1940s >> 1949 >> no-539-july-1949

The Radio War

If, as the Communists are so fond of telling us, the Russian system is so wonderful and so enthusiastically supported by the Russian workers, why does the Soviet government go to such fantastic lengths to prevent them hearing the slightest piece of news of the outside world that has not already been carefully vetted beforehand? Why all these efforts to keep the Russian workers in a mental vacuum? At the last elections for the Supreme Soviet, 99 per cent. of the electorate were said to have voted for the Government candidates, yet so uncertain are the Russian ruling clique of their supporters that they cannot even run the risk of a few of them hearing any other propaganda than the propaganda they chose to put out themselves. Why this reluctance? Why this anxiety and fear? Fear it must be, for the lengths to which the Russian government is prepared to go are almost incredible.

As is well known a part of the Russians’ own propaganda technique has been to use radio to the utmost, and they have turned the whole business of wireless propaganda into a fine art. Day and night, hundreds of broadcasts in dozens of languages go out over the short waves from Moscow, directed to all parts of the world. In retaliation, the British and American governments have recently taken to playing the Russians at their own game and have been putting out a stream of their own brand of propaganda in the reverse direction of Moscow. Evidently convinced that the Russian workers may not be able to stand up to this flow of words from the other side of the “ Iron Curtain,” the Russian come-back has been to resort to “ jamming.”

The number of Russians able to hear these broadcasts cannot be very large, yet so afraid is the Kremlin of even this small trickle that it has increased jamming to such an extent that the “Voice of America” and the B.B.C. can pierce the interference only in spots (Manchester Guardian, 9/6/49.) To ensure that hardly one small word can get through, the same paper says that the Russians have tripled the number of jamming transmitters to no less than 205. Such a terrific concentration of transmitters has been achieved only at the expense of Moscow’s own domestic radio programmes and foreign broadcasts, but the Russians seem quite prepared to go even to these lengths to blot out the aerial intruders.

Nor is this the end of the story. In an attempt to beat the blockade, British and American technicians tried the dodge of tuning their transmissions close to the remaining Russian domestic stations, but the dodge failed. So anxious is the Soviet government to protect its subjects from contamination that it is quite prepared to jam its own broadcasts!

What the result of this wireless warfare will be, we do not know. What it does provide is yet one more example of the hollowness of the claim that Russia is a contented workers’ paradise. If it were all the Russian ruling clique and their Communist apologists make it out to be, one thing is certain and that is that the Russian workers would be proof against any amount of Western capitalist propaganda. That they go to such fantastic lengths to keep the Russian workers in mental straitjackets shows up the claim for what it really is, a monstrous fabrication sedulously fostered by the Russian Government to further its own political and economic ends, and the parrot-cry of Communists, fellow-travellers and other workers politically ignorant enough to be taken in by it.

We pose the question again, .and any supporter of Russia is at perfect liberty to take up the challenge. Why is it necessary for a government with (so we are told) 99 per cent. of the electorate behind it, to take these, and other fantastic measures to prevent a little capitalist propaganda from reaching the ears of its subjects? Is it because the workers’ conditions are not all that they are cracked up to be? Or that the Russian government has not the overwhelming support it says it has, and the election results were faked? Or what is it?

These columns are open to any supporter of the Russian system to take up the challenge.

Stan Hampson