Living Wise Series on Propaganda: Bandwagon

Methodology: 1. Make it appear that many people have joined the cause already, and that they are having lots of fun or getting significant advantage. 2. Show that those who join early will get the better prizes, such as positions of authority or other advantages. 3. Link it to morality and values, showing that those who join sooner are more moral and pretty much better people all around. 4. Make a loud noise. Use bright colors. Play a fanfare. Become impossible to miss. Be in-your-face until they join up.

by Michael Corthell

A propagandist will rent a hall, engage radio and TV stations, fill a sports stadium, march a million people (or a lot of folks) in protest. He will use symbols, colors, music, movement, and all the drama he can muster. He will get the public to write letters, post to social media, to contribute to his cause and get you on the 'bandwagon'. (everybody wants to make their country great again right?)

He appeals to passions and desires that are common to most people. In this way he encourages the individual to follow the crowd. Momentum builds and masses follow the crowd. He will direct his appeal to groups held together already by common ties, ties of nationality, religion, race, sex, vocation. Thus the skilled propagandists campaigning for or against a certain program, cause or politician will appeal to us as; Catholics, Protestants, or Jews or as farmers, school teachers, housewives and miners.

With the help of all the other propaganda devices, all of the artifices of deceptive flattery are used to bring forth the fears and hatreds, prejudices and biases, convictions and ideals common to a group. This is emotional appeal made to force the public as members of a group onto a Band Wagon.

The basic theme of the 'Band Wagon' appeal is that "everyone else is doing it, and so should you." (the authors mother used to warn, ''if Johnny jumped off a roof, would you jump to?" Always listen to your Mom.) 

Since few of us want to be left out or left behind, this technique can be quite successful. But there is never quite as much of a rush to climb onto the Band Wagon as the propagandist tries to make us think there is.

When confronted with this technique, ask yourselves the following questions:
  • What is this propagandist's program?
  • What is the evidence for and against the program?
  • Regardless of the fact that others are supporting this program, should I support it?
  • Does the program serve or undermine my individual and collective interests?