertrand Russell’s Conway Memorial Lecture of March 24, 1922, Free Thought and Official Propaganda, offers clear and cogent thoughts on the subject that are still very valid today. Russell argues strenuously and convincingly against government’s monopoly over elementary education. Recommendation: It’s always nice to encounter clear thinking and, as frosting CLEAR THINKING ON FREE THOUGHT. “None of our beliefs are quite true; all have at least a penumbra of vagueness and error” (Kindle Location 118) Bertrand Russell’s Conway Memorial Lecture of March 24, 1922, Free Thought and Official Propaganda, offers clear and cogent thoughts on the subject that are still very valid today. Russell argues strenuously and convincingly against government’s monopoly over elementary education. Recommendation: It’s always nice to encounter clear thinking and, as frosting on the cake, this pamphlet is available to download at no charge at www.gutenberg.org. “We are faced with the paradoxical fact that education has become one of the chief obstacles to intelligence and freedom of thought.” (Kindle Location 230) “…we all have an interest in restraining the tyranny of majorities.” (Kindle Location 297) Project Gutenberg, Kindle edition, 40 Pages, 507 Kindle locations.

  4. 4 out of 5

    Marcus Vinicius

    In this short essay, Welsh philosopher and mathematician Bertrand Russell wrote about his understanding of free thought, liberty of the press and state (official) propaganda. The text is readable, clear and straightforward. Liberty of thought and speech is a hard feature to achieve and harder to maintain. States and social arrangements have distinct ways to suppress it. Russell points to some of it and gives some tolls to overcome it, in order to achieve better results, provided we all agree in In this short essay, Welsh philosopher and mathematician Bertrand Russell wrote about his understanding of free thought, liberty of the press and state (official) propaganda. The text is readable, clear and straightforward. Liberty of thought and speech is a hard feature to achieve and harder to maintain. States and social arrangements have distinct ways to suppress it. Russell points to some of it and gives some tolls to overcome it, in order to achieve better results, provided we all agree in the goodness of free thought.

  5. 5 out of 5

    Ietrio

    Beautiful. Simply beautiful. Written in 1922 and still crystal clear almost a century later. The charlatans of the continental philosophy can't express one section in 800 pages. Beautiful. Simply beautiful. Written in 1922 and still crystal clear almost a century later. The charlatans of the continental philosophy can't express one section in 800 pages.

  6. 5 out of 5

    Dennis R. Johnson

    To be watchful Outstanding philosophy presented in 1922 that can carry a warning to present time of the dangers propaganda exercised by; elected,appointed, and bureaucratic officials can use to threaten freedom of thought for the individual. Should be requiring reading at all levels of a free society.

  7. 5 out of 5

    J Sams

    More important than ever A must read in today's political climate. Unfortunately, the predictions of ninety years ago were too optimistic. Anyone still concerned with ethics and truth needs to read this. It wouldn't hurt you trump supporters who can actually read either. More important than ever A must read in today's political climate. Unfortunately, the predictions of ninety years ago were too optimistic. Anyone still concerned with ethics and truth needs to read this. It wouldn't hurt you trump supporters who can actually read either.

  8. 4 out of 5

    Justin Rohrman

    This is the transcript for a short, but dense lecture. I won't try to summarize it. I'll probably need to listen to the lecture a few times. This is the transcript for a short, but dense lecture. I won't try to summarize it. I'll probably need to listen to the lecture a few times.

  9. 5 out of 5

    Maria Podolyak

    Excellent read! You literally want to quote something on each page. Easy to read and inspiring.

  10. 4 out of 5

    Amanda

    Me reading this: I’m with you, I follow, I got it, oh holy shit, surprise racism.

  11. 5 out of 5

    Maru Reads

    Free Thought and Official Propaganda is a speech and later publication that was first given in 1922 by Bertrand Russel that elaborates on the need for "freethinking" in society and delimits the obstacles to free thought as education, propaganda and economic pressure. Despite the uncomfortable racist ending proposing that our grandchildren must learn tolerance lest the world be left to more "uncivilized peoples", Russell accomplishes a convincing argument regarding how to protect free thought as Free Thought and Official Propaganda is a speech and later publication that was first given in 1922 by Bertrand Russel that elaborates on the need for "freethinking" in society and delimits the obstacles to free thought as education, propaganda and economic pressure. Despite the uncomfortable racist ending proposing that our grandchildren must learn tolerance lest the world be left to more "uncivilized peoples", Russell accomplishes a convincing argument regarding how to protect free thought as a basic liberty. The first obstacle to free thought is education which is generally said to have been monopolized almost every government of the world. Russell describes the opportunity of education as being able to offer a way of teaching intelligence, or not believing all information that is imparted on you. However, he admits that most educational systems focus on information being passed down. "On the contrary, their problem is to impart information without imparting intelligence." (Loc 210). In general, he finds that most governments desire that ordinary not think for themselves, because it is awkward to manage them and leads to other difficulties. An interesting example of a country imparting information is said to be Japan, which although effective in instruction, is said to teach worship of the Mikado. According to  Merriam Webster, Mikado is said to be an emperor of Japan. The second obstacle to free thought is propaganda, which not only leads people to reason with their emotions rather than their logic, but is generally more accessible to those with economic resources, leading the same people to hold power over and over again. Russell argues that advertising is an old technique and that only recently the field of psychology has started to understand it's great ability of convincing others, just by being a separate entity from the person claiming to benefit from the advertising. To give an example, Bertrand provides the example of the Russian government, which is said to have a complete monopoly of propaganda.  "Equality of opportunity among opinions is essential if there is to be real freedom of thought... The cure is not to be sought primarily in such laws, but in better education and a more skeptical public." Russell doesn't believe that laws can be expected to be enacted, but rather the public must be skeptical enough to take note of economic disparities between competing advertised parties. The third obstacle to free thought is economic pressure, which although appears in the other obstacles is a danger when people rely on money to feed themselves and exist. To understand this example, Russell gives the example of a hypothetical university professor who may struggle to get employment if they criticize STandard Oil Company, because all college presidents have receive benefactions from Mr. Rockefeller. In general, the fewer employers there are, the easier it is for individual employees to be persecuted for having free thought. As such, Russell cites the growth of monopolies in the US as introducing many of the evils associated with State Scoialism that has exsited in Russia. Finally "a man who openly dissents from Christianity, or bleieves in a relaxation fo the marriage laws, or objects to ohte power of the graet corproations, finds AMerica a veyr uncomfortable country, unless he happens to b ena eminient writer." (Loc 275). This reminds me of the fact that many great writers, such as Pablo Neruda, have been able to seek entrance. In 1966, the poet was invited to the International PEN conference in New York City by Arthur Miller. When the playwright pleeded with the White House, Johnson finally granted Neruda a visa. The speech given in Free Thought and Official Propaganda encourages its audience to be taught reason in schools, use reason before coming to conclusions and to be given economic liberties to be able to continue to use reason in any personal way a citizen may see fit. Crucially Bertrand points out that liberties of the minorities must be protected as even the most orthodox person may find himself in the minority one day. Each person can contribute most to a society when they ally themselves with minorities as if their struggle was their own, fighting every day as to not let those liberties slowly slip away.

  12. 4 out of 5

    Thought Pecking

    Remembered as a seminal philosopher, logician, mathematician, historian, political activist, and noble laureate, the scholarly British writer Bertrand Russell is known no less for his admiration for science and for his bitter criticism of religion. His brilliant essay “Free Thought and Official Propaganda” is a sincere deliberation on what free thought is and a fierce polemic against the adversaries of free thought and eccentricity. It is a shrewd analysis of how political or religious propagand Remembered as a seminal philosopher, logician, mathematician, historian, political activist, and noble laureate, the scholarly British writer Bertrand Russell is known no less for his admiration for science and for his bitter criticism of religion. His brilliant essay “Free Thought and Official Propaganda” is a sincere deliberation on what free thought is and a fierce polemic against the adversaries of free thought and eccentricity. It is a shrewd analysis of how political or religious propaganda is promoted through education and its consequences on the society, a society which is left with average credulous minds with no ideas of their own. At a point in the essay, contrasting the virtues of science with religion, he talks about how scientific methods are developed such as to increase the proximity to truth, about the welcoming attitude of the scientific community toward being proved wrong, and about their will to rational doubt. He asserts that the spheres of politics and religion have not so far had anything even close to what we call scientific knowledge. He fancies that if such methods were to be adopted in these domains, most of the ills of the world would be alleviated: The self-reflection of each side on their own failings would eliminate the possibilities of wars; education would cease to be used as an apparatus for disseminating propaganda and would instead focus on widening mental capabilities of its subjects; politicians would nominate people for administrative jobs on the basis of competence, instead of sycophancy. “Free Thought and Propaganda” is one essay that should be read for the sheer pleasure of the sense of Russell’s unusual mode of thinking and his iconoclastic manner of writing.

  13. 4 out of 5

    Bob Gustafson

    Do not buy the kindle version of this book. Fork over the money for shipping, because the typographical errors in the Kindle version are nearly overwhelming. That said, bear in mind that this was a lecture and can be read in one sitting. The point made is that it is necessary to train one another to think critically. The principal obstacle to critical thinking is official propaganda in the form of state-mandated education, which more often than not trains youth to memorize rather than to think. Th Do not buy the kindle version of this book. Fork over the money for shipping, because the typographical errors in the Kindle version are nearly overwhelming. That said, bear in mind that this was a lecture and can be read in one sitting. The point made is that it is necessary to train one another to think critically. The principal obstacle to critical thinking is official propaganda in the form of state-mandated education, which more often than not trains youth to memorize rather than to think. There are additional obstacles to learning critical thinking which Russell mentions.

  14. 5 out of 5

    Sha Ranney

    Per page, I have found this more rewarding than any book that I've read. Russell discusses freedom of religion, his personal experiences, the hypocrisies found among various countries and their laws, education and propaganda, all in 25 pages. He does this while tying together relevant events that give an accurate historical perspective of the time. Still more impressive is how engaging the writing is. What's strange is how progressive Russell was and yet ends the essay with an oddly racist sente Per page, I have found this more rewarding than any book that I've read. Russell discusses freedom of religion, his personal experiences, the hypocrisies found among various countries and their laws, education and propaganda, all in 25 pages. He does this while tying together relevant events that give an accurate historical perspective of the time. Still more impressive is how engaging the writing is. What's strange is how progressive Russell was and yet ends the essay with an oddly racist sentence. That shocked the hell out of me! Was he trolling? Perhaps we'll never know.

  15. 5 out of 5

    Erika

    This speech is valuable today in the political climate of Trump's America. If only we had listened to Bertrand a hundred years ago and taught our children how to think rather than how to be subjects... "so long as men continue to have the present fanatical belief in the importance of politics free thought on political matters will be impossible," This speech is valuable today in the political climate of Trump's America. If only we had listened to Bertrand a hundred years ago and taught our children how to think rather than how to be subjects... "so long as men continue to have the present fanatical belief in the importance of politics free thought on political matters will be impossible,"

  16. 5 out of 5

    Sham

    It's certainly baffling that even after almost a century since the delivery of this speech(and subsequently published), we still face the same obstacles today. "Our system of education turns young people out of the schools able to read, but for the most part unable to weigh evidence or to form an independent opinion." It's certainly baffling that even after almost a century since the delivery of this speech(and subsequently published), we still face the same obstacles today. "Our system of education turns young people out of the schools able to read, but for the most part unable to weigh evidence or to form an independent opinion."

  17. 4 out of 5

    Clinton Sites

    Interesting points are made by the author regarding government control of education versus religious groups. Problems that Russell discusses are still with us over a century later. His position against organized religions seems to be somewhat specious. He advocates the use of ones' intelligence to determine truth yet does not seem to apply the same to faith. Interesting points are made by the author regarding government control of education versus religious groups. Problems that Russell discusses are still with us over a century later. His position against organized religions seems to be somewhat specious. He advocates the use of ones' intelligence to determine truth yet does not seem to apply the same to faith.

  18. 4 out of 5

    Scott Wade

    An old premise for 21st century Were Bertrand Russell alive today, I wonder if he would change a single word. The ideas presented may be exactly what America needs in these turbulent and polarized times.

  19. 5 out of 5

    bob moorhead

    Well worth reading in our current political environment A prescient analysis of the forces of media, corporatism, religion, anti-education and propaganda that continue to boil over into a toxic mix across the globe

  20. 4 out of 5

    Elaf Sabah

    It was marvelous, I agree to his analysis and it's unbelievable how realistic his arguments. It applies to what I'm facing on daily basis and through his words I found our communities to be quite similar. It was marvelous, I agree to his analysis and it's unbelievable how realistic his arguments. It applies to what I'm facing on daily basis and through his words I found our communities to be quite similar.

  21. 5 out of 5

    kenneth browb

    Eye opening An amazing read that really makes one thank about what he's as read through out their live. Abouslte lovely read Eye opening An amazing read that really makes one thank about what he's as read through out their live. Abouslte lovely read

  22. 5 out of 5

    Patti Williams

    Rereading this work with a 2017 lens. “What is wanted is not the will to believe, but the wish to find out, which is the exact opposite.”

  23. 4 out of 5

    Kevin

    Has some interesting tidbits but nothing mind-blowing. It's a quick read, but lacks focus and direction. Has some interesting tidbits but nothing mind-blowing. It's a quick read, but lacks focus and direction.

  24. 5 out of 5

    Brian Mikołajczyk

    Russell highlights the interplay between free thought, free speech, and what implication they have as related to state propaganda including nationalistic indoctrination.

  25. 5 out of 5

    Danielle

    Basically an essay against cancel culture

  26. 5 out of 5

    Lulua

    I was going to give this 5 stars until I came across the last sentence; very unnecessary ending.

  27. 4 out of 5

    Hafez

    Not that long but very insightful! It's also in the public commons, free to read for all. Not that long but very insightful! It's also in the public commons, free to read for all.

  28. 5 out of 5

    Steve

    "Credulity is a greater evil in the present day than it ever was before, because, owing to the growth of education, it is much easier than it used to be to spread misinformation, and, owing to democracy, the spread of misinformation is more important than in former times to the holders of power." Perhaps this is why Trump won the 2016 election. ----- Reread this in 2020. It's much more apparent to me today that this is why Trump won in 2016. What's more hopeful to me today than it was when I first r "Credulity is a greater evil in the present day than it ever was before, because, owing to the growth of education, it is much easier than it used to be to spread misinformation, and, owing to democracy, the spread of misinformation is more important than in former times to the holders of power." Perhaps this is why Trump won the 2016 election. ----- Reread this in 2020. It's much more apparent to me today that this is why Trump won in 2016. What's more hopeful to me today than it was when I first read it in 2017, is that there's definite limits to the number of Americans willing to believe Trump's nonsensical statements and tendency to lead our country toward Fascism. I'm hopeful that "the Resistance" will triumph in 2020. For that to happen, we must diligently work to strengthen and rebuild American institutions.

  29. 5 out of 5

    Danna

    I read this book before arriving at and after leaving Occupy Austin today. Bertrand Russell's analysis of free thought and propaganda makes me feel (and think) less like an apolitical freak, and more like an intelligent human being who wants freedom from truly faulty economic and political ideologies - left and right - and freedom from the propaganda that suppresses true free thinking. I read this book before arriving at and after leaving Occupy Austin today. Bertrand Russell's analysis of free thought and propaganda makes me feel (and think) less like an apolitical freak, and more like an intelligent human being who wants freedom from truly faulty economic and political ideologies - left and right - and freedom from the propaganda that suppresses true free thinking.

  30. 5 out of 5

    Joshua

    "We are faced with the paradoxical fact that education has become one of the chief obstacles to intelligence and freedom of thought." As the complexity of society increases, the need for an educated population increases drastically. Bertrand Russell's lecture on "Free Thought and Official Propaganda" is a good place to start. "We are faced with the paradoxical fact that education has become one of the chief obstacles to intelligence and freedom of thought." As the complexity of society increases, the need for an educated population increases drastically. Bertrand Russell's lecture on "Free Thought and Official Propaganda" is a good place to start.

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