Since the birth of the USSR, Soviet propaganda posters played a huge part in controlling the country and relaying the party’s messages to the people in a non-discreet way. At YPT, we’re big fans of the aesthetic of propaganda posters wherever they’re from. However, in the current political climate, we thought it would be good to draw attention to the Cold War’s racial politics.
While modern Russian is unfortunately tarred with stereotypes of rampant homophobia and racism, many may not realize that during the Cold War, the Soviets were very keen on promoting racial equality. They were very aware of the racial injustices taking place in the US and were keen to take advantage of it. Not to mention the benefits of being renowned for racial equality given to the Russians as they battled hearts and minds during the various proxy wars between the US and the Soviet Union in Africa.
The determination for racial equality under the Soviets was due to the policy of internationalism. Through this, the Soviet Union aimed to eradicate racism right from the beginning — aggressively instituting domestic and international policies of equality, humanism, and anti-colonialism.
The reality on the ground did not always reflect those ideals: ethnic conflict, xenophobia, and antisemitism were a common feature during the Soviet Union. Yet these conflicts were many times suppressed or kept in check by the state. When the USSR collapsed, these ethnic conflicts across the former Soviet Union erupted into gruesome civil wars such as Chechnya, Transnistria, and Abkhazia.
Today, we’re going to look at 5 Soviet posters from the Cold War that wouldn’t look out of place at a Black Lives Matter protest.