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DOI: 10.1177/000271627139800115
1971 398: 130 The ANNALS of the American Academy of Political and Social Science
Zygmunt Nagorski, JR
Soviet International Propaganda: Its Role, Effectiveness, and Future

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130
Soviet International
Propaganda:
Its
Role,
Effectiveness,
and Future
By
ZYGMUNT
NAGORSKI, JR.
Zygmunt Nagorski, Jr.,
a
graduate of the University of Cracow (Poland)
Law
School,
came to the United States in
1948,
and
spent
his
first few years
on the
staff of the
Chattanooga
Times and as a contributor to the Christian Science Monitor. In 1956 he
joined
the U.S.
Information Agency
and served in
Washington, D.C.,
the United Arab
Republic,
South
Korea,
and France. He is
currently
a
staff
member
of
the Council on
Foreign Relations,
New York.
ABSTRACT: The Soviet
message
to the West is handi-
capped
before it is even
dispatched.
A closed
society
has little
to offer an
open
one. The
tendency
in Moscow is to look at
the West
through
Marxist
glasses.
The result is
poor.
In-
stead of
making inroads,
the Marxists are
mostly ignored.
In
their
messages
to the Third
World,
the Russians run on a double
track of
respectability
and
rough, unpleasant
intervention in the
internal affairs of the
target country.
The Sino-Soviet schism
moved the context of the
message
from the
ideological
to the
partisan category.
Problems within the Communist bloc—the
Czechoslovak
invasion,
as a
prime example—put
the Soviet
Union on the defensive. And once
again
the
ideological
base
of the
message
was
weakened,
if not
entirely
lost.
There is little in the cards
suggesting
a more
effective,
more
acceptable message
from the Soviet Union
in the future. Dif-
ferent
directions,
a broader
scope,
more
flexibility,
and a much
deeper understanding
of the Western world are needed. Noth-
ing
short of a
change
of
system
will make Moscow once
again
a source of
dynamic, new, revolutionary
ideas.
131
Y OUNG
French revolutionaries in
May,
1968 elevated the walls of
Paris to the role of an
important
me-
dium.
They
covered them with
slogans.
One of these read: &dquo;We are sure that
two
plus
two no
longer
makes four
1
THE MEANING OF A SIGNAL
Was the
meaning
clear? It was more
than clear. The old order no
longer
stood
pat;
the old values were no
longer
taken for
granted.
A full
generation
had been born and had
grown up
under
conditions created
by
the makers and
the soldiers of World War II. For more
than half the worlds
population
of to-
day
is under
twenty-five years
of
age
and
many
of the crucial issues of mid-
century
conflict
appear
irrelevant to
them. The
young
are assisted
by
others. Revisionist
historians,
influ-
enced
by
waves of
youthful
dissatisfac-
tion with the
power
structure in the
United
States,
are
attempting
to rewrite
history
and to find the sources of
post-
war conflict here rather than in Moscow.
The
tragedy
of the Vietnam
War,
af-
fecting principally
the United
States,
the South African
problem
in the Com-
monwealth,
and the Chilean
experiment
in South America-to cite the most
striking examples-are
further
eroding
the
postwar
value
system. Open
soci-
eties have torn their windows out of
their frames in order to live in full view
of friends and foes alike. Never before
in
history
was so much visible to so
many.
One has at his
disposal
com-
munications media
eager
to
expose,
to
outwit
government secrecy,
and to offer
the maximum of
facts, figures,
and
comments.
There
is, however,
an element of com-
plexity
in this situation. A human
being
with a definite
point
of view can
easily
see how the
existing system
con-
forms to or differs from his own ideas
and still stand
strong
in his beliefs.
The
overwhelming majority
of human
beings, however,
do not have
strong
opinions. Some,
like the
young people,
are
quick
in
spotting
flaws and defects.
But
they
often
stop
at
challenging.
If
they
are assured that two
plus
two
no
longer
makes
four,
what is their
formula to
replace
this old-fashioned
mathematical notion? Others are
simply
confused
by
the
profusion
of
reported events, by
the written and
beamed
opinions,
and feel lost and
frustrated.
They
would much
prefer
simplicity
to
complexity.
Frustrations and doubts are the
prime
targets
for Soviet
propaganda,
and sim-
plification
is their instrument. Observ-
ing
their own internal scene and inter-
preting
events within the Western world
according
to the
pattern
of their own
thinking,
Soviet information
specialists
draw some rather
startling, simple
con-
clusions. It is
relatively easy, they
might conclude,
to
manipulate people
anywhere
in the world. For
proof
of
this one need
only
look at the
passive
state of the
majority
of Soviet citizens.
It is also clear to them that a set of
contradictory
conditions has
developed
within the
capitalistic world, just
as
Karl Marx
predicted:
a
cycle
of labor
strikes
keeps disrupting
the
economy;
a
major
war undertaken on behalf of a
distant
people
has created dissent and
inflation and is
rapidly leading
to a
dead-end
situation; money appears
to
be
playing
a
key
role in the American
electoral
process,
another indication to
them that the
bourgeois
class is
fighting
a
rear-guard
battle to retain its control.
The Soviet
propaganda planners,
therefore, may easily
conclude that the
time is
riper
than ever to
support youth-
ful doubts about the Western
concept
of
parliamentary democracy,
to
point
a
critical
finger
at the role of the
military
in American
society,
and to use
simplis-
1.
Julien Besançon,
Les Murs ont la
parole:
journal
mural mai 68
(Paris: Tchou, editeur,
1968), p.
61.
132
tic
slogans
in
addressing
the silent ma-
jority.
After
all,
this
group,
as in
any
country
of the
world,
is the easiest to
manipulate.
Soviet
ideologists, prison-
ers of their own
system
and of the con-
straints of Soviet
society,
are still
living
in a value
system
that does not tolerate
questioning
of official
dogma. Thus,
thinking
is
very narrowly
bounded.
Western
openness
is
equated
with weak-
ness. Western toleration of dissent is
viewed as the
inabilty
to deal with ele-
ments of destruction.
Yet, every
time
a Western
country
decides to take a
firm
approach
to individuals
openly
bent
on
bypassing
the
legal system
and re-
sorting
to
violence,
the Soviet media
disgorge
tons of words and
pictures
ac-
cusing
the West of intolerance and dis-
crimination.
They apply
this double
standard
gleefully.
It is
just
and
right
to sentence Soviet citizens to death for
attempted hijacking,
but it is
unjust
and
wrong
to execute the
Rosenbergs
or to
prosecute Angela
Davis. Double
talk,
leading
to
pre-arranged conclusions,
has
been re-introduced into the bloodstream
of the Soviet
system.
Examples
of how the
system
works
are numerous.
Among
the current in-
terpretations
of Alexander
Solzhenitzyns
disgrace
in the Soviet Union it
may
be
worth
citing
at least one. A Pravda
editorial entitled
&dquo;Renegades Begging
Whisky&dquo;
reads in
part:
The commanders of anti-Communism de-
cided to raise a fuss around the name of
Alexander
Solzhenitzyn,
with his silent
consent. Alexander
Solzhenitzyns
libels
against
the Soviet
people,
The Feast
o f
the
Conquerors,
The First
Circle,
Cancer
Ward,
which have blackened the
progress
and
achievements of our homeland and the
worth of the Soviet
people,
have turned
out to be suitable material for the new
anti-Soviet
campaign waged
in the West.
... The
great Shakespeare
wrote about
the
&dquo;quicksand
of falsehood.&dquo; These sands
are an unreliable base in the international
war of ideas .2
But the
&dquo;quicksand
of falsehood&dquo; ac-
quires
a
special
color when the inner
contradictions in Soviet
society
itself
surface. In 1959 the
young
Russian
critic Andrei
Sinyavsky
looked back-
ward on the
path
that his
country
had
traversed:
So that
prisons
should vanish
forever,
we
built new
prisons.
So that all frontiers
should
fall,
we surround ourselves with a
Chinese Wall. So that work should become
a rest and a
pleasure,
we introduced false
labor. So that not one
drop
of blood be
shed
any more,
we killed and killed and
killed....
Yes,
we live in Communism.
It resembles our
aspirations
about as much
as the Middle
Ages
resemble the free
super-
man,
and man resembles God.3
Four
years
later the Soviet
poet
Alex-
ander
Tvardovsky
added his
thoughts
in a
poem:
Hard to admit its all in
vain,
The
years
of
hope
and work and
pain.
If there were a
God,
wed
pray,
But since theres not-what then? what
then?
In this evil
hour,
bitter hour of
reckoning?4
POLITICAL PRAGMATISM AND THE
WAR OF IDEAS
The
interpretation
of &dquo;falsehood&dquo;
should also be examined. The inter-
action between the two
principal power
blocs is often based on
non-interacting
value
judgments.
The
propaganda
themes on both sides are almost identi-
cal, i.e., peace, independence,
eco-
nomic
development,
racial
equality,
and
cultural
freedom;
but the
interpreta-
tions are
diametrically opposed.
West-
2.
Reprinted
in The New York
Times,
December
29,
1970.
3. Anatole
Shub,
An
Empire
Loses
Hope
(New
York: W. W.
Norton, 1970), p.
35.
4.
Shub, ibid., p.
34.
133
ern
outputs stressing
national
indepen-
dence and cultural freedom are based
upon
our own
concepts
rooted in the
philosophies
of
Rousseau, Mill, Locke,
Thoreau,
and others. Soviet notions are
rooted in
interpretive
Marxism and
Leninism. What one side considers
falsehood,
the other sees as truth. The
result is
predictable:
the cross-current
of communication lines
bypass
each
other in a void.
This, however,
is
only part
true. In
both
societies,
the
policy-making
elites
are
fairly
immune. Their views are
firm,
and their
negotiating powers
are
flexible within the limits of certain re-
straining factors,
the nuclear deterrent
being
one of the most
important.
These
leaders have moved with the times from
an
ideological
to a much more
pragmatic
approach.
The SALT talks on arms
limitation reflect the realities of Soviet-
American relations.5
5
Secretary Rogers
Middle East initiative and the show of
American firmness
during
the
Jordanian
events lent
credibility
to the Western
po-
sition. The Soviet invasion of Czecho-
slovakia and the birth of the Brezhnev
Doctrine
put
the Soviet Union on record
as not
tolerating any change
in the
status
quo
in
Europe.
There is little
to
indicate, however,
that either the
firmness or
flexibility
of the two
major
opponents
has been influenced
by
the
war of ideas.
The war of
ideas, therefore, bypasses
most of the
decision-making
elements in
the
principal antagonistic
blocs. The
Soviet
Union,
in
directing
its
message
to the West
(Wes-ern Europe
and the
United
States),
addresses itself to the
masses. So does the West in the
op-
posite
direction. The difference lies in
approach.
The Soviets and their allies
still concentrate their efforts on the
weaknesses of the
developed societies,
while Britain and the United States
work from the
principle
of
trying
to
penetrate
the Iron Curtain with infor-
mation on
events, thoughts,
and devel-
opments
not
normally reported.
This
Soviet
approach
is more
ideologically
motivated,
while the West acts on the
premise
that a better-informed
people
may
somehow liberalize the Communist
system.
But Soviet
propaganda
efforts
also have
pragmatic political goals.
Their most successful
project
centered
around the &dquo;ban the bomb&dquo;
issue;
their
main theme now is
Vietnam, example
of
another
&dquo;imperialistic&dquo;
war. Their ad-
vocacy
of the Arab cause was born out
of the
opportunity
offered to them in
the mid-fifties to
exploit
Arab national-
ism,
which had been insulted
by
Ameri-
can refusal to build the Aswan Dam.
Currently,
a
pro-Arab
stand serves the
Soviet
propaganda
machine
exceedingly
well
by facilitating
attacks on Zionism
and
by enabling
it to link domestic
problems
with a
&dquo;cosmopolitan
con-
spiracy.&dquo;
In
Europe,
as well as in other
areas,
the Soviet
message
is often aimed at
the Communist cadres. In 1969 in non-
Communist
Europe,
there were seven-
teen Communist
parties,
of which ten
were
represented
in
parliaments
and five
were
illegal.
The total
membership
of
these
parties
was estimated at
2,013,950,
a number which does not reflect the
voting strength
of the
party
in such
countries as France or
Italy.6
Nor-
mally,
the
Party
would be a
powerful
transmitting
belt for Soviet
propaganda,
5. The Presidential Committee of the World
Peace
Council,
a Communist-front
group,
sent
a
message
to the SALT
negotiators
in Helsinki
expressing hope
for their
success,
which
may
lead to
complete
disarmament. Moscow Radio
broadcast in
English,
November
5, 1970,
at
7:52
p.m.
6. Ian
Greig,
The Assault on the West
(Petersham, England: Foreign
Affairs Pub-
lishing Co., 1968), appendix, p.
315.
134
but
complications
have arisen due to the
increasing divergence
of views
among
various
camps
and
countries,
a diver-
gence
accentuated
by
the Czech inva-
sion. The Sino-Soviet
dispute
and the
continued Cuban-Soviet differences in
Latin America have also called for ad-
justments
in Soviet
propaganda outputs
and
techniques.
Yet,
Soviet
propaganda
efforts fall on
deaf
ears, creating hardly
a
ripple
on
the surface of the American
political
scene. This is
certainly
not due to a
lack of
material,
for the social and
economic convulsions of our
open
soci-
ety provide
an almost unlimited source
for the Soviet
propaganda
machine.
But when an
open society interpreted
by
the rulers of a closed one is
reported
back to its
citizens,
the
message
is
warped.
Neither a sense of
identity
nor
a sense of
ideological affinity emerges:
when a
group
of
prominent
Soviet scien-
tists
protested
the trial of
Angela Davits,
President Nixon
responded by inviting
them to observe the trial themselves.
Fearing
the establishment of a
precedent
of
reciprocity,
the Soviet
government
ignored
the invitation.
Western
Europe presents
a different
target
for Soviet
propagandists.
This is
where active Communist
parties
exist and
produce
a massive electoral vote. This
is also where anti-American
feelings
used
to run
high
but
where, too,
the issue
of a divided
Germany
and the status of
Berlin
persist.
A massive Soviet
propa-
ganda barrage
is directed at Western
Europe.
It includes direct
broadcasting
(a
total of
1,355
hours a
week)
in
several
languages, placement
of bloc-
supplies programs
on local radio and
television
stations,
a
large
film distribu-
tion
network,
a considerable network of
publishing
houses and bookstores
spe-
cializing
in Soviet bloc
literature,
and
extensive
participation
in trade fairs.
Once
again,
a lack of
deeper
under-
standing
of Western societies on the
part
of the Soviet
strategists hampers
their work. Western
Europe
as well as
the rest of the
developed
world has
not been
standing
still. The evolution
of
concepts, ideas,
and
thoughts
has
affected
everyone, including
men and
women who vote Communist.
Writing
in
Foreign Affairs,
Andr6 Fontaine of-
fered an
interesting analysis
of the
nature of the Communist
strength
in
Western
Europe.
In France and
Italy
millions of workers
continue to
give
their votes to the Com-
munist
Party,
but their
daily
behavior is
only
affected in a relative
way by
this
political
choice.
Indeed, belonging
to the
Party ...
now indicates the need for
par-
ticipation
in social
activity;
the
hope
of a
revolution has been
put
off too
long
for
anyone
to believe it imminent. The Com-
unist
Party
and the
GGT,
with their hier-
archies,
their
festivals,
their
schools,
their
preferments,
their
newspapers,
have be-
come a
society
that is not so much a
rival of
capitalist society
as
complementary
to it.7
7
THE THIRD WORLD-A PROCESS
OF FORMATION
The Third World
presents
a
totally
different
picture.
If the
developed
countries are
approached
more as enti-
ties with
fairly
calcified
tops,8
the Third
World is tackled with the
knowledge
that the new elite is still in the forma-
tive
process
and its views are far from
firm. The main
force, therefore,
of
Communist
propaganda activity
is now
directed toward the elite of the
develop-
ing
countries. This shift to the
elite,
7. André
Fontaine,
"The Real Divisions of
Europe," Foreign Affairs 49,
2
(January,
1971), p.
312.
8. One
exception
in the Soviet treatment of
the United States is the
magazine
on the
United States
published by
the Institute of
American Studies of the Soviet
Academy
of
Sciences. It is
sophisticated,
and
cognizant
of
some of the
major
social and
political
forces
in
America;
but it is
published
in
Russian,
principally
for elite home
consumption.
135
indicating
a
major policy decision,
did
not occur until the late sixties. It
par-
alleled the intention of Soviet
foreign-
policy planners
to
bring
a
message
of
support
and concern to areas in which
the Soviet Union
expects
to
play a
more
decisive role in the future. The Soviet
appeal
to the
newly emerging
elites
stresses the blocs
attempts
to act as a
holding
device
against
a West still bent
on colonialism and
imperialism.
For
such a
task,
of
course,
South Africa
provides
a
never-ending
source of ma-
terial.
Portugal
is also branded
by
the
Soviets as
an instrument of the
West,
and the liberation movements in
Angola,
Mozambique,
and
Portuguese
Guinea
receive full
support.
It is a line which
finds
easy acceptance.
Two
examples
of the Soviet
approach
to the Third
World are worth
exploring.
One is
India,
the
largest
non-Communist
country
in
Asia;
the other is the Middle
East. The differences in their treat-
ment and the Soviet
ability
to
capitalize
on as well as to alienate some of the
target
areas
provide
a few
insights
into
Soviet
psychology.
Target:
Indaca
Why
does India deserve such
special
treatment from the Soviet Union? The
most obvious reason is
that,
within the
Sino-Soviet
dispute,
India could be
counted on as a Russian
ally.
This
assumption, however,
is not substanti-
ated
by
the realities of the Soviet
ap-
proach
in
India,
which is a mixture of
aggressive,
direct
political
interference
and subtle economic
wooing.
The
second reason is
that,
as a tremendous
conglomerate
of races and
languages,
India
presents
a
relatively easy target
for Soviet influences. Discontent
among
young
Indian
intellectuals,
the caste
system
and feuds within
it,
the leftist
experiments
at
Kerala,
the economic
wants,
and the
religious prejudices,
can
all be
exploited.
There also exists the
Indians distrust of the
West,
a residue
of the colonial era.
Yet, anyone
in the
Soviet Union or in Communist China
who
seriously hopes
for a
proletarian
revolution in India in the foreseeable
future
may
be accused of wishful
thinking.
No matter what the
motivation,
India
looms
large
in the
program
of the Soviet
propaganda
machine. A torrent of com-
munist
periodicals,
with India as
the
principal subject,
is
printed
and distrib-
uted inside and outside India. Publica-
tions
originating
in communist countries
number in the tens.
They
are led
by
the Soviet Unions two
giants,
Soviet
Union and
Soviet Woman,
both of which
have
large
circulations as a result of
aggressive promotion campaigns.
Com-
petitions
were
organized offering top
subscription
salesmen
prizes
of
trips
to
the Soviet
Union,
transistor
radios,
cam-
eras,
wrist
watches,
and electric shavers.
In
addition,
a
large
number of commu-
nist
periodicals
are
published
in India
itself. Soviet Land is a
fortnightly pic-
torial in thirteen Indian
languages,
as
well as
English; Sputnik
Junior caters
to Indian children in Hindi and in
English;
Soviet Review
appears
five
times a month in nine
languages.
Bul-
garia puts
out a
periodical
in nine lan-
guages,
East
Germany puts
out two in
eight languages,
and Poland
puts
out
one in several
languages.
The most
interesting developments
have, however,
taken
place
in the field
of radio. This is where the mixture of
subtlety
and bluntness
appears
to be
most blatant.
During
the
two-year
period
of
1967/69,
Radio Moscow be-
gan transmitting
in four new Indian
languages, Assamese, Gujarati,
Kan-
nada,
and
Oriya. By
the end of
1969,
it broadcast seven hours a week in each
of these
languages.
Another channel of
communication that utilizes Radio Mos-
cows technical facilities is called Radio
Peace and
Progress,
and its tone is more
136
belligerent,
its thrust more
pointed,
its
message
much more
inflammatory,
than
that of Radio Moscow itself.
Yet,
the
Soviet
government
disclaims
any
re-
sponsibility
for the station. It
is,
ac-
cording
to the official
explanation,
an
&dquo;unofficial, independent
radio station.&dquo;
9
Its concentrated efforts to influence In-
dian elections and to attack Indian
pub-
lic
figures
have earned for the station
official and unofficial irritation.
The tone of this stations
programs
somehow do not
jibe
with the more
subtle,
much more civilized
way
the
Soviet Union
&dquo;officially&dquo;
treats India.
In the Soviet Information Centers and
Houses of Soviet Culture located in
major
Indian
cities,
cultural
affinity,
mutual
interests,
and non-intervention
are some of the
key
themes. Once
again,
the dual
approach
does not seem
to
worry
Soviet information
specialists.
This
method, however, appears
to elicit
limited results.
Target:
The Middle East
The Middle East is a much more
clear-cut
proposition.
The
ideological
approach
has been discarded in favor of
pragmatic
but
friendly
assistance. This
is an area where the Communist bloc
presents
itself as an
ally
and a
partner.
Israel is the
enemy.
The Arab states
are friends which need
help against
external
aggression.
And while Arab
leaders
certainly
realize that the Soviet
Union is
playing pure power politics
in
an
attempt
to establish itself
firmly
in
the
Mediterranean,
her assistance is
gratefully received,
with mutual declara-
tions of eternal
friendship.
There is even more to this collusion
of interests than would have been sus-
pected
in the earlier
days
of the Soviet-
Arab love affair. The Soviet Union has
not been free of internal dissent. It is
muted, spotty,
and seldom visible to for-
eign eyes,
but it exists. When it ceases
to be
muted,
it
develops
into a cause
clbre in the Western world:
Pasternak,
Solzhenitzyn,
and
young
Litvinov have
been
painful
thorns in the Soviet side.
Some of the
protesters
and
many
of the
accused have been
Jews. Consequently,
the old
theory
of the international Zion-
ist
conspiracy
from
pre-Soviet
and Sta-
linist
days
has been dusted off and
placed
back on the shelves of current
Soviet textbooks.
Zionists,
a
part
of
the
cosmopolitan conspiracy against
the
Soviet
state,
are enemies. These same
people
are
working against
the Arabs.
And the collusion between the American
imperialists
and Zionist circles is an
established fact.
Thus,
the
cycle
is
complete,
and the Arabs and the Soviets
can
pat
each others shoulders in a
comradely way.
INTERNAL SPLIT AND OUTSIDE EFFECTS
The
spectrum
of the war of ideas is
incomplete
without a
quick
look at
intra-bloc
quarrels.
The
days
of
unity
have been over for some time. This
complicates
the Soviet
approach
to the
West and further dims the
prospects
for
making
a substantial
impact.
Both
Moscow and
Peking
have
adopted
a bel-
ligerent
tone vis-A-vis each other as an
essential
part
of the
propaganda
effort.
The
major
thrust of their mutual accu-
sations is deviation from the Marxist-
Leninist line. A
corollary
to this is
the accusation of
co6perating
with im-
perialism.
Communist China attacks
the Soviet Union for
military aggression
against
the
mainland,
for
attempting
to
suppress
national liberation movements
in
developing countries,
and for
damag-
ing
the cause of communism
by
em-
bracing
such theses as
peaceful
co-
9. In an interview with The Times
of India,
the chief editor of Radio Peace and
Progress,
Lev
Talanov,
stated: "We
definitely
have a
point
of view. It is the
point
of view of our
public,
contained in declarations of Soviet
public organizations" (January 16,
1968).
137
existence,
different roads to
socialism,
and the
non-inevitability
of war. This
did not
prevent
China from
unleashing
a violent attack on the Soviet Union
after the Czechoslovak invasion. Dia-
lectical differences were
forgotten.
The
fact that the Soviet Union had done
exactly
what China had advocated with
a
people trying
to
develop
their own
road to socialism was overlooked. An
obvious conflict arose: the fear of a
Soviet move into the
Balkans,
which
would threaten
Albania,
overshadowed
ideological principles.
Vietnam
provides
another field for the
Sino-Soviet feud.
Peking keeps
ac-
cusing
the Soviet Union of
encouraging
the United States
to continue
aggres-
sion and of
supporting
various
peace
initiatives.
Vietnam, according
to the
Chinese, provides proof
of the
applica-
bility
of Maos thesis of a
&dquo;peoples
war.&dquo;
Moscow,
in
turn,
accuses China
of
preventing
the
passage through
its
territory
of war material for the Viet
Cong
and of
preventing
the formation
of a united Communist front.
In the Middle East a similar line of
difference between the two countries
appears. Peking
throws its
support
behind the Palestinian liberation move-
ments in accordance with the same
&dquo;peoples
war&dquo;
principle.
The Soviet
Union concentrates on
support
of tradi-
tional
governments
and their detach-
ment from the West.
There
is, finally,
the internal Soviet
problem
of how to treat her East Euro-
pean
satellites.
Propaganda outputs
di-
rected toward Eastern
Europe
were
rather mild. Local media were
doing
the
job, anyway.
But the minute
Czechoslovakia started to
balk,
fast
changes
in the
output
occurred. Radio
broadcasting
from the Soviet Union to
Czechoslovakia, previously kept
at the
level of 17 hours a
week, jumped
to
a saturation level of 168 hours a week
during
the
height
of the
crisis, dropping
to 84 hours
per
week later in
September,
1968. Not satisfied with these
efforts,
the Soviets
put
into
operation
a
special
twenty-four-hour
station which called
itself Radio Vlatura. It was
kept
on
the air with the use of East German
transmitters until
February,
1969. This
operation
was assisted
by
Radio Berlin
International,
which initiated 120 hours
a week of
programs
in Czech and
Slovak. Not to be
outdone, Hungary
and China started for the first time to
beam
programs
to Czechoslovakia.
Did all this
help? Probably
not
much. But in accordance with the
prin-
ciple
of mobilization of all available re-
sources,
the Soviet Union included mass
communication media in its arsenal.
Czechoslovakia was thus bombarded
with words as well as bullets. She fi-
nally succumbed,
but doubts still
linger
in the outside world as to the extent
that Czechoslovak communist reformers
changed
their views.
They
were
simply
silenced with a
deafening barrage.
THE FUTURE: A DIMINISHED IMPACT
And so the
propaganda
war continues.
It is
fairly
safe to
predict
that it will
go
on
during
the decade of the seventies
at the same
pace, using
the same slo-
gans,
the same
approaches,
and
aiming
at the same
principal targets.
The
frag-
mentation of the Communist bloc will
continue to call for a more diversified
approach,
but once the red
signal
of
danger
flashes
again
on the
big
board
in
Moscow,
as it did in
1968,
all masks
will be torn off and
power
will reassert
itself. Within the
present system
of
mutually acknowledged spheres
of in-
fluence and the war of the
airwaves,
books and other media
appear
to be
marginal.
The lines are
drawn,
the ad-
versaries are firm. No one is
going
to
give,
within his own area. Because of
the
openness
of its
society, however,
the
West has much more
difficulty keeping
;
or
giving, being
firm or flexible. Chile
138
is a
prime example
of this
difficulty.
The Western world has witnessed its
first
major political
defection
through
the use of an
accepted
tool-the ballot
box. Chile is a Marxist
country today
because of its democratic
structure,
not
because of Soviet
propaganda.
This is
a
major victory
for free societies. Yet
the Communists claim their
victory
here, too,
of course. Both sides are to
a
degree
correct in their assessments.
CONCLUSION
The crisis in the communist move-
ment has
deep
roots in the
philosophical
doubts of
today,
which
undermine,
among
other
things,
the effectiveness of
propaganda.
One of the functions of
modern
technology
is to
permit people
to live
better,
but another function is
to
permit
them to
question
more.
Western affluence has caused
deep
scars
on the surface of
personal
and national
identities.
Todays philosophical
crisis
is a function of an
attempted
drive on
the
part
of the advanced nations to
unite and on the
part
of
developing
countries to establish firm national
postures.
It is also a function of the
eternal conflict of
generations catapulted
into
greater prominence
than ever before
because of new communication media
and new tools at the
disposal
of most
of mankind. It is a function of a
struggle
for
political
freedom
among
the
have-not nations which is often
punctu-
ated
by despair
and frustration
leading
to
dictatorships
and
military coups.
The conclusion is
simple.
In the
third
postwar decade,
the war of ideas
appears
to have less influence and fewer
adherents. The international
propa-
ganda
machine built
during
and since
the war is in
desperate
need of over-
hauling.
Men concerned with the
daily
task of survival are
turning
deaf ears to
outside voices
preaching
the
global
con-
flict of ideas. This is one of the reasons
why
economic and technical assistance
programs
are
high
on the
agenda
of both
the Soviet Union and the United States.
Direct
help
and a
directly positive pres-
ence earn more
respect
and
produce
higher political
dividends than words
over radio waves.
The
waning significance
of the world-
wide
propaganda campaign
can also be
attributed to the clarification of the
big
powers political goals
and their
spheres
of influence. In Eastern
Europe-the
prime target
of Western
propaganda
ef-
forts-people
have ceased to wait for
a liberation
message. They
tune in
Western radio for news and commen-
tary.
In the
developing countries,
the
prospects
for economic assistance
weigh
heavily
on relations with the Socialist
bloc. China and the Soviet
Union,
locked in a fundamental
struggle, prob-
ably deeply
distrust each others exter-
nal
appeals.
There
is,
of
course,
a natural advan-
tage
that the West
enjoys
over the
Communist countries. The Western
messages
are often the
only nongovern-
mental and
non-party
voices heard.
Thus, they acquire
the allure of forbidden
fruit,
for which a human
being
reaches
with instinctive
eagerness.
The advan-
tages
of the Communist countries stem
from the nature of our
open society,
in
which
grievances, problems, crises,
and frustrations are
constantly aired,
viewed,
and discussed. It is much
easier for the Soviet Union to
depict
the United States as a nation riddled
with
problems
and contradictions than
it is for the United States to
pay
back
the
compliment.
But the Communist
bloc suffers and will continue to suffer
from the
inflexibility
of the methods
and content of its
propaganda.
The fact that French students in 1968
questioned
the
simple
formula of two
plus
two
equaling
four was due to their
own
grave
doubts and
deep
intellectual
and emotional traumas. It also testified
139
to the
vitality
of French
youth.
Given
the
opportunity,
the
young people
of
France
opted
for more
democracy
and
less centralized rule. The Soviet
Union,
centralized, closely
controlled
politically,
systematically dogmatic, jails
those who
doubt the two
plus
two formula. This
is her
major
weakness. This
is,
or could
be,
one of the
major targets
of the
Western
message
directed toward the
Soviet Union.
In order to be more
effective,
Soviet
propaganda
efforts would
require
dif-
ferent directions and a broader
scope.
These,
in
turn,
can
only
be made
pos-
sible
through
a
change
in their
system.
The fact that there are
very
few
signs
on
the
political
horizon that the
system
is
about to
change,
or to abandon its
rigidity,
is
yet
another indication that
Soviet
propaganda
efforts are destined
to continue on a downward curve.