Bezbozhniki

GSV-JTV009595 - © - JT Vintage
Anti-Religion Propaganda Poster, Bezbozhnik u Stanka Magazine, Illustration by Dmitry Moor, Russia, 1925
Vintage, J. (2017, December 05). Anti-Religion Propaganda Poster, Bezbozhnik u Stanka              Magazine, Illustration by Dmitry Moor. Retrieved from                                                                https://www.agefotostock.com/age/en/Stock-Images/Rights-Managed/GSV-jtv009595

The cultural artifact I chose is from the book “Mass Culture in Soviet Russia” it is: “Granddaddy Sebastian went Godless.” This reflects the early thirties in Soviet Russia by showing an example of the people pushing back against something that they saw was backwards.

“Granddaddy Sebastian went Godless” shows backwardness by bringing to light how not only the church but also the priests of the church is corrupt. In the text the Granddaddy Sebastian’s wife dies and he goes to the priest to have a ceremony setup for her burial, the priest says it will cost 10 rubles and four loaves of bread, Sebastian doesn’t have this but offers what he has, and the priest refuses. This shows backwardness by showing that the priest takes of advantage of people already in hard times to make himself wealthier(Geldern Stites, 216).

People turning to atheism was common in this period because the people were being shown and being more attentive to what the priests and the church were doing by the propaganda the Bolsheviks were putting out. They termed it Bezbozhniki or Godless Ones. The Bolsheviks were doing this because it was another step in the direction of Marxism.

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14 thoughts on “Bezbozhniki

    1. So the way I understand the picture is that religion is leading the people to their doom. This relates to the mass culture piece because is it from the newspaper Bezbozhniki, which was an anti-religion newspaper formed by the Bolsheviks to spread anti-religion propaganda.

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  1. Hi Connor! I’m curious about the truth behind these accusations. Was the church truly corrupt? And how did the elimination of religion play into the implementation of socialism and Marxism?

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    1. So according to the mass culture piece I chose the background before the piece said that as part of Marx’s plan for socialism religion had to be abolished to start the process of socializing the country, so the Bolsheviks did this by showing the church in a negative light

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  2. This is a really abstract piece of art. Is it a painting or a mural? I also find this really interesting because many aspects of the painting resemble techniques found in the modernist movement (which was going on during this same period). I find this Soviet-Modernist fusion really cool.

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  3. You’ve got some great questions here, Connor! And the Bolsheviks’ campaign against the Orthodox church (in particular, and religion in general) is such an important topic. Given how central the church was to peasant life over many centuries, how well do you think campaigns like the one associated with “Grandaddy Sebastian went Godless” were received? (http://soviethistory.msu.edu/1929-2/churches-closed/ ). There are also more anti-religious propaganda posters in the 1924 module on 17 Moments.

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    1. I think that given how central the church was to peasant life the anti-religion propaganda wasn’t received well until they started seeing negative things happen in the church, like the the example of the priest being corrupt in “Granddaddy Sebastian went Godless”

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  4. I was always under the impression that the Russian Orthodox Church played an extremely significant role within Russian society. To see this push towards atheism came as a surprise to me, but I was aware that the state religion in the Soviet Union was atheism. These two factors juxtaposed certainly gave way to tension in their society I could imagine.

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  5. Great post! I always find the anti-religion propaganda in the Soviet Union so fascinating. If you looked solely at the propaganda from this period, you would assume most of the population was atheist. But, Russian orthodoxy is once again a huge part of Russian culture today. If it made a resurgence so quickly after the fall of the USSR, it must have still been fairly popular among the masses, although it would have been hidden. I think this would be a really interesting topic to research further!

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    1. Yes I think so too, i think one reason it rose after the fall of the USSR is because the peasants held it as such an essential part of their life prior to the rise of the Bolsheviks.

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  6. Cool post about the repression of the Orthodox Church. I thought it was intriguing that Marxists didn’t utilize one of the strongest institutions in the country to support their regime, instead resorting to propaganda to redirect public interest toward other state institutions. This feels like an area that weakened the legitimacy of the new state with many traditional Russians.

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    1. It very well might have, but the ultimate goal of Marx was to create a nation where there were no elites, and I guess he saw the church as a place where elites were common.

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