Margaret Sanger, "What Makes Propaganda," Sep-Oct 1914.

Source: " The Woman Rebel, Sept.-Oct. 1914, p. 56 Margaret Sanger Microfilm, Collected Documents Series C16:0570."


We hear so much these days about the effect of propaganda that sometimes I wonder if those who talk about it really have any idea what it is and what produces it.

It is about time that most of us take a good look into ourselves; into the depths of our aims and convictions, to find out whether these are only skin deep or whether they go down deep into our inner lives.

It is well to take this look before we start to do something. Before we gather our friends around us for that support which they must give. Before we ask others to believe in us and have faith in our sincerity.

When we come face to face with ourselves let us put the question: 'Am I going to act to make propaganda?' (which in these times means headlines, front pages, etc.). In other words to bring to the attention of the people, my cause. Failing this how shall I act? Or am I so full of my message that I must act as I do, regardless of the good or bad effects. If propaganda results--good. If not--still the result is good, for I have been true to my higher self--my only god and master. It's really getting down to find out if we speak or write for the effect our efforts shall have on people, or because we are sincere in our efforts, the effects notwithstanding. To act because we are compelled to action is the only real act which brings propaganda--to act, regardless of the most extreme results.

The movement has of late been too greatly resembling froth--too noisy with the screech of tin horns and other cheap instruments, instead of those deeper sounds of an outraged, angry, serious people.

If our propaganda depends upon publicity, and publicity fails us--what then? Does our aim and purpose remain still or weaken?

It is our inmost self we must face in this work.

Our purpose should be clear; our actions clear cut; our convictions true and straight and our aim, to get the highest expression of ourselves. To act on our courage, not on that of others (either individually or in a group), and to refrain from acts which we cannot carry through to the end.

If headlines are to be our aim in propaganda we revolutionists are made of poor stuff, and such propaganda will never go far towards emancipating the human race.

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