We are independent & ad-supported. We may earn a commission for purchases made through our links.
Advertiser Disclosure
Our website is an independent, advertising-supported platform. We provide our content free of charge to our readers, and to keep it that way, we rely on revenue generated through advertisements and affiliate partnerships. This means that when you click on certain links on our site and make a purchase, we may earn a commission. Learn more.
How We Make Money
We sustain our operations through affiliate commissions and advertising. If you click on an affiliate link and make a purchase, we may receive a commission from the merchant at no additional cost to you. We also display advertisements on our website, which help generate revenue to support our work and keep our content free for readers. Our editorial team operates independently of our advertising and affiliate partnerships to ensure that our content remains unbiased and focused on providing you with the best information and recommendations based on thorough research and honest evaluations. To remain transparent, we’ve provided a list of our current affiliate partners here.

What is Agitprop?

Tricia Christensen
By
Updated May 23, 2024
Our promise to you
Historical Index is dedicated to creating trustworthy, high-quality content that always prioritizes transparency, integrity, and inclusivity above all else. Our ensure that our content creation and review process includes rigorous fact-checking, evidence-based, and continual updates to ensure accuracy and reliability.

Our Promise to you

Founded in 2002, our company has been a trusted resource for readers seeking informative and engaging content. Our dedication to quality remains unwavering—and will never change. We follow a strict editorial policy, ensuring that our content is authored by highly qualified professionals and edited by subject matter experts. This guarantees that everything we publish is objective, accurate, and trustworthy.

Over the years, we've refined our approach to cover a wide range of topics, providing readers with reliable and practical advice to enhance their knowledge and skills. That's why millions of readers turn to us each year. Join us in celebrating the joy of learning, guided by standards you can trust.

Editorial Standards

At Historical Index, we are committed to creating content that you can trust. Our editorial process is designed to ensure that every piece of content we publish is accurate, reliable, and informative.

Our team of experienced writers and editors follows a strict set of guidelines to ensure the highest quality content. We conduct thorough research, fact-check all information, and rely on credible sources to back up our claims. Our content is reviewed by subject-matter experts to ensure accuracy and clarity.

We believe in transparency and maintain editorial independence from our advertisers. Our team does not receive direct compensation from advertisers, allowing us to create unbiased content that prioritizes your interests.

Agitprop is a combination of the words agitation and propaganda, and came into use in Soviet Russia, where a Department of Agitation and Propaganda was an essential wing of the government. The term is frequently used to describe theater, literature, and music designed to encourage people to be more active and better understand communist beliefs. In more recent times, "agitprop" may be used to describe any form of mass media that tries — often through the use of emotionally loaded language — to influence public opinion.

The word "agitprop" was not originally meant as a negative term, although it has taken on that connotation. The word agitatsiya or "agitation" can translate as stirring someone to action, which could also be called activism. Propaganda further meant to spread information, and is not associated with the more negative definitions given it today.

Before the invention of the word, agitprop was already a common thing. For instance, the impetus behind American involvement in World War I really came down to the sinking of the Lusitania, a luxury ship that was torpedoed by a German submarine. Prior to that, President Woodrow Wilson had spent significant time trying to find a peaceful solution to the war in Europe and to prevent American involvement. Public sentiment changed, and people were stirred to action by what was viewed as German indifference.

Stories of the Lusitania's destruction were featured in virtually every newspaper across the US, creating agitation, and information about the sinking, the propaganda part, wasn't hard to find. In particular, the deaths of women and children were stressed, creating greater demonization of the German people. It is not that this may not have been deserved, and for those European countries attacked by Germany, this is not even questioned.

Similarly, information disseminated right after the 9/11 attack in New York City was in essence agitprop. Certainly it was necessary to report the attack, to explain the situation, and to grieve over the loss of many lives. Some news stations were criticized for producing agitprop, however, since they played footage of the attack repeatedly and inserted commentary. This stirred Americans greatly, and without minimizing the devastating effects of the attack, it can be said the attack made it quite easy for the country to almost immediately sanction war in Afghanistan. The agitprop that followed focused not only on 9/11, but also on the evils of the Taliban, their oppression of women, and their harboring of terrorists.

Governments may use agitprop with either good or bad intent to influence the people. For instance, in the 2000s, concerns about the health cost of America has led to numerous public reports about the effects of obesity, since it is the case that people who are obese may have greater health problems. Some of these reports are completely altruistic, designed to help Americans make better diet choices. Grim information disseminated specifically by the government, or by the media, is meant to stir people to action and to educate them, in the hopes that people will lose weight. Some question the motives, however, and point to greater discrimination of overweight people as part of this type of agitprop.

Historical Index is dedicated to providing accurate and trustworthy information. We carefully select reputable sources and employ a rigorous fact-checking process to maintain the highest standards. To learn more about our commitment to accuracy, read our editorial process.
Tricia Christensen
By Tricia Christensen
With a Literature degree from Sonoma State University and years of experience as a Historical Index contributor, Tricia Christensen is based in Northern California and brings a wealth of knowledge and passion to her writing. Her wide-ranging interests include reading, writing, medicine, art, film, history, politics, ethics, and religion, all of which she incorporates into her informative articles. Tricia is currently working on her first novel.
Discussion Comments
By anon73693 — On Mar 29, 2010

stupendous!

Tricia Christensen
Tricia Christensen
With a Literature degree from Sonoma State University and years of experience as a Historical Index contributor, Tricia...
Learn more
Historical Index, in your inbox

Our latest articles, guides, and more, delivered daily.

Historical Index, in your inbox

Our latest articles, guides, and more, delivered daily.