In class, we’ve talked a lot about red propaganda. Red propaganda, when aimed at the whites, portrays them as greedy capitalists who seek to exploit both the working class and the peasants. Since we’ve talked so much about how the reds portrayed their enemies, I thought it would be interesting to look at some white propaganda as well. To examine the differences, i’ll take one image that we’ve seen in class as an example of red propaganda, and add an image of white propaganda that I found online.
White propaganda poster on the left : http://chumpfish3.blogspot.com/2007/04/russian-civil-war-white-army-propaganda.html
Red propaganda poster on the right: http://www.iisg.nl/exhibitions/chairman/sov05.php
When I look at these images, the white propaganda stands out to me much more than the red propaganda. However, the white propaganda lacks any convincing or realistic message. While it portrays Trotsky as the ultimate source of evil, it provides no link to communism. The red propaganda, however, is more realistic, portraying a capitalist as an ugly, self-centered predator who is out to get the average person. If I am correct in concluding that the white propaganda is simply unbelievable, this lack of effectiveness could be amplified by the difficulty of spreading this already ineffective propaganda. While the reds held cities and more densely populated areas, the whites were unorganized and their support was spread out over large areas. Thus, the reds would likely find it much easier to spread their message than the whites.
Some of my suspicions were confirmed by Christopher Lazarski, in his article explaining why white propaganda was ineffective (http://www.jstor.org/stable/4211088). Lazarski cites a lack of understanding the necessity of propaganda, combined with a lack of central ideology as key factors in the lack of influence that white propaganda held. In key areas, which Lazarski identifies as southern Russia, red propaganda was able to agitate the population’s discontent with the country’s political situation, while white propaganda failed to have any central, effective meaning and therefore fell short of what Lazarski calls nearly flawless red propaganda. Strong red propaganda, which was weakly challenged by white propaganda, became a likely essential tool in winning the information war and thus the support of the Russian people.