Soviet propaganda



The soviet communist party, or the Bolsheviks, always new that strong propaganda was essential to increase the consciousness of the masses. As stated in the Encyclopedia of Propaganda, " propaganda was central to Marxist-Lennist ideology long before the Bolshevik revolution of 1917."(675) The power of persuasion and coercion were exercised with great force by Soviet leaders. The two leaders whom utilized propaganda to influence public opinion in the USSR were Vladimir Lennon and Joseph Stalin. Both men used many different facets of the media to spread their propaganda. They also used the troubled social climate along with the ignorance of the masses to custom tailor a regime that lasted for over seven decades.
The Russian Revolution was where the Bolsheviks proved that their propaganda machine worked. The Communists seized power over an empire that suffered from a progressive downfall. Russia at the time of the revolution was merely a broken down "barely functioning" version of its former self.(Encyclopedia of Propaganda, 675) A disastrous World war, a civil war, and foreign occupation opened the door for Lennon\'s propaganda.
How did Lennon obtain power over the working class? "The working class was very suspicious of intellectuals." (Pipes 43) Lennon did not portray himself as an intellectual. Rather than preach politics as the intellectuals had done, Lennon opted to use agitation propaganda or "agitprop" to make the workers aware of the need for political action. He new that by showing how workers were being exploited by their employers he could gain their support. Lennon hoped that with this strategy he could ignite industrial strikes. Once these workers would strike they would surely see that the employers and the state were one of the same.
In turn the working class would arrive at the conclusion that they could not possibly improve their condition without having a strong political influence. Lennon said, "The struggle of the Russian working class for it\'s liberation is a political struggle, and it\'s goal is the attainment of political liberty." (Pipes 45) Lennon used this form of propaganda, agitprop, to convey the need of a total reformation of Russia\'s government. He knew that this form of propaganda would work best. "Propaganda of agitation, being the most visible and widespread attracts all the attention." (Ellul 71) In his agitative propaganda Lennon cited specific enemies, or scapegoats namely, The Mensheviks. Along with the Mensheviks, or "whites" as they were called, the soviets expressed outright hatred of the western world and it\'s ways. Soviet propagandists created the idea that the western capitalist civilization was falling behind, as the superior socialists marched forward.
Soviet artists and intellectuals were ordered to create propaganda material that portrayed this idea of a weak and inferior western world. The soviets official ideology was that they needed to gain complete control of all aspects of communication. Lennon embraced the idea of agitative propaganda that was introduced earlier by Georgi Plekhanov. Since the Soviet Union was founded in 1920 there was an official department of agitprop. This department worked directly through schools, publications and the broadcast media. (Encyclopedia of propaganda 17)
Part of Lennon\'s strategy was keeping his ideas simple. Simple enough to be effective on a nation with widespread illiteracy. His slogan "Food, peace and land" appealed to the peasants. Lennon\'s simple methods were very effective, "Nothing in the past could compare with the Communists\' propaganda effort to mobilize social energy..."(Von Laue 193)
The poster art of the Lennon era usually were red color, red being widely accepted as the color of socialism. The poster artists, most notably D.S. Moor, often portrayed the simple idea of good versus evil. The good is the socialist peasants, and the bad usually being the capitalist landowners. One wartime poster urged young soviets to "Defend the freedom, the nation, and the honor fought for by farmers."
Lennon era Bolshevik propaganda also utilized film and theater. The Soviet state gained control of the film industry immediately following the revolution, however it took a decade or so for the new authorities to impose their strict supervision over it. The Bolsheviks banned opposition in the press and eliminated free speech, then set it\'s sights to control cinematography(Shlapentokh 39) The major theme of the revolution era films was the liberation of the masses. Again, keeping it simple and direct was the focus of the early