Friday A/V Club: Stalin's Friends in the Press

Pathé's pathetic propaganda


Earlier this year, British Pathé uploaded approximately 3,500 hours of newsreel footage to YouTube, a great gift to anyone who enjoys exploring history. Amid this wealth of clips is a jaw-dropping 1939 dispatch from a Tatar collective farm in Crimea. In this village, the narrator informed English theatergoers, the work is "pleasant and profitable," "light and speedy." The grown-ups play music, the little children dance, and "All the workers, men and women, are part owners of the farm, which may account for the happy smiles":

The report neglects to mention it—perhaps the filmmakers simply did not have time, what with all the joyful folk-dancing footage they needed to squeeze in—but the collectivization of agriculture in that region was a brutal process that killed millions of people. And evidently the workers' ownership of the farm wasn't very secure, given that five years later Stalin managed to expel the Tatars from Crimea. Still: Just look at those happy smiles!

Bonus links: For more Pathé reports from the Ukraine, go here. For past editions of the Friday A/V Club, go here.

NEXT: Google Glass: Privacy, Journalism, and the Dawn of Wearable Technology

Editor's Note: We invite comments and request that they be civil and on-topic. We do not moderate or assume any responsibility for comments, which are owned by the readers who post them. Comments do not represent the views of or Reason Foundation. We reserve the right to delete any comment for any reason at any time. Report abuses.

  1. Wasn’t I just talking about Duranty yesterday?

  2. “The collectivization of agriculture in that region was a brutal process that killed millions of people.”

    Yeah, they really knew how to get things done back then.

    This is why progressives hate individual rights. They’re always getting in the way of the program.

    This is why Tony would march us all up against a wall if he could. …all in the name of progress.

    I was talking to a guy that’s studying to be an environmental engineer a while back about something Gillespie brought to our attention way back when……..e-amount-o

    …about how even if you jack up taxes (like carbon taxes), the chances of the government actually collecting more than 19% of GDP is pretty slim. People are just going to substitute away from heavily taxed behavior and/or they’ll go all Howard Jarvis on your new taxes and vote the environmentalist bums out of office.

    What came back was a bunch of apologies for authoritarianism. You gotta force people to do what’s in their own best interests, you know! They’re uneducated, and they don’t understand! It’s for the common good! “Natural capital” is preconditional! Blah, blah, blah.

    It’s all about empowering easily manipulated and horribly misguided people like Tony. …to march us up against the wall.

    It was easier to make the case when there were real life examples of this kind of stuff. Now people think we’re being hyperbolic, but there’s nothing new under the sun.

    1. What came back was a bunch of apologies for authoritarianism.

      Oh yeah? Well, well, you libertarians are wealth apologists! You apologize for the rich and the corporations! It’s the rich who hold us down! And you apologize for them! Why do you do it? Why don’t you understand that concentrated wealth is a bad thing? It’s unfair! That’s why we must empower authority to share the wealth! You damned wealth apologists! You should be ashamed!

      1. Yes, of course, concentrated wealth is a bad thing. I know this because Bill Maher (net worth of $23M) told me so.

    2. “This is why progressives hate individual rights. They’re always getting in the way of the programpogrom.”

      Fixed it for you

  3. Sadly, this was far from uncommon in either US or British AV during WWII — where Stalin was among the Allies. Of course, it was also far from uncommon among the intelligentsia before or after WWII either; that particular love affair only died when Stalin himself did. (Ironically, academic left-wing criticism of the USSR only became a “standard” position after the death of the bloodthirsty dictatorship.)

    1. Sadly, this was far from uncommon in either US or British AV during WWII — where Stalin was among the Allies.

      This. There’s a reason why Animal Farm was about a bunch of talking farm animals. Orwell knew that he could never get away with writing a straight-up expos? of what was happening.

    2. I remember hearing in this broadcast……..enin.shtml

      They were talking about how Stalin would sometimes give useful idiots a Russian girlfriend to take home.

  4. Yeah but…capitalism is bad.

    Aaaand…Cuba has health care and 100.1% literacy.


    It’s interesting to note the British (a place that espoused individualism and classical liberalism at its apex) naive and stupid acceptance of communist bull shit coincided with the fall of its empire.

    They haven’t looked back.

    1. Cuban unicorns fart full employment rainbows

  5. …”which may account for the happy smiles”

    Nope. Those happy smiles are a result of the rifles just off camera.

  6. What a hoot! The Tokyo owl cafes where diners can make some feathered friends over a cup of coffee…..iends.html
    Japanese people are weird.

    1. Given the general “don’t give a damn” attitude of most avians, why aren’t more of those customers marked with excrement?

  7. Duranty Prize Awarded
    The 2013 Walter Duranty Prize for mendacious journalism was awarded in front of an upbeat crowd at a dinner Monday night at New York’s 3 West Club.

    This prize ? in honor (or, more accurately, dishonor) of Walter Duranty, the New York Times Moscow correspondent during the 1920s and 1930s ? was first given in 2011 by PJ Media and The New Criterion. For various reasons of sloth and bureaucracy, it has taken the organizations a year and a half to award a second round, but the prize will now be put on an annual basis.

    A second award ? The Rather (after Dan Rather) ? for lifetime achievement in mendacious journalism was initiated this year….

    1. According to Pipes (Russia Under the Bolshevik Regime), Duranty was actually an anti-communist who went to Russia and simply sold himself to the Bolshies.
      They supported him in grand style; he wrote what they wanted and the NYT printed it.

      1. Never attribute to ideological delusion what can be explained by mere hackery.

      2. Is it weird that I’d respect him more if this turns out to be the case?

        1. Hold him in contempt slightly less than if he was just an ignoramus?

        2. Yes. Why would you respect him MORE for just printing government press releases? That is, after all, what US journalism has devolved into.

      3. Just did a search, figuring the Pulitzer committee pulled the prize. Nope.
        They admit he lied but left him with the prize since, as far as I can tell, it was OK to lie about the USSR at the time, and they can’t prove he did it on purpose (sloppy work seems to pass the test):

        1. there was not clear and convincing evidence of deliberate deception

          Way to set a high bar.

          1. “Way to set a high bar.”
            In effect, they admit they’ll give the prize to a fool, since they can’t prove he was a knave.

  8. Look at them smile! See. With the right people in charge, communism works!

  9. Look, people will do whatever it takes to justify that shit.

    Hell, I had a short discussion with a guy yesterday about Caesar’s Legion (from the game Fallout: New Vegas) who justified his support of that faction by saying that what Caesar did was necessary and would eventually bring peace and prosperity to Arizona.

Please to post comments

Comments are closed.