There have been many influential figures throughout history who have manipulated public opinion for their own ends.
Propaganda ensues when Information is twisted and psychological techniques are applied to sources of interest and information. This manipulation ensures the unquestioning support of the masses in the agenda of the few.
We detail the 10 Most Famous Propagandists in history.
1. Karl Marx
Karl Marx was a German Philosopher, Socialist and Economist who lived in the 1800’s. His theories about society, politics and economics became known as ‘Marxism. His works had a massive effect on the science and politics of the 20th Century with his famous literary work ‘Das Kapital’ laid the foundations for the Communist political system. Socialist states such as the Soviet Union and the People’s Republic of China adopted Marxists concepts in the 1900’s and his theories shaped world history in dramatic ways. In 1848 Marx wrote ‘The Communist Manifesto’ with Fredrich Engels, this work is known as one of the most influential pieces of Political propaganda ever written.
2. Edward Bernays
Edward Bernays was referred to as ‘the father of public relations’ in his obituary in 1995. During his life Edward was a pioneer of Propaganda and public relations, he was highly influential with many political figures and businesses seeking his opinion and advice because of his understanding of the human psyche. He was the nephew of the famous psychoanalyst, Sigmund Freud. He studied Freud’s teachings and integrated these with the findings of several other notable psychologists to create his own theories and techniques which he popularized during his life.
3. Joseph Goebbels
During the Second World War Joseph Goebbels was one of Hitler’s closest associates and followers. He became the party leader for the Nazi Party in Berlin in 1924, defeating other political parties and gaining many working class supporters during this time. By 1933 he had been appointed Propaganda Minister for the party, beginning a campaign of censorship and totalitarianism against the media and other forms of information and entertainment in Germany at that time. He shot himself on May the 1st 1945 after discovering that the Nazi’s had been defeated. In a cruel twist he also arranged the murder of his 6 children on the same evening; they were poisoned with morphine and cyanide at the hands of an SS Dentist.
4. Vladimir Lenin
Lenin was the appointed leader of the Russian Soviet Federative Socialist Republic (Russian SFSR) in 1917. He also served as Premier of the Soviet Union from 1922 to 1924. He was a communist and a revolutionary who developed his own political theories. He became a Marxist during his time spent at the University of Karzan where he studied Law. Marxism inspired him to create ‘Leninism’ and this theory along with ‘Marxian economic theory’ was fused together to create ‘Marxism-Leninism’. He was responsible for a number of Propagandist campaigns during his time in power and his reputation is disputed with some championing him as a supporter of the working class and others holding him accountable for a number of human rights abuses.
5. Mao Zedong
Chairman Mao was the founding father of the Peoples Republic of China. He was a Chinese communist, politician and revolutionary. He also governed China as Chairman of the Central Committee of the Communist Party of China until his death in 1976. The propaganda and indoctrination systems of his party mirrored techniques used by the Soviets and the Nazis. Mao is a controversial figure and some critics state that he was a dictator whose administration oversaw human rights abuses which culminated in the deaths of 40 to 70 million people. Others cite him as the saviour of China due to the economic improvement and success that befell the nation during and prior to his time in power.
6. Joseph Stalin
Joseph Vissarionovich Stalin was a revolutionary and Premier of the Soviet Union from 1941 until his death in 1953. He helped to bring about the Russian Revolution in 1917. Stalin was influenced by the writings of Vladimir Lenin at a young age and this inspired him to become a Marxist and to join the Bolsheviks. He later became one of the chief operatives for this faction, spreading propaganda against the state and organizing crime attacks to fund his political group. Lenin considered Stalin to be a loyal ally and Stalin quickly rose to power. He instructed further propaganda and was accredited with godlike qualities in Russian literature, music and art of the time.
7. Hamid Reza Ahmad Abadi
Hamid Reza Ahmad Abadi is an Iranian activist who has recently earned himself the nickname ‘the Big Mouth Basiji.’ He claims to have never missed a state pro-regime demonstration in the Iranian capital and is well known for his animated behaviour during these demonstrations. Some suspect that he is paid by certain political bodies in Iran to spread his rhetoric. He is defensive against these claims but he does not deny his allegiance. He has built himself a substantial online presence where he promotes his views via a number of YouTube videos and other social media sources.
8. Fredrich Engels
Fredrich Engels worked alongside Karl Marx in creating Marxism, a political and economic theory that has had dramatic effects on the lives of millions of people living in Communist countries. Engels was a social scientist, philosopher and political theorist who met Karl Marx in 1842 in Cologne when Engels was on his way to England. They would later meet in Paris two years later beginning their professional collaboration and lifelong friendship. They produced ‘The Communist Manifesto’ in 1848 a work that is commonly described as one of the most influential pieces of Political propaganda ever written.
Stanley Holloway, OBE was an English actor, Comedian and Monologist who was famed for his work on the stage and on screen, his monologues and songs were also well known. He made a collection of Propaganda films for the British Film Institute and PathÃ© News following the outbreak of the Second World War, these films aimed to lift morale in war torn Britain and were his way of contributing to the war effort as he was too old for active service being 49 years old at at the onset of the war.
10. Walter Duranty
Walter Duranty was a British-American Journalist who was the Moscow Bureau Chief of the New York Times from 1922 to 1936. He was a controversial figure and he was heavily criticised for his denial of the widespread famine that occurred in Russia and the Ukraine. He was called a liar by many notable political commentators and journalists and his reports in the Times even contradicted the papers own editorial page. His writings were reviewed by Mark Von Hagen, a professor of Russian history at Columbia University and they were found to be unbalanced and uncritical, he also said that they gave voice to Stalinist Propaganda too often.