A New Era of Manipulation


“Vodka, the Church, and the Cinema” This writing by Leon Trotsky provides a glimpse into what Trotsky envisioned the new culture as. As one of the leaders of this new soviet endeavor Trotsky looked towards the future but also the past. He saw how the old fit with the new, and how the old would not work with this new nation of workers. Trotsky was an idealist, and a firm believer in this new communist world. However, in this writing we can see just how disconnected he was. Trotsky not only wished to fundamentally change Russia’s political and social structure but also its cultural structure. In doing this he set out to utilize a new player, cinema.

Trotsky first realized that Russia had devolved into an alcoholic state. This state had been produced by the czars and their monopoly on vodka that not only kept the people drunk and preoccupied but also filled their pockets. Trotsky recognized its use and potential but also realized that this would not fit in his new Culture. This pathological drinking would not create an educated and active proletariat. Trotsky however did understand that this would be a difficult change for the people to make so he needed to find a replacement for this entertainment.

Also on Trotsky’s chopping block was religion. He held that religion was a façade, a thing people just go through the motions of. He described that religion was empty and pointless and only served as a means to find some meaning or for entertainment. Trotsky seriously believed that almost all Russian people believed as he did that religion is a farce. He believed that it was only a means of pacifying the masses and in fact that everyone just went through the motions and now faith actually existed.

To replace these two facets of Russian culture cinema was the answer. Trotsky held cinema as the new way forward for Russian culture. It would serve as a venue for education as well as entertainment for the masses. A lever that the government could control and use for its purposes. Cinema would become the new way of controlling the people, a new method of propaganda and manipulation. This idea is genius and mad at the same time though. We can see Trotsky is a man of great resolve for the formation of a new culture however he is clearly out of touch. I believe that in reading this proposed plan we can see just how disconnected the party leaders would become from the people and why in the end the Soviet government would fall.