The night before the breakout of the Second World War, Russian biologist, sociologist and social activist Sergei Stepanovich Chakhotin published the ground breaking controversial book ‘The Rape of the Masses.’ The book encompassed the ideologies of the first wave of propaganda theory, the effects of propaganda on the psychology on the individual and the masses. The book had a heavy focus around totalitarian forms of mass indoctrination, psychological warfare, crowd psychology, brainwashing, Anti-colonial repression and antimilitarism. This was one of the first works into the short and long term effect of war time propaganda, the devastating brainwashing power of the rise of Nazism and the psychological conditioning of the masses. Chakhotin lived during a time in which a new wave of mass indoctrination was discovered, created and utilised, a time where the majority of people succumbed to new forms of state propaganda. Chakhotin understood the cause and effect of this whilst it was being rolled out, where most people sat down and had their minds directed, Chakhotin stood up and dedicated his time to documenting, describing and explaining the effects of propaganda on the individual.
From an early age Chakhotin was captivated by radical politics and the mentality of the individual. He studied medicine and later a doctorate in zoology, he spoke 12 languages, invented the micro-puncture, was tutored by Pavlov and co-founded classical conditioning with him. Chakhotin was also friends with Einstein, with whom Chakhotin frequently discussed his fear of the rise of Naziism. Chakhotin was a pioneer in taylorism, cytology, cancer research, behaviourism and social psychology. He had an early political career including a role as a propagandist during the Russian Revolution as well as playing an important role in the anti-Nazi struggle of the SPD, the German Socialist Party which ran against the Nazi party. Chakhotins expansive intellect enabled a great study into the fields of behavioural psychology, using the discoveries for a positive political, social and psychological cause whilst simultaneously noticing, documenting and rivalling the utilisation of propaganda of the Nazi party on the other side of the moral agenda. Chakhotin created and utilised propagandist techniques to stand up against the rise and grip of fascism. Chakhotin had a direct experience with the rise of new forms of media control during an era of total war, he witnessed the emergence of modern propaganda techniques across printed press, film and the radio and recognised the ability and power that the governing bodies would have over the individuals and the masses as a whole. He noted that it enabled those in charge to be actively engaged in not just the surveillance of public opinion, mentality and mood but also the power to transform opinion, the possibility to lay on new models of ideals across an entire society through the means of new wave media. It was these newly integrated means of brainwashing that encouraged Chakhotin to write ‘The Rape of the Masses.’
Chakhotin to this day remains an important figure for our society. Chakhotin represents the necessity of individual intuition, the great value of independent belief, the idea that the individual must be able to come to a decision based on their independent view rather than the applied direction of the most powerful party. Chakhotin to us is a role model in which we remember to apply ourselves to the fairness of a democratic state, the individual is a powerful piece in the structure of society and each individual counts towards creating a fair, democratic and free society. Chakhotin is a great figure in displaying the possibilities of a multidisciplinary guru that integrates passion into working to create a better life for all. Chakhotin is remembered as a symbol of practical intellect, when the enemy brainwashes a state to follow a negative and evil direction Chokhotin reminds us that the good in people is just as powerful and can be enticed just as easily. An all powerful, all encompassing governing body does not have to lead the masses into darkness, with the right leaders, the right mindset and the right morals, the individuals that create the masses can be built into golden era citizens in which everyone succeeds. Chakhotin’s work is as relevant today as it ever was, with an ever increasing media swayed public, Chakhotin makes us stop and think, who is directing our opinion?