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The political agitation ( lat. Agitare , upset ',' inciting ') stands for:

  • (derogatory) the mostly aggressive influencing of others in political terms. The term is sometimes used disparagingly in colloquial language , but also in journalistic comments . The agitator is often equated with an agitator , instigator , agitator and troublemaker (see demagogue );
  • political education or advertising for political or social goals.

An agitator wants to move a larger number of people to a common action or reaction (mostly with regard to a political opponent) , in particular through motivating , inciting or inflammatory speeches and publications.

Agitation and propaganda with Lenin

The concept of agitation and propaganda had a central position in the political and organizational debates of the early Russian social democracy and was to retain this importance even during the times of the Soviet Union . Lenin's distinction between agitation and propaganda followed that of Plekhanov , who defined them as follows as early as 1891: “The propagandist conveys many ideas to one or more people, while the agitator conveys only one or only a few ideas, but he conveys them to a large number of people . "Lenin develops the idea further in his writings:" ... the propagandist (must) explain the capitalist nature of crises, for example when dealing with the question of unemployment, point out the cause of their inevitability in modern society, the necessity of transforming this society into a socialist one, etc. (...) The agitator, on the other hand, who speaks about the same question, will pick out the most blatant and most familiar example to all his listeners - e.g. B. the starvation of an unemployed family, the increase in begging, etc. - and will focus all his efforts on conveying an idea to the 'mass' on the basis of this well-known fact: the idea of ​​the senselessness of the contradiction between the increase in wealth and as the misery increases, he will endeavor to arouse discontent and indignation among the masses at this blatant injustice, while leaving the complete explanation of the origin of this contradiction to the propagandist. The propagandist therefore works mainly through the printed word, the agitator through the spoken word. ”To illustrate the distinction, Lenin mentions Kautsky and Lafargue as examples for propagandists and Bebel and Guesde for agitators .

Agitation in State Socialism

Two boys creating a pioneer wall newspaper, Leipzig 1950

In communist parties and states, the function of agitator may even be an office . In the GDR the position of agitator already existed in schools. One or more pupils, mostly young pioneers , in each class were responsible for informing them about the public opinion published in the state media through wall newspapers and political communication and influencing the class collective at an early stage. In the old Federal Republic, on the other hand, Section 130 of the Criminal Code made “incitement to class struggle ” a punishable offense, and from 1970 incitement to hatred .

Differentiation from propaganda

While in connection with socialist , Bolshevik , Stalinist and Maoist parties one speaks predominantly of agitation (possibly also of agitprop ), if one means the art of political seduction , one finds almost exclusively the term propaganda with regard to National Socialism and Fascism .

The term "agitation" was temporarily used positively, while " propaganda " tends to be used pejoratively , but just like propaganda as an originally positive term, has largely fallen out of use in the democratic parties . In the prevailing linguistic usage, propaganda is often propaganda for something (e.g. a regime ), while agitation is usually agitation against any grievances or their (supposed or propagandistically designated as such) perpetrators. Although of the same etymological origin ( agitare = "to drive"), the German word " Hetze " is often used to negatively connote agitation .

While “propaganda” also describes the media-journalistic product within the framework of an institutional apparatus and not so much the process, it is exactly the opposite with “agitation”.


Web links

Wiktionary: Agitation  - explanations of meanings, word origins, synonyms, translations

Individual evidence

  1. ^ Georgi Walentinowitsch Plekanow: On the tasks of the socialists in the fight against the famine in Russia , 1891; quoted n. LW 5, 422
  2. a b Lenin: What to do? , 1902, LW 5, p. 423
  3. Gerhard Strauss, Ulrike Haß, Gisela Harras: Controversial words from agitation to Zeitgeist: a lexicon for public use of language , in: "Writings of the Institute for German Language", Volume 2, Walter de Gruyter, 1989, ISBN 3-11-012078- X , p. 308 ff.