Wells – Stalin interview

Fragments from an interview between Soviet leader Stalin and the British writer H. G. Wells from 23 July 1934. I read the interview in a volume of Stalin’s writings and highlighted the parts I found interesting. The soviet leader definitely had a strong and charismatic personality, even now he is highly revered by large parts of the Russian population even if proof of his criminal regime came to light, first during the Khrushchev era then during Gorbachev`s Glasnost. His thoughts and knowledge can nonetheless be useful for further research in fields ranging from history to psychology and political sciences.

Wells:
<blockquote>(…)You and Roosevelt begin from two different starting points. But is there not a relation in ideas, a kinship of ideas, between Moscow and Washington? In Washington<strong> I was struck by the same thing I see going on here;</strong> they are building offices, they are creating a number of state regulation bodies, they are organizing a long-needed Civil Service. Their need, like yours, is directive ability.</blockquote>
Stalin:
<blockquote>The United States is pursuing a different aim from that which we are pursuing in the U.S.S.R. <strong>The aim which the Americans are pursuing, arose out of the economic troubles, out of the economic crisis</strong>. The Americans want to rid themselves of the crisis on the basis of private capitalist activity, without changing the economic basis. They are trying to reduce to a minimum the ruin, the losses caused by the existing economic system. Here, however, as you know, in place of the old, destroyed economic basis, an entirely different, a new economic basis has been created (…) .

What is planned economy? What are some of its attributes? Planned economy tries to abolish unemployment. Let us suppose it is possible, while preserving the capitalist system, to reduce unemployment to a certain mini- mum. But surely, <strong>no capitalist would ever agree to the complete abolition of unemployment, to the abolition of the reserve army of unemployed</strong>, the purpose of which is to bring pressure on the labour market, to<strong> ensure a supply of cheap labour</strong>.

(…) as soon as Roosevelt, or any other captain in the contemporary bourgeois world, proceeds to undertake something serious against the foundation of capitalism, he will inevitably suffer utter defeat. The banks, the industries, the large enterprises, the large farms are not in Roosevelt’s hands. (…)<strong> Perhaps, in the course of several generations it will be possible to approach this goal somewhat; but I personally think that even this is not very probable</strong>.

But I have some experience in fighting for socialism, and this experience tells me that if Roosevelt makes a real attempt to satisfy the interests of the proletarian class at the expense of the capitalist class, the latter will put another president in his place. <strong>The capitalists will say : Presidents come and presidents go, but we go on forever</strong>; if this or that president does not protect our interests, we shall find another. What can the president oppose to the will of the capitalist class?

<strong>To bring about a revolution a leading revolutionary minority is required</strong>; but the most talented, devoted and energetic minority would be helpless if it did not rely upon the at least passive support of millions.</blockquote>

Soviet Propaganda Posters

Through propaganda and educative posters, Soviet iconography permeated into Russian society with relative ease. Lenin is the one who takes the responsibility of creating the first truly propaganda machine, the fate of Communism depended on keeping people close to the party and with a high enough morale to face all the shortcomings that came with building socialism. Artists from all-over the land participated in this field, giving many excellent examples of posters that transcended the boundaries of political tools and became works of art in their own right. The basic philosophy was to make various subjects appealing to the mases, they didn’t necessarily have to be simple, but universal. They needed to make war seem heroic and working the fields as relaxing as a stroll in the park, with young and blond Russian women happily waiting for their working men while they take care of the kids or, even better, working beside them.

Six main eras have been identified in the development in the field of propaganda posters:
1. the Bolshevik Era (1917-1921) – key features are the revolutionary fervor with a strong emphasis on symbolism, more than 3500 poster designs were created.
2. the New Economic Policy (1921-1927) – key features are the Avant-garde Constructivism Style and a feeling of slightly more freedom even if faced with famine and discontent.
3. the first two “five year plans” – key features: Stalin wanted to industrialize Russia as fast as possible with an emphasis on heavy industry; in the first part of the period, photo-montage was used.
4. the Great Patriotic War, or World War 2 (1939-1945) – key features of the period are the revival of the Bolshevik style.
5. the Cold War (1946-1984) – key features are the use of Social Realism and posters promoting peace.
6. Perestroika (1984-1991)

Posters began to cover all areas of social and private life, from culture to work, from politics to war, they were the “bibles” of common soviet people, or at least this was the idea. Some of the more well known artists and designers are Alexander Apsit, who created the famous hammer and sickle symbol and the red star, Irakili Toridze knwon for his “Motherland is calling”, Victor Karetsky, Victor Ivanov, N. Treschenko, Victor Govorkov, M. Heifitz, etc.

Two possible directions from which we will continue in future articles are the similarities with political posters from National Socialist Germany and the other being advertising posters mainly from the United States and consumerist society.

For now however let’s look at some examples.

1917 – “The Loan of Freedom” by Kustodiev B. M. This poster refers to the bonds issued by the provisional government in order to stabilize the economy, the measure however did not manage to garner much support from the people.
???? – “Stop” by Karetsky V. B.
1919 – “May Day, workers have nothing to lose but their chains” by A. P. Apsit
“1940” – “Moscow is the capital of the USSR” by L. M. Lisitsky

1941 – “Our strengths are uncountable” by V. B. Koretsky
1939 – “Long live Soviet pilots” by Dobrovolsky V N and Zhukov N
1955 – “Long live to peace!” by N. I. Tereschenko
???? – “Culture in capitalist and socialist countries. Make way for the talents!”
???? – Viktor Koretsky
1941 – “Proud of my son” by Govorkov V. I.
1960 – “People of world! Let’s transform war weapons into tools!” by Ivanov V. S.
1956 – “Nations’ Friendship” by G. P. Solonin
1974 – “Let’s preserve monuments for posterity” V. S. Karakashev