Propaganda is not the problem
The reason is quite simple really. The more capable you are to think independently and cognitively the less susceptible you will be to being controlled. If you can’t think for yourself then anyone can fool you and anyone can make you believe anything at any time. I can only feel sorry for you at that point, but no, this time I will not blame propaganda or the person who is trying to convince you of something.
I will blame you.
Propaganda is, quite simply, a tool. It can be used to convey any message or idea, whether I think it’s good or bad. The only thing that differentiates it from an educational film is that aside from your reasoning capabilities it also appeals to your emotions which can in many cases actually be a good thing. Involving emotion into the matter is what makes people passionate and energized about something. It is also a way to get people who usually don’t care about a particular thing to start caring.
Propaganda is therefore like technology. You can’t blame it, you can’t ever blame a “thing” anyway. You can only blame a human being, the producer of a propaganda movie if you believe that the idea he is conveying is the wrong one or the viewer of propaganda for being too willing to accept what is being conveyed without thinking independently about it and researching the facts.
Besides, there is no such thing as an universally wrong or an universally right idea. There is only what is real and what is not. If you have an idea which makes you act in a particular way, reality will always kick in with the consequences of your action. If you dislike the consequences then you might judge your idea as a wrong one. If the consequences are good then you might be on the right track. And the only one who can decide if the consequences are good or bad is you, with consideration to what your desires and goals actually are.
The problem with people in Hitler’s Germany or Stalin’s Soviet Union or Mao’s China is not so much propaganda as much as the willingness of people to accept its message almost without questioning. It is ignorance and intellectual laziness. If Hitler’s propaganda was to convey the ideas of individualism, individual sovereignty, freedom, rights to life, liberty and property and people blindly accepted it, I would be willing to bet that they would all be better off because such propaganda would have the same exact message I am trying to convey with many of my posts: think for yourself.
And that would be an example of propaganda which, EVEN when accepted blindly, actually created what can by most people probably considered a good outcome, because everyone is an individual, alive and to a point selfish – and everyone wants to be free of force.
Ideally, of course, they would accept such propaganda only after they have thoroughly questioned it which is excellent because then those who do accept and adopt the idea will do so not only on basis of an emotional appeal, but on the basis of reason, making their enlightenment all the more profound.
In other words, the ideal way to tackle your exposure to propaganda is with the prioritize reason over passion mentality. This doesn’t mean that the emotional appeal shouldn’t entice you to explore the idea further. I mean, if it works for you then go for it! It just means that the emotional trigger should be secondary. It got you intrigued, it got you excited.. to stop at that and turn yourself into an immediate true believer now would be a mistake though. You still need to think it through, do some research to see if the trigger of reason would switch to green for the newly discovered idea too.
Propaganda is especially useful for small grassroots movements who are having trouble convincing people to even give them a chance, to at least try and hear them out. So if making an emotional appeal can get people to listen who can blame them for trying it? They aren’t forcing you to believe anything after all and they aren’t the ones who can brainwash your mind if you don’t let it. You can proclaim them as “evil” if you end up disliking the idea they conveyed (though in my opinion that’d be a foolish proclamation as I don’t believe anyone is inherently evil) or you can praise them for “opening your eyes”, but in both cases it is you who is responsible for what you end up believing in and the consequences of actions you undertake in pursuit of such beliefs, and nobody else!