Roland Elliott Brown, FUEL, Damon Murray, Stephen Sorrell, Martin Rawson
The first book to tell the visual story of the USSR’s war against religion of all denominations, from the 1917 revolution to its fall in 1991
‘We’ve finished the earthly tsars and we’re coming for the heavenly ones!’. Thus spoke the Soviet Union’s first atheist propagandists as they declared war on ‘the opium of the people’ across the USSR.
Soviet atheism is the great lost subject of the 20th century. Pope Pius XI led a ‘crusade of prayer’ against it. George Orwell satirised it in Animal Farm. The Nazis called it a Jewish plot. Franklin D Roosevelt pressured Stalin to abandon it. Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn blamed it for Russia’s catastrophes. Ronald Reagan put it at the core of his ‘Evil Empire’ speech. And yet, because the Soviet Union promoted atheism almost entirely for domestic consumption, decades’ worth of arcane and astonishing antireligious imagery remains unknown in the West.
Drawing on the early Soviet atheist magazines Godless and Godless at the Machine, and post-war posters by Communist Party publishers, Roland Elliott Brown presents an unsettling tour of atheist ideology in the USSR. Here are uncanny, imaginative and downright blasphemous visions from the very guts of the Soviet atheist apparatus: sinister priests rub shoulders with cross-bearing colonial torturers, greedy mullahs, a cyclopean Jehovah, and a crypto-fascist Jesus; Russian cosmonauts mock God from space while vigilant border guards nab American Bible smugglers.
Godless Utopia is the occult grimoire of a lost socialist anti-theology.
Blasphemous shock and awe were a major part of the Bolshevik aesthetic, as seen in the covers of Godless magazine.--Rolland Elliot Brown "Spectator UK" Godless Utopia: Soviet Anti-Religious Propaganda' collects the most striking examples of the form.--Cory Doctorow "Boing Boing" In the Soviet Union, atheism became government policy, enforced by the state and encouraged by anti-religious posters and magazines. These have been collected in Roland Elliott Brown's [Godless Utopia].--Cory Doctorow "Guardian" Roland Elliott Brown explains how Lenin set the groundwork to overthrow the Soviet Union's religious institutions -- and how a raft of brightly coloured propaganda posters became the leader's weapon of choice.--Emily Gosling "Calvert Journal" Since the Soviet Union's promotion of atheism was almost entirely targeted at those living within it, the posters, editorial illustrations, and other propaganda associated with it are largely unknown to Western designers.--Emily Gosling "AIGA" Students of Russian history will welcome the publication of "Godless Utopia" this month, but so too will art historians, religious scholars, as well as observers of Russia's cultural history and indeed anyone who has embarked on the quixotic search for the elusive Russian soul.--Jennifer Eremeeva "Moscow Times"
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