The idea of Propaganda has been used long since before the Russian Revolution. As far back as reliable evidence existed, an early example of propaganda is the Behistun Inscription in 515 BC. As you may know, the idea of Propaganda is often used to influence beliefs in religions, especially during the split between the Catholic Church and Protestants. Throughout the history till nowadays, fragments of the world used the idea of Propaganda with similar purposes, to make people believe in order to encourage and convince them. In other words, Propaganda is the spreading of information or messages among groups of people aimed to influence them. However, Propaganda can also be biased and contains untruths. In addition, the information spread can advance or damage a cause. In Russia, Joseph Stalin used Propaganda to gain power and support from the people. In other words, he forced the way people think, and most importantly, limited the freedom of speech. In this blog, the posters provided below are specifically about Russia and Propaganda during 1917-1953, in which tells you the message and detailed analysis of how it affects what the people think and believe about Communism. By studying propaganda posters in the history, you will be able to identify truths and untruths, and understand different points of views of one particular thing that affects Russia, the world, and who we are today.
“Lenin. October. Power to soviets. Peace to the nations. Land to peasants. Factories to workers.”
The massage of this poster is Communism will solve all problems the people have and all will finally have peace. Through the Communist revolution, there would be no more wars among the nations and the land would be distributed equally among the peasants. By looking at the picture of Lenin pointing his fingers, it shows that the soviets have the power to tell the people what to do. On the other hand, it also shows that Lenin is doing his job and care about the people, not like the Tsar. The poster is trying to get the people to think that through Communism, the soviets must have absolute power in order to improve the lives of the people, and support the government. Although the people want a change for a better life, there isn’t much freedom among the people left. However, in order to get what they want, the people have to do what they were told to do and support the government. It was the best way for everyone. This poster is effective and easily identified. First of all, the color of the poster is red, which is the color of Communism. Moreover, the soviet symbol around the picture of Lenin also shows that the poster is talking about Communism. Lastly, the huge words written on the poster show the message of the poster effectively.
“The plans of [Communist] party are my plans as well.”
This plain picture represents propaganda well, in which the man, probably a worker, in the picture was influenced and convinced to believe and was willing to do what he was told to do. The message of this poster is Communism will bring what you want if you cooperate with the Communist party and do what you were told to do. It is the change they were waiting for all along for a better life. Therefore, that is the reason why the people were willing to support Communism, believing with faith in it. It is trying to get people to think that Communism is good, and as an example, others should do the same; join and work cooperatively with the government. In addition, by cooperating with the government, the people will get what they want. The gestures of the man in the picture with his hand over his chest, swearing, shows his loyalty, determination, and willingness to work together cooperatively with the Communist party. This poster is not effective, because without translations, it is quite difficult to identify what this poster is talking about, or how it associates with Communism. On the other hand, the background color of the poster is red, and the gestures of the worker is easily understood his determination to work cooperatively.
“Our October [Socialist Revolution] was done to achieve togetherness, peace and work.”
The message of this poster is a change is required to be taken in action for a better life; for togetherness, peace, and work. It is trying to get us to think that the only way to improve their lives is a revolution, and unite for a revolution. There is no other way left since they had no power in the government. Before there were no machines in farming, however, a change would bring them one, resulting better crops and food production. With togetherness, peace, and work, their lives will improve. This picture is effective, because of “1917”, showing the year of the October revolution, the man in red suit, showing communism, and the machines, showing that they would have better technology for better products.
“Stalin. There were no posters with Stalin's face printed officially in USSR since Stalin's death. Yes, he was on the list!! One could only see a few posters being sold on people's markets, but that was illegal. This is probably the first poster of Stalin printed in the USSR since the 50's. But - this is an anti-Stalin poster.”
The poster is one of the first poster of Stalin printed in the USSR, in which this is an anti-Stalin poster. The message of this poster is under Stalin’s rule of Russia, the people did not have a better life, and instead they were killed. The poster was trying to get the people to think that what Stalin was doing is not improving the lives of the people. He killed them. Although Russia was the second key industrial country in the world, the lives of the people did not actually improve. From which the show trials, the purges, and the huge famine, resulted from collectivization, killing 10 million people of starvation. This poster is easily understood, and very effective in conveying the message. First of all, in the bottom half of the poster, it is written that he killed millions of people. On the left bottom corner are the bones of the people he killed. However, the top half as background are the clapping hands of Stalin shooting, showing his support from the people that thought it was right to shoot others who opposed him.
“Our Fatherland is in danger: Crisis of economy, Confrontation, Criminality, Separatism. The Soviet flag is being torn apart...”
The message of this poster is that because of the unsolved problems Russia has resulted under Soviet rule; crisis of economy, confrontation, criminality, and separatism, it destroys the unity and harmony among the Russian, making the country even more shattered. The problems resulted from the harsh rule of Communism and the economy failure, leading to criminality and separatism. It is trying to get the people stop creating problems, solve the problems, and once again reunite with each other for peace and their future. The picture of hands torn the flag apart shows the lack of unity and harmony Russia would have without solving the problems they had. The use of red color and Soviet flag shows Communism, in which the sentence in the middle of the poster, “Our fatherland is in danger,” makes the people realize the problems Russia was having, and together try to solve it.
“The better we'll work, the better we'll live!“
The message of this poster is if you work hard, then you will have a better life. Hard work was rewarded with better pay, better housing, and even medals. It is trying to get the people to work at their best abilities to improve the country and the lives of the people. The background picture and the men and women wearing helmets show that they were the people who work in factories. The smile in their face shows their excitement that they were happy with the fact they would have a better life if they work hard, not just for nothing. The gestures of the men show his determination of working his best, and that he could have seen his happy future.
Propaganda is commonly used in Russia, especially the period of Russian Revolution and Communism. During 1917-1953, the main media for the use of propaganda is posters, in which all six posters above are just few examples of the posters used in Russia. The Russian people were convinced that Communism is the only way to bring peace to Russia, and solve the economic problems in the country. The use of propaganda resulted effectively, and the government gained support from the people. Nowadays, propaganda is still used in many different ways, for example, advertisements. People were convinced by the facts or untruths from the main media, such as, television and internet, to use or buy a product. Propaganda is also used in movies, books, newspapers, and radios. In Communist countries, propaganda is still used in schools to teach children to have a communist way of their lives. It is also be used to influence the people to support the government. Propaganda is one of the things we need to be aware of, because it has huge effects in our lives that it shapes the world and who we are today.