Thursday, March 4, 2010

Research Paper on the Russian Revolution

Ok, so I highly advise that you do not continue to read this. I just have to type my paper on blogger because my laptop doesn't have Word!

Since the beginning of the human race, there has been a struggle and a hunger for power. It began in the perfect Garden of Eden when man was first tempted to be all knowing and powerful. Eve was manipulated by a serpent into believing its lies, and once Eve fell for it, Adam followed. Throughout history, things have been no different. People have been tricked into believing the lies of a modern serpent and then acting upon them. During the rise of communism, the use of propaganda was similar to the purpose of the serpent; it was used as an unfair and extremely bias tool of manipulation.

In Russia, the term propaganda did not necessarily have anything to do with manipulation; it simply meant  the distribution of new material and ideas. On the other hand, the term agitation does have a negative connotation; it describes the media used to persuade people to do what the Soviet leaders wanted through the manipulation of their emotions. The communists constantly used agitation for their benefit. In fact, they used it so much that they created the Department for Agitation and Propaganda in 1920. Its goal was to coordinate propaganda work of all Soviet institutions. "Early Agitprop in the cities included parades, spectacles, monumental sculpture, posters, kiosks, films, and agit-stations, located at major railroad stations, which had libraries of propaganda material, lecture halls, and theaters" (1:15).  The department also monitored all local press and directed propaganda campaigns. This censorship was an important aspect of government control because "the control of information is a powerful tool" (Steele 47). For the communists, censorship was a key asset in their quest for power and support. They strategically censored all media so they could "influence people to believe what they were told by telling them only part of the truth" (1:103).

Because propaganda is everywhere, advertisers and propagandists know that people do not really have a choice as to whether or not they want to see or hear it. For propaganda to be successful, it needs to persuade the viewer to hold the same opinion or views as the distributor. This goal can be achieved through the three main modes of persuasion: logos, ethos, and pathos. Logos is appeal based on logic and reason, ethos is appeal based on the character or authority of the speaker, and pathos is the most common method of persuasion because it is based on emotion. Russian dictator Vladimir Lenin used the pathos method in his campaign slogan Peace, Land, and Bread. He appealed to the desires of the hungry people and manipulated them based on their poverty. In Germany, the Nazi party's slogan was Blood and Honor. This is another example of pathos because it captivated people's sense of pride. Through this slogan they also tried to attract support by making their ideas and goals seem honorable, heroic, and powerful, which appeals to the side of people that yearns for leadership and organization.

In addition to ethos, logos, and pathos, there are other propaganda techniques that are used everywhere. Appeal to fear is a propaganda technique in which the creator attempts to gain support for his idea by using deception and intimidation tactics. Adolf Hitler commonly used this technique when he threatened and lied to the Jewish population of Germany. He seduced and tricked the Jews by playing on their greatest fears. Another very popular technique is loaded words. When propaganda contains loaded words, the creator is trying to gain support or influence people by appealing to their emotions. The natural trust that most people have for others can be manipulated through the technique of loaded words because "if we are led to believe that communicators have nothing to gain and perhaps something to lose by convincing us, we will trust them and they will be more effective" (Pratkanis 133). Hitler used this propaganda technique to contribute to the rise of communism in Germany by releasing posters, fliers, films, and radio dialogue that took advantage of people's emotions. Experts in advertising and propaganda research have discovered that "one effective way to persuade the masses is to develop and repeat falsehoods" (Pratkanis 133). Hitler was a very clever deceiver when it came to this concept. He gave the misled population seemingly fresh hope by painting the picture of a united and strong government with powerful leadership. To do this, he used repetition throughout his released propaganda and media.

 From the rise of the Soviet Union in 1922 to its fall in 1991, the communists used propaganda to gain followers. Communists knew that "the more supporters they gained, the more power they would have" (Leone 84). Naturally, they tried to persuade everyone to favor their form of government. In Russia, Joseph Stalin used terror as an instrument to transform people's opinions and force submission to discipline as Lenin also did before him. In Germany, Adolf Hitler lied to and misled the German people by appealing to their emotions and taking advantage of their obliviousness. During the peak of the Soviet Union, propaganda was used to gain people's trust and faith in the communist government. Clever tactics were maliciously and deceitfully used to manipulate the people. When the majority of communism and its misleading propaganda crumbled along with the Soviet Union itself, people who were previously under the communist government were able to experience a whole new life that revolved around one principle that many people in America take for granted: freedom.

Works Cited

"Agitprop". Encyclopedia of Russian History.
     New York: Macmillan Reference USA, 2004.

Leone, Bruno. Communism.
    Minnesota: Greenhaven Press, 1978.

Pratkanis, Anthony. Age of Propaganda.
     New York: Henry Holt and Company, LLC, 1992.

Steele, Phillip. Political Manipulation.
    Chicago: Heinemann Library, 2006.