• Steven Heller

That Pesky 1 Percent

Below are infographics on steroids. French steroids. French Communist Party steroids. Just two years before the Nazi occupation of France and three before the division of France into North and Vichy South, L’Humanité, the French Communist newspaper, published this heavily illustrated infographic rant about The Monopolies (Trusts) Against France—what is today called the “1 percent.”

It’s sadly comforting to see that the oligarchy or power center, our cream and France’s la creme, are virtually the same wealthy industrialists with similar greedy intentions. Only two years later France was invaded and many of these string pullers supported the Right Wing’s dismantling of Liberté, Égalité, Fraternité.

What’s disturbing is not the Soviet-style anti-capitalist propaganda, wherein data visualization is used to rouse the revolutionaries; or the Sol Lewitt-ish intersecting lines that show how big business operates everything from banks to media. But that the fundamental systems of government-sleeping-with-industry that these graphics critique is still around. Almost 90 years since they were produced, the imagery is still useable in contemporary contexts. Progressive reform is just words. Whether Democrat or Republican, these images not only speak truth to power, they speak of many affiliations that are still maintained by the same players.

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