National Geographic and fascism

Louis N Proyect lnp3 at columbia.edu
Tue Apr 30 14:02:08 MDT 1996


The [National Geographic] society fared well in the depression,
topping one million members in 1935 and employing over seven
hundred workers by the next year. These burgeoning figures must be
partly accounted for by the fact that, in keeping with official policy,
the human suffering of the decade did not find a place in the pages of
the magazine. Articles produced in the late 1930s, most notably those
by Douglas Chandler, were openly sympathetic to national socialist
agendas. He was dropped as a contributor after it was discovered that
he was funded by the Nazi party. John Patric's coverage of
Mussolini's Italy, also from the late 1930s, shows the sinister side of a
commitment to present "only what is of a kindly nature." Even the
society's quasi-official history represents the early coverage of World
War II as a somewhat curious overextension of tact and
nonpartisanship: "John Patric's March 1937 'Imperial Rome Reborn'
celebrated Italy's new glories, but the photographs were chilling: one
of the gasmasked uniformed children was captioned 'Weird visitors
>from another world? No; schoolboys preparing for war.' Another, of
children, read 'Chins hight, shoulders squared, boy Black Shirts
emulate Il Duce's posture.'"

(from "Reading National Geographic" by Catherine A. Lutz and Jane
Collins, U of Chicago Press)

On Tue, 30 Apr 1996, hariette spierings wrote:

> >Louis: This is interesting. The National Geographic has a long history of
> >prettifying brutal dictatorships. Before the Vietnam war reached full
> >intensity, they would have all sorts of stories about "quaint" and
> >"picturesque" Indochina whose charm was being upset by "terrorists"
> >supported by Communist North Vietnam. This magazine, like Reader's
> >Digest, occupies a particular place in the ideological superstructure of the
> >imperialist state. It would be a useful project to try to unravel the
> >financial and political connections the mag has to the US government.
> >
>
>
> It certainly would, Louis.  I think that is something that quite a few
> people in this list, especially those with good access to research
> facilities - and without in any way having to become Maoists or renounce
> their own points of view - could do as a useful contribution to the
> anti-imperialist struggle and to the cause of the Peruvian revolution, which
> is in deed a part of the world revolution for every right thinking person in
> this list.
>
> Adolfo Olaechea
>
>
>
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>
>
>


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