Theme 3 - Control of the people, 1917-85

How did the Soviet Government exercise control over the media, propaganda and religion?

State control of mass media and propaganda

Newspapers

  • November 1917 - All non-socialist papers banned. By 1920s, non-Bolshevik papers banned
  • Printing press nationalised. All editors and journalists members of the party
  • Approval from Glavlit (cencorship office) needed
  • Pravda and Izvestiya daily newspapers - basically propaganda
  • Instilled party values and highlighted Soviet achievements
  • Prohibited topics included government failure and natural disasters
  • Local papers criticised local officials but never party leaders

Magazines

  • Targeted specific audiences - farmers, soldiers, teachers etc.
  • Sex, crime, religion all prohibited
  • Gave accurate coverage of sport

Radio

  • New development so easy to manipulate - no history of independance
  • They mainly featured news and propaganda material, not music
  • Too expensive so loudspeakers installed in public places. Allowed for mass participation
  • Helped indoctrinate illiterate population
  • Was a quick way of communication
  • New apartment blocks wired up to government stations only
  • Until 1964 there was only 1 Soviet radio station. Brezhnev made it 3
  • Tried to stop foreign stations as theyt threatened compliance - limited range on radios

Television

  • The number of televisions increased from the 1950s - became a key method
  • Highlighted achievements of socialism and were mainly news, documentaries etc.
  • Life under socialism presented as joyous, but under capitalism life was terrible
  • Failed to excite population - only 2 channels by 1985
  • Broadcast programmes in local languages - made it accessible

Results

  • Helped conformity and indoctrination 
  • People began to read between the lines - could detect when party officials in favour
  • Hard to keep up censorship with the advances of technology

The personality cults of Stalin, Khrushchev and Brezhnev

Why was a cult of personality used?

  • Used to reinforce the power of an individual leader to encourage conformity
  • Also used to raise them above the collective leadership
  • Lenin portrayed as hero of regime
  • Following leaders used this cult to support their claim to be the legitamate heir of Lenin

The cult of Stalin

  • Attempts made to link Stalin to Lenin - presented as Lenin's closest friend and a hero of the civil war - Trotsky removed from pictures
  • 1925 - town of Tsaritsyn renamed Stalingard
  • Slogan 'Stalin is the Lenin of today' circulated after Lenin's death
  • 1930s - images of Stalin used to reinforce his power - impression of him being God-like
  • Images portrayed Stalin as a father figure and defender of socialism
  • Posters of him in military uniform common. Also photos of him that portrayed him as a worker, down-to-earth etc. common to make him more accessible
  • Official biographies revinvented his early life and portrayed his role as essential in revolution
  • Gathered title and honours ('Brilliant Genius of Humanity')
  • Poets praised Stalin in poetry
  • Records of Stalin's speeches distributed widely
  • Statues erected that portrayed Stalin as huge
  • Films made to exxaggerate Stalin's achievements
  • By 1940s, his cult differed from his real personality greatly
  • By 1950s, many towns had been named after Stalin
  • Stalin's cult was not entirely fake - people saw him as a benefactor…

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