How to play ‘War Lies Bingo’ – News Block

The history of World War I is still eerily relevant today. In 1928, left-wing British war opponent Arthur Ponsonby published a book titled Wartime Falsehood, containing a variety of lies that circulated to all nations during the Great War. The lessons from him have massive relevance, which continues to this day. In 2001, a left-wing Belgian philosopher named Ann Morelli codified the main themes of pro-war propaganda that Ponsonby had identified into a 10-point list as follows:

  1. We don’t want war.
  2. The enemy is the only one to blame for the war.
  3. The enemy is inherently evil, similar to the devil.
  4. We defend a noble cause, not our own interest.
  5. The enemy commits atrocities on purpose; our mishaps are unintentional.
  6. The enemy uses illegal weapons.
  7. We suffer small losses, the enemy’s are huge.
  8. Artists and intellectuals support our cause.
  9. Our cause is holy, it has a sacred character.
  10. Anyone who doubts our propaganda is a traitor.

How surprisingly timely is this today?

Ponsonby, by the way, is the guy on the right, in the back of the photo above, which was taken at the 1938 meeting in Holland of the International Council of International War Resisters. Learn who the others were, here.

And here on the right is Dr. Morelli, pictured with Angela Davis, in 2012.

In honor of Dr. Morelli’s work in creating the super helpful list above, I have created a game called “War Lies Bingo” or “Morelli Bingo” which I invite you to play with me. when President Biden delivers his State of the Union address on February 7, 2023. (You can also play it with any group of friends, whenever you want.)

To make the bingo cards, I had to have a list of at least 16 items, which the game creator then randomized into grids for me, of which I ordered 20… So I had to expand on some of the original 10 propaganda tropes. de Morelli to generate the additional six. (Each one also had to be brief.) I hope I have done justice to his intention, and to that of Arthur Ponsonby.

The grids are all in this 50K PDF that you can download.

I guess if we’re going to play on February 7th, each player should choose one of the 20 grids, then put a big mark on each item as the Prez voices it. Yell “Bingo” when you get a full line or column, or “Full house” when you get that. (Bookmark the moment you get any of those scores and post your winning image on Twitter or whatever…)

Of course, the main point of this is not to play a game, but to become more and more skilled at recognize, call out and challenge pro-war propaganda whenever it is generated.

And I can’t end this post without giving a big shout out to David Swanson, a leading figure in World Beyond War and other anti-war organizations. In 2016, my company Just World Books reissued his powerful book War is a lie. In that book, he updated many of the kinds of observations that Ponsonby and Morelli had made about the nature of war propaganda.

It is extremely depressing that this propaganda job discrediting still it has to be done, more than 100 years after the First World War… Sigh.

(Also, if you play War Lies Bingo with a group of your friends, write me and let me know how it goes!)

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