Vodka, the Church, and the Cinema

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Leon Trotsky’s Vodka, The Church, and The Cinema outlines a the importance of three fundamental aspects of Russian society and culture during the Russian Revolution. First of all, Leon Trotsky was a Marxist revolutionary who was the founder and leader of the Red Army. In his writing, Trotsky asserts that there are “two big facts which have set a stamp on working class life,” those being the eight hour work day and the prohibition of the sale of vodka. The revolution made curbing the issue of alcoholism one of the paramount tenants of its cause. Also, the eight hour work day, in Trotsky’s opinion, the formation of the working class’s character was hinged on the division of the average working day into eight hour segments of work, play, and sleep. My favorite and in my opinion, the most interesting part of Trotsky’s writing was in his assertion that the cinema “is the most important weapon.” He describes the cinema as something so appreciated by the general public, and for that purpose it would make an excellent outlet for the proliferation of all kinds of propaganda. Trotsky claims the cinema rivals the beer halls, taverns, and even the church! This leads us to his next topic, religion in Soviet society. He asserts that religion is not nearly as powerful as the cinema, and the church holds limited practical influence on the public. Religion is described as a mere habit, held mostly by women, riddled with iconography, and a burden that cannot be squelched by anti religious propaganda.

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