Propaganda and the Rhetoric of the Ruataniwha Dam

I published this over a year ago, and it still gets a lot of traffic. The Ruataniwha Dam is now under review, and the new Hawke’s Bay Regional Council is doing quite frankly an excellent job of peeling back the layers upon layers of dubious rationale. But one thing the review will not focus on is the initial rationale for the dam, which went something like this “Central Hawke’s Bay is declining, therefore we need the dam.” It seemed that understanding the reasons why was never in the interests of the proponents – and so they accelerate the trend to our very own provincial Trump voting middle America, because we don’t heed the lessons of an industrial commodity approach to human life and land.

Chris Perley's Blog

“Political language… is designed to make lies sound truthful and murder respectable, and to give an appearance of solidity to pure wind.” George Orwell

I was taught propaganda at school. Our English master, Mr Brown, liked words. He had an inspirational way of making us pause in admiration at the bon mot. He once stopped boys in the quad by calling some poor litterer a Philistine mixed up with other adjectives, verbs and the occasional noun.

Malcolm X the media

When I read things coming out of the Hawke’s Bay Regional Council advocating the wonders of the Ruataniwha Dam– the latest by Andrew Newman (18th August) – I think of Mr Brown. We were taught how you can if you wish construct a rhetorical argument to deliver a twisted message. We all do it to some extent because we are emotional beings, but knowing the techniques allowed us to better critique any bias.

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