Tuesday, February 10, 2004

LRC pick
Stopped clock: a Soviet propaganda poster has come true
In 1961, I returned from the Soviet Union with a collection of propaganda posters. I used the posters to illustrate to students how government in a closed society can substitute propaganda for fact.

Now I imagine all he'd have to do is bring in a television and turn on Fox News!

The most dramatic poster in my collection depicts a fascist who has climbed the upraised arm of the Statue of Liberty. A fiery torch in the fascist's hand overlays the stone torch in Liberty's hand, sending forth the flames of war. Bombs are falling on dark-skinned, white-robed Arab women and children.

This was Soviet propaganda's portrait of the attempt in 1956 by Britain, France and Israel to reclaim from Egypt the Suez Canal, an effort that would have succeeded but for President Eisenhower's intervention. The Soviet Union was not about to credit the United States for stopping the invasion.

Looking at the colorful poster, one is struck that a half century later events have turned propaganda into truth. American bombs have been falling on Arabs, killing thousands.

And fascists - neocons - have hijacked the US government.

More truth on World War I:

In The Pity of War, Niall Ferguson concludes his history of the First World War: "It was nothing less than the greatest error in modern history." Is Bush's invasion of Iraq the second greatest error in modern history? Has Bush set into motion the unification of hundreds of millions of Muslims under religious leaders?

Michael Polanyi wrote that World War I destroyed Europe. He did not mean merely the destruction of buildings and an entire generation. He meant the war destroyed European culture. After the senseless slaughter, the values rang hollow. Commitments lost their meaning. From the ashes rose Lenin, Stalin and Hitler. With them came alien doctrines that almost extinguished European civilization in the 20th century.

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