For other uses, see Agitprop (disambiguation).
Agitprop poster by Vladimir Mayakovsky titled: "Want it? Join"
"1. You want to overcome cold?
2. You want to overcome hunger?
3. You want to eat?
4. You want to drink?
Hasten to join shock brigades of exemplary labor!"

Agitprop (/ˈætprɒp/; from Russian: агитпроп [ɐɡʲɪtˈprop], derived from agitation and propaganda)[1] is stage plays, pamphlets, motion pictures and other art forms with an explicitly political message.

The term agitprop originated in the Russian SFSR (which later joined the Soviet Union), as a shortened form of отдел агитации и пропаганды (otdel agitatsii i propagandy), i.e., Department for Agitation and Propaganda, which was part of the central and regional committees of the Communist Party of the Soviet Union. The department was later renamed Ideological Department.

In the case of agitprop, the ideas to be disseminated were those of communism, including explanations of the policy of the Communist Party and the Soviet state. In other contexts, propaganda could mean dissemination of any kind of beneficial knowledge, e.g., of new methods in agriculture.

The term agitprop gave rise to agitprop theatre, a highly politicized left-wing theatre originated in 1920s Europe and spread to America; the plays of Bertolt Brecht are a notable example.[2] Russian agitprop theater was noted for its cardboard characters of perfect virtue and complete evil, and its coarse ridicule.[3] Gradually the term agitprop came to describe any kind of highly politicized art. After the October Revolution of 1917, an agitprop train toured the country, with artists and actors performing simple plays and broadcasting propaganda.[4] It had a printing press on board the train to allow posters to be reproduced and thrown out of the windows if it passed through villages.[5]

In the Western world, agitprop often has a negative connotation.


During Russian Civil War agitprop took various forms:

Bolshevik Propaganda Train
Top: Woman, learn to read and write! Bottom: Oh, Mommy! If you were literate, you could help me! A poster by Elizaveta Kruglikova advocating female literacy dating from 1923

See also



  1. Definition by
  2. Richard Bodek (1998) "Proletarian Performance in Weimar Berlin: Agitprop, Chorus, and Brecht", ISBN 1-57113-126-4
  3. Richard Pipes, Russia Under the Bolshevik Regime, p. 303, ISBN 978-0-394-50242-7
  4. "Agitprop Train". YouTube. 2007-06-15. Retrieved 2009-05-09.
  5. Paul A. Smith, On Political War, p. 124, National Defense University Press, 1989
  6. Kenez, pp. 5–7
  7. Kenez, pp. 29-31
  8. Kenez, pp. 51-53
  9. Kenez, p. 59.
  10. Kenez, p. 70
  11. Kenez, p. 74
  12. Kenez, pp. 77-78


External links

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