Joseph Stalin

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Describe the significance of Stalin's uses of propaganda in manipulating the people of the Soviet Union.

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Propaganda during the Stalinist era of the Soviet Union was widespread and significant. However, unlike propaganda in some other totalitarian states, propaganda in the Soviet Union was seen as an exercise in education of the proletarian masses rather than mass popular persuasion. It primarily took two forms: intellectual and ideological elevation of Stalin and the sidelining of critics.

The intellectual and ideological elevation of Joseph Stalin was a significant exercise in the Soviet propaganda enterprise. The use of Stalin's name and likeness in media reporting became so widespread that he assumed a kind of omnipresence. This demonstrated social and cultural linkages with working people, reinforcing the socialist ideal.

The sidelining of critics, what might be called negative propaganda, was aimed at suppressing criticism of the regime and formed the second significant exercise in the Soviet propaganda enterprise. Through tropes aimed at disfavored classes such as intellectuals and religious authorities, preventative sidelining could be achieved.

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Stalin's use of propaganda was significant on two levels.  The first was that it raised him to a level of an almost divine figure, guaranteeing that the public knew of no other leader than him.  On the other hand, it worked to suppress any voice of dissent or any other potential for leadership.  In this use of propaganda on both levels, it becomes evident that Stalin was skilled at using propaganda to consolidate his own control and power over the people of the Soviet Union.  In using propaganda to ensure that his position was raised to a near divine level, Stalin had cities renamed after him, streets renamed after him, statues of his own likeness erected nearly everywhere, and was written into national anthems and other songs of patriotism. The notion of "socialist art" became re-conceived to become state sanctioned art that lauded Stalin to a level whereby the public only knew of him and his public image. At the same time, Stalin's use of the purges and executions, along with the branding of "enemy of the state" were used to ensure that the public could not hear or conceive of any other potential alternative to Stalin's leadership.  It is here where Stalin's use of propaganda was employed to concentrate his leadership over the people of the Soviet Union.

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