HISTORY REPEATS: COMMUNIST AND ANTI-COMMUNIST PROPAGANDA FROM THE WOLFSONIAN LIBRARY

Today’s blog post comes to you courtesy of Library Assistant Michel Potop. A native of Brittany, France and a graduate of Florida International University with a Master’s degree in History, Mr. Potop has been a great help to us in processing and cataloguing our French holdings. With a background in military history and an interest in anti-Communist propaganda, he has been working on some interwar materials that our museum founder, Mitchell Wolfson, Jr. had acquired in Belgium and France and has deposited with us as a promised gift. Here is Mr. Potop’s report:

North Korea, perhaps the last remaining powerful Bolshevik state, has recently expanded its propaganda programs, extolling the glories and contentment of living under a Communist regime. Detractors of the Democratic Republic of Korea have responded in kind with various counter-propaganda campaigns. Some have targeted the regime’s militancy, gulags and human rights abuses, while others address the deplorable economic and social conditions in North Korea, pointing to chronic famine and the country’s dependence on food aid.

This current wave of pro- and anti-Communist propaganda was especially interesting to me as just this last week I have been processing a series of anti-Communist periodicals from the 1930s published in Belgium by the Centre International de Lutte Active Contre le Communisme (or CILACC). Using data gleaned from Russian periodicals such as Pravda, Bolshevik and Izvestia, CILACC exposed the contradictions in Soviet propaganda and used it to undermine official Stalinist rhetoric and the image of the “beloved leader.”

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The notorious famine in Ukraine that followed the forced collectivisation of the land was well explored in these interwar periodicals.

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Images of starving peasants were contrasted with Communist Party leaders and bureaucrats stuffing themselves at banquet tables.

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Then, as now, anti-Communist propaganda focused on the militarization of the Soviet society.

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Another important parallel between the current propaganda war and that of the 1930s is the stress placed on civil rights and personal freedoms. The Centre International de Lutte Active Contre le Communisme periodicals lambasted the Stalinist regime by pointing to human rights abuses and lack of freedoms of the citizens of Communist Russia.

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Given that so many of their Northern neighbors’ lack internet access, South Korean activists used old school tactics—sending satirical anti-Pyongyang leaflets (and CDs) across the border by balloons this past October.

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North Korean propagandists responded by releasing a video depicting the White House and U.S. capitol in flames, a video that has already gone viral.

Regardless of whether propagandists have opted for old-fashioned print or the new digital media outlets, their aim then and now has been to reach a large audience and to sway them with ideas and images.

~ by "The Chief" on March 20, 2013.

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