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Digital Archive International History Declassified

November 26, 1966

GOSTELERADIO REVIEW OF WESTERN RADIO PROPAGANDA, 'ANTI-COMMUNISM IS THE MAIN WEAPON OF IMPERIALIST RADIO PROPAGANDA IN THE RUSSIAN LANGUAGE'

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    This lengthy review of foreign radio propaganda by Y. Novikov, an official of the USSR Gosteleradio [State Television and Radio] Guidance Department, pays particular attention to what it sees as Western broadcasters’ attempts to discredit Marxism-Leninism and Communist economics, as well as the notion of convergence between capitalism and Communism.
    "Gosteleradio Review of Western Radio Propaganda, 'Anti-Communism is the main weapon of imperialist radio propaganda in the Russian language'," November 26, 1966, History and Public Policy Program Digital Archive, State Archives of the Russian Federation (GARF) F.R-6903. Op. 3. D 351. L. 2-14. Obtained by Vladimir Tolz. Translation by Gary Goldberg. https://digitalarchive.wilsoncenter.org/document/121514
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26 November 1966

Anti-Communism is the main weapon of imperialist radio propaganda in the Russian language

Western radio propaganda in the Russian language is part of a premeditated imperialist bourgeois global psychological war against the USSR and socialist countries. The main ideological weapon of imperialism in such a war has been and remains anti-Communism, which in recent years has ever more clearly taken on an overtone of anti-Sovietism.

In broad terms anti-Soviet radio propaganda is waged in three main directions: first, public opinion inside the capitalist countries themselves is conditioned; second, in recent years, a persistent and ever-widening expansion of anti-Soviet propaganda to the young nations of Asia, Africa, and Latin America who are travelling the path of non-capitalist development has been noted; third, the ideological offensive against socialist countries is intensifying in the hope of sowing enmity and hatred among them, causing doubt that the tasks which the fraternal peoples have set themselves can be attained, and causing a split in the international Communist movement.

These three directions have much in common, but they have their own features. The general trend is slander of the USSR, its economic system, political system, and culture. The principles of soviet domestic and foreign policy are distorted, and the status of classes and ethnic groups and the conditions of family and personality development in the USSR are depicted in a false light. Moreover, not only the methods but, to a degree, the contents of the propaganda are modified, depending on to whom it is addressed.

Thus, the falsification of the ideas of Communism, the policy of splitting the world Communist movement, these are the main directions of the struggle of the ideologists of capitalism in the psychological war against the USSR.

In analyzing the content of the Russian-language material broadcast by Western radio stations one cannot fail to notice that the efforts of imperialist propaganda have been stepped up recently in the direction of fighting Communism in the realm of ideology.

Such materials can be divided into two categories depending on to whom they are addressed. The first category includes opuses in the spirit of the usual standards of anti-Communism and anti-Sovietism. They contain all sorts of inventions about the life of the Soviet people and crude slander of the social and governmental systems of the USSR and are aimed at the poorly-informed listener. The second category includes material whose authors aspire to the role of “scientific” debunkers of Communism. It is aimed at the Soviet intelligentsia, specialists in various areas of the economy, and young students.

1. It ought to be noted that the most unbridled and crudest anti-Communist propaganda is conducted by the West German radio Deutsche Welle which, in a program of 6 November of this year, hypocritically stated: “We do not plan to impose our social system and our political ideas. You won’t help the cause with bad language and polemics.” Deutsche Welle attacked Soviet domestic and foreign policy especially maliciously. In materials describing the domestic political situation of the USSR, the radio reiterated “the profound weakness of Soviet domestic policy,” tying, in particular, this thesis of theirs to the adoption of recent laws on measures to strengthen the protection of public order (deutsche Welle, 16 october 1966). In addition, this thesis was fortified by inventions about the “growing dissatisfaction” of the Soviet people in general, and of the intelligentsia especially, with the policy of the Party and government. The Voice of America joined in with similar statements. For example, on 30 September 1966, Washington radio expounded on some “conflict” in soviet society between “new forces and the faceless, but ever more powerful, bureaucracy which has entrenched itself in the CPSU administration and leadership.” West German propagandists describe Soviet foreign policy as expansionist, even thinking up a special term for this: “Soviet imperialism.” Typical in this regard is the broadcast of Deutsche Welle of 18 September 1966 which wrongly interpreted the meaning of Soviet press statements that nuclear war, if it is unleashed by imperialism, will hasten the process of enlightenment of the popular masses of the capitalist countries. The conclusion was drawn that the Soviet leadership “is playing with the idea of nuclear war and the advantages which it gives them,” and also “is preparing the Soviet people for an armed conflict with the West.” Finally, Deutsche Welle does not stop at an outright perversion of historical facts concerning the making of the great October Socialist Revolution and the course and outcome of the Great Patriotic War.

In a number of cases, such radio stations as BBC, the Voice of America, and Radio Italia do not lag behind Deutsche Welle in crude anti-Soviet and anti-Communist propaganda. Most often they subject the soviet system to open attack and distort the teachings of Marxism-Leninism about a socialist state and the equality of nations, accusing Communists of an “organic” inability to correctly and democratically use power for the good of the people. For example, on 21 September 1966, BBC declared, “the teachings of Marxism-Leninism have proved that it is a successful means of seizing and holding power. However it also affirms its ability to use scientific laws in practice, like how power ought to be used for the good of mankind. Is this affirmation correct?” and BBC further presented a deliberate lie aimed at listeners inexperienced in political questions: “In fact, when Lenin seized power he had only the most general ideas about how to use it.” BBC commentator de Mauny, in a broadcast of 15 October 1966, openly slandered Soviet society and Soviet man. In his opinion, “a distinctive feature of Soviet society is the unique psychology of the besieged which is inculcated with the aid of terror,” and [he] also [claims] that for almost 30 years the Soviet people “have been led from a position of falsehood.” Another example can be cited. Western radio propaganda is continuing a campaign whose goal is the discrediting of the ethnic policy of the Soviet government, to prove that inequality of nations is possible in a socialist state. This is constantly repeated in broadcasts by radio stations (in particular, the Voice of America of 16 September, Radio Italia of 20 September, Deutsche Welle of 27 September, etc.) in which it is stated that anti-Semitism is supposedly flourishing in the USSR and that “practical steps have been taken to destroy Jewish culture and restrict the Jewish intelligentsia.”

2. It is instructive that in recent years the methods and forms of anti-Communist propaganda have substantially changed, and its overall ideological and theoretical level has increased. This conclusion is confirmed by the Western press itself. For example, an article “speaking with Russians in a new language,” published in the American magazine New Republic [November 6, 1965—note in original document], said in particular, “Considering the gradually developing opportunity to exert influence on Soviet society from outside, the only means of long-term communications with the Russian people by our government—the Voice of America radio and the illustrated magazine Amerika—are undergoing a secret revolution.” The expression “slowly but steadily” has become the slogan of Voice of America broadcasts, in the words of the article’s author. Director-general of the BBC, Hugh Carleton Greene, in an article [in the West German magazine Fernsehen, Nº 3, 1964—note in original document] confirms this idea: “No matter what ideas play a role here, however, the cessation of jamming presents us with great and new opportunities to communicate with the Soviet Union and Eastern Europe. This fact ought to find reflection in the form and style of our programs, but, of course, not in their essential content.”

Actually, criticism of Communist ideas (done, of course, with unrestrained apologetics for the ideological and political principles of capitalism) is now most often clothed in the pseudo-scientific form of assorted theoretical and ideological research, trying to “debunk” Marxism-Leninism. These changes, whatever bourgeois propaganda says, were primarily brought about by the successes of the world socialist system and also by the general disintegration of capitalism, and which they are already in no position to deny and denigrate without substantiation.

The pseudo-scientific theories which the “debunkers” of Marxism-Leninism have adopted are not combined into any orderly and unified ideological system. They are a conglomerate of more or less distinct concepts, and the differences are not of a fundamental nature. In the final account, all of them express the secret desire of the ideologists of capitalism to find an opening to the hearts and minds of the Soviet people and to make “the peaceful coexistence of ideologies” an accomplished fact.

The essence of these anti-scientific concepts boils down to the following assertions:

a) Many tenets of Marxism-Leninism “have become obsolete and have been turned into dogma.” As a consequence they are generally “useless” in describing modern societies. For example, Voice of America commentator (Demeter), expounding in a 26 September 1966 program about the “weakening of dogmatic Marxism” in the countries of Eastern Europe, stated that this is explained by “a common recognition that the forms envisioned by Lenin have become an anachronism in our time.” And Schirk, an official of Deutsche Welle, seconds this: “the picture which Marxism-Leninism draws in describing the structure of society is obviously borrowed from geology. It is reminiscent of the stratification of sedimentary rock around the earth’s core with a strict delineation of individual strata and layers; according to Marxist ideology, the upper layers press heavily on the lower ones. Such a picture of the capitalist social structure is completely obsolete. It is possible that it corresponded to reality in the middle of the last century when the rapid growth of industrialization disrupted the social system that had existed up to that time.” On 30 October 1966, D. Dewendem, another commentator for the same radio, analyzed a book by the bourgeois sociologist E. Richter, Novoye Obshchestvo na Vostoke i Zapade [A New Society in the East and the West]. Using the tenets of this book, he tried to instill in listeners the thought that supposedly all ideologists, classes, and their corresponding institutions have already been eliminated and were suitable only for the initial phase of development of both bourgeois and socialist society. Archbishop Ioann of San Francisco, a permanent correspondent of the Voice of America, has repeated in many conversations that “so-called scientific materialism is a world view that became ossified in the perspectives of some German naturalists of the 1860s.”

At the same time, Western radio propagandists raise the issue of a reexamination and reevaluation of Marxist teachings which are “incorrectly interpreted” in socialist countries.

b) Contemporary socialist society and the capitalist system are undergoing a process of gradual transformation in their domestic socio-political and economic structure, which has been a consequence of “natural forces of development.” Thus, in confirmation of the above thesis, the ideologists of capitalism tirelessly talk of the appearance in capitalist and socialist societies of a “new class,” a so-called elite of scientists and specialists, to whom power would gradually be transferred. In the USSR and socialist countries, this elite “will cast Marxist ideology in doubt or completely reject it” (Voice of America commentator N. Lyaskovsky, 16 May 1966).

The theory about a so-called society of abundance or a state of general prosperity on the capitalist model is being propagandized ever more actively by Western radio stations. for example, the Voice of America stated [on 27 October 1966, report of Columbia University Prof. K. A. Berry on the topic of “the American Economy Today” on the regular program “Forum”- note in original document] that the development of corporations in the us “splintered the old capitalist structure in half. No more can a rich man, directly using his money in the form of capital, build a mill, workshop, chemical, or automobile plant.” In the opinion of the radio station, ownership of American industry in the form of stock “is to a growing degree moving into the hands of the people.” Thus, the author of the report summarizes, “the Marxist capitalist is very quietly disappearing.” For its part, on 5 September 1966, Radio Canada pointed out that Marx supposedly erred in predicting the impoverishment of workers under capitalism and the unavoidable collapse of the system of private enterprise. In the words of the Canadian commentator, “the forces of capitalism, having collided with the forces of the parliamentary system, ended up being threatened with destruction and began to display a feeling of responsibility for the fate of the people.” Deutsche Welle has repeatedly described worker participation in the management of enterprises in the FRG, which “facilitates the elimination of a sharp front line between labor and capital.” West German theorists ceaselessly clog the airwaves with their conclusions about the building of a classless society in the FRG within the framework of a “free Western democracy” where all the people have “equal rights and a chance at success, [and] not just on paper.” According to their estimates, statistical data testify to the appearance in West German society of a middle stratum instead of “Marxist” classes: in 1965, 8% of all families had a monthly income of more than 1500 marks after taxes; 21% of families had from 1000 to 1500 to 1500 [sic] marks; 25% from 750 to 900 marks (Deutsche Welle, 28 September 1966). Thus, class affiliation no longer determines a person’s status in bourgeois society: “neither profession nor origin, but income.” However, it is unclear where the theoreticians from Deutsche Welle put the remaining 46% of West German families.

On the basis of a concept about the transformation of capitalist society into a so-called classless society, bourgeois ideologists are endeavoring to prove that the class struggle and class antagonism are losing ground in the main capitalist countries. For example, the Voice of America, advertising the efforts of the Johnson administration to create a notorious “Great Society” in the us, persuaded listeners that the process has created the challenge of “increasing the well-being chiefly of those who are in greatest need, but not by class struggle, and not simply by redistributing material goods, but by an accumulation of these goods by all social groups in the process of their cooperation on the basis of mutual understanding and mutual respect of their interests.” In a 31 August 1966 clerical broadcasters from Radio Vatican, while acknowledging the existence of class divisions in capitalist society which “should be obvious and inevitable,” at the same time stood up for “deproletarianization of the proletariat” not by “irresponsible class struggle” but “through the amicable combined work of different strata of society bearing a common responsibility in accordance with their professional status and [their] actions to tend to common business.”

The efforts of Western radio propaganda have recently been directed at pushing on Soviet listeners the theory of a so-called “natural erosion of Communism,” which is supposedly occurring in the USSR and socialist countries as a consequence of economic reforms. For example, in his lecture broadcast by the BBC on 3 October 1966, A. Zauberman, a lecturer from the London Institute of Economic and Social Sciences, stated that putting these reforms into practice “would be tied to radical changes in the structure of the Soviet economy and deep social changes.” On 8 October, in speaking about the economy of Yugoslavia, the same radio stated much more clearly, “These changes have become necessary because it is impossible to move further without decentralizing and liberalizing the economy to a level close to a restoration of capitalism.”

Thus, Soviet radio listeners are prompted to the following conclusion: first, capitalism as such never existed, and it is changing into a “society of abundance,” without a clearly expressed class structure, with a so-called “mixed” economy; second, Soviet society and its economy in turn, and also the society and economy of the socialist countries, are undergoing a process of “peaceful transformation” in the direction of capitalism.

c) The thesis of a convergence of capitalism and socialism and a “fusion” of these systems ultimately into a “single industrial super-society” has become all the more popular in the musings of Western radio propaganda on the direction of the progress of mankind.

This thesis is buttressed by the anti-scientific theory of the development of mankind in stages, which is set against the Marxist-Leninist world view. According to its postulates, all modern societies are variations of one and the same industrial society. The point is just what level of development of technology, the degree of use of scientific and technical progress in production, and finally, the level of consumption a given society has achieved. This theory, by the way, is based on the assertions of bourgeois radio propaganda that the US, Britain, the FRG, France, and other capitalist countries have achieved a higher level of development than the Soviet Union, that is, “the stage of mass consumption.”

The above thesis was propagandized most clearly and vividly in one Voice of American program [15 September 1966, the Forum program. A report by American economist Yu. Stern, “the Problems of Modernization”—note in original document] On the one hand, in the words of the radio station, a movement of the capitalist system in the direction of socialism is being observed (“free training for everyone supported by the government, progressive income taxes, social insurance for such needs as health, and finally purposefulness in the matter of the growth of the national economy”). On the other hand, socialist society “is beginning to recognize a number of achievements of the capitalist economy: decentralization, the existence of collective and private property, and earning profits.”

It ought to be said, in addition, that, in the defense of doomed imperialism, the ideologists of the West place special reliance on interpreting the state monopoly system of the economy, established in the largest capitalist countries as a mixed economy which is based on the principles of the “free market” and is complemented by government regulation and “public” property (for example, the supply of natural gas and electricity, the sewer system, etc.). In the process the concept of public property is deliberately identified with government property, which under the conditions of a capitalist dictatorship are not one and the same (Deutsche Welle, 28 September).

How is this convergence of the capitalist and socialist systems to be accomplished in practice? Western radio propagandists reply that it is necessary for both sides to follow some “moral code of constructive coexistence.” But how do these gentlemen understand coexistence? It turns out that both have to reexamine “traditional values,” namely: to permit government interference “in the heretofore free play of forces of Western society,” to weaken the absolute role of the leadership of the Communist parties in the east (Deutsche Welle, 30 October). It is clear that similar recommendations are directed at undermining the very foundation of the Soviet system and the system of the socialist countries.

Thus, all the pseudo-scientific concepts of the debunkers of marxism-leninism have one common goal—on the one hand, to convince listeners of the stability of capitalism and, on the other, in the “inevitability” of restoring capitalist procedures in the socialist camp.

Apologia for “the advantages of the Western political system” along with anti-Communist propaganda play no small role in the programs of Western radio stations, as has already been said. The Voice of America, BBC, and Deutsche Welle take special pains in this. For example, Washington radio [Voice of America, 7 November, the Forum program. A report by H. Luce, the Editor-in-Chief of Time Inc. on the topic “Foodstuffs and civilization.”—note in original document], trying to present several temporary difficulties in Soviet agricultural production as “organically inherent” to a socialist economy in general, stated: “the contrast between the production of foodstuffs in America and the USSR is almost a laboratory example on the basis of which one can assess the relative progress of both political systems and come to the conclusion: Communism is incompatible with the production of foodstuffs and possibly with efficient production in general. This experience shows convincingly that the welfare of the country, from the material point of view, is chiefly determined by its political institutions and the world view on which they are based.” In another of its programs [Voice of America, 6 October, conversation with Prof. D. Kolman on the topic “the US Economy Today”—note in original document], the Voice of America glorifies the private property principles of the American economy and ethics, stressing that the US government supposedly defends the consumer from dishonest advertising and the dominance of monopolies. In an “equal-opportunity society” Washington propaganda suggests that “in the center stands a free person, left to his own devices, reaping the fruits of his labors and responsible for his own mistakes.” He who can sell his labor or his land profitably, or profitably invest his capital, prospers.

As regards the USSR and the socialist countries, then their political system “did not lead to abundance” and in this connection they are faced with a very important choice “between national interests and ideology” (BBC, 18 October).

Thus, the statement that “Communism has not justified itself” is a recurrent theme in a majority of the materials broadcast by Western radio stations with a certain purpose.

The same theme is constantly heard in commentaries devoted to an analysis of relations in the “developing nations-West-east” triangle. The ideological strategists of capitalism most often fear that the developing nations of Asia, Africa, and Latin America will embark on the path to socialism and complete independence. the achievements of the USSR and socialist countries are categorized by Western radio propaganda as “achieved at the price of too many great hardships.” Therefore, “if developing countries are ready to tolerate the social consequences,” the Voice of America stressed on 3 November 1966, then the quickest route to industrialization is the employment of capitalist methods.” Touching on the new Five-Year Plan for the development of the soviet economy, BBC, for example, noted that it envisions the creation of such a complex and developed economy that “it is difficult for one to imagine how the Russian system can continue to be attractive to revolutionary leaders of underdeveloped countries.” Fabrications about “the Soviet export of Communism” to these countries, citing Cuba as an example, are added to such arguments. In such cases the island of freedom is depicted as a “bridgehead” to extend the influence of Communism to Latin America.

Trying to promote the US in the role of champion of the interests of young countries and as an enemy of colonialism, the Voice of America admitted at the same time that the new countries of the tropical regions of the world do not have enough capital, not because they are poor in resources, but because “until recently most of the capital was in the hands of the European powers, which were interested only in exploiting all the riches of these regions with minimal capital investment.” As a result, Washington radio notes, new countries which have received independence “ended up less suited than others to solve urgent economic problems without the resources necessary to do this.”