Throwback Thursday: Soviet Era Propaganda Poster Warning against the Dangers of Illiteracy and Blindness

The concept of blindness is often used—even today-- as a metaphor for ignorance or stupidity.  In our object this week, a Soviet era propaganda poster takes advantage of negative stereotypes to warn against the dangers of illiteracy.  The State Press of Petrograd in Russia silk-screened the original poster in 1923.  The poster shows a bearded man in the bright red garb of a traditional Russian peasant wears a blindfold, and with his hands thrust out before him, walks straight off a dangerous cliff.  The Russian caption below reads "An illiterate man is like a blind man.”  But the poster takes this warning a bit farther, giving a glimpse into the expectations the Communists had for their citizens with vision loss, “Failure and misfortune lie in wait for him on all sides."  As part of their attempts to transform an agrarian country into an industrial one, the Soviets required all their citizens to be able to read and write.  These posters and others like them would have been plastered all over the place, in the process reinforcing one of the most powerful stereotypes about people who are blind, that they are doomed to failure.  Our example is a reproduction, but you can learn more about Russian literacy propaganda posters here.



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