AskDefine | Define agitprop

Dictionary Definition

agitprop n : political propaganda (especially Communist propaganda) communicated via art and literature and cinema

User Contributed Dictionary



From the Soviet Department for Agitation and Propaganda.


  1. political propaganda disseminated through art, literature, drama etc., especially Communist propaganda
  2. An organization or person engaged in disseminating such propaganda.


political propaganda
  • Croatian: agitprop



hr-noun m

Extensive Definition

Agitprop () is a contraction of "agitation and propaganda". The term originated in Bolshevist Russia (the future Soviet Union), where the term was 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.
The term propaganda in the Russian language didn't bear any negative connotation at that time. It simply meant "dissemination of ideas". 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. "Agitation" meant urging people to do what Soviet leaders expected them to do; again, at various levels. In other words, propaganda was supposed to act on the mind, while agitation acted on emotions, although both usually went together, thus giving rise to the cliché "propaganda and agitation".
The term "agitprop" gave rise to agitprop theatre, a highly-politicized leftist theatre originated in Europe of 1920s-1930s and spread to America as well, with plays of Bertold Brecht being a notable example. Gradually the term "agitprop" came to describe any kind of leftist politicized art.
In the western world, agitprop has a negative connotation. In the United Kingdom during the 1980s, for example, socialist elements of the political scene were often accused of using agitprop to convey an extreme left-wing message via television programmes or theatre.
After the Bolshevik revolution, an agitprop train toured the country, with artists and actors performing simple plays and broadcasting propaganda. It had a printing press onboard the train to allow posters to be reproduced and thrown out of the windows if it passed through villages.


Further reading

  • The Soviet Propaganda Machine, Martin Ebon, McGraw-Hill 1987, ISBN 0070188629
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agitprop in German: Agitprop
agitprop in Finnish: Agitprop
agitprop in French: Agitprop
agitprop in Italian: Agit-Prop
agitprop in Georgian: აგიტპროპი
agitprop in Luxembourgish: Agitprop
agitprop in Dutch: Agitprop
agitprop in Polish: Agitprop
agitprop in Portuguese: Agitprop
agitprop in Russian: Пропаганда в СССР
agitprop in Slovenian: Agitprop

Synonyms, Antonyms and Related Words

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