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This is people under communism. A series of documentaries interviews and talks based upon documented evidence and expert knowledge about the power and intentions of the Soviet Union. The series is presented transcribed by the National Association of educational broadcasters in consultation with scholars from the Russian Research Center of the Harvard University the Russian Institute Columbia University and the Hoover Institute and library. Stanford University. The program you're about to hear in people under Communism is an analysis of the Soviet attack on the Voice of America. You know I was this is by Dr. Alex Inglis author of public opinion in Soviet Russia and lecturer in sociology at Harvard. Dr. Inglis is also research director of the Harvard Project on the Soviet social system. Members of the project have interviewed hundreds of former Soviet citizens who have escaped to the west
concerning their experiences in the Soviet Union. Now Dr. inclose and the Soviet attack on the Voice of America. Shortly after the end of the Second World War the United States and the Soviet Union became locked in a large scale ideological struggle in which the weapons have been propaganda the field of battle the channels of international communication and the prize the loyalties and allegiances of men and women throughout the world. One of the major resources of our loss in all in this struggle has been the voice of America recognizing that fact. The Soviet regime has mocked the Voice of America for constant attack in particular Soviet propaganda has sought to create an image of the Voice of America in the minds of its potential audience an image designed to discredit the Voice of America
as a source of information and thereby to produce a general buffer against the impact of its message. An examination of this one instance of the way in which Soviet sources have attacked the Voice of America should enable us to develop a representative picture of the basic methods of Soviet propaganda warfare. The opening blow was delivered by no less a publicist than Aaron Borg in the form of a long article under the title a false voice which appeared in the newspaper culture and life. The publication of the department of propaganda and agitation of the Central Committee of the Communist Party of the Soviet Union. Thus the article took on the character of an official pronouncement with the full sanction of the party's authority behind it. Aaron Brooks article was not concerned with a refutation of the concrete message
of the VOA but rather it was a general tone setting article designed to present the official line to party members journalists and others concerned with the mobilization of public opinion in the Soviet Union. A similar briefing was later performed for party officials and propagandists in the satellite states and in the other major communist parties in the form of an article by a man named P. to doff titled The voice of the American gerbils which appeared in the communist information bureau publication for a lasting peace. One of the central functions of these and similar policy articles has been to develop the main themes for the general communist characterization of the Voice of America. Those themes have then been picked up and diffused by other publicists in the course of their efforts to refute the specific message sent out by the
VOA from these tone setting articles and this subsequent diffusion has emerged a relatively standardized and official Soviet stereotype of the Voice of America as an instrument of communication which the Soviet media have sought to inculpate as the standard image of the voice in the minds of its potential audience in the Soviet Union. The satellite states and other parts of the world. The central theme in the Soviet characterization of the Voice of America defines it as the paid instrument and servant of Wall Street. Thus this characterization draws on one of the basic symbols of Soviet Marxist propaganda and perhaps one of the most widespread and potent. The fact that the Voice of America is actually an instrumentality of the American government directed by the Department of State is passed over by Soviet propaganda
almost as if it were not worthy of comment. Soviet communications directly suggest that every informed person knows that behind the United States government stands the power of what they call monopoly capital. And that the American government is simply a tool of that power. The Voice of America. Soviet sources charge is the voice of Wall Street. The voice of the dollar. And almost invariably Soviet cartoons dealing with the VOA placed at the top of the microphone not the call letters of the Voice of America but instead the dollar sign. Thus in an article in the Soviet Journal of the Communist information bureau it was stated as follows. Around the clock on numerous wavelengths the VOA desecrates the air with lies with the America of Wall Street of the monopolistic cartels of
Rockefeller and DuPont of the warmongers. Soviet sources do not stop at merely declaring that Wall Street controls the Voice of America. They go on to suggest the reasons for this alleged control in the first place. They say. This control exists because it is in the nature of Wall Street that it must control the international airwaves as it controls all other means of communication to insure its alleged worldwide monopoly. Thus Wall Street in Soviet terms is described as a radio octopus whose tentacles reach out to all corners of the world. Following up this octopus theme one Soviet propaganda specialist spoke of Wall Street as sending its long fingers out not only into the end trails but also into the very skies of America. Having
identified the voice of America with Wall Street Soviet propagandists go on to suggest that just like other instruments in the hands of what they call a worldwide monopoly capital the Voice of America's contents are just an other commodity for export. The notorious Ilya Ehrenberg for example. Links The Voice of America with oil telling the Soviet people. It is too bad that the Voice of America does not talk about the motives of the crusade against communism. Under the cloak of the Defense of Democracy there should be a little less about sacred principles and a few more words about oil. There is yet a deeper lying motive alleged and a more potent symbol of hope by Soviet propaganda in their attempts to explain what they call the monopolist control of the airwaves. The Voice of America say the Soviet
propagandists is but one last futile effort to drown out the sound of the macho of communism which spells the doom of capitalism. It is suggests the Soviet propaganda but a weak attempt to deflect attention away from the harsh realities of life on the capitalism and to cover up the alleged progress which is being made in the lands of socialism and of the people's democracy. Thus in a journal for Russian and Balkan communists and ought to go with the characteristic title the inventions of the radio liars stated as follows. Such is the repulsive picture of contemporary American reality. The slanderers of the New York radio station attempt to deflect the attention of the American toilers away from their poverty stricken situation with fabrications about the conditions of work in the countries of Eastern Europe. The complete failure of such attempts
cannot be doubted. Thus. The Soviet propagandist insinuates that the Voice of America is but a balloon tossed into the air to distract attention away from the capitalist bubble which is about to burst again. It is most interesting how this theme of the bursting bubble is seized on by air you're in book for example. To link both the alleged Vaal Garraty of American life and the uncertainty of capitalist economics in the symbol of bubble gum. He quotes the Voice of America as having described how in America a little boy shoes and shoes gum then blows a small balloon with this gum and continues to blow until the balloon explodes. Aron Boag then responds with a question addressed to America. If you invented a special bubble gum why instead of peacefully blowing bubbles in the neighborhood drugstore
do you spread them throughout the world. Aaron book answers his own question saying that the key to the so-called capitalists control of the Voice of America. Lies in the fact. That for the monopolists as he calls them the situation is so dire that they are jumping out of their skins in order to hide the truth from the wide masses of the working people. The official Soviet image of the Voice of America. As the voice of Wall Street shares its central role with another symbol of comparable potency. The symbol of Hitler and gerbils. Fear of the bursting bubble of capitalist depression is linked to fear of the resurgence of the Nazi and fascist threat. In effect they say gerbils is dead but he continues to direct the propaganda apparatus of the State Department from his grave. The dollar sign they
indicate has merely replaced the swastika on the microphone. Here for example is the way the Communist Party newspaper culture and life phrased it gurgling and gerbils committed suicide. Rosenberg and Ribbentrop. Why hang there for these gentlemen are deprived of the possibility of claiming their authors rights from the Voice of America. This double characterization of the Voice of America. As the voice of Wall Street and the voice of gerbils by Soviet sources. Once established. Has then been followed by a description of other salient features of the Soviet characterization of the Voice of America. Following in logical order of. Being the voice of Wall Street and speaking the words of gerbils. The Voice of America is claimed clearly to be not the true or the real voice of America. The radio Voice of America. Soviet propagandists insist only funders and slanders mounting an attack against
peace whereas the other what they call the true voice of America. They claim is heard only when Paul Robeson sings Russian songs or when what they call the simple people come to Madison Square Garden to greet the delegates of Russia. But this real voice sadly notes the Soviet propagandist is not to be heard on The Voice of America. It is they claim a suppressed voice barred from the air a voice which the VOA seeks to drown out so as to confuse its listeners as to the true feelings of America. Having asserted. That the people who really represent America cannot be heard on the VOA. The Soviet propagandist goes on to tell his audience who it is that actually does come to the microphones of the Voice of America. They are naturally described as being the opposite of the type of person cited as representing the true
feelings of America. They are defined as lackeys and paid hirelings of the capitalists as men without scruples are onea fascists and traitors rejected by the population of their homeland and by all right thinking people. For example in a broadcast under the title The US radio is the weapon of us reaction the Home Service of Radio Moscow stated. That in its struggle against the countries of the people's democracy the US radio uses the traitors of the peoples of central and southeastern Europe. Rejected by the peoples of their own countries. These reactionaries have been allowed to use the microphone of the US radio stations. This theme was most strikingly presented in an article illustrated with cartoons in the most popular of Soviet magazines. This article purported to depict a staff meeting of the Voice of America. Present at the meeting are
three men. Zob or die if they form a cosmic officer who is described as scraggy with bulging eyes and a scar on his right cheek. The second from the cough is reported to be a former leader of the Russian Mensheviks and is described as bold with an eternally wet hanging lip. And the third man Kozel Rogoff Skee who is described as a former capitalist and owner of a states who was supposed to have a triple chin and a purplish blue nose. The names chosen for these men are of course not accidental. But I was specifically selected to demean the personnel of the Voice of America. For example zob or die of the name assigned the first man is really a Russian term used to denote a man who was a heavy drinker and who was an easy going good for nothing for him to cuff. The name of the second man really in Russian literally means a one pound man hence a
lightweight. A squirt and so on. These characters in the skit drink a vile green liquid dope to quiet their nerves. They haggle amongst themselves about the past and they prepare for their broadcast by making up fake eyewitness accounts and by themselves writing diaries which they presumably uncovered in slave labor camps. Grumbling about his pay one reminisces that gerbils paid me more. They are clearly depicted as being the dregs of the earth outcasts from all humanity. Indeed the Soviet author makes one of these characters say you know we are all so to say the dust of the world on the backside of the planet. There are American supervisors who listen in on the conference with the aid of a hidden microphone are also depicted as recognizing that these people are the scum of the earth.
As one of the supervisors is made to say but he continues considering the terrible nature of the job we have given them to do. Where will you find others. Such is the picture which Soviet sources seek to create of the personnel on the Voice of America. The tone and orientation of the VOA broadcasts are treated as deriving directly from the nature of the group which controls it and the individuals who make up its staff. Being by Soviet definition the voice of the dollar. It is held to preserve the stamp of its origin in everything that it does. No matter what it discusses says in the air and blog. One can feel the soul of the businessman. And its inevitable accompany a mint of decadent bourgeois culture which is described by him as polluting the air with all sort of trash starting with boogie woogie. The VOA is charged with treating ideas as it treats
goods. Measuring them by the same standard and selling them by the same commercial techniques. Thus in an article under the title following in the footsteps of the fascist radio liars. A Soviet propagandist said. What is American propaganda. It is known to all in its general terms a sharply mixed concoction giving syrup he had virtuous meant to the American way of life accompanied by deafening slander and gangsta threats directed against those who don't agree to accept the religion of the dollar. The moral level of the VOA is the Picked it is being even lower than its intellectual and cultural level. According to Soviet sources. It deals only in lies slander hypocrisy and cynicism. They say. It claims to be interested in friendship but it foments hate. It talks about democracy equality and national independence. But instead it
tramples on the sovereignty of half of the European continent and every day and every hour violates elementary rights and liberties. This is an additional element of the Soviet characterization of the voice. But all the lying and overshadowing the charges of lying and slandering is the Soviet depiction of the Voice of America. As the voice of war. Particularly as the Cold War mounted in intensity and the Korean fighting began. The most frequently and vigorously depicted aspect of the activities of the Voice of America was its alleged beating of the drums of war. Thus the Journal of the Soviet trade unions in an article with the characteristic title. The voice of the falsifiers declared. Actually all English and American radio broadcasts on nothing but very wild hostile propaganda. They are a call to revolt. Virtually to
war against the Soviet Union. The general characterization of the Voice of America by Soviet propagandists is rounded off after this theme about war by a prediction that its repulsive features doom it to fer you. It is indeed striking with what frequency and intensity. These predictions of futility of uselessness and of defeat made by Soviet sources in their references to the Voice of America. One Soviet commentator phrase this theme by stating the public in the countries to which the VOA broadcasts do not care to listen to this lying voice and certainly do not believe it. As Mr actress and would like them to. How could it be otherwise. Who is going to listen to or believe even a word of the notoriously false broadcasts of these would be rulers of the world. So much for
the Voice of America as the instrument of war as depicted in Soviet sources. The function of these prophecies affair is of course not difficult to discern. As is so frequently the case with Soviet propaganda. Nothing is left to the imagination of the audience. Rather than leave their efforts to characterize the VOA to work their own way to desired ends. Soviet publicists seek by direct suggestion to secure the desired outcome. The Voice of America is so clearly an abomination. They suggest that no right minded person will listen. And if he does listen he will not believe but rather will meet its message with scorn and ridicule. There is of course another possible but by no means conflicting interpretation of these predictions of fair use for the VOA. And one which merits some attention. The frequency and intensity with which
Soviet publicists anticipate the frustration of the Voice of America's design certainly suggest that the individuals assigned to combat its effect may be rather lacking in faith that their challenge to it can indeed blunt its impact. Their comments in this light take on more of the character of a projection of their own anticipated defeat leading them to dreams of wish fulfillment. The intent of the Soviet message which I have described is fairly obvious. It is of course not seriously designed to discourage people from listening to the Voice of America. And Soviet publicist's must surely recognize that to some extent it may even arouse curiosity and interest and thereby actually increase listening. The purpose of the Soviet characterization of the Voice of America is rather to so discredit the VOA in the minds of
potential listeners as to undermine the impact of anything concrete which the voice has to say. As such the Soviet characterization is based on a well-established principle of mass communications. One of the most important factors determining the effect of mass communication materials is the basic attitude of the audience toward the communications source and that audiences general predisposition to believe or to reject messages emanating from the particular source. Viewed in this light. The Soviet characterization of the VOA which Soviet publicists seek to develop can hardly be casually dismissed regardless of how grotesque and unreal it may seem to most Americans. The potentiality for success of the Soviet campaign against the Voice of America rests on the fact that it relies on firmly entrenched deeply rooted and widely
operative symbols. The image of Wall Street and of capitalist imperialism and the fear of crisis depression an atom bomb warfare do not have to be and calculated in the minds of the audiences toward which the Soviets direct their message. These symbols exist already as fears as objects of hatred and as sources of anxiety in the minds of enormous numbers of people throughout the world. It must be recognized furthermore that these symbols have great potency even in the case of many individuals who are anti-communist and in general favorably disposed toward America and American policy. By basing its attack on such symbol systems or mental images. Soviet propagandists have adopted what is perhaps the most efficient certainly potentially the most powerful method for countering and opposing propaganda medium by
contaminating it as a source of information. By seizing on these symbols as the main basis for its characterization of the Voice of America. Soviet propaganda may well be able to capture to harness and to direct against the VOA much of the anxiety and hostility evoked by these frightening social forces and these trying social times. We should not forget the fact that the struggle between the Voice of America and Soviet or communist controlled communications media. Concerns not merely the Soviet and satellite populations but other people throughout the world as well. It is particularly with these audiences that the stereotype of the Voice of America which Soviet sources seek to disseminate may be most effective since those audiences have not had the experience of long exposure to the harsh realities of communist society. At
least until very recently the Voice of America broadcasts were more in the nature of an information program than an effective counter message to the type spread abroad by Soviet sources. And it is by now very obvious that information programs are a very poor instrument for effecting basic changes in human attitudes. The success of such programs is largely determined by the extent to which the information offered can be related to the psychological needs the values aspirations and symbol systems of the given audience. There is therefore a major challenge to the Voice of America inherent in the Soviet effort to develop the kind of stereotyped image I have described. This challenge can be met only if the Voice of America is prepared to recognize that under the conditions of propaganda competition which now exist effective
communication can be achieved only on the basis of frankly accepting the existence of major symbol systems as the basic substratum underlying attitudes amongst audiences throughout the world. In other words people carry pictures around in their heads about the society and the world in which they live and communication to them must take account of these pictures or images. This is not to suggest of course that we emulate Soviet media in the kind of attack they have launched against the Voice of America. It does argue however that we give our message a better chance of being effectively communicated by carefully studying the symbol systems of our various audiences and adjusting our communications to take account of those systems. This of course can be done only in so far as we simultaneously do not neglect or do an injustice to the basic
symbol systems of America the symbols of freedom of a fuller and richer material life of equality of treatment of spiritual independence. This has been an analysis of the attack on the Voice of America. By Dr Alex Inglis. Research director of the Harvard Project on the Soviet social system and author of public opinion in Soviet Russia. Dr. Nicholas talk was another transcribed program in the series. People under communism a series as a whole was prepared in consultation with scholars from the Russian Institute of Columbia University Hoover Institute and library at Stanford University in the Russian Research Center Harvard University. Your program producer was Ralph telling me this is part of Wheatley. These programs are prepared and distributed by the National Association of educational broadcasters. And are made possible under a grant from the fund for adult
People under communism
Soviet attack on the Voice of America
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National Association of Educational Broadcasters
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University of Maryland (College Park, Maryland)
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This program presents a talk by Professor Alex Inkeles of Harvard University: "The Soviet Attack on the Voice of America".
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A series of documentaries, interviews and talks based upon documented evidence and expert knowledge about the power and intentions of the Soviet Union.
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Politics and Government
Voice of America (Organization)
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Advisor: Hoover Institute and Library on War, Revolution, and Peace
Advisor: Columbia University. Russian Institute
Advisor: Harvard University. Russian Research Center
Funder: Fund for Adult Education (U.S.)
Host: Wheatley, Parker, 1906-1999
Producer: Tangley, Ralph
Producing Organization: National Association of Educational Broadcasters
Speaker: Inkeles, Alex, 1920-
AAPB Contributor Holdings
University of Maryland
Identifier: 52-38-12 (National Association of Educational Broadcasters)
Format: 1/4 inch audio tape
Duration: 00:29:27
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Chicago: “People under communism; Soviet attack on the Voice of America,” 1953-01-01, University of Maryland, American Archive of Public Broadcasting (GBH and the Library of Congress), Boston, MA and Washington, DC, accessed December 5, 2021,
MLA: “People under communism; Soviet attack on the Voice of America.” 1953-01-01. University of Maryland, American Archive of Public Broadcasting (GBH and the Library of Congress), Boston, MA and Washington, DC. Web. December 5, 2021. <>.
APA: People under communism; Soviet attack on the Voice of America. Boston, MA: University of Maryland, American Archive of Public Broadcasting (GBH and the Library of Congress), Boston, MA and Washington, DC. Retrieved from