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Creepy anti-communist propaganda from Bohn Aluminum and Brass Corporation, 1952
07.16.2014
07:30 am

Topics:
Art
Class War

Tags:
propaganda
anti-communist


 
Bohn Aluminum and Brass Corporation is most famous in the design crowd for its futuristic advertising campaigns—absolutely gorgeous (and totally campy) illustrations of all the products they dreamed of one day manufacturing. (There’s one of a firetruck that’s so New Wave it should probably be a B-52s album cover.)

Lesser known is that the Detroit-based company was in constant conflict with the quickly radicalizing United Auto Workers membership—the local was actually the first to elect a black president, a surprise to many, despite Bohn’s primarily black labor force.

Sensing danger, Bohn produced an anti-communist campaign, perhaps hoping that a bunch of ominous posters might mold dissent into model employee patriotism. It’s difficult to imagine that any Bohn workers were inspired to fealty by corny sloganeering and a few creepy disembodied (white) hands, but one would hope that the heavy-handed (geddit?) propaganda gave the Detroit proletariat a giggle as they occupied factory floors, organized work stoppages and staged sit-down strikes with over 12,000 workers.
 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Posted by Amber Frost | Leave a comment
The gory and grotesque art of Soviet antireligious propaganda
06.17.2014
06:52 am

Topics:
Art
Belief

Tags:
propaganda
Soviet
atheism


 
The images below are from the Soviet anti-religious magazine, Bezbozhnik, which translates to “Atheist” or “The Godless.” It ran from 1922 to 1941, and its daily edition, “The Godless at the Workplace,” ran from 1923 to 1931. The scathing publication was founded by the League of Militant Atheists, an organization of the Soviet Communist Party members, members of its youth league, workers and veterans, so while it was in many ways a party project, it was not state-sponsored satire.

The Soviet Union adopted a formal position of state-atheism after the revolution but it wasn’t a clean break. The expropriation of church property and the murder or persecution of clergy was certainly the most obvious supplantation of power, but the USSR was a giant mass of land, most of it rural and much of it pious, so the cultural crusade against religion was an ongoing campaign for the hearts and minds of citizens who might resist a sudden massive secularization. The monstrous, violent art you see below depicted religion as the enemy of the worker and footman to capitalism. You’ll notice a wide array of religions depicted, as the USSR was very religiously diverse.
 

Depicting the Muhammad, the Christian god, and a Jewish Kabbalist. Despite the ethnic cartoons, the founder and majority of staff were Jewish.
 

Mocking the “piety” of racist America with the title, “God’s country”
 

The Pope, with Jesus and the Bible astride a cannon, aimed at the 35 million European unemployed
 

Jesus, dumped like so much industrial waste
 

Deities getting smooshed by a Five Year Plan
 

Even Buddha gets his share of hate
 

God is responsible for plagues
 

Luring the people to church with music
 

A soldier literally skewering god. The books under his arm read “Lenin” and “Technology.”
 
Via The Charnel-House

Posted by Amber Frost | Leave a comment
The U.S. government tries to convince citizens to stay put after nuclear attack, 1951
05.08.2014
07:12 am

Topics:
History
Hysteria
U.S.A.!!!

Tags:
propaganda
nuclear war

 
“You know Fred, actually, staying in a city to help after an atomic attack is not nearly as dangerous as a lot of people think. The danger of, well, lingering radiation is not really very serious. After an atomic air burst, the danger of radiation and falling debris is over within… a minute and a half.”

You don’t say?

The Federal Civil Defense Administration produced a glut of Cold War misinformation and propaganda, but 1951’s Our Cities Must Fight is among the most baffling. An attempt to discourage urbanites from abandoning their fair cities after nuclear attack, the film fictionalizes a conversation between two patriotic newspapermen bemoaning the “take to the hills fraternity.” The men go on to imply that leaving a nuked city would be “pretty close to treason,” and then pile on the insane justifications—you couldn’t get through the traffic anyway! We’ll need you to fight fires and keep going to work! Oh, and my favorite—radiation isn’t really that big a deal!

I’m not sure if there really was a totally unrealistic perception that a post-nuclear city could still function, but I can’t imagine most Americans would stick around to polish the brass on the Titanic after an atomic bomb hit it—assuming of course that there were any survivors. With the memory of Hiroshima and Nagasaki still fresh, it’s difficult to believe the FCDA ever thought anyone would stick around because of a silly government film!
 

Posted by Amber Frost | Leave a comment
‘Soviet Toys’: The first Russian cartoon was (you guessed it!) commie propaganda!
03.03.2014
08:23 am

Topics:
Animation
Class War

Tags:
propaganda
USSR
Dziga Vertov

Soviet Toys
Filthy capitalist swine
 
My fascination with political propaganda has no partisan allegiance, but left or right, I can’t help but think they just don’t make ‘em like they used to. Those racist Tea party signs, the Shepard Fairey-designed beatification of Barack Obama—even the romantic filigree of Occupy Wall Street didn’t do much for me. My favored political propaganda is that rare combination of ambitious, angry, and optimistic—a trinity often achieved by the very coiners of the term “agitprop,” the Soviets.

Soviet Toys is the very first in a long and rich history of Russian animation, and while only a fraction those cartoons were explicitly political, the great Russian director Dziga Vertov made masterful use of the medium to produce some truly caustic revolutionary art.

Despite its explicit semiotics, the plot of Soviet Toys is a little bit of Russian history “inside baseball,” so I’ll sum up. During Lenin’s New Economic Policy (a period of liberalization where private citizens were allowed small entrepreneurial ventures to boost the economy after the Russian Civil War), a class of businessmen called “NEPmen” rose to prominence, much to the resentment of radicals like Vertov. Obviously, the fat glutton you see represents the NEPmen. Materialistic women and corrupt clergy (the church had experienced a contentious split) defer to him for favors. The industrial worker and the farmer both fail at bringing down the NEPman on their own, but eventually they literally merge (like the ole’ hammer and sickle!) to defeat him.

And as if that weren’t a happy enough ending, the Red Army comes along and forms a tree, from which all capitalists and conspirators are hanged. Though Soviet Toys might feel a little heavy-handed and technically crude by today’s standards, it’s an incredibly sophisticated little film for its time and place. Remember this is four years before Disney’s Steamboat Willie, and I don’t recall even one capitalist being hanged in that!
 

 
Via Open Culture

Posted by Amber Frost | Leave a comment
‘Our Lenin’: Soviet propaganda book for kids, 1934
01.17.2014
06:07 am

Topics:
Art
Books
Class War

Tags:
Communism
propaganda
Lenin

Our Lenin
 
While the word “propaganda” has a rather nasty, manipulative connotation, it isn’t necessarily defined as “lies” per se. All that WPA art encouraging people to brush their teeth and get tested for syphilis? Excellent uses of propaganda! And whether you’re trying to organize a community garden or start your own fascist regime, I think the most effective propaganda follows that same model of simple, informative, attractive messaging, easily interpreted by children or the uneducated. Catch ‘em young, and make it pretty, I always say.

Our Lenin, a children’s biography of Vladimir Lenin, does this perfectly. Translated and adapted from a Russian book, the US version of Our Lenin was published in 1934 by the US Communist Party. Although teaching the kiddies to revere Vladimir Lenin uncritically is certainly problematic (to say the least), the book is a beautifully executed piece of messaging, and the illustrations are just exquisite.
 
Our Lenin
 
Our Lenin
World War 1
 
Our Lenin
Would you like a socialist utopia, or capitalist fascism? Pick carefully now, children!
 
Our Lenin
Ohhhh, so that’s how it works. Seems easy enough.
 
Via Just Seeds

Posted by Amber Frost | Leave a comment
Socialism is Our Launching Pad: The Soviet Union’s incredible space program propaganda posters
08.29.2013
08:38 am

Topics:
Art
History

Tags:
propaganda
Soviet Union
USSR
space

spacelenin
“With Lenin’s name”

The Soviet Union was far ahead of the U.S. in the “space race” of the late 1950’s and early 1960’s. By 1965 the U.S.S.R. could take credit for the first satellite, Sputnik-1 (1957), first animal in space (1957), first human in space and Earth orbit (1961), first woman in space and Earth orbit (1963), first spacewalk (1965), first Moon impact (1959), and first image of the far side of the Moon (1959).

As a result Soviet space program propaganda posters from this era were colorful and inspiring. The Eisenhower and Kennedy administrations had Wernher von Braun helping NASA but no artists creating bold, bragging promotional posters like these. Even into the 1970s, all I remember from grade school is a faded poster of moon rocks and the usual “big blue marble” image of the Earth from the Moon.

astronauthammersickle
“Glory to the Soviet people, the pioneers of space!”
 
sovietfairytale
“We were born to make the fairy tale come true!”
 
sovietglory
 
“Glory to the conquerors of the universe!”
 

Above, “Flight to the Moon,” a Soviet propaganda cartoon from 1953

Via io9, where you can see a lot more of these vintage Soviet space program posters

Posted by Kimberly J. Bright | Leave a comment
Charlie Brooker on Invisible Children and ‘Kony 2012’


 
Just when you thought shit couldn’t get any more cynical, here comes Charlie Brooker to cast some withering scorn over the recent ‘Kony 2012’ meme propagated by the group Invisible Children (as broadcast on last night on Channel 4’s 10 O’Clock Live.) I could not think of anyone better than Brooker for this job:

“So, in summary, Invisible Children are expert propagandists with what seems to be a covert religious agenda, advocating military action in Africa while simultaneously recruiting an “army” of young people to join their cause (and their weird Fourth Estate youth camps) and to stand around posing like this [quasi-fascist looking picture], a bit like an army of child soldiers might.”

Take it away Charlie…
 

Posted by Niall O'Conghaile | Leave a comment
Anti-alcohol posters from Soviet propaganda-era
01.26.2011
10:32 am

Topics:
Amusing
Art
Drugs
History

Tags:
Alcohol
propaganda
posters
Soviet

image
 
The Museum of Anti-Alcohol Posters showcases an array of posters from the Soviet-era. From a design standpoint, these illustrations are really cool, but I wonder if they were truly effective with getting their message across to Friends of Bill???

image
 
See more images after the jump…
 

Posted by Tara McGinley | Leave a comment
Donald Duck takes on Hitler to the tune of Der F?ɬ

image
 
Der Fuehrer’s Face is a 1943 propaganda cartoon from the Walt Disney Studios, starring Donald Duck. It was directed by Jack Kinney as an anti-Nazi piece for the American war effort. The song, of course, was later made famous by the great Spike Jones and his City Slickers. The short film won the 1943 Oscar for Best Animated Short Film (the sole Donald Duck short to do so) and in considered one of the 50 Greatest Cartoons of all time, as voted on by animators.

The German oom-pah band is comprised of Emperor Hirohito (Sh?֬

Posted by Richard Metzger | Leave a comment