Communist Propaganda In The Balance Of The Truth

"My faith in communism is like my faith in religion: it is a promise of salvation for mankind.   If I have to lay my life down that it may succeed, I would do so without hesitation"; Andre Gide, before his visit to the Soviet Union.

"It is impermissible under any circumstances for morals to sink as low as communism has done.     No one can begin to imagine the tragedy of humanity, of morality, of religion and of freedoms in the land of communism, where man has been debased beyond belief"; Andre Gide, after his return from the Soviet Union.

These two contradictory statements graphically illustrate the enormous gap between the image of Soviet society as projected by communist propaganda and the reality of the situation.  We shall try in this chapter to shed some light on the subject of communist propaganda and invite other writers to address it in greater detail.  It is by no means an exhaustive study of the issue, which is too vast and intricate to be covered in one or two chapters.   

The reason we are drawing attention to this issue is that propaganda is the strongest and most dangerous of the communist weapons.  The communists use propaganda like a mine-sweeper that clears the way for the communist hordes to sow their seeds, unhindered, in a soil that has been ploughed for them.  The systematic use of propaganda as a weapon dates from the early days of communism.  It was Marx himself who initiated this policy and passed it on to his disciples, who have since developed it further.  Its two main characteristics are, one, the use of relentless repetition to instill communist slogans in people's minds, and, two, its unscrupulous use of false or incomplete facts and figures, both about itself and about its enemies.  Communist propaganda is ruthless when it comes to attacking the enemies of communism, and does not hesitate to twist the facts in order to distort their image, sully their reputations and destroy their lives.

The first characteristic -endless repetition- appears clearly in the flood of Soviet and other communist publications, all containing the same ideas and slogans under various headings, which are printed in tens of millons of copies in all languages.  This technique is bound to ensure a high degree of exposure for any ideology.  The works and speeches of Lenin have been published in all the languages of the world, in hundreds of editions and millions of copies, and sold for a token price that does not even cover the cost of paper and ink.  No other author or philosopher before or since has had access to such a wide audience.

This widespread distribution of Lenin's works can in no way be ascribed to their intrinsic worth.  No-one can claim that his works are more valuable than those of Aristotle, Jean Jacques Rousseau, Voltaire, Diderot, Kant, Hegel, Shakespeare, Ricardo or John Maynard Keynes.  Quite the contrary, in comparison with these intellectual giants, Vladimir Ilich Lenin is a dwarf.  He was nothing more than a politician whose stature was blown up out of all proportion by a superpower which has been willing to spend tens of millions of roubles to propagate his works, translating them and distributing them at token prices.  And, had it not smacked of party prapaganda, they would have been distributed free of charge.

Even the works of Karl Marx himself, for all that they have been widely printed by the Soviet Union, have not had such a high profile as those of Lenin.  Does this mean that in Marxist eyes the works of Lenin, who was never more than an interpreter of Marxist dogma, are more important than those of Marx and Engels? Obviously not.  The real explanation for this inordinate promotion of Lenin, in terms of the sheer number of volumes of his works printed, lies in his nationality: it is  Russian chauvinism which has placed this Russian Marxist way above other, non-Russian, Marxist writers.   But what applies to Lenin's works, in terms of countless reprints and extensive dissemination, applies also, on a lesser scale, to the works of Marx, Engels, Stalin, Khrushchev and Brezhnev. 

The extremely high turnover of the Soviet publishing industry is one example of the first characteristic of communist propaganda, namely, persuasion through constant repetition. As to its second characteristic, namely, the unabashed use of any facts and figures, regardless of truth or accuracy, to promote communism and project a rosy picture of life in communist countries, numerous examples can be found in any one of the   Soviet reviews which are distributed all over the   world.

Any issue of the magazine,  "The Soviet Union", is crammed with facts and figures attesting to the wonderful life of the Soviet citizen, whose government provides him with the highest level of nutrition, clothing, health care and social security of any country in the world.  We are told that Soviet children are raised under the best possible living conditions and that Soviet citizens enjoy a life of stability and happiness, free from worry, struggle, injustice and exploitation.

Side by side with the statistics and figures glorifying life in the socialist countries, Soviet magazines publish statistics and figures to prove that the quality of life in non-communist societies, particularly in the developed capitalist countries, is very poor and that the citizens of these societies face severe hardships and endless problems in all spheres of life.  The irony reaches a peak when they compare the comfort and security enjoyed by Soviet citizens to the lack of comfort and security suffered by American citizens.

Communist propaganda will stoop to anything to disparage opponents and glorify communism as an ideology and a way of life, including slander and defamation of character.  In fact, one of its favourite methods is to launch personal attacks against political opponents, rather than limit itself to an objective criticism of the trends they represent.

This characteristic has been noted by many authorities on communism, including the noted British writer, Carew Hunt, who says in the introduction to his book, "The Theory and Practice of Communism", that the flood of communist propaganda is such that a researcher seeking to disprove the false allegations and claims with which it is riddled would not know where to begin.  For, he says, communist propaganda, the strongest weapon of communism, will use all means, honourable or otherwise, and say anything, true or false, that will serve the cause of communism in any sphere.  Because of the sheer volume of statements, claims, allegations and facts that are constantly spewed out by the communist propaganda machine, it would take specialized research centres years to wade through this vast sea of material and prove that most of the facts and data it contains are pure fiction.  Even if such centres were to be set up by individual states, the results of their research would not reach the people to whom this propaganda is addressed.  Most of them are disinclined to read serious scientific studies that will make them think, preferring the simplified  pamphlets that distort reality and defy logic.  How many Marxists in the Arab world or in any Third World country have read even  one of the hundreds of serious books published by the various research centres specialized in Marxist and Soviet studies in such leading universities as Manchester University, the University of Paris or John Hopkins?

Not surprisingly, communist propaganda is directed mainly at the younger generations, particularly students, whose natural rebelliousness and emotional instability make them particularly vulnerable to the apocalyptic vision of the world served up by the communist propaganda machine with a total disregard for truth.

That is not to say, however, that someone with a sound understanding of communist ideology and practice cannot stand up to the avalanche of communist propaganda and prove that it is a tissue of lies.   Any sensible man subjected to the absurd claims of the communists and their denigration of all other systems can only ask: 

-             If what you say is true, if life in non-socialist countries is indeed unbearable and life in the socialist countries so wonderful, why do you surround your peoples with walls?  Why do you prevent them from travelling abroad?  If they are so happy under socialism, why do you not let them visit non-socialist countries to see for themselves the misery in which others live and so count their own blessings? 


-              If what you say is true, why do we hear daily of people defecting from the paradise of socialist countries to the hell of the other side?  Since when have people chosen misery and pain over happiness?  If, as you say, they are encouraged to defect by bourgeois propaganda, how is it that your own propaganda has failed to convince one person to defect from the non-socialist hell in which he is living to the paradise awaiting him under communism? 

Millions of Germans have fled from the socialist East to the capitalist West; not one has fled in the opposite direction.  Perhaps it is because they did not hear the eloquent call of the Iraqi communist poet who could not wait to reach the East: "O, you train of the far North/Hasten our arrival to East Berlin!"  How can they explain this one-way exodus from East to West?  How can they explain the fact that the citizens of capitalist countries, who are free to travel where they wish when they wish, do not seize the opportunity to escape to the paradise of socialist countries but invariably return to the hell from which they came?

What of the deprived and destitute citizens of the socialist countries, who follow foreign tourists around for scraps of food or a cigarette?  We have seen many of them in Egypt, Algeria and Morocco, where their frenzied shopping sprees attest to the privation they suffer at home.  Why is it that every time a sports team or artistic troupe travels to the West to represent a socialist state, more often than not one or more of their members choose to stay behind?  

It is true that there are enormous class disparities in the capitalist countries, yet the lowest classes enjoy a standard of living undreamed of by any citizen in a socialist country, other than privileged party members. 

Honourable writers in all parts of the world, not least in the Arab Islamic world, who are driven by a love of freedom and a belief in lofty human values, have a sacred duty to stand up to and expose communist propaganda.  For, if socialist, then communist, world society ever becomes a reality, these values would be trampled underfoot and a depraved species of humanity, closer to the level of cattle and beasts, would replace humanity as we know it. 

     Every decent person who is determined to fight the scourge of communism must direct his efforts at breaking the arrows of communist propaganda.  This would leave the communists naked, their ugliness revealed for all to see.  And then people would realize that the proper place to study communism is not in the institutes where true knowledge is imparted, but in the institutions for the psychologically warped and the mentally sick.