Courtesy Reuters

What Russians Think of Americans

FOR about two years the Soviet propaganda apparatus has been conducting what it refers to as a "counter-offensive" against capitalist culture and ideology. Again and again the Communist Party has called upon the Soviet press, radio, literature and drama to rebuff attempts allegedly emanating from the capitalist west to poison the minds of the Soviet people and to shake their faith in their Socialist institutions. Soviet writers, such as Konstantin Simonov, have responded with works depicting the western -- particularly the American -- way of life as corrupt, venal and decadent. Scholars have reverted to their prewar criticisms of their American colleagues as lackeys of the bourgeoisie and exponents of "international reactionary ideology."

The attempt to deflate the prestige of western culture and civilization has been accompanied by a more somber propaganda line in which "American imperialism" has been substituted for German Fascism as the chief symbol of evil and danger. The Russian people are told in a hundred ways that they must regard America as a potential enemy, and that the American people are wage slaves of capitalists and dupes of a corrupt culture which by escapist films, jazz and pulp magazines poisons their minds and distracts their attention from the realities of the class struggle, i.e., from their own interest in precipitating a revolution. The recent reincarnation of the Comintern as the "Cominform" signalizes the intention of the Soviet leaders to wage this propaganda war without compunction.

The truthful information about America reaching the Soviet public today is a trickle compared to this roaring ocean of denunciation and vilification. A promising beginning of an effective information program coördinated with American foreign policy -- the "Voice of America" -- aroused keen and favorable interest among Russian listeners, but was curtailed by budget cuts in 1947. It may be said in general that the Soviet public has been conditioned to take radio programs which would seem heavy to many Americans; much of the criticism of the State Department broadcasts to

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