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Propaganda
is information which is used to promote a certain political cause or point of
view through various forms of design, It is ‘something that has to do with any ideas of beliefs that
are intentionally propagated’ (Casey, 1944). I have chosen to focus
on Russian propaganda and American propaganda, this essay aims to identify and
explain how these countries effected their public through their propaganda.

The
Cold War started in 1947 and ended in 1991 and was named due to the negative relationship
which developed between the USA and USSR after World War II. During this time
there was a strong clash between capitalism and communism which both sides
fought incredibly hard to defend, and as such, many forms of propaganda were
created. The key characteristics of which include pro-communism or capitalist
messages depending on which country the propaganda was from.

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Fig. 1 Your
Country Needs You
 

White
propaganda is a form of propaganda in which the origin and source is truthfully
depicted. This form is the most commonly utilized form of propaganda and is
typically characterised by more gentle forms of persuasion. Fig. 1 is a good example of this type of
advert, due to its reliance on relaying a positive and uplifting message. This
is a very simplistic poster and is directly targeted at ‘you’.

Fig. 2 ‘Vote Early’ false Twitter post by Anon
 

According to Debra Kelly, (2014) grey
propaganda is a type of propaganda in which the artist appears to be presenting
legitimate arguments, without any form of agenda. The aim of this type of
propaganda is to promote a viewpoint which is more pleasant and easy to consume
by the target audience. In addition to this the source is rarely credited and if
they are additional research will reveal these are false credits. During the
Cold war radio stations were commissioned to transmit Grey Propaganda
broadcasts to the Soviet Union and Eastern Europe. They used news and
entertainment in an attempt improving attitudes to democracy.

Black Propaganda is not immediately obvious. It is propaganda of which
origin of its source is completely obscured. An example of this would be Fig. 2, an image which gained popularity
after being posted on Twitter. The message was false as it was not possible to
vote via text and on top of this the source was unknown. Black propaganda was
used throughout the Cold War and the Soviet Union were responsible for secret
campaigns that targeted foreign governments. It was used to influence
individuals and certain groups who were especially hostile towards the Soviet
government.

 

Fig. 3 The Red Iceberg
 

Communism in the 1950s was
seen not as a rival state but as a fearsome, state-sponsored conspiracy (John Lewis Gaddis, n.d.). The political hostility
between the USA and the Soviet Union was not only a power battle, but one in
which both sides attempted to sell their respective ideologies to the
world.  America and the Soviet Union used
different media to spread each of their own messages (Communism and Capitalism)
within their own nations and around the world. As Americans were programmed to
fear Communism infiltrating their country, most of the messages spread through American
propaganda depicted Communism as an evil entity which should be feared and
fought against.  

Fig 4. Fight The Red Menace

The
comic book depicted in Fig. 3 was
created in 1960 by Impact Publications and distributed to thousands of Catholic
school children during the cold war. The illustration shows Uncle Sam who was a
common national personification of the USA, the origin of which is by a
legend.  The main point of this comic
book was to indoctrinate fear within younger readers as to the repercussions of
Uncle Sam not steering away from the “Red Iceberg”. Although these comics
targeted younger people it was the parents of these children who may be buying
the comic books and dissimilating this information to their children.  During this time, time the USA commercialised
it’s use of propaganda by employing many companies whose sole focus was on the
creation of Americas propaganda machine, in contrast the Soviet Union
designated specific governmental organizations to create their propaganda as
determined by a Communist state. Fig. 4
Shows ‘Bubble-gum cards’ which were created and depict Communist leaders with
facts, also showing the use of commercialisation to spread propaganda.

The
main feature on the front cover of the comic book was Uncle Sam sitting on the
front of the Titanic and heading towards the “Red Iceberg”. On this Iceberg were
a plethora of communist lead countries, the names of which were portrayed on
grave stones. Uncle Sam, within the framing of this cover, is portrayed as a
large, powerful personification of authority. The prominent colours within the
cover illustration are the patriotic red, white and blue of the American flag.
The introduction to this propaganda-based comic is the blatant segregation of
the red, white and blue from the red of the Soviet flag. The soviet propaganda
of fig. 7 also includes themes of
segregation, with both countries represented in their own halves distinctly
separated by bold lines and the ‘thermometer’.

 Fig. 5 R.M.S
Titanic

In
addition to this, the foreground of the iceberg shows the signature hammer and
sickle of the Soviet Union flag, ready to sink the metaphorical ship that is
the USA. The message within this is to warn of the dangers of the Soviet Union,
and a plea to not let communism consume the USA.  Further to this, the visual of the boat
approaching the smaller part of the iceberg may indicate that even in avoiding
the most obvious dangers one should not be blind to the smaller ones, and these
could possibly symbolise the smaller less visible hazards such as spies.
Further, the sea is calm within this drawing however the background shows
images reminiscent of storm clouds. this may show the calm before the storm
should the boat hit the iceberg. In addition, the illustrator did not choose
the production of smoke emanating from the funnels of the boat. They may have
been attempting to cast the USA as a clean and pure country in contrast to the
dirty violence shown in fig. 6.  

A
prevalent style of this time was pop art, a name given to an art movement which
emerged in the late 1950’s to 60’s in Britain and America, of which this cover
follows this style. The leading lines of this poster naturally brought the eye
of the reader to the title of the comic and in doing so focused attention to
the message being displayed. The title of the comic has slightly unbalanced
kerning, such as the “T” and “H” being too close together in respect to the “H”
and “E”. in addition to this, the word “Red” in the title drew the most focus
due to it being slanted, bold and given depth. This strongly indicates the
message is about communism. Russia however, was late to this movement and
artwork resembling pop art only surfaced around 1970. Popular styles in the
Soviet Union at this time were the likes of Soviet Nonconformist Art, which was
started by the death of Stalin.

Fig. 6. Is this tomorrow: America Under Communism

 

This 48-page
educational comic was published in 1947 and illustrates the communists having
infiltrated the USA and assassinating both the president and vice president.
The comic was distributed to approximately four million readers after Father
Louis Gales recognised that the medium of comic books were able to be used educational
purpose, rather than superheroes and cartoons. He understood that comic book
art could portray a strong message and thus create a very effective form of
propaganda.

The
cover of this comic book immediately grabs the eye of the reader. The large
title takes over the top quarter of the page and reads “IS THIS TOMORROW”. It
leads the reader to believe that if something is not done today, this is what
will happen tomorrow. The title leads to an image of Communists attacking a
group of Americans. In the lower right of the cover is an illustration of evil
looking characters who are glaring at the soldiers. These characters portray
communism and their overlying looming threat to the country.

The
burning flag in the background is to portray the fact that under communism
America would burn and fall.  The yellow
background behind the flag is used to not only grab the eye of the reader, as
it is a bright colour and typically evokes pleasant and warming feelings,
however in this context when paired with black it is used as a warning, an
example of this is crime scene tape.  Red
is the prominent colour utilized within the flames which shows the possible
destruction which could be caused should communism enter America.  The leading lines of the cover bring the eye
to the title and the main message of this comic book. The outline of the flames
surrounding the title also achieve this.

This
comic book is entirely black propaganda as there were no facts or historical
content due to being set in the future. It entirely demonizes the enemy to intimidate
and target younger audiences as they were the most susceptible to these types
of messages.  These illustrations terrorize
with words and images, in an attempt to manipulate the opinions of the reader. “The
first casualty when war comes is Truth” (U.S.
Senator Hiram Johnson, 1917). In direct contrast to this illustration fig. 7 as they state their sources as
well as have fact to back up their point, and whilst they are also manipulating
the thoughts and opinions of the audience, they do not use terror to do so and
instead they chose which information to disclose and withhold.

 

 

Fig 7. Same Year, Different Weather

Fig 8. American politics

Fig. 7 depicts the poster titled
“Same
Year, Different Weather”. The red bar on the thermometer is labelled
“Soviet Industry rate” whereas the black bar is labelled “American Industry
rate”. The ‘American side’ of the poster is bleak and cloudy in comparison to
the bright sunshine and positive colours of the ‘Soviet side’. The writing
above the American man’s head reads “crisis” using a font very similar to
lighting to represent destruction and negativity. He is also holding a piece of
paper stating “War Plans” which the author has made clearly visible by ensuring
his hands are not covering the type as doing so would not get the message
across as strongly. The American man has been presented in a caricatural style
with fangs, exaggerated weight and clearly unfit. The fang image is mirrored in
various other Communist propaganda as exemplified in fig. 8. Further he personifies Karl Marx’s depiction of the typical
capitalist bourgeoise.

In
comparison the soviet man is more attractive, young and exudes a positive image.
The sun is shining within this side of the poster. This poster aims to depict
the value behind its industrial heritage supported by the communist state as
depicted by the tool he is holding as well as the protective glasses on his
head. The type in this poster shows that the American economy has slipped by
22% since 1948, in contrast the Russian economy was increased by 20%. This showed
that America was in a financial crisis due to the deep recession from November
1948 to October 1949. The large paragraph of text details the current economic
situation of both countries and stresses economic downturn in America when
compared to the Russian booming economy which was bolstered by the powerful
rise its industry sector.  This
propaganda was white propaganda as it was truthful and stated its sources and
provided facts. The leading lines of this poster separate each half of the
poster and showed the clear lines of difference between the two sides. In addition,
they used clearly contrasting colours to get the message across, the red within
the soviet side clearly represents communism, whereas the black side is much
more negative and shows the slump that America was in.

Unlike
the two pieces of American propaganda which were comic books this illustration
is a poster. The poster is targeted at all audiences unlike the American pieces
which were targeted towards children. The propaganda poster had the ability to
be adhered on walls lining town streets and popular public areas in order for
them to be easily read. The ease of accessibility to these posters allowed them
to be widely publicised and would target a much larger audience than the
restricted focus of the American propaganda. The Soviet also taught this
propaganda to their youth groups in order to further influence the ideals of
the older population.

This
propaganda in a similar fashion to the American propaganda demonises the enemy.
However, they do not use fear mongering as depicted by the American propaganda
in fig. 3 and fig. 6.  Instead they provide
information on the country’s economy and illustrate the USA in a negative way.
This propaganda presents its’ claims to appear logical and factual which is
very persuasive to the audience. This is due to this audience being unable to up
this information and who in addition want to believe in the very best about
their country and themselves. “The primitive simplicity of their minds renders
them a more easy prey to a big lie than to a small lie.” (Adolf Hitler, n.d.) A further similarity between
the two countries is that both countries used their youth to influence the
older population.

 

 

 

To
conclude, America and Russia use different techniques in order to affect their
respective country’s public opinion. American propaganda used scare tactics
prominently throughout their design in order to manipulate their public, in
contrast Soviet propaganda was subtler and used perceived facts and exaggerated
information to influence public opinion. Russia’s propaganda was aimed to
reflect the communist state as a patriotic highly skilled and worker orientated
nation and cast America as a lazy, self-indulgent and individualistic society. During
the state of the Cold War both countries tried to project their opposing
faction in a bad light, and unlike America, Russia favoured the use of white
propaganda and was not outwardly untruthful or misrepresentative of the fact. In
contrast Americas use of black propaganda was distributed in a very different
way. Whilst the Soviet propaganda was more widely shown to the public, Americas
of comic book was possibly done. Russian propaganda relied on a subtler message
to its population. They focused less on violence and fear mongering however
relied on greatly exaggerated facts and caricatural representations of the
united states. Americas black propaganda relied on the fear instilled within
its population of impending doom should they not react immediately against the
Communist threat. Both forms of propaganda were persuasive with Americans being
indoctrinated towards fear and hate their Communist opposition and the
Communist state regarding Americans as weak and ineffective. A similarity of both
of these countries is the use of youth to have an impact on the older
population. Propaganda in any form is a
powerful and persuasive tool which can alter the ideals and mindset of an
entire population.

 

 

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