Having attained power in late 1917 on a raft of promises — land to Russia’s peasants, bread to Russia’s starving cities and peace to Russia’s World War I-weary soldiers — V.I. Lenin was able to dispense with every one of them by advancing civil war from 1918 to 1921 to justify his acts by crisis.
In place of promises of liberty and rights, Lenin gave Russians propaganda, empowering the Bolsheviks to govern through knoutish messages, if not the barrel of the gun. In so doing, he sought to undermine Russia’s weak democracy and to transform society fundamentally.
“The Russian Revolution was permeated with propaganda of a forceful and brutal kind,” wrote historian Dmitri Volkogonov in his 1995 “Lenin: Life and Legacy,” based on materials briefly available from the Soviet archives.
The propaganda was used not so much to win people over with ideas but by bludgeoning them with coercion, repression and making examples.
–SNIP– Too many people think that freedom, opportunity and a variety of choices are ever-present features of life in the U.S. — that fundamental transformation of America will not affect accustomed standards.
When we lived in the U.S.S.R., locked away from the world, kept from traveling abroad and surrounded by government-controlled sources of information, we couldn’t imagine what kind of life people had on the outside. Simple things, like tomatoes in stores in winter, seemed improbable.
–SNIP– It’s stunning for an immigrant from a socialist country to hear in the speeches of Democratic Party leaders platitudes taught in socialist countries. Even more stunning is how they resonate with people born in the free world.