Octopus & Propaganda

Clem

Architeuthis
Registered
Joined
Apr 6, 2003
Messages
1,839
Hi Kent,

:welcome:

I've never seen any of this stuff for sale on eBay, so if you see something please post it!

Below is a nice find, dating from 1937. "Telephone Companies! Politics and Capitalism, watching over your business. To fight, to win, CNT." The CNT was the Confederación Nacional del Trabajo, Spain's oldest anarchist union. In 1936, the CNT, based in Barcelona, helped to lead a popular revolution that resulted in the collectivization of a majority of Catalonian industry, and led successful operations against Franco's fascist military. By 1937, the CNT had grudgingly allied itself with the Republican government in Madrid and was facing counter-revolutionary pressures from Stalinst elements of the Spanish Communist party, who wanted to collectivize society according to the Soviet model. On May the 3rd, 1937, military police and Communist fighters laid siege to Barcelona's old telephone exchange building, which the CNT had occupied. After a bloody siege, the CNT was ejected from the exchange. This poster commemorates that action (not the numerous shot-out windows in the old exchange's facade). The discs at the ends of the octopus's arms are odd. I can only guess that they're meant to resemble ears, or the terminals of switchboard wires.

Clem
 

Attachments

  • conv_292022.jpg
    conv_292022.jpg
    294.1 KB · Views: 265

Clem

Architeuthis
Registered
Joined
Apr 6, 2003
Messages
1,839
Kent's post reminded me of two images in my queue. First, a leaflet prepared for WWII-era Taiwan that's described at Ed Rouse's excellent Psywarrior site. From Rouse:

It depicts Generalissimo Chiang Kai-shek at the left, President Franklin Roosevelt at the right, and the island of Taiwan in the grips of a Japanese octopus in the center. Text on the front is: "China and America Together Doom Violent Japan!" Text on the back is in both Chinese and Japanese and says: "The two great nations fronting on the Pacific Ocean are united with a single purpose. They are determined to sweep away the Japanese pirates and to restore human liberty."

Second, a poster that actually is for sale as a modern giclee print, depicting the Imperial Japanese Navy as an octopus attacking an enemy fleet at Port Arthur, Manchuria. On the night of February 3, 1904, elements of the Japanese fleet attacked Russian vessels at anchor in Port Arthur, the opening salvo of the Russo-Japanese war. I hope there's a Japanese reader here who can translate the text for us. Notable are the Japanese self-identification with the octopus (directed by the confident Japanese admiral perched on the head) and the whimsical "fish ships" of the enemy. Projecting an image of naval might by claiming the octopus as an asset goes way back, of course, all the way to Sextus Pompey and the Roman Empire, but in the twentieth century, particularly during Hirohito's reign, Japanese propagandists made the octopus a symbol of foreign aggression. It might be the case that extensive use of the device against Japan by the Western Allies made complementary, positive readings of the symbol impossible. If you like the image, it's available at Allposters.com

Clem
 

Attachments

  • conv_292025.jpg
    conv_292025.jpg
    23.9 KB · Views: 256
  • conv_292026.jpg
    conv_292026.jpg
    115 KB · Views: 218

Clem

Architeuthis
Registered
Joined
Apr 6, 2003
Messages
1,839
Phil wrote about this one years ago, but the images were lost. So, once again, here's the WWII Disney-produced propaganda film "Victory Through Air Power."
 

Attachments

  • conv_292035.jpg
    conv_292035.jpg
    574.1 KB · Views: 216

tonmo

Cthulhu
Staff member
Webmaster
Joined
May 30, 2000
Messages
10,541
Clem, thanks for sharing these... what an excellent, comprehensive collection we have here! I hereby declare this thread yours, to turn into a coffee table book. Let us know the production date!
 

tonmo

Cthulhu
Staff member
Webmaster
Joined
May 30, 2000
Messages
10,541
Well, there are some ideas to consider... I will PM you so as not to dilute the richness of this thread!
 

Clem

Architeuthis
Registered
Joined
Apr 6, 2003
Messages
1,839
Thanks, Tony.

Here's an interesting case of cross-cultural pollination. First, the "Serio-Comic War Map For the Year 1877," by Frederick W. Rose, printed by G. W. Bacon & Co., a bygone U.K. publisher of maps and atlases. 1877 was the year that Russia went to war against the Turkish seat of the Ottoman Empire, a conflct by which Russia hoped to gain permanent access to Mediterranean ports and wrest its Slavic brethren in the Balkans from Ottoman control. The war ended in 1878 after a disastrous Russian campaign and the intervention of the Western powers, with the British Navy moving to oppose a Russian move on Constantinople. The Treaty of San Stefano ended the war and checked Russian expansion, but independence was granted to Romania, Serbia and Montenegro. Rose's wonderful map uses the device of illusionistic caricature to great effect, with each discrete state a representative figure (or conglomerate of figures). Russia the octopus menaces the Turk, but the Turk's drawn a drop of blood from the devil-horned cephalopod's arm, roughly where Yalta and Sevastopol lie on the Black Sea. I can't make out the legend in the lower right of the picture, unfortunately.

Flip ahead to 1904, the war between Russia and Japan and an illustration I first wrote about back in 2004, "A Humorous Diplomatic Map of Europe and Asia." I hadn't seen Rose's 1877 map back then and the Japanese version isn't nearly so refined. Here's the English legend, or at least as much as I can make out:
Black Octopus' is a name newly given to Russia by a certain prominent Englishman. For the Black Octopus is so avaricious that he stretches out his eight arms in all directions, and seizes up every thing that comes within his reach. But as it sometimes happens he gets wounded seriously even by a small fish, owing to his too much [illegible]. Indeed, a Japanese proverb says: "Great avarice is like unselfishness." We Japanese need not to say much on the cause of the present war. Suffice it to say, that the further existence of the Black Octopus will depend entirely upon how he comes out of this war. The Japanese fleet has already practically annihilated Russia's naval power in the Orient. The Japanese army is about to win a signal victory over Russia in Corea & Manchuria. And then...............St Petersburg? Wait and see! The ugly Black Octopus! Hurrah! Hurrah! for Japan.
The "prominent Englishman" could be Frederick Rose, though 1877 wasn't particularly recent in 1904. Now, compare the 1904 Rose knock-off to the 1904 rl], which I wrote about a few days ago. The Japanese propaganda meant for Western consumption apes an English artist and casts the octopus as the unchecked foreign aggressor, but the Japanese propaganda produced for the domestic audience casts the octopus as a loyal warrior, drawn with a distinctively Japanese siphonal "mouth". I've no evidence that this heroic octopus narrative spread as a meme within Japan's political class, but there is evidence that the aggressive Russian octopus meme found purchase among sympathetic Americans. In "Japan's Stake in War," a January 21, 1904 article for the New York Times written as foreign correspondence by prominent American political economist E. H. Vickers, the author wrote, "Already a number of Japanese enterprises are established in the territory now gripped by the octopus arms of Russia." Vickers' article pre-dated the start of the war by two weeks. Is it possible that his Japanese hosts and Tokyo readers picked up the Russian octoprop meme from him? Was he the "Englishman" who had "newly" described Russia as an octopus?

...and now I've just discovered that a vintage print of F. W. Rose's Russian octopus sold on eBay France on November 8, for 302 Euros, or $441. Not that I could have afforded such a thing, but still, :banghead:

Clem
 

Attachments

  • conv_292044.jpg
    conv_292044.jpg
    93.1 KB · Views: 763
  • conv_292045.jpg
    conv_292045.jpg
    70 KB · Views: 272

Clem

Architeuthis
Registered
Joined
Apr 6, 2003
Messages
1,839
Here's one that was first posted to TONMO by Joel Ang back in October, 2004. Joel's attachment was lost and I'd been unable to relocate it online, but it turns out I'd saved a copy in an overlooked folder.

Clem
 

Attachments

  • conv_292057.jpg
    conv_292057.jpg
    51.5 KB · Views: 226

monty

TONMO Supporter
Staff member
Registered
Joined
Mar 8, 2004
Messages
4,884
I found this here in a google image search.

 

Attachments

  • conv_292092.jpg
    conv_292092.jpg
    80.5 KB · Views: 213

Top