Agitprop

want it

hope

Agitprop [aj-it-prop] (agitation propaganda) refers to highly politicized art. The term originated in Soviet Russia. 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. 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 theater.

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