Propaganda in Autocracies: Institutions, Information, and the Politics of Belief (Political Economy of Institutions and Decisions)
A dictator's power is secure, the authors begin in this muscular, impressive study, only as long as citizens believe in it. When citizens suddenly believe otherwise, a dictator's power is anything but, as the Soviet Union's collapse revealed. This conviction - that power rests ultimately on citizens' beliefs - compels the world's autocrats to invest in sophisticated propaganda. This study draws on the first global data set of autocratic propaganda, encompassing nearly eight million newspaper articles from fifty-nine countries in six languages. The authors document dramatic variation in propaganda across autocracies: in coverage of the regime and its opponents, in narratives about domestic and international life, in the threats of violence issued to citizens, and in the domestic events that shape it. The book explains why Russian President Vladimir uses Donald Trump as a propaganda tool and why Chinese state propaganda is more effusive than any point since the Cultural Revolution.