The song lyric, “I believe the children are our future, teach them well and let them lead the way” (famously popularized by Whitney Houston in 1985) holds surprising resonance with this 1976 poster for The Young Pioneer Organization of the Soviet Union.
The revolutionary Young Pioneer Organization, also known as the Lenin All-Union Pioneer Organization, was founded in 1922 (disbanded in 1991) for children ages ten to fifteen. Leaders of the Soviet Union viewed children as the promising future of socialism, and believed a mass youth movement was fundamental to communist education, indoctrinating the communist ideology, and defending the motherland. Accordingly, Young Pioneers participated in a broad range of extracurricular “hobby groups” both after school and during vacations that included outdoor activities, science and technical classes, creative and artistic pursuits, sports, and politics.
Posters were frequently used in Soviet Russia to communicate messages to the masses through the use of readily identifiable images and easily understandable slogans. In images, this poster features the figures of a young boy and girl, a profile of Vladimir Lenin, and groups of children participating in various activities. It utilizes many of the symbols of the Young Pioneers – the blue and white uniform, red neckerchief, red banner, and red flag – along with some of the organization’s common traditions, such as the Pioneer salute and the campfire rally. In slogans, the poster’s text translates to:
Lenin’s Testament Faithful!
My Homeland – Soviet Union
Strong, Bold, Deftly
To the Land of Knowledge
Thus, in text and images this poster calls on Lenin’s loyal Young Pioneers to lead the Soviet Union towards its utopian future through the capacity of learning and knowledge.