Propaganda in the Russian Revolution

Examine this propaganda. As you analyze, think about the Manifesto of the Communist Party and examine what evidence of communist philosophy is evident in the propaganda.

This resource explores the symbolism in revolutionary propaganda and how it is used to communicate its message.

Is there such a thing as 'good' propaganda?

Over the 20th century, the word 'propaganda' acquired predominantly negative connotations and to many, it is associated with totalitarian regimes.

Back in 1928, 'the father of public relations', Edward Bernays in his book Propaganda argued that 'whether, in any instance, propaganda is good or bad depends upon the merit of the cause urged, and the correctness of the information published'.

Of course, the way we define the merit of the cause is also relative. For example, war propaganda in any country has two main aims: to mobilise the population and to demoralise the enemy or convince the enemy troops to switch sides or stop the war.

In these Russian posters produced at the beginning of the First World War, Kozma Kriuchkov, a Cossack from the river Don, is shown as a model heroic figure.

The first St George 'cavalier' Kozma Kriuchkov

Russian poster showing Kozma Kriuchkov battling 11 Germans at the Battle of the Cossack

These simple images and texts give the clear message that everyone should try to follow Kozma Kriuchkov's example at the time when 'your country needs you', while the enemies are presented as cartoonish characters and do not look like real people. The artistic style applied to these images prevents the viewer from posing the moral question: what does killing a human being really mean?

Source: Katie McElvanney,
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