Compare and contrast the use and effect of propaganda by Julius Caesar and Joseph Stalin.

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teachsuccess eNotes educator| Certified Educator

Hello! Both Stalin and Caesar were effective propagandists.

Use of propaganda to promote trust in the image of the hero conqueror

Caesar's Gallic War regales his followers with his exploits as an effective commander and soldier. He portrays himself as an unmatched conqueror whose military prowess is legendary.

The outcome of the siege was - according to Caesar - decided on one single day; during that day, one single fight really mattered; and that clash fight was decided by one man, Julius Caesar, who appeared on the scene when things were going wrong. In other words, it was Caesar who personally won the fight, the battle, and the war. This is splendid propaganda.

Remember Veni, Vidi, Vici? The three Roman alliterative words mean "I came, I saw, I conquered." Caesar established his dominance and his invincibility in just those three Roman words. It was incredible propaganda, but it worked.

Stalin portrayed himself as a fellow "brother" intent upon protecting his fellow countrymen against capitalistic propaganda and terror. Here is a poster encouraging the populace not to let the enemy divide them from Stalin.  Here is another poster describing the importance of farmers fighting on the side of the Red Army. There is the implication that Stalin will lead them against the mammon of capitalism here, in another poster describing military victory against the White Army.

Use of propaganda to promote fear and respect

Caesar used his visage on Roman coins to portray his almost god-like invincibility and power. Stalin made war on the Orthodox Church; the Church was portrayed as a bulwark of superstition and bigotry, antithetical to any sort of scientific progress or national glory. He encouraged the young to view the church with distrust and suspicion; after all, how could an institution be trusted which preached anything apart from atheistic sophistication, cosmopolitanism or scientific progress? Both Caesar and Stalin carefully crafted images of power; this is no accident, and is itself a sly piece of propaganda. Anyone who is for Caesar or Stalin is portrayed as loyal, trustworthy and good. Dissenters are not to be trusted; indeed, both Caesar and Stalin crushed any opposition to their rule mercilessly.

Use of propaganda to promote trust

Stalin portrayed himself as a father who cared for his children. All fathers want their children to be healthy (here, a poster depicting the need to cultivate vegetables), intelligent (here, a poster depicting the plan to turn the Soviet republic of Azerbaijan into a republic with abundant literacy), and to eventually find gainful employment (here, a poster depicting sending millions of qualified workers into new factories).  In a patriarchal society, Stalin portrayed himself as a wise and fair judge, a father who cared equally for his sons as well as his daughters. Here is a poster depicting the role of female farmers in the full collectivization of the farms. Both Stalin and Caesar hid the true policies of their governments from the populace; the propaganda was so effective that most people did not know that Caesar profited from the sale of prisoners of war. Indeed, this was not mentioned in his Gallic Wars. Stalin himself murdered millions of women through starvation and forced labor in his factories and fields, while expounding on the rights of women to prosper and to thrive.

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