The Moscow Metro and Beautiful Propaganda
Not all propaganda comes in the form of leaflets, cleverly crafted speeches and hijacked media. No, some comes in the form of beauty.
In 1940 the Nazis invaded The Netherlands and then financed a renaissance in classical Dutch music. Until then, most serious music played in Holland was German. Dutch composers and musicians were paid to practice their art and help the people see value in occupation. (You can read more about this here: The Cellist in Amsterdam.)
This is an extreme example but look around you. East or west, developed or developing, propaganda comes at us in in many forms.
In 20th century Russia, it could be found in the beautiful architecture of the Soviet Metro systems.
According to my guide, the Moscow Metro was built to move people around but designed for propaganda purposes. This has been confirmed with further reading. One site explains: “Its magnificent stations would remind Muscovites that they are living in the most powerful and richest country in the world. Since nearly all of Moscow population uses metro, people would undergo this little propaganda session for at least couple of times daily.” While austerity was experienced in everyday life, opulence was seen in public representations of power.
Navigating the Moscow Metro
The Moscow underground is not only beautiful but also an efficient way to get around the city. With all signs being in Russian, it can be a bit of a challenge. One very valuable hint: if the voice of the announcer telling you that the doors are closing is a man’s, the train is going into the city. If it is a woman’s it is going away from the center of the city.