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Silence is Complicity -- Virulent Italian Anti-American Protest Poster

Stark anti-Vietnam War poster, likely created in conjunction with anti-War protests organized in Milan in the late 1960s.

Using the time honored concept, "silence is complicity in the evil acts of others,"  the image includes a list of major corporations viewed as silently complicit with the Vietnam War.

Published by the Italian Communist / Organized Labor movement, the image captures a fascinating moment in Italian history, with the late 1960s and early 1970s seeing a rise in vocal left wing demonstrations, revolts by jobless farm workers,, occupations of universities by students, social unrest in the large Northern factories and general frustration with social inequalities, while the myth of guerrilla (Che Guevara, the Uruguayan Tupamaros) and of the Chinese Maoist "cultural revolution" increasingly inspired extreme left-wing violent movements. 

The quote is based upon famous attributed to luminaries such as Albert Einstein and Martin Luther King:

  • Albert Einstein — "If I were to remain silent, I'd be guilty of complicity."
  • Martin Luther King -- "He who passively accepts evil is as much involved in it as he who helps to perpetrate it. He who accepts evil without protesting against it is really cooperating with it."

The Einstein quote has been debated, but perhaps is most supported in the following quote:

There is, however, a somber point in the social outlook of Americans. Their sense of equality and human dignity is mainly limited to men of white skins. Even among these [men of white skin], there are prejudices of which I as a Jew am clearly conscious; but they are not important in comparison with the attitude of the ”Whites” towards their fellow citizens of darker complexion, particularly towards Negroes. The more I feel an American, the more this situation pains me. I can escape the feeling of complicity in it, only by speaking out. 

Albert Einstein “The Negro Question” in the January issue of the Pageant Magazine in 1946 via Einstein on Race and Racism By Fred Jerome and Rodger Taylor

We date the poster as possibly having been made for the June 2, 1967 anti-war protests, although the lithographic company,  Lito La Veltro, was active as early as 1963. 


We are unable to locate another example of the poster.