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Atlantic Civilisation is Fougeron's key work of social criticism and an extraordinary example of Cold War rhetoric. He caricatures the increasing Americanisation of Europe, then a major target of Communist Party propaganda. The simplifying style deliberately plays on the comic-strip American culture it attacks. Capitalism is embodied in the businessman doffing his hat to the American car. The electric chair above refers to the Americans' execution of the Rosenbergs in June 1953, for spying for the USSR.

Reference is also made to the French colonial wars in Indo-China (the posters of the parachutists and the returning coffins) and in North Africa (the Algerians under corrugated iron), wars to which the Party was opposed. Underlying this view of pervasive capitalist corruption is a criticism of the continuing nuclear threat and the exploitation of the underprivileged (the children in the camouflaged shelter). The cartoon-like style and 'anti-realist' composition in this work go beyond the conventions of Socialist Realism, which raised criticism within the Party.

August 2004