Primary Source

Shame to the loafer and the drunkard


Before the era of the Gorbachev reforms, social and health problems could not be easily discussed in the Soviet Union. The emphasis for public health was on keeping people healthy so that they could work better and more productively. Alcoholism, for example, was not a health problem, but instead a poor excuse for failing to work productively. This poster makes this point clear as it addresses the issue. Its slogan: "Shame to the loafer and the drunkard" associates alcohol abuse with unproductiveness ("loafing"). The image reinforces this idea, where the hand of the state identifies the loafer, who has failed all of society. Without a concept of alcoholism as a medical issue, developing a treatment to a public health crisis was not even possible.

This source is a part of the Soviet Health Posters teaching module.


Courtesy of the Wende Museum, Los Angeles, CA.

How to Cite This Source

"Shame to the loafer and the drunkard," in World History Commons, [accessed January 29, 2023]