Mediatizing a Revolution: Bolshevik Propaganda in Post-War Europe (1918-1924)

Part of the research deals with Bolshevik propaganda in Europe after the First World War. The spread of the Bolshevik “ghost” after the end of the conflict was due mainly to two unprecedented conditions: the existence of a “promised land” where revolution had been achieved, and the commitment of the new Bolshevik ruling class to promoting their revolutionary doctrine abroad. Moscow thus became not only the irradiating centre of the new movement, but also the “gymnasium” and laboratory where the international movement was shaped and where new forms of transmission of the revolutionary message were planned and experimented. In this way the means and goals of propaganda soon became a feature of revolution that fascinated some observers and terrified others. Bolshevik propaganda proved to be innovative and flexible enough to adapt its message to different recipients, to both the winners and losers of the war. The research will focus on how the revolutionary message was “mediatized” by Bolshevik propaganda. Issues include the selection of which contents to portray: the “new Russia” as the workers’ paradise, the global revolution as the only way to satisfy the needs of European peoples, and the adaptation of the message according to different audience contexts in general. Also important were the selection of media formats, ranging from avant-garde art to cinema, through legal and underground press initiatives.

Part of the project will focus on the German and Italian contexts and assess how the message was received and adopted on one hand by its natural recipients, the working classes and potential revolutionaries, and on the other the respective ruling classes, who shared the fear of a potential convergence between national/internal reasons for dissatisfaction and emulation of the Bolshevik example.