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Great Leap Forward (1958-1961) - Part 2

Part 1 | Part 2

If the conditions in China turned from bad to worse from 1958 onwards, with the famine that resulted from the Great Leap as the nadir, how did the propaganda apparatus deal with this situation? It showed abundance.

The melons are sweet, grain and rice are fragrant, everybody tries the flavor, 1958

The melons are sweet, grain and rice are fragrant, everybody tries the flavor, 1958

One of the essential aspects of propaganda is that it should reflect reality, while at the same time providing an optimistic outlook of what lies ahead. The posters below, all published in 1960, belied what actually had been taking place and continued to provide a surreal picture of life.

Start the movement to increase production and practise thrift, with foodstuffs and steel at the center, with great force!, 1960

Start the movement to increase production and practise thrift, with foodstuffs and steel at the center, with great force!, 1960

Beat the battledrum, in 1960 we will continue the Great Leap Forward!, 1960

Beat the battledrum, in 1960 we will continue the Great Leap Forward!, 1960

While the poster above, designed by none other than veteran artists Ha Qiongwen and Weng Yizhi, continued to drum up support for the already discredited developmental strategy, the anonymous images below -- parts of an incomplete series -- attempted to put a spin on what had been achieved. They all can serve as examples of the Illustrator-Realist style that marked the Great Leap.

Develop industrial and agricultural production, realize the simultaneous development of industry and agriculture - People's communes are good 2, 1960

Develop industrial and agricultural production, realize the simultaneous development of industry and agriculture - People's communes are good 2, 1960

Speed up the mechanization of agriculture - People's communes are good 3, 1960

Speed up the mechanization of agriculture - People's communes are good 3, 1960

The communes are big, the people numerous, the natural resources abundant, it is easy to develop a diversified economy - People's communes are good 5, 1960

The communes are big, the people numerous, the natural resources abundant, it is easy to develop a diversified economy - People's communes are good 5, 1960

The communes are big and the backbone is strong, it is easy to set up a unified system of allocation of available labor power, foster numerous troops of activists that are both red and expert to build up socialism - People's communes are good 6, 1960

The communes are big and the backbone is strong, it is easy to set up a unified system of allocation of available labor power, foster numerous troops of activists that are both red and expert to build up socialism - People's communes are good 6, 1960

Greatly develop the sectors of culture, communication and transport - People's communes are good 8, 1960

Greatly develop the sectors of culture, communication and transport - People's communes are good 8, 1960

The power to fight disasters is strong to quicker raise the levels of production and life - People's communes are good 9, 1960

The power to fight disasters is strong to quicker raise the levels of production and life - People's communes are good 9, 1960

The only indication of the material scarcity at the time is the fact that all these posters have either been printed on paper previously used to publish texts, or that they have been recycled for printing texts. Whatever the reason, the printed text shimmers through the very thin paper of mediocre quality.


More posters from the Great Leap Forward years:



Part 1 | Part 2

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