“We make meadows from deserts. They make deserts from towns and villages.” For two contrasting worlds, there are two contrasting pictures: one of livelihood and one of annihilation. Two Russians stand proudly while surveying what is presumably an irrigation project to make farmable land. Meanwhile, American planes fly by and terraform the earth into a volcanic wasteland.
Our heroes, a dashing young Russian gentleman and a big-furry-hat-bearing companion, are the human faces behind the cunning Soviet operation to make a meadow from a desert. Machines of industry toil in the background. The well-dressed man is conceivably the state planner (the communist businessman) holding the map, and he has a vision. The mustached hat-bearer is the smiling Soviet worker at his side, ready and happy to do that which will inevitably lead to the creation of fruitful land.
The portrayal of the villains is better described as their non-portrayal. Some airplanes high up in the clouds are the only glimpse we receive of the enemy, leaving us with a healthy dose of dehumanization in this image. The remainder of the picture is only a field of fire, smoke, and explosions. The enemies are war-makers who thrive on destruction; it is a broader condemnation of all things American via “lumping” of the enemy’s traits into one evil phantom. Other propaganda will presumably have led the audience to infer the traits of the enemy: capitalism, greed, and the like. All the enemy does is make war; capitalism and greed lead to war; we hate and fear war; therefore, we hate and fear the enemy. However, put into context of the post-WWII era, America had not yet engaged again in a war as the image depicts. Soviet leaders regardless profited from the public perception of there being the constant threat of a ferocious enemy.
The anticipated result of this propaganda is to leave the impression that Russia and the U.S.A. are as different as night and day. It is the juxtaposition of creation and ruin. Like many other Soviet messages, to anyone isolated from all things American (or outside for that matter), this piece is reinforcement of the fear and loathing of an impersonal American specter. However, to many Russians with a taste of reality, this was the kind of over-the-top, unrealistic, state-fuelled propaganda that created an anti-communist backlash both inside and outside of the U.S.S.R. The modern age has yielded an evolution of propaganda that is advanced not only in its physical manifestation, but in its psychological strategy. In a society with tightly regulated information- which likely describes 1940s and 50s Soviet Russia- those generations born into the controlled loop of information might buy the message put across by overt messages like this one. Beyond that, this poster and its entire generation of peers are only testament to propaganda that simply doesn’t work. They are as outmoded as the telegraph.