292 | MP conclusion

on those 'second-hand' facts about which we are almost
entirely at the mercy of the various organs of the propa-
ganda machine. The average man has only under quite
exceptional circumstances access to information about the
relative strength of armies; the designs of statemen, or
the social conditions of foreign countries. 'Second-hand'
facts can be suppressed, or rebuilt, almost at will. The
poetical imagination of the propagandist suffers restraint
only on the rare occasions when competitors can speak with
an authority equal to his own. Usually dissenters are
believed only by a small minority within a social group.
If inside one group two contradictory propaganda machines,
each one invested with equal prestige, both inform the public
on second-hand facts, the group is disrupted, a civil war
becomes necessary, and a monopoly of 'information' is
established by force. In other cases it is based on tacit

Some of the books which I mentioned in the Introduction
have collected many examples to show that the success of a
propaganda is not hampered by an utter lack of veracity in
all those assertions which are warranted by second-hand
information. According to Lasswell[9] there are two limits
only to what can be 'put over'. First, propaganda should be
in keeping with unconcealable events until its end is
attained. One should, for instance, not promise victory for
a definite date, but ultimate success, since nothing can
happen "to disprove this proposition before the attainment
or the total eclipse of all hope of attaining the political