Terror, Propaganda and the Birth of the “New Man”: Experiences from Cuba, North Korea, and the Soviet Union
Communist totalitarian regimes that sprang up after the Bolshevik Revolution in 1917 did not aim simply to change social and economic relations between individuals and the state. They aimed to transform human nature in order to create a “New Man.” The New Man’s behavior and beliefs would adhere to the tenets of Marxism-Leninism. He would be free of selfishness and base instincts such as nationalism and class consciousness. He would be austere, disciplined, hardworking, and willing to sacrifice himself for the common good. But man is not a blank slate. The incompatibility of communist ideas and human nature necessitated a massive expansion of propaganda, to brainwash those who could be influenced, and terror, to eliminate those deemed irredeemable. Our panel looks at the means that the communist state employed and the continued application of those “novel” techniques today.