Lesson Plan - Get It!
Do you know what countries today are officially communist? There are only five left in the world (2016)! At one time, though, not so long ago, it seemed like the red advance of communism could swallow up large parts of the world.
What does the propaganda art of that time period tell us about people's beliefs, ideals, and fears?
Let's take a look at 20th-century communist propaganda and see what it can tell us about communist ideas and how they influenced history.
Communism — the idea that people should share their wealth and economic gains equally — goes way, way back in history.
It wasn't until the mid-1800s, however, that it became crystallized as a revolutionary idea. Karl Marx gave the idea a great boost with his works, The Communist Manifesto, and later, Das Kapital.
It was the Bolshevik Revolution in Russia in the year 1917, led by Vladimir Lenin, however, that really got the communist ball rolling.
Let's take a brief look at the events and ideas that shaped the communist movements of the 20th century.
Watch this video by OSUEcampus, The Russian Revolution of 1917 (below). As you watch, listen for the answers to the following questions:
- What were conditions like for common Russians at the time?
- What political system were they living under before the Revolution?
- Who were the important figures in the events leading up to the Revolution?
- What were the social, political, and economic problems that led to the Revolution?
Now, read the article, Of Russian origin: Marxism-Leninism, Russiapedia. As you read, write down the five or six most important ideas held by the Marxist-Leninists who led the Bolshevik Revolution.
Share your notes with a parent or teacher. Reflect on these questions and discuss:
- Why do revolutions occur?
- What role do ideas play in revolutions?
- Why did revolution occur in Russia when it did?
Books are not the only place to find ideas. For the people of Russia of the early 20th Century, as at many points in history, books were scarce, and literacy was low. Political and other ideas can be transmitted in many other ways, including art.
Carry on to the Got It? section to analyze some samples of this art.