Propaganda has a massive part to play in the life of every capsular in Nullsec and Lowsec, and even most in high. Perhaps I should first define that to me there are two types of propaganda active and passive (Watch out Greyscale might nerf any alliance using both!).
propaganda is very powerful and very visible. This is the obvious stuff like posters and speeches. I think a lot of people think of these things as gimics and people stroking their e-peens. But more often than not it can become a powerful force in any war.
propaganda is even more powerful, but is completely covert and invisible. Further more once it begins, it often requires little to no manipulation by its originator. It can also be set lose by accident.
Way back when the Northern Coalition sprawled the upper reaches of the influence map I was a very small part of the bigger cog that was RAZOR alliance. Now I was a part of this alliance right up-until the beginning of the downfall of the NC, and I remember the campaign which precluded the counter attack destroying that massive Coalition. I have to admit that I am always a bit hazy about details (these days I try to keep a diary of the big wars/events as they happen for future notes), but if I remember correctly the NC declared war on the Drone Russian Forces (DRF) accusing them of preparing to attack us. True or not this was very good active propaganda, we were the aggressors in the fight, but right was on our side “were just doing this to defend ourselves!”. We were the righteous fighting the unjust. And we acted like it.
Things were looking great for the NC and the fight was going their way. The Russians were hardly defending their space, which meant a lot of structure grinds. Unfortunately for the NC the DRF was simply waiting for the best moment to release a devastating batch of passive propaganda. The counter attack was brilliant in its simplicity. The DRF simply continued to turtle up, while simultaneously hiring Pandemic Legion to attack the soft underbelly of its ratting/moon mining systems. Furthermore using the death of expensive ratting ships as evidence the DRF & PL explained to the world (and the NC) that their enemy was a ghost of its former self, a façade of ineffectual fighters hiding a hollow core of carebear corporations.
For us on the front, physically, nothing changed. We continued to grid ground in the Russian homelands with the same blueballing results. The people who were affected were the farmers who stayed home (for whom we held much distain) and the Alliance/coalition leaders who owned the towers which were being flipped back and fourth. But something on the front had changed: self opinion. Suddenly the same circumstances which yesterday made us valiant aggressor fighting the good fight, today showed that we were failing miserably and could no longer continue as we were.
We all know how that campaign ended. The NC returned home to defend their moons and their Farmers. The Russians inverted the attack and begun invading our territory. The NC concentrated on trying to swat PL, with as much effect as trying to stop an annoying mosquito with a 10 tone anvil-on-a-stick. At the same time Geminate was slowly eroded by a DRF counter attack and very little was done to defend it until it was to late.
To this day the NC’s demise is always attributed to “internal rot” and to some extent I believe that is true, but not in the way explained.
At the moment I am reading a book recommended by the themittani.com which talks all about influence. It’s a very interesting, if somewhat dry, read and as the site says, it really does apply well to everything in life, including eve. What is of particular interest within eves propaganda is the subject of “Consistency” also referred to else where as “Self fulfilling prophesy”.
The basic concept is this. We bend our personalities and beliefs to match the commitments made by and for us in public. For example, if we are at a dinner party and I say to you, “You seem like the kind of person who gives a lot to charity” and you reply “Well; I try my best”. Tomorrow, you are more likely to respond positively to a direct request from a charity for donations. The effect is more or less powerful depending on how you have committed, or agreed. With the example above, the effect would be more powerful If you had been in the company of all your friends and work colleagues, than a bunch of stranger for example. Even more effective would be if I had asked you to sign a document to that effect. We do this because we as humans highly prise consistency. To act inconsistently is to be unsound of mind in the view of the species. To agree with a view of ourselves and then act in a different manner is inconsistent, and makes us undesirable, and un trustworthy. Therefore we act in ways which is consistent with our perception of how others see us (dizzy yet?). There is a lot more too it than just this, but this is the main area which directly purports to propaganda.
You see what propaganda does, is create a very public image of how someone wants us to act and, if we like, agree and believe in that image, we will subconsciously l try to act consistent with it. For leadership, wanting to install a positive change to their forces, this is very easy. Simply produce an image which your members like (maybe its funny or just something pilots conceive as “Good”). For example; If you as a leadership declare “We as an alliance always have amazing turnout rates for CTA’s! and you should all be proud of that”, it becomes an image every pilot will be more likely to try to be consistent with. That active propaganda then plants the seed which becomes the passive propaganda of consistency. If, following that statement, the alliance gets a universe wise reputation as a high attendance alliance, the effect of the propaganda is increased because pilots have more people to act consistently for. Furthermore, if the statement was made as a funny gif image for example; alliance members who re-post that image or publicly tout the alliances success, are themselves far more likely to become consistent with that self image as the act of reproducing the image further commits them to acting consistently with it. As a result of that initial active propaganda, and its repercussive passive wake, even if the original statement is untrue, as long as the pilots believe it, and believe that others believe it, it will become true.
Negative propaganda is harder to nail down like this, but that is where my example of the downfall of the NC comes into play. You see it all begins with a tiny pebble. The front line pilots during the early part of the campaign were getting more and more exhausted. So when the DRF suddenly turned the pressure on at home, we as a group were far more susceptive to the passivenegative propaganda, which was coming from home. Despite the fact that nothing really had changed, two seeds of activeand passive propaganda were planted.
Firstly we were told by the DRF and Russians that we were a carebear coalition. They had proof in the killmails of the farmers who had stayed home rather than join the war, a form of active propaganda. As such the troops, and eventually the leadership began to act more and more like a carebear coalition responding to the ripples of passivepropaganda. The act of declaring war on another nation is not the action of a carebear coalition, nor is committing (and executing) the grind of its structures.
Retreating to defend the people who couldn’t be bothered to join in the war on the other hand? that is the act of a carebear coalition: At some point between these two actions, the coalition began to act like what it was being told people thought it was, rather than what it originally was. It became its public image.
Secondly, the very same pilots who stayed home (and there for who’s deaths had zero effect on the war) began telling us that the war was lost, and that we should stop aggressive in-order to defend our space (and thus them). This was another passive propaganda. If people thought we were losing the war, we began to act as if we were losing the war. You could argue that this was not so much to be consistent with the image, as because it sapped the fight out of us. But then maybe that is one and the same thing? We felt sapped because we were told we were sapped).
It is this subtle injection of self belief adjusting our image of our alliance, corporations and collations which truly drive the wars of New Eden. Indeed I believe that it is exactly this is which is causing the changes we are seeing across the sov map at the moment. Self belief is one of the many things which decided battles before the first shot has been fired. And people who can use this self image adjustment to great effect, are the people who can lead our collations to great victories.
The NC did fall because it was a ineffective façade hiding a core of rot. But that only became true, despite the NC operating on that system for years beforehand, because the NC believe it. They lost the war because they were persuaded, by themselves andtheir enemies that we had lost, even though nothing changed.