"Straining the Truth"
I was reading George Orwell’s The Road to Wigan Pierthe other day, and happened across this observation: “This is the inevitable fate of the sentimentalist. All his opinions change into their opposites at the first brush of reality.” What Orwell was referring to was the way in which certain “progressives” claim to hold radical views, often pushing them to ridiculous limits, all in a (sub-conscious?) process of setting themselves up for disappointment, so that later they can claim "I used to be open-minded," "I was a radical when I was younger," "I found out the hard way," etc.
In other words, insincere radicalism is merely a way of setting the stage for subsequent conservatism.
This is exploited to good effect by the smarter propagandists. It is elementary that effective propaganda must clothe itself as something other than indoctrination. This is so obvious that any little kid trying to pull one over on their parents sees the logic in it. Telling people to "be happy," "obey authority," "trust your leaders" is worst than useless: today it is only understood as irony or sarcasm. Which is why nobody except the most stupid reactionary ever takes that approach.
Rather, good propaganda seduces through false-assurances, offering the possibility of being like Orwell’s sentimentalist, the repentant ex-liberal, allowing one to vicariously "give them the benefit of the doubt" and then feel "betrayed by them." Finally having this feeling of betrayal validated. Good propaganda allows its consumers to be bitter as the result of experiences they have never actually had.
All of which is why one of my favorite television universes, Law & Order, is such a good example of effective propaganda. With few exceptions, Law & Order episodes are billed as fiction, yet it is the way in which they often trace the outlines of real stories that makes them so appealing. With none of the responsibility of making a "dramatization of real events," the scriptwriters get to play fast and loose with the facts, often inserting critically misleading twists. Add to this the fact that so many of their episodes deal with issues that may be of particular interest to "progressives," and you can see why this sneaky dishonesty is so effective. The show paves a liberal road that consistently leads to reactionary conclusions.
Time and time again Law & Order follows this script, and so after slightly more than a decade the series and its spin-offs have become a kind a metaphor for white America’s rightward shift.