by Norm de Guerre

Fifty Shades of Grey is a 2011 erotic sadomasochistic romance novel by British author E. L. James. I haven’t read it, nor seen the recently released motion picture. I doubt I will. I am ambivalent on the subject matter.

I took the liberty to parody the title to titillate the unsuspecting Diplomacy gamers and Zine readers. This was a purposeful deception, and such deception can be used in the game Diplomacy. Ellis' title refers to a common phrase when examining the ethics or morality of the sexual behavior in his tale of the book's relationships. It's not a matter of "black or white". There are shades of grey.

Conflating the "shades of grey" considerations James introduces anti-hero Christian Grey. When asked by his lover "Why don't you like to be touched?" he replies "I am 50 shades of f***ed up..."

This article is about grey press (and even an instance of white press used to effectively propagandize to deceive).

Grey press is a form of propaganda that you can use.

Propaganda sounds "foreign", mysterious, and, perhaps, complicated, but it simply means spreading ideas and opinions as fact in the hopes of influencing those opinions, and behavior.

In propaganda, some of the information or opinions conveyed may be true, others may be false, yet they are all striving for the same thing — the audience's [in our case, other Powers'] belief in what is written or "pressed" or "broadcast".

In the west, we react negatively and instinctively to the word. Liberal democracies don't propagandize. Oh, really?

We think of propaganda as the monolithic "party line" in one-party People's Republics. The "enlightenment" (see Goebbels below) is distributed by the state-run news agency to "huddled masses yearning to breathe free, the wretched homeless refuse of some teeming shore" and hinterland.

They may be the victims of propaganda, but, certainly, not us.

Lest we get on our high horses, consider the daily propaganda contests between various spokespersons (spox) for the White House and every executive, judicial and legislative agency and the "news" media. Multiply that by fifty-four (the states) and territories and the political subdivisions.

Tune-in a "news" conference. Is it news, or propagandists facing off?

And, yes, Virginia, there is an effort to change or reinforce opinions and behavior in transparent governance and fair and balanced journalism. And that is propaganda by definition. And that is why there are MSNBC and FOX (and SPOX).

The propaganda flows in war and peace, economic ups and downs. It seeks to shape opinion and behavior.

Is journalism propaganda? Consider two deliveries on a black-and-white factual news item.

It's common to hear either:

  • "For only the second time in two years..."; or

  • "For the second time in only two years..."

The word count is equal — the words are absolutely identical (no omissions, and additions). But do you detect the scent of editorialism?

"Innocent" everyday advertising is propaganda:

  • "Smoke UnLuckies, recommended by three doctors out of one hundred..."
  • Schlitz Beer propagandized with posters. In 1944, one poster displays (what I presume to be) a troop ship sailing over the bounding main with the text "Every fourth bottle of Schlitz goes overseas"; To American G.I.s, or to French Vichy Government collaborators?
  • Acme Beer (I' m not making that up) claims to be the beer with the high I.Q. "It quenches". "Acme Beer"..? Why does it make me reminisce about Roadrunner, and Wile E. Coyote..?
  • And the Beer That Made Milwaukee Famous (America's Most Distinguished Beer) poster depicts a Norman Rockwell-like painting of a line of folks outside the voting place. The line is made-up of a real variety of people. It's a cross-section of America. One should "relate" to, at least one of, the patient voters. The poster declares "Schlitz — Everyone voted for it!" Is your favorite beer "distinguished"? I thought of a jingle "The most Distinguished Extinguished my Thirst!"
  • "Good coffee is like friendship: rich, and warm and strong."
  • "It only tastes expensive."
  • "Awaken the Senses" (especially right before you submit those orders).
  • "One fiddler you won’t have to pay" and
  • If France is still in the game, this one's for you: "Carte Noir. French for coffee."

You're familiar all sorts of contemporary products' propaganda (Oops, I mean advertising). Diplomacy gamers, tend to be addicts, and are so with coffee, tobacco and beer...

"Buy U.S. Savings Bonds".

In wartime — printed, radio-broadcast, and whispered — propaganda are facets of Psychological Operations (PsyOps) within Psychological Warfare (PsyWar).

These two articles involves the use of grey press as propaganda during war or diplomatic relations. I have no experience with Fake Press. Another time; another day.

Allow me to introduce some literary military or diplomatic authorities:

"You should always try to deceive your enemy."

— Sun Tzu

“World War I was the most colossal, murderous, mismanaged butchery that has ever taken place on earth. Any writer who said otherwise lied. So the writers either wrote propaganda, shut up, or fought.”

— Ernest Hemingway

"We were as hypnotized by the enemy's propaganda as a rabbit is by a snake. "

— Gen. Eric Von Ludendorf, German General Staff, 1918

“In wartime, truth is so precious that she should always be attended by a bodyguard of lies.”

— Winston S. Churchill

"Without a doubt, psychological warfare has proven its right to a place of dignity in our military arsenal."

— General of the Army Dwight D. Eisenhower

"If we do go to war, psychological operations are going to be absolutely a critical, critical part of any campaign that we must get involved in."

— General H. Norman Schwarzkopf III, Operation Desert Shield

"PSYOP...was a great threat to troop morale, second only to the coalition bombing campaign."

— an Iraqi General after Operation Desert Storm

Propaganda, is one arrow, among others, in the quiver of the commander in warfare (including Diplomacy). Re-read the remarks above, particularly Gen. Schwarzkopf's.

Commanders gather every conceivable and available asset, so negligence of command can't be charged. If they don't they face charges of "Gross Negligence: "An extreme departure from the course of action to be expected of a reasonably prudent person, all circumstances being considered. The act is characterized by a reckless, deliberate, or wanton disregard of foreseeable consequences.” Among the actions of Lt. Col. George Custer at the Battle of Little Big Horn, was his overt decision to leave the Gatling guns at Ft. Lincoln in North Dakota. He did not want to be... slowed down dragging them over hill, over dale, as he hit the dusty trail.

Custer's attitude "my troopers don't need no stinkin' Gatling guns" is no better nor worse than "I am morally above using PsyOps (propaganda) in the field. "It's 'silly' and 'dirty tricks' at-best, and I just don't have the time for it — I'm still trying to figger' out how Germany knew I wasn't going defend Tyrolia! He should have only defended Munich..."

Would you look forward to justifying the decision to leave the PsyOps company behind, in an after-action report delivered in-person to Gen. Norman (The Bear) Schwarzkopf? Will you continue to refuse to use it? You might, but I expect you'd be out of the service and filing for unemployment benefits. One of Schwarzkopf opponents is quoted above also.

The meat of the MRE (if you'll allow me) — if the game listing includes grey or fake, they are additional available assets. Take the time (I know you're ever so busy)... but take the time to recall the experience of Lt. Fuzz, and Brevet Gen. Custer immediately above.

Google -diplom white grey fake press-. I just did, and I got ten "hits" in the first two pages of results. Nine were on the very first page. Paging through all the results (386, 990) is silly, and you really don't have the time.

Rule #2 — Confer with the game Master or Mistress (M) about their interpretation of the rules in regard to the use of grey mail.

Rule #1 — Never, ever, ever use grey mail in pressing M, ever. It is possibly grounds for immediate expulsion and a ban from the Judge, with notice to other cite judges. Don't do it. Ever.

"Your first job is to build the credibility and the authenticity of your propaganda, and persuade the enemy to trust you although you are his enemy."

— A Psychological Warfare Casebook by the Operations Research Office, Johns Hopkins University Baltimore (1958)"

"Fool me once, shame on you; Fool me twice shame on me" goes the adage. When (not if you get caught lying you (fatally) jeopardize credibility and the authenticity to persuade the enemy or your so-called allies to trust you.

As we'll see, the use of grey press as "sourced" (i.e. it could to be from anyone other than the authentic author) is a meticulous, and tedious process. It is difficult, but not impossible, to get it past the smell test.

Before you hit send it has to be "perfect". Consider writing styles (e.g. seldom uses punctuation) and perpetually misspelled words if you are trying to tag another power as the author. Those peculiarities need to be incorporated into the grey press. If you like to toss a occasional anonymous verbal stink-bomb into the discussion, via Broadcast grey, adjust your syntax if you don't want it "traced" back to you on the basis of circumstantial "evidence" — otherwise have at it in your own style.

I contend it's worth it.

We can quickly dismiss plain vanilla grey press:

Press to F
Your wife is going to lose her head!
end of message

It's more of an annoyance (and that can be of value against a stressed player) but what is the point? Now if one includes some seemingly authentic "after BEL -> PIC -> PAR" information, it might cause the recipient to pause. Is Germany lying to me? We made PIC a DMZ. What's going on. Who sent this, and how do they know about Germany's plans?

"Your wife is going to lose her head after BEL - PIC - PAR!"

Add "I cant tell you who I am just now. Just trust my intel, until I can reveal myself, and maybe form and alliance with you."

The additions are rubbish, but don't they convey more credibility? Additionally, you have a greater glimpse into France's state of mind (belief, doubts, or complete denial) than any other of powers. That's powerful and exclusive information.

"War is waged only with vigor, decision, and unshaken will; one must not grope or hesitate."

— Napoleon

In a Zine piece by Paul D. Windsor (DP S1999M: What's Your Point?) he writes about players' psychological personalities. It's well-worth the read by any level of player, or one who disdains the use of propaganda, or is even participating in a no press game parameter. Windsor informs of a player with tendencies described as "Deviate. This type of player lives to lie and stab. He thinks of Diplomacy as a grand game of liar's poker. His attraction to the game is almost entirely grounded in the fun he perceives he's going to have messing with your mind and betraying you."

I asked one player whom I very much respect about grey mail. He wishes to remain grey, saying: "I have mostly enjoyed the gray press in Montrose, but have very rarely encountered it in other games. I think it is a good way to good-naturedly [but anonymously] rib another players without fear of in-game reprisal."

Well, the sun is setting over the hooch. I am conflicted about discussing some remaining propagandists. Their work was, and is directly or indirectly (support for the evil (an underestimate)).

No. I won't.

You can read about Joseph Goebbels, Hitler's so-called "Reich Minister of Public Enlightenment and Propaganda" on your own. I'll just editorialize by asking what "Public Enlightenment"? His multi-task job title must have only been part-time. The others are filmmakers Leni Riefenstahl of Nazi Germany and Sergei Eisenstein of the Stalin-era Soviet Union .

Wikipedia reports that:

"Riefenstahl's films […] had an immensely strong reaction in Germany and were received with acclaim and accolades around the world. In 1960, her filmaking peers voted the film as one of the 10 best films of all time. The Daily Telegraph recognized her film "Olympia" as "even more technically dazzling" than Triumph of the Will. The Times of London described her films as 'visually ravishing…A number of sequences in the supposedly documentary Olympia, notably that devoted to the high-diving competition, become less and less concerned with record and more and more abstract: some of the divers hit the water, as the visual interest of patterns of movement takes over.'

Noted American film critic Richard Corliss observed in Time that "The matter of Riefenstahl 'the Nazi director' is worth raising so it can be dismissed. [I]n the hallucinatory documentary Triumph of the Will… [she] painted Adolf Hitler as a Wagnerian deity… But that was in 1934–35. In [Olympia], Riefenstahl gave the same heroic treatment [,however,] to [American track star] Jesse Owens…"

"The film won a number of prestigious film awards but fell from grace, particularly in the United States when, in November 1938, the world learned of the pogrom against the Jews. Riefenstahl was touring the U.S. to promote the film at that time and was immediately asked to leave the country.

I have seen Sergei Eisenstein's Battleship Potemkin. "It presents a dramatized version of the mutiny that occurred in 1905 when the crew of the Russian battleship Potemkin rebelled against their officers of the Tsarist regime. The film is set in June 1905; the protagonists of the film are the members of the crew of the Potemkin, a battleship of the Imperial Russian Navy's Black Sea Fleet. [Why does that sound so familiar?!]

"Battleship Potemkin has been called one of the most influential propaganda films of all time, and was named the greatest film of all time at the Brussels World's Fair in 1958 [33 years after its release]."

"Alexander Nevsky". Wikipedia reports, "… is a 1938 historical dramatic film. [ed: The black-and-white film is of the 'film noir' genre (talk about a dark shade of dark gray!)]. It depicts the attempted invasion of Novgorod in the 13th century by the Teutonic Knights of the Holy Roman Empire (i.e. Germans) and their defeat by Prince Alexander, known popularly as Alexander Nevsky (1220–1263)".

I watched the movie as a teen. It was black-and-white (shades of gray). The costuming and the locale settings were awesome. It was most memorable. It had a significant propaganda role. Stalin never trusted Hitler. The film was a stirring warning to the Soviet people about nature of the Germans and a genuinely dire warning to the Nazis. Stalin was [in addition to his other purported miraculous capabilities] prescient — the Nazis invaded the Soviet Union in September, 1940, [one year and one week] after signing a non-aggression pact in August 1938] divvying-up Poland and negotiating a DMZ.

Frank Capra (a good guy)

"In 1941 [timely response to the December 7th 'stab' at Pearl Harbor!], Hollywood director Frank Capra was commissioned to make a series of propaganda films for the US war effort (Why We Fight) He knew he had his work cut out: he had seen Leni Riefenstahl’s Triumph Of The Will – a staggering, state-of-the-art display of both film-making expertise and Nazi military might. 'It scared the hell out of me,' Capra later said. “It fired no gun, dropped no bombs, but as a psychological weapon aimed at destroying the will to resist, it was just as lethal.'” (Wikipedia)

And, finally, regrettably, we have to ever so briefly touch on the self-proclaimed "Islamic State". In a year it has metastasized from the "junior varsity" to the world champion of professional terror. The most abject maniacal acts of cruelty, and mindless vandalism have been committed by them for the purpose of spreading ideas and opinions as fact in the hopes of influencing those opinions, and behavior.

While the man in the street is unlikely to be affected by the, supposedly, theological explanations of their wished for ends and means — the organization records the horrific acts and broadcasts them via the Internet around the world. That does affect us. We can't avoid it.

Our attitudes about our particular nation's foreign (diplomatic and military) policy. If we express it ("Nuke 'em!" — "We need to put troops on the ground and obliterate them!" — "We need to get the hell out of the middle east forever.") to policy-makers. That is a variable produced by the propaganda (the dissemination of the atrocities).

IS has demonstrated the highest technical skill in producing and broadcasting their propaganda. Believe it or not, some claim it is a recruiting device. I recall "I wouldn't belong to a club, that would have me as a member!" -- Marx (Groucho)

IS is pornographically displaying the acts to strike terror, and warn "You're next." Nazi, Japanese, and Soviet intentionally produced propaganda wouldn't hold a candle… But horrific events (e.g. Malmady, The Bataan Death March, and the Katyn Forest massacres) seeped into the world's common knowledge they steeled the victims' nations' resolve.

That's more than enough said about it.

This piece is one-half of articles discussing propaganda and the use of grey press to effectively implement it. Please see http://zako-animalfarm.weebly.com/propaganda.html for an interesting perspective on the topic.

The author's use of a nom de plume is in itself deceitful propaganda. It serves to disinform, and, of course, avoid responsibility (à la Sergeant Schultz of the WWII Allied POW camp televison comedy series "Hogan's Heroes"). Schultz prepared for the inevitable repercussion of a losing war, with the incessant refrain "I saw nothing! I know nothing!"

Norm de Guerre

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