Boris Belopol’skii, We move further, forward towards Communism. I. V. Stalin, 1950
A 1950 poster by painter and graphic artist Boris Nakhmanovich Belopol’skii depicts Lenin on a banner hovering over Stalin’s right shoulder, almost in the manner of a protective spirit.
Stalin’s figure dominates the poster, his white marshal’s jacket luminous against the rich red of the banner.
Stalin is depicted behind a podium in oratorical pose, and the text of the poster is taken from his report to the Eighteenth Party Congress on 10 March 1939 on the work of the Central Committee; that is, before the war interrupted the progression of socialism towards communism: ‘We move further, forward towards Communism. I. V. Stalin’.
The Eighteenth Party Congress took place five years after the Seventeenth Party Congress and Stalin begins his speech by noting how much the world has changed in this time period.
Stalin outlines the years of economic depression and political conflict in the capitalist countries during the 1930s. He presents a barrage of economic data to provide evidence for his arguments, lists the causes of the beginning of the new imperialist war and details the Soviet commitment to world peace.
Stalin then turns to the internal affairs of the USSR, again presenting copious amounts of detailed data to highlight how the Soviet Union is outstripping the capitalist nations in all areas of industry and agriculture.
Considerable time is spent outlining , again with data, the rise in the cultural and material standards of the Soviet people. and the rise of the intelligentsia class.
In a further section of the speech, Stalin discusses the consolidation of the Soviet state and justifies the recent purges of the Party as strengthening the Soviet system.
He discusses the value and use of propaganda extensively:
There is still another sphere of Party work, a very important and very responsible sphere, in which the work of strengthening the Party and its leading bodies has been carried on during the period under review.
Stalin concludes his lengthy speech by confirming the supremacy of the working class in the Soviet state:
The chief conclusion to be drawn is that the working class of our country, having abolished the exploitation of man by man and firmly established the Socialist system, has proved to the world the truth of its cause.
It is interesting to consider the possible reasons for referencing a 1939 speech in a 1950 poster. By 1950, the USSR was firmly embroiled in the Cold War and the Stalinist propaganda machine took pains to present Stalin as a man of peace and the USSR as heading the international peace movement.
Re-visiting the Eighteenth Party Congress speech reminds the viewer that Stalin actively spoke out against the war, right from the beginning, and that he saw it as caused by flaws in the capitalist system.
The poster also reminds the Soviet viewer that the progress begun before the war must continue now that there is peace.
Stalin thus stands in this poster as the figure who is continuing and expanding upon Lenin’s work, and as the man who will ultimately bring the dream of communism to fruition.
Dr Anita Pisch
Anita’s new, fully illustrated book, The personality cult of Stalin in Soviet posters, 1929 -1953, published by ANU Press, is available for free download here, and can also be purchased in hard copy from ANU Press.
SPotW71 Deni 1935