(Research and Translation by Adrian Chan-Wyles PhD)
After spending hours reading through Russian language source materials, I remain unconvinced that elements within the Soviet Government conspired to deliberately ‘alter’ photographs in a manner that would today constitute the production of ‘fake news’. However, such an allegation fits-in well with the machinations of US-produced (anti-Soviet) Cold War propaganda, and it is an allegation that the British graphic designer David King made a lucrative career trumpeting through his numerous books. David King ‘collected’ Soviet public information posters from the former USSR (which were issued ‘free of charge’ as a public service), and ‘sold’ these most distinctive of Russian ‘working class’ expressions, to the unsuspecting Western working class. King took the Socialist propaganda of one chapter of the international working class and sold it back to another – this understanding should give an indication of the true ‘bourgeois’ and ‘Trotskyite’ credentials of the man. Although it is true that from the earliest days, photographs were clarified and categorised, the idea of a sinister plot remains highly suspect. This article rejects a priori the bourgeois assumption surrounding the subject of Soviet photograph editing, and encourages the reader to look anew at the situation and attempt to scrutinise afresh what usually passes as ‘evidence’. This process requires the operation of a direct working class approach that is not distracted by the baubles of bourgeois assumptions. My considered opinion is that this phenomenon is part US fabrication, part the imagination of David King, and partly the product of the Soviet Government retaining the ‘purity’ of Socialist Realism’. Those who originally assisted the Bolshevik Revolution – and then outrageously ‘betrayed’ it, have no moral right to be historically associated with it, and it is interesting to note that the deliberate fabrication of photographs and film in the West and in Nazi Germany (before its destruction by the Soviet Union) is not given the scrutiny allotted to the case of the Soviet Union.
Modern Russia is a capitalist State with a Socialist past. Whereas many people assume for forward moving of evolutionary forces, whereby things progress in one direction from simple to complex forms, in fact evolution does not work like this, and can produce less complex forms from more complex forms, as environmental conditions demand. Marx understood that evolutionary forces can be progressive as well as regressive, and stated with regards to the eventual idea of a (permanent) World Socialist Revolution, there will be many false starts, set-backs ad defeats. Modern (capitalist) Russia is just one such example, whereby the power of capitalist greed eventually brought-down the egalitarian Soviet System, and inflicted the highly unequal and vicious system of modern capitalism upon the Russian people. Although this has led to severe hardship and suffering throughout Russia, this is understood as being irrelevant to the advocates of capitalism, just as long as a ‘few’ Russians become multi-millionaires. This situation has led to the wide-scale importing into Russia of US-generated Cold War disinformation about the Soviet State, translated into the Russian language, and uncritically accepted by younger Russians as being representative of ‘genuine’ Soviet history. This is an example of pseudo-history at its worst. The point of this exercise for the US, is to ‘colonise’ the minds of modern Russians, and teach them to ‘hate’ the history of the Soviet Union, as if it had nothing to do with them, and was not acting in their best interests. Although there are modern Russian historians who are well-aware of this phenomenon (and take active steps to combat it), nevertheless, this ‘ahistorical’ approach to Soviet history negatively influences the opinions of many (fulfilling its primary propaganda purpose). The rather stupid US assumption appears to be that if English language disinformation about the Soviet Union is translated into the Russian language, no one will notice that these ludicrous stories DO NOT arise from within the genuine narrative of Soviet history as defined by the indigenous Russian intelligentsia.
Whereas once anti-Soviet disinformation only existed outside of Russia, today it also exists firmly within Russia, but it can be easily discerned by accessing information correctly. Soviet history stems from a progressive and non-inverted, proletariat mind-set, whilst the bourgeois mind-set is essentially ‘inverted’ and views reality a priori the ‘wrong way around’. Simply, the bourgeoisie propagate the myth that god created man, whilst the proletariat know that the mind of humanity created god, and so on, and so forth. The proletariat mind-set takes the material world as the basis of reality, whilst the bourgeois mind-set exists in the realm of mythic imagination. US anti-Soviet disinformation, therefore, emanates from the bourgeois (inverted) imagination, and is not reliant upon the correct and accurate recording or interpretation of history as it unfolds. US anti-Soviet disinformation exists in a realm of imagination and myth that is divorced from the conditions of material reality. In this regard, much of the US approach to misrepresenting the Soviet Union, is to mimic the Christian Church (and its theology), and (falsely) present the Soviet System as being ‘evil’, and its leaders as being personifications of the ‘devil’. This is a simplistic and regressive inverted mind-set, but it can be effective amongst general populations that lack any progressive elements in its education. Of course, those populations which lack a general degree of any progressive education, are the easiest to manipulate with this kind of disinformation. Undoubtedly, one of the most important propaganda victories for the US is creating a mythical climate within Russia whereby many Russians know believe the US lies about Soviet history.
Western attempts at manipulating Russian opinion are not new, and can be seen with the development of the bourgeois deviation now known as ‘Trotskyism’. This distortion of Socialism advocates that the workers of the world should ‘unite’ not against the forces of capitalism, but rather in alliance with the forces of capitalism. Workers should not follow Marx or Lenin, but rather the incoherent ramblings of Leon Trotsky – who built a major part of his theory upon the requirement of the working class to ‘co-operate’ with the forces of international fascism, and not to oppose the enemies of Socialism in anyway. This anti-working class mentality Trotsky termed ‘Socialism’, and it was welcomed in the West by those liberals who resented any working class attempts at self-rule, and who naturally opposed the Soviet Union for that purpose. One such example was the British graphic designer (and supporter of Trotsky) David King (1943-2010), who made a career ‘selling’ books in the West of Soviet public information posters that he had collected since the fall of the USSR in 1991. His obsession with Trotsky led to him fabricating the idea that the Soviet System (by which King specifically meant ‘Stalin’), was fundamentally ‘dishonest’ and routinely manipulated Soviet public opinion by altering photographs (thereby changing the meaning and content of specific pictures). This (false) narrative has now penetrated both Western and Russian narratives (a poignant example of the Trotskyite principle of ‘entryism’ or gaining influence through deception), and is generally accepted as being true without question. Whilst misrepresenting the Soviet Union in this manner, King remained steadfastly ‘silent’ about the numerous well-known and well-documented instances of Western governments (and media) fabricating news events and news stories around the world. This is understandable, as King was directly involved in such a deception.
The government of the Soviet Union represented a proletariat approach to interpreting, directing and ordering material reality. This is the application of an ‘honest’ and ‘non-inverted’ mind-set and has nothing to do with the bourgeois moralising and sentimentalising of reality. More to the point, many Soviet pictures that David King claims were ‘altered’ for nefarious reasons, were nothing of the sought, and easily explained. Simply lifting key figures out of group photographs (such as in the picture at the top of this article), is not ‘dishonest’ as King suggests, but is an example of Soviet ingenuity and technology. An important point that David King does not want a Western audience to understand is that although he claims pictures were altered for deceptive purposes, the ‘original’ photographs continued to exist in the public domain (thus rendering all alterations pointless, if the main aim was indeed ‘deception’). Obviously, where alterations occurred, there was good reasons for them, but the fact that David King possessed not only the altered images but also the originals, suggests that his entire ‘Trotskyite’ approach was typically ‘dishonest’ and deliberately misrepresentative of Soviet reality, as King (falsely) implies that the Soviet Authorities presented ‘fake’ images to the Soviet public after eradicating all alternative versions. David King’s own work (which utilises what he considers the dramatic ‘before’ and ‘after’ format) proves its own central assumption thoroughly incorrect. Furthermore, there is a distinct element of ‘dishonesty’ to King’s work which was not exposed at recent exhibition at the Tate Modern (London) entitled ‘Red Star Over Russia’. One example of this attempt by King to manipulate public opinion can be seen, his presentation of two similar (but separate) photographs (of Bolsheviks in 1915) featuring the same location and many of the same people (including Stalin who is in both), being described as indicative of Soviet alteration:
The people involved simply ‘posed’ twice – many holding different positions with others appearing in one photograph, but not in the other, etc. The question is how many pictures are presented as ‘altered’, when in fact they are different pictures, or products of zooming ‘in’ or zooming ‘out’? These types of pictures are not ‘alterations’, but of course David King was highly focused upon protecting the historical presence of Leon Trotsky within the Soviet media, and was willing to practice exactly the same ‘fabrication’ he accused the Soviet ‘Marxist-Leninists’ of perpetuating. Here is an example of ‘zooming’ presented as deliberate ‘alteration’:
Another question to be asked is that of the ‘authenticity’ of many photographs purportedly ‘altered’ by the Soviet State. What would be the point of ‘altering’ pictures when many copies or versions of the images seeking to be repressed from public attention, are already freely circulating within the media? The answer is none at all. Certainly within Russian language sources, this is not a common subject indicative of a deliberate, wide-spread or sustained Soviet policy, and only comes into being with the dubious work of David King. Of course, whilst defending Trotsky and accusing Joseph Stalin of all kinds of (imagined) crimes, King firmly establishes his ‘anti-Soviet’ and ‘pro’ US Cold War credentials. The glaring problem for King is that in so doing, he completely ‘omits’ any mention or recognition of Leon Trotsky’s extensive collaboration with fascist Italy, Nazi Germany, Imperial Japan and the forces of international Jewish Zionism in the 1930’s. King also fails to refer to Trotsky’s 1938 demand to his followers to support the fascist countries in the world, in a collective effort to ‘destroy’ the Soviet Union. King ignores all of Trotsky’s bourgeois and rightwing attitudes, opinions and behaviours, and instead choices to misrepresent history by turning the ‘science’ of Soviet photographic ‘editing’ into something of an obsessive fetish. Leon Trotsky, as a convicted criminal and proven enemy of the Soviet State, no longer deserved the honour of being ‘historically’ associated with the Soviet State he played a small part in building, and which he subsequently set-out to destroy. I have speculated elsewhere that Trotsky’s contradictory, paradoxical and at times ‘bizarre’ behaviour contains all the hallmarks of the on-set of mental illness. This inconsistency is evident from the incoherent ramblings that pass as his ‘collected works’. Lifting perfectly good and historically significant and important images of Lenin and Stalin from photographs ‘tainted’ by the presence of Trotsky (and other proven traitors to the Bolshevik Revolution) is not a sinister act, if indeed it really happened at all. One example of ‘clarifying’ a picture of Lenin is:
The Soviet Union led the world in the development of photography and film technology (which reached its apex during the space race). The ability to perfect the process of recording events in either ‘still’ or ‘moving’ images was elevated to a high science within the Soviet Union. Clarifying old or damaged photographs was a matter of importance with regards to properly recording the historical events that led to the 1917 October Revolution in Russia, and this logical demand generated the development of advanced technology and progressive editing processes. Trotsky was an anti-Bolshevik criminal whose image was quite rightly removed from certain photographs (if the sources can be trusted). Of course, it could be that the entire idea of photographic editing has been a US-Trotskyite collaboration of disinformation from start to finish. Whatever the case, the Soviet Union had a responsibility to the international working class it represented, and expunging fascist traitors from prominence within Socialist Society should be interpreted as an enlightened act – similar to how the Western (bourgeois) societies destroy and side-line the lives of those people they considers the most heinous of criminals (such as the British paedophile Jimmy Saville). Trotsky’s crimes were no less repugnant to the proletariat mind, and the dubious and misleading work of David King must be exposed for the deceptive (Trotskyite) nonsense it represents.
Russian Language References: