While the de jure role of state sponsored propaganda is to convince a population to adopt a certain line of thinking on the issues of the day, the de fato function of state sponsored propaganda is rather different. In a society in which even a sizeable minority of the public are capable of critical thinking, few will immediately believe everything they are told, even if they can’t quite put their figure on a specific point of contention.
Because of that, in educated societies as the Soviet Union’s was, state propaganda serves a purpose of alerting people as to what they are forbidden to disagree with in public. In other words, if the official state line as delivered through state sanctioned newspapers, radio and television is that the economy is booming, people are being paid well and on time and that the new housing stock is superior to any other in the world – the authors of such propaganda do not expect those who are under-paid, living in mediocre housing and unable to elevate themselves into a higher living standard, to believe the self-evident nonsense that forms the core of the propaganda.
Instead, as part of the political requirement for society not to fall apart, it is expected that in private, people will complain to their friends and family about the fact that the economy is poor, people are stuck in dead end jobs and that housing is substandard, but that in public one will refrain from voicing these thoughts, because if they did, they would lose their job at a state owned factory, lose their state pension and if they took their message of opposition to greater heights, they could even receive a visit from the police.
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