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The Council well understood that the cultural events created the perfect excuse for British people to meet with neutral peoples to discuss a wide range of issues. Indeed, it would not really matter what the cultural events actually 36 A Battle for Neutral Europe consisted of and could be lacking in a specific theme (a cocktail party to welcome a particular lecturer to the country was as good a cultural event as an art exhibition or music concert), as long as it achieved the objective of drawing people together.
The British Council’s aim to spread propaganda via word-of-mouth was not a new, nor a unique idea. Bolshevik Agitators had been very active before, during and after the Russian Revolution in 1917.
S. Eliot lectured to them [the Swedes] on “Poetry, Speech, and Music” ’ does not even attempt to describe the impact that his visit made on Swedish opinion. It does not describe the tone of the Council’s work, and how this tone compared with what the Swedes were used to receiving in terms of propaganda from other sources. Nor does it begin to allow the reader to understand how his visit, while not turning the tide of Swedish opinion on its own, was one of many, by a variety of different British personalities, which incrementally accumulated increasing pro-British feeling among the Swedish population.