Propaganda as the world knows it is essentially a human phenomenon. History has practically become defined by propaganda in the human process, the power of societal influence and how such influence has the ability to form entire identities. Having entrenched itself into the very foundation of society, propaganda has remained an inescapable force even to the modern day. Whether it be from the age of Robespierre and the French Revolution or one of the most devastating wars in world history, propaganda is integral for the formulating of public opinion. As such, the effect of propaganda that fills the past often lingers well into the coming future, and especially in the current era. Ultimately, propaganda is a universal entity.
In order to develop a legitimate foundation for understanding the mission and the process in line with global propaganda, the study of Edward Bernays is pivotal. Bernays outlines the force of influence and its deep roots in the political, economic, and cultural realms of society that effect average everyday life. For example, the psychological aspect of the propaganda machine and the exploitation of the public mind is a primary tactic in establishing a base of influential control. To quote; “By playing upon an old cliché, or manipulating a new one, the propagandist can sometimes swing a whole mass of group emotions.” Essentially, the targets of propaganda are manipulated based on internalized thought processes, creating a manufactured consent so as to bolster the power of the ruling class and those associated with it. A significant extent of this manufacturing of consent comes with the creation of an enemy, most often an enemy that must be destroyed in order to maintain the goals of the driving forces.
A revolution cannot exist without a strong propaganda force. Whether that revolution be in the age of Robespierre or the age of the Soviet Union, propaganda was an absolute necessity for the mass uprisings. As the first successfully created socialist state built on the principles of Marx and Engels, in addition to application of the (at the time) developing theories of Vladimir Lenin, the Russian Revolution and the establishing of the Soviet Union is often seen as an inspiration for the world communist movement throughout the twentieth century, and in many ways even to the modern day. There’s a reason the official ideology of the Soviet Union expanded beyond Orthodox Marxism with the incorporation of Leninism, being that Lenin’s theoretical contributions soon served as the very foundation for building the socialist state, with The State and Revolution being integral for a theoretical understanding of maintaining a revolution and the transition from capitalism to full communism.
According to Lenin to properly reach full communism, a transitional stage is required in order to continuously defend the revolutionary goals and practices. In the establishing of the Dictatorship of the Proletariat, the communists aim to uphold the revolution against any reactionary forces internal or external. In line with class struggle, the bourgeoisie and other reactionary, pro-capitalist forces are resisted by maintaining a strong armed force, a strong proletarian democracy, and the forced suppression of the reactionaries. The capitalist class is the ultimate enemy of the working class and socialist revolutionaries, and so it becomes of the utmost significance to protect the revolutions gains and interests through armed defense. To quote Lenin,
“But the dictatorship of the proletariat-i.e.,the organization of the vanguard of the oppressed as the ruling class for the purpose of crushing the oppressors cannot produce merely an expansion of democracy. Together with an immense expansion of democracy which for the first time becomes democracy for the poor, democracy for the people, and not democracy for the rich folk, the dictatorship of the proletariat produces a series of restrictions of liberty in the case of the oppressors, the exploiters, the capitalists. We must crush them in order to free humanity from wage slavery; their resistance must be broken by force; it is clear that where there is suppression there is also violence, there is no liberty, no democracy.”
After the death of Lenin, Joseph Stalin ultimately held the position of General Secretary of the CPSU and aimed to carry out the revolution and build a socialist society through the ideals of Marxism-Leninism, a culmination of Marx’s, Engels’, and Lenin’s contributions to revolutionary communist theory. As a means of industrializing, modernizing, and establishing a socialist economy in the Soviet Union, the CPSU instituted the Five Year Plan program, built to accomplish these goals in rapid and sufficient status. However, there existed people within the USSR that were against the Five Year Plans and the collective farming initiatives: the kulaks. Kulaks, essentially, were upper-peasants that engaged in capitalist and exploitative practices that opposed the threat that collectivization posed to their profitability.
Though sources differ, there exist reports of kulaks sabotaging the collectivization efforts by means of killing livestock, burning and/or improper care of crops, and other means of destruction and sabotage. In line with the defense of the dictatorship of the proletariat as outlined by Lenin as applied to the USSR, measures needed to be carried out in order to protect the Five Year programs and the forward development of the Soviet economy. Through efforts to “oust the elements of capitalism from the countryside, subsequent action was taken to guarantee the success of the collective farming system. “Naturally, the policy of restricting the kulaks' exploiting tendencies, the policy of restricting the capitalist elements in the countryside, cannot but lead to the ousting of individual sections of the kulaks. Consequently, ousting individual sections of the kulaks cannot be regarded otherwise than as an inevitable result and a component part of the policy of restricting the capitalist elements in the countryside.” Here we can see that the Soviet enemy was based on a person’s class status and their actions.
On the other hand, Fascism consists of a form of propaganda built entirely on the demonizing and the other-ing through genetic essentialism of groups that are, in essence, treated as undesirable and enemies to the fascist state. Adolf Hitler’s Nazi Germany is the embodiment of propaganda gone awry. Nazis, and fascists in general, have to create these undesirables and bring public opinion into the same wavelength. In the case of Nazi Germany, whether they be communists, homosexuals, or especially of jewish descent, the formation of the undesirable is designed to establish a new status quo and paint the governing fascist body’s ideology as the be-all-end-all of public ideals. This is accomplished not only through direct governmental actions (I.e the Holocaust, invasion of Poland, etc.) but through the utilization of mass media. “The Eternal Jew” is one of the cornerstones of Nazi propaganda and the culmination of state antisemitism to utterly destroy any human qualities of the Jewish people. One of the kickers for this film, among other forms of propaganda and actions taken on by the Nazi forces, is that a great deal of influence stems from the United States, as the Nazi film used an excerpt from an American antisemitic film as a means to cement the notion that Jews are nothing more than money-hungry, deceitful, and untrustworthy.
Simultaneously a separate entity and something acting in synthesis with mass media, the educational system is a prime force for the propagandists and the manufacturing of an obedient and unquestioning society. The Nazi educational system was not one that most would envy, as it was built almost entirely on the revision of German history and the bolstering of a demigod status for Hitler. The life and times of Adolf Hitler are used not only to victimize Germany, but to essentially make Adolf Hitler into the embodiment of Germany itself in both its victim status and its rise to power. As displayed in The Legitimate History of Lies, a Nazi textbook translated by Aleksandr Rainis, Hitler’s life (similar to that of Germany’s life) has been ripe with hardship, rejection, and disrespect. The entire first chapter of this textbook is dedicated to covering Hitler’s developing political history, beginning first with what is, essentially, a sob story to garner an initial sympathy for the man who would become the Fuhrer, citing his father’s death at a young age and the ever-so unfortunate rejection from art school- his dreams of artistic ascension crushed. Later in his life Hitler formed himself as a savior in German eyes during WWI, saving his commander among other “amazing” feats.
In the modern age, the forces of propaganda scrambled to establish a new “other,” a new enemy for the west as the dissolution of the Soviet Union in 1991 practically diminished the entire purpose of such organizations as NATO with the communist movement in Europe ultimately halted. As a result of the September 11th 2001 attack on the World Trade Center in New York City, and, ultimately, of western funding of terrorist groups for the sole purpose of containment and the anti-communism burned into society during the Cold War, the self-created threat of radical Islamic terrorism became the new boogeyman for the western world.
The creation of these threats by way of the reactionary Cold War containment policy as espoused by the west has brought about nothing but antagonism and destruction against the Middle Eastern region. Through the export of “democracy,” in line with the rhetoric and actions against the global socialist movement, US propaganda and policy has detrimentally effected the likes of Libya, Syria, Iraq, and other such countries in the area, all for the sake of imperialist, hegemonic expansion. Whether it be claims of chemical attacks by the Assad government in Syria, incubator babies in Iraq, or something in a similar vein, these falsehoods perpetuated by the US and other western powers against such countries are a continuation of the centuries-long history of western imperialism, colonialism, and the always vulturous capitalism.
Bernays, Edward. Propaganda. IG Publishing, 1928; 74.
Lenin, Vladimir. “The State and Revolution.” Internet History Sourcebooks, 1917,
Lenin, Vladimir. “The State and Revolution.” Internet History Sourcebooks, 1917, Chapter 5, Section 2. “Transition from Capitalism to Communism,” sourcebooks.fordham.edu/mod/lenin-staterev.asp.
Stalin, J.V. “Concerning the Policy of Eliminating of the Kulaks as a Class.” Marxists Internet Archive, 1930, www.marxists.org/reference/archive/stalin/works/1930/01/21.htm.
Hippler, Fritz, director. The Eternal Jew. Archive.org, 28 Nov. 1940, archive.org/details/TheEternalJewDerEwigeJude1940.
Snyder, Timothy. “Hitler Modeled His Plan for Global Conquest After America's Manifest Destiny.” Slate Magazine, Slate, 8 Mar. 2017, slate.com/news-and-politics/2017/03/nazi-germanys-american-dream-hitler-modeled-his- concept-of-racial-struggle-and-global-campaign-after-americas-conquest-of-native-americans.html.
Rainis, Aleksandr. Legitimate History of Lies. Lulu Com, 2012 50-51.
Etler, Dennis. “The U.S. Is Exporting Instability and War, Not Freedom and Democracy.” CGTN, April 8, 2021.
Jymee C is an aspiring Marxist historian and teacher with a BA in history from Utica College, hoping to begin working towards his Master's degree in the near future. He's been studying Marxism-Leninism for the past five years and uses his knowledge and understanding of theory to strengthen and expand his historical analyses. His primary interests regarding Marxism-Leninism and history include the Soviet Union, China, the DPRK, and the various struggles throughout US history among other subjects. He is currently conducting research for a book on the Korean War and US-DPRK relations. In addition, he is a 3rd Degree black belt in karate and runs the YouTube channel "Jymee" where he releases videos regarding history, theory, self-defense, and the occasional jump into comedy https://www.youtube.com/c/Jymee
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