The “Real” Big Deal: Russia’s Impending Cold War with America

Stalin Gathering in Red Square
Stalin Gathering in Red Square

Vera Dunham’s self-titled “big deal” conforms well to the Soviet ideology of loyalty to country and the communist objective of happy, equal citizens. Stalin made very few agreements that were helpful to the general Soviet population, but the “big deal” was one that fulfilled multiple needs. Citizens enjoyed seeing Ally country economic successes, thus demanded more democratic tendencies within the government. Stalin, being a semi-dictator, resented these demands given the many rights of Soviet citizens. To quell potential unrest, he struck a deal with the middle-class to increase their social privilege, and accommodate their demands for middle class values (Fitzpatrick 8). Many authors and playwrights took this new democratic ideology of the citizens and created works that portrayed the ally countries as propaganda machines. A phenomenal example of “American anti-Russian propaganda” is seen in Konstantin Simonov’s play The Russian Question.

“…first they’ll conquer Europe, then America, then Australia. Then the Antarctic… Of all the bunk!”(von Geldern 429). This anti-Russian phrase from The Russian Question sums up Simonov’s intent in writing his play depicting American propaganda. The storyline surrounds a large American newspaper and its sending of a correspondent to the Soviet Union for a news article. Ironically the correspondent returns to the states with a positive image of the Soviet Union and the citizens there. The main intent of the journey was to “dig up dirt” on the Russians and their poor treatment of people. The newspaper owner intended to write a negative article about the country, and even after listening to the correspondent’s positive opinion about the Soviets, wants a negative piece written to stir up anti-communism sentiment. This play did a wonderful job portraying the Americans as lying, scheming people, who’s main intent was to bring down the Russian people. The entire play turned into a movie can be seen here:

Simonov completed his objective much like Stalin did with the “big deal”. The play and movie were very highly received by the Soviet people because they did not want to fit the same profile as the corrupt Americans, but rather stay in a communist mindset. Vera Dunham’s naming of Stalin’s deal with the middle-class citizens is perfect because for the government it was a huge deal to quell unrest among the masses. It also stoked the flame for anti-American sentiment within the country, and may have laid the base for the following Soviet tactic: The Cold War.

-Alex

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Fitzpatrick, Sheila. The Cultural Front: Power and Culture in Revolutionary Russia. Ithaca, NY: Cornell UP, 1992. Print.

Geldern, James Von, and Richard Stites. Mass Culture in Soviet Russia: Tales, Poems, Songs, Movies, Plays, and Folklore, 1917-1953. Bloomington: Indiana UP, 1995. 422-30. Print.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4ePawW0W-do

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Russian_Question

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3 thoughts on “The “Real” Big Deal: Russia’s Impending Cold War with America

  1. The distrust and fear found between the American and Soviet people was cultivated almost immediately after the end of World War II when Churchill gave his Iron Curtain speech. Although you hear plenty of anti-Soviet propaganda from American records, you never really hear anything from the Soviet side. This was a really cool article showing the distrust of the American people and how similar Soviet propaganda was to American propaganda. Thanks for sharing!

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  2. Really great post! I like the connection you made between Simonov and Stalin and their attempts to quell and appease the masses. This appeasement of the masses is not something typically seen from Stalin–a man who was never opposed to using force to get his way. The anti-American propaganda is also important–as you mentioned–to future relations with the US and the outlook the Russian people had on the US. Creating a common enemy is a great way to bring together a group of people!

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