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[Xmca-l] Re: Laws of evolution and laws of history

Plekhanov makes the distinction between agitation on the one hand and
propaganda on the other. Agitation is the dissemination of a few
immediately actionable ideas to a very large number of people, while
propaganda is the dissemination of a whole coherent system of ideas, many
of which merely serve to mediate other ideas and are not immediately

I think that Plekhanov's distinction has been misread in two ways. The
first is to read it as an elitist distinction between exoteric mobilization
and  esoteric recruitment, or, crudely put, agitation for cattle and
propaganda for cadres. The second is to see it as a theoretist distinction
between praxis and theory, or, crudely put, doing and believing.

In both cases the missing dimension is the historical moment. There are
some moments when it makes sense to disseminate Vygotsky's ideas in
immediately actionable forms--e.g. labor schools during the 1920s, concept
formation and the ZPD in the thirties, and in our own time, dynamic
assessment, reciprocal teaching, and Anna Sfard's work on Commognition.
These are moments when practical problems arise that require urgent
solutions by people who do not have time to master the whole system of
Vygotskyan concepts. These practical problems very often turn out to be
critical ones, however; that is, practical problems that require an
understanding of the problem as a moment of crisis.

So there are other moments when it makes sense to disseminate Vygotsky's
ideas as a whole coherent system--e.g. the complete text of Thinking and
Speech (yet to be made available in a really coherent form in English), the
complete text of HDHMF (ditto), and the kind of complete Vygotsky that
Anton Yasnitsky and Rene Van der Veer have been working on. These are
moments, such as the present moment in South Korea, when it is simply
impossible to move forward with practical solutions to critical problems,
and all good teachers can really hope to do for the moment is teach the
non-critical moment and prepare for the crisis.

David Kellogg
Hankuk University of Foreign Studies

On 17 January 2015 at 13:43, Andy Blunden <ablunden@mira.net> wrote:

> Well, in the Communist tradition, Communist Education and Communist
> Propaganda are taken to be quite distinct activities.
> Communist Education is directed at people who already count themselves as
> Communists, Propaganda to those who don't. Vygotsky of course worked at the
> Institute for Communist Education, under Krupskaya, not in the Propaganda
> department.
> The Commission do propaganda fide  run out of the Vatican I think operates
> on the same distinction.
> Andy
> ------------------------------------------------------------------------
> ------------------------------------------------------------------------
> *Andy Blunden*
> http://home.pacific.net.au/~andy/
> mike cole wrote:
>> Oh! I see what you are discussing. The Park that used to celebrate the
>> great achievements of the USSR on Peace Street.
>> A really good Vygotskian analysis of the term, propaganda, would be
>> fascinating to read.
>> As I recall the word came into the English language from Latin and a Papal
>> decision to "propogate the faith". Seems apt in the Soviet case.  At the
>> level of social interaction where we are professionally involved and have
>> some presumably, useful knowledge to propagate (why else do They pay for
>> us?), how do we think of self presentation that is NOT propagating?
>> When teaching, this topic comes up in seeking to get students to
>> distinguish between education and propaganda, starting with the course
>> they
>> are taking from me on the history of communication and with it, the
>> history
>> of propaganda.
>> So what is the difference between education and propaganda. My students
>> and
>> I often had difficulty distinguishing them.
>> mike
>> On Fri, Jan 16, 2015 at 5:24 PM, Annalisa Aguilar <annalisa@unm.edu>
>> wrote:
>>> Hi Philip,
>>> Yes, because if we go by the rubric of [sign mediates internally with the
>>> mind], and [tool mediates externally with the environment], which I do
>>> not
>>> reject by the way, then propaganda (as intended), is a tool to the one
>>> who
>>> produces it (because it is intended to influence the environment of
>>> others,
>>> and a sign for those who consume it (the intended others to be
>>> influenced).
>>> My inquiry isn't exactly upon traditionally-considered political
>>> propaganda; one could also see advertising as a type of propaganda as
>>> well.
>>> Even punishment and humiliations can be a type of propaganda, "pour
>>> encourager les autres."
>>> In a sense, propaganda is a kind of duck-rabbit. You see duck, I see
>>> rabbit, depending upon what is externally projected/internally received;
>>> nothing changes about the drawing itself, it's all perception.
>>> Is this too facile? I feel there may be problems, and appeal to the list
>>> to correct me on this. :)
>>> Thinking out loud... your mileage may vary!
>>> Kind regards,
>>> Annalisa