The general subservience of the articulate intelligentsia to the framework of state propaganda is not…

The general subservience of the articulate intelligentsia to the framework of state propaganda is not only unrecognized, it is strenuously denied by the propaganda system. The press and the intelligentsia in general are held to be fiercely independent, critical, antagonistic to the state, even suffused by a trendy anti-Americanism. It is quite true that controversy rages over government policies and the errors or even crimes of government officials and agencies. But the impression of internal dissidence is misleading. A more careful analysis shows that this controversy takes place, for the most part, within the narrow limits of a set of patriotic premises. Thus it is quite tolerable–indeed, a contribution to the propaganda system–for the Free Press to denounce the government for its errors in attempting to defend South Vietnam from North Vietnamese aggression, since by so doing it helps to establish more firmly the basic myth: that the United States was not engaged in a savage attack on South Vietnam but was rather defending it. If even the hostile critics adopt these assumptions, then clearly they must be true.

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