Better propaganda

There's always room for more anarchist propaganda in the world. The powerful and their cheerleaders are always telling us how important they are and how little we and everyone else count. It would be great if we could just burst that bubble once and get on with the revolution but propaganda is more brick by brick demolition than big bang.

Sadly a lot of political writing is only worried about cleverness for its own sake, scoring points as if someone was counting. Is there any point in radicals just talking to each other? (I know, some would be better just talking to themselves.) There's no point apologising for our ideas either. Does hating the current set-up make us responsible for every rogue who's ever said 'Let ME take care of it'?

Anyone can write. There's enough idiot bosses (and wannabe bosses) to provide tempting targets; and plenty of chances to show we can live without them. A lot of us got put off writing at school. Who wants to jump through those hoops again? Writing's not the most important thing in the world (talking to people is propaganda too!) but here's some ideas if you're thinking of trying it. If you don't put your ideas down, who'll do it for you?



Think of the reader. Who are you talking to and what point are you trying to make? Put the gist of your article in a headline or sentence. Writing doesn't need to be simplistic to be understandable. Above all, make it interesting, or no-one will read it. Grab people's attention with the first sentence. That's you most important job - you can expand it later. Likewise, wrap up with a memorable finish but remember, people don't need to be led by the hand. Ending all your articles with 'and that's why anarchism is the answer' won't help if they're not already convinced!

Don't wait for 'the perfect moment' to write something. Little and often is a lot easier way than expecting to churn out 'War and Peace' on your holiday. It won't come out perfect, but keep going. You can always edit and rewrite it later.

Don't try and put too much stuff in. If it's not relevant, save it for another time. Don't be vague - use personal experiences to make your point. Check dates, facts etc. to make sure they're accurate. If people catch you out they're less likely to trust anything else you say. Leave lying to the politicians! Also, don't use names and facts which will drop people in it.

Short is sweet. Anglo-Saxon words are often shorter (and better) than Latin ones. Use them if you can: try 'house' not 'accommodation', 'work' not 'occupation' and drink' not 'beverage'. A bit of slang is OK but don't make life hard for people. Break sentences down if you can. Still, occasional long ones are OK too. You can use 'bringing words' like 'and', 'but', 'although' to string sentances together. Also it sometimes helps to 'signpost' your arguments by using 'remember' or 'like I said before…'

Check it out

Humour helps keep articles readable. You don't need to write a comic masterpiece, and jokes won't help if the rest is gibberish. Get a mate to check if it actually works or if you're just trying to be funny. Metaphors can help make you point and liven up your writing. Avoid stale phrases (ones you can finish off once you've heard the first word) like 'acid test', 'powder keg' or 'sick as a parrot'. Don't use space fillers like 'in order to'. Trim down roundabout phrases: 'In spite of the fact that' just means 'although'. 'Appear on the scene' can be cut down to 'appear'.

Don't fill you page up with exclamation marks or capital letters. Make sure you spell out what abbreviations means. Check for repetition. Don't use the same words over and over unless you're banging a point home. use active and not passive speech ('passive speech should be avoided' is out).

Use a dictionary for meanings and spelling you're not sure about. Look out for other errors like 'they're' for 'their' or 'there' or its/it's. This is not to make it perfect and polished. Cutting out annoying distractions will help your readers. When you've gone through and checked it, get a friend to read it too.

George Orwell's six rules are always worth checking out:

'1, Never use a metaphor, simile or other figure of speech which you are used to seeing in print.

2, Never use a long word where a short one will do.

3, If it is possible to cut a word out, always cut it out.

4, Never use the passive when you can use the active.

5, Never use a foreign phrase, a scientific word or a jargon word if you can think of an everyday English equivalent.

6, break any of these rules sooner than say anything outright barbarous.'

It's also worth checking out how the mainstream media do their propaganda. They play on people's fear, present themselves as the voice of common sense, and make their 'enemies' sound like ridiculous idiots (taking the piss is essential to propaganda). You don't want to copy all their dirty tricks but it does pay to watch how they operate. They are part of the problem, after all.