Very effective Soviet Propaganda pictures

Look at this happy couple. Their baby has been baptized (into what we can't tell), they are happy and smiling. Family and friends look on. Welcome to Soviet propaganda pictures of the 1970s.

I'm a big fan of subtlety. There's no doubt in my mind that the above picture was taken in order to show to the capitalist West that things were just fine in the USSR. There's also no doubt in my mind that the people in the above picture are genuinely happy - they're not some pieces of Soviet propaganda machinery that were thrown in together at the last minute.

The picture above was sourced from a series of 1970s Soviet pictures here and here. I encourage you to check them out - they are really nice and quite inoffensive (even the military ones). That's what makes them so good for propaganda use.

These pictures were probably used in English language publications that the USSR sent out to Western Universities. I saw some of these in the university library in the late 1990s.

As you go through these pictures, look at what values they communicate. They communicate things like friendliness, ordinariness, happiness, progress, fun, intelligence, creativity, freedom, love. I wager that none of the shots taken were deliberately staged for propaganda purposes - but were exceptionally useful as propaganda nonetheless... which is why I appreciate them and the subtlety in doing so.

Looking through these pictures gives you the impression that the Soviet Union was, for a while, a true "workers paradise". Food is plentiful, work is enjoyable, progress is made and life is comfortable. Of course it was all a complete lie - the pictures don't show the seedy underbelly of drugs and prostitution and crime that existed even in places like the Soviet Union, nor do they show many pictures of non-Russian Soviets, or decaying infrastructure and the inefficiencies inherent in a bureaucratic and centralised command economy.


Theteak said...

You've got lots of spare time don't you Neil?
And yeah, none of those photos look staged at all (roll eyes).

Anonymous said...

Some seem genuine, some seem scary and set up and camp. The poor little boy looking up at the soldier/robot thing... his oh so white socks blend neatly into his oh so white shoes... poor kid probably would get bashed at an Aussie school.

Michael_Kuznetsov said...

Hi Folks,

Some 20 years ago, when the Iron Curtain was still hindering personal contacts and the free exchange of information was hampered, we common people in the Soviet Union had constructed – of course! – our own set of stereotypes about the West.
Since one of the conspicuous traits of our ethnic Russian character has been a tendency to romanticize the foreigners – especially the Europeans – so our stereotypes about the West were very "rosy".
Excessively rosy, I would say.
We Russians used to consider Western Europe to be almost a paradise, while the United States to be a complete paradise on the Earth.
At the same time, our "red commissars" used to teach us about the following:
1. That, allegedly, there is unemployment in the West – We common Soviet citizens would laugh at that silly idea: What unemployment could ever exist in a paradise (the West)? So, we did not believe in that, especially because since 1932 in our country we had had no unemployment at all.
2. That, allegedly, there are homeless and poor people in the West – We did not believe in that, either, because by the mid-1950s we have already re-built almost all of the 1,700 (one thousand and seven hundred) cities and towns, as well as 70,000 (seventy thousand) villages entirely devastated by the German invaders during the Great Patriotic War. Well, indeed – if we Russians had no homeless people here, how could those wretched persons exist in the rich and affluent West? Unthinkable!
3. That, allegedly, there are a lot of people in the West who cannot afford the proper medical care – We laughed especially loudly at this commies' assertion, because all of us Russians had always free medical care, including complicated surgical operations. Free of charge, I repeat!
4. That, allegedly, the Higher Education in the West is very expensive – Since we in the Soviet Union had FREE Higher Education, so we did not believe that anything in the rich western 'paradise' might be anyhow worse than that with us here.
And so on, and so forth.
Since the Iron Curtain has fallen and we have got free access to the immediate information from abroad, we have changed dramatically our stereotypes about the West.
Now we can clearly see that there is no paradise at all there . . .
It was a great disappointment, alas.
Now we can see that the West is the Realm of Fear and Hatred.
The prospect of the western style so-called "Liberal Democracy" repelled us Russians.
The life in the West proved to be unbearable with its terror and tedium . . .
Which is why we do not seek for the ghasty fate of yours, Westerners.
We shall go our own way, as we have been doing for the last millennium.


Michael Kuznetsov