Caller: Mike In Kentucky
Today, a remedy for agitprop, as we are joined by Jerry Kirk of The Gathering Offering and frequent RBN guest, legal researcher Peter Niese.
The term originated in Soviet Russia (the future USSR), as a shortened form of отдел агитации и пропаганды (otdel agitatsii i propagandy), i.e., Department for Agitation and Propaganda, which was part of the Central and regional committees of the Communist Party of the Soviet Union. The department was later renamed Ideological Department.
The term propaganda in the Russian language did not bear any negative connotation at the time. It simply meant "dissemination of ideas". In the case of agitprop, the ideas to be disseminated were those of communism, including explanations of the policy of the Communist Party and the Soviet state. In other contexts, propaganda could mean dissemination of any kind of beneficial knowledge, e.g., of new methods in agriculture. Agitation meant urging people to do what Soviet leaders expected them to do; again, at various levels. In other words, propaganda was supposed to act on the mind, while agitation acted on emotions, although both usually went together, thus giving rise to the cliché "propaganda and agitation".
The term agitprop gave rise to agitprop theatre, a highly-politicized leftist theatre originated in 1920s Europe and spread to America; the plays of Bertolt Brecht being a notable example. Russian agitprop theater was noted for its cardboard characters of perfect virtue and complete evil, and its coarse ridicule. Gradually the term agitprop came to describe any kind of highly politicized art.
In the Western world, agitprop has a negative connotation. In the United Kingdom during the 1980s, for example, socialist elements of the political scene were often accused of using agitprop to convey an extreme left-wing message via television programmes or theatre.
After the October Revolution of 1917, an agitprop train toured the country, with artists and actors performing simple plays and broadcasting propaganda. It had a printing press on board the train to allow posters to be reproduced and thrown out of the windows if it passed through villages.
Alexander Fraser Tytler
Alexander Fraser Tytler, Lord Woodhouselee (15 October 1747 - 5 January 1813) was a Scottish lawyer, writer, and professor. Tytler was also a historian, and for some years was Professor of Universal History, and Greek and Roman Antiquities, in the University of Edinburgh. Tytler's other titles included Senator of the College of Justice, and George Commissioner of Justiciary in Scotland.Tytler was a friend of Robert Burns, and prevailed upon him to remove lines from his poem "Tam o' Shanter" which were insulting to the legal and clerical professions. His son was Patrick Fraser Tytler, traveller and historian.
A democracy is always temporary in nature; it simply cannot exist as a permanent form of government. A democracy will continue to exist up until the time that voters discover that they can vote themselves generous gifts from the public treasury. From that moment on, the majority always votes for the candidates who promise the most benefits from the public treasury, with the result that every democracy will finally collapse due to loose fiscal policy, which is always followed by a dictatorship. The average age of the world's greatest civilizations from the beginning of history has been about 200 years. During those 200 years, these nations always progressed through the following sequence:There is no reliable record of Alexander Tytler's having made the statement. In fact, this passage actually comprises two quotations, which didn't begin to appear together until the 1970s. The first portion (italicized above) first appeared on December 9, 1951, as part of what appears to be an op-ed piece in The Daily Oklahoman under the byline Elmer T. Peterson. The original version from Peterson's op-ed is as follows:
- From bondage to spiritual faith;
- From spiritual faith to great courage;
- From courage to liberty;
- From liberty to abundance;
- From abundance to selfishness;
- From selfishness to complacency;
- From complacency to apathy;
- From apathy to dependence;
- From dependence back into bondage.
Two centuries ago, a somewhat obscure Scotsman named Tytler made this profound observation: "A democracy cannot exist as a permanent form of government. It can only exist until the majority discovers it can vote itself largess out of the public treasury. After that, the majority always votes for the candidate promising the most benefits with the result the democracy collapses because of the loose fiscal policy ensuing, always to be followed by a dictatorship, then a monarchy."The list beginning "From bondage to spiritual faith" is commonly known as the "Tytler Cycle" or the "Fatal Sequence". Its first known appearance is in a 1943 speech "Industrial Management in a Republic" by H. W. Prentis, president of the Armstrong Cork Company and former president of the National Association of Manufacturers, and appears to be original to Prentis.