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Prophets of Deceit: A Study of the Techniques of the American Agitator

Regular price $ 24.95

by Leo Lowenthal and Norbert Guterman


4/6/2021, paperback

SKU: 9781788736961


A classic book that analyzes and defines media appeals specific to American pro-fascist and anti-Semite agitators of the 1940s, such as the application of psychosocial manipulation for political ends. The book details psychological deceits that idealogues or authoritarians commonly used. The techniques are grouped under the headings Discontent, The Opponent, The Movement and The Leader. The authors demonstrate repetitive patterns commonly utilized, such as turning unfocused social discontent towards a targeted enemy. The agitator positions himself as a unifying presence: he is the ideal, the only leader capable of freeing his audience from the perceived enemy. Yet, as the authors demonstrate, he is a shallow person who creates social or racial disharmony, thereby reinforcing that his leadership is needed. The authors believed fascist tendencies in America were at an early stage in the 1940s, but warned a time might come when Americans could and would be susceptible to ... [the] psychological manipulation of a rabble rouser. A book once again relevant in the Trump era, as made clear by Alberto Toscano's new introduction.

About the Contributors:

Leo Löwenthal (1900 - 1993) was a German sociologist associated with the Frankfurt School. He joined the newly founded Institute for Social Research in 1926 and quickly became its leading expert on the sociology of literature and mass culture as well as the managing editor of the journal it launched in 1932, the Zeitschrift für Sozialforschung. When the Nazis came to power, he fled to the USA. After seven years as research director of the Voice of America, he joined the Berkeley Speech Department in 1956 and shortly thereafter the Department of Sociology.

Norbert Guterman (1900-1984) was a scholar, and translator of scholarly and literary works from French, Polish and Latin into English. Born in Warsaw, Guterman attended the University of Warsaw, where he studied psychology. He moved to Paris to study at the Sorbonne, where he continued his studies in psychology, receiving degrees in 1922 and 1923. In the 1930s, Guterman worked closely with French Marxist theorist Henri Lefebvre in popularizing the Marxist notions of alienation and mystification. He published translations of Marx's early works, which were often the first publications of these works in any language. Guterman, who was Jewish, moved to the United States in 1933, where he took on translation work for the Monthly Review, eventually becoming an editor.