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Many years ago, I lived in a flat in a run-down area of an industrial city. The woman in the rooms directly above me was working as a prostitute.
Propaganda could be described as persuasion without morals. It has been a tool of power for centuries and in our own time, its use in inculcating a state of belief which is not in proportion to evidence, is most clearly seen in politicians' choice and use of slogans.
2013 marks the 1700th anniversary of the Edict of Milan, when emperor Constantine ended the persecution of Christianity, to which he had converted. In early October, World Council of Churches General Secretary Dr Olav Fykse Tveit praised Constantine’s legacy in glowing terms. Yet in reality it has been a mixture of harm and good.
It may appear graceless to ask the question, but how likely is it that Andrew Mitchell would have managed even the evasive partial apology heard today if he had thought he could get away with his arrogant loutishness towards officers of the Diplomatic Protection Group and retain his job?
Something unlooked for has happened over the last two weeks. Many of us have been turned from Olympic scepticism towards – if not an entirely uncritical enthusiasm – a frame of mind which acknowledges it has caught a glimpse of the kind of society which we could be, and has taken inspiration from it.
Power, its exercise and abuse has filled our screens and newspapers during the last week. The word takes our minds in a particular direction – towards the power that can shut down the internet, buzz protesters with fighter jets, marketise the NHS, sell off our forests, kettle and pepper-spray dissent.