In This Review

The Birth of the Propaganda State: Soviet Methods of Mass Mobilization, 1917-1929
The Birth of the Propaganda State: Soviet Methods of Mass Mobilization, 1917-1929
By Peter Kenez
Cambridge University Press, 1985, 308 pp
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This admirable monograph shows in interesting detail how Lenin and his associates and successors invented, developed and applied the techniques of management and use of information that have since become standard practice in the U.S.S.R. and other totalitarian states. They applied a combination of censorship and control, on the one hand, and agitprop on the other, to the press, the educational system, the film industry, and to the activities of the mass organizations they had formed to mobilize popular support. As the author notes, there is no way to accurately measure their success, no Gallup poll to show what percentage of the populace was influenced or converted. But it is significant that the end to which this effort was directed, the survival and consolidation of the regime, was achieved, and that these methods continue to be effective.