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The u s s r under stalin

  • The children of convicted persons, who were under 12 years old, were put in special communist orphanages and given new names, so they would not know who their parents were;
  • There was also a subsection for conviction via "intent;
  • The state remained the owner of the land;
  • This was partly due to the fact that managers had to show they had fulfilled or overfulfilled their quotas, and partly to the propaganda need to show the Soviet people and the world that the system was successful;
  • Leading workers were called "Stakhanovites" after the miner Aleksei G;
  • By 1925, Kamenev and Zinoviev finally realized that Stalin was out to get absolute power, so they teamed up with Trotsky -- but it was too late.

Russia under Lenin and Stalin. This policy was implemented in March 1921, primarily because massive peasant revolts all over Russia threatened Bolshevik power. The peasants were revolting against war communism, the forcible requisitioning of their produce to feed the army and the cities. War communism was carried out with particular ruthlessness in Tambov province. Lenin had begun this practice in the spring of 1918 see ch. At the same time, there was growing unrest in the towns as well as protest against undemocratic Bolshevik rule.

In March 1921, the same "Red sailors" of the naval base on the island of Kronstadt pron: Kronshtatt, island just outside Leningradwho had fought for the Bolsheviks in November 1917, now revolted against them. The sailors demanded free and secret elections to the Soviets; freedom of speech and press; the peasants' right to work their own land as they wished; and the legalization of small scale private industry.

The Kronstadt revolt was brutally put down by Trotsky then War Commissar and Tukhachevsky, who led troops over the frozen sea to the island base. The government condemned the revolt as a "White Guardist Plot. In reality, the Kronstadt revolt expressed general unrest and convinced Lenin that he had not only peasant revolts to deal with.

Thus, the threat to Bolshevik power convinced him of the need to relax controls and rebuild the economy. NEP was a mixture of socialism and capitalism. The state kept control of "the heights," i. It also allowed the peasants to work their farms. However, they were to do so within the old communal system, and use only family labor.

Forced deliveries were abolished and peasants paid the u s s r under stalin taxes instead. The state remained the owner of the land. A new class of entrepreneurs appeared, called Nepmen. They were really middlemen, who made a very good living by finding and selling what was most needed.

They also supplied state owned industry with parts and raw material. They could be seen everywhere in large cities spending their money in first class restaurants and shops.

  1. Most sciences were subordinated to Marxism-Leninism, and this led to great distortions and stagnation.
  2. There was also a great flourishing of art, music, theater, and artists were allowed extensive experimentation.
  3. There is also no doubt that these upwardly mobile people were grateful and loyal to Stalin for their promotions. In 1934, a new era began in Literature and the Arts, with the imposition of Socialist Realism.
  4. They were not given internal passports for travel inside the USSR like other citizens,which meant they were tied to the soil.
  5. Above all, they had to portray Communists as "positive heroes" and anti-Communists as villains. Ironically, some Western historians suspected Stalin of having served the Okhrana, but if he did, no documentary evidence has survived.

The Soviet economy revived quickly. There was more food from the farmers; there were goods in the shops and outdoor markets. But was this communism or even socialism? Many party members did not think so; they considered NEP to be a betrayal of communist principles. Lenin himself saw NEP not as a departure from socialism, but as a temporary expedient.

He called it "state capitalism," and claimed it was "the ante-chamber of socialism. Khruschev in the early 1960s, and under Mikhail S. Gorbachev in the late 1980s. It also inspired some of the reforms carried out in Red China by Deng Xsiao Ping in the 1980s and after. The Soviet government launched a campaign to eradicate illiteracy and reorganized the school system. Education at all levels was free, but it taught communist ideology; it also combined book learning with physical work.

The old high schools, called "gimnazia," were abolished and replaced by new secondary schools which combined general education with vocational training; both inculcated communist ideology. Finally, during the 1920s, most schools abolished textbooks and examinations. While this was partly due to new educational theory, it also stemmed from a lack of appropriate textbooks written in a communist framework.

There was censorship of all printed matter and writers were organized in a "Proletarian Cultural and Educational Organization" Proletcult.

To what extent was the Soviet Union under Stalin a totalitarian state?

Thus, as Chernyshevsky had preached in the late 19th century, culture and education had a didactic mission: Nevertheless, in comparison with the later Stalinist period, NEP was a time of relative cultural freedom. Great emphasis was placed on the popularization of culture, specially in the key cities, where the theater and art exhibitions were accessible to the people. Likewise, state-owned publishing houses printed large editions of both classical and contemporary Russian literature.

At this time, most of the poets and writers supported the Soviet system, e. Mayakovskv 1893-1930Sergei A. Yesenin 1895-1925and Nicholas S. Gumilev 1886-1921also writers such as Boris A. However, while Yesenin's suicide apparently was brought on by debauchery, Mayakovsky's stemmed at least in part from disillusionment with Stalin's brand of communism. Pilnyak, who opposed organized terror, wrote a novel titled: Tale of the Unextinguished Moon.

Frunze 1885-1925had been murdered while undergoing an operation.

True or not, such a rumor made the rounds in Moscow and the issueof Novy Mir in which it appeared was confiscated by the authorities.

Pilnyak was arrested in late October 1937 and accused of being a Japanese spy. This seemed a plausible charge for he had visited Japan, but it was used to remove him as an inconvenient critic of the regime.

He was shot in April 1938, one of many Soviet writers and poets who perished in Stalin's Great Terror of 1938-39. Thus, though the government tolerated non-party artists and writers, there were certain limits.

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A less drastic example is that of Evgeny I. Zamyatin 1884-1937 whose novel We was a biting futuristic satire of the fully developed totalitarian state and could not be published in the Soviet Union. The novel described how a ruthless group of people established a state that controlled all aspects of human activity. Zamyatin was allowed to emigrate and died in Paris in 1937. His novel was finally published in the USSR when Gorbachev launched his policy of "glasnost" openness in the late 1980s.

There was also a great flourishing of art, music, theater, and artists were allowed extensive experimentation. But the greatest achievements were in the area of film. However, he soon encountered problems.


His film about collectivization, The General Line, was suspended and the film about the Bolshevik revolution, October, was banned, because it showed Trotsky. Eisenstein went abroad, returning in 1932, only to be virtually banned. He was to be reinstated after making the patriotic film Alexander Nevsky 1938which was produced according to party directives and fitted Stalin's new line of using Russian history to teach patriotism.

The film won a Stalin prize, but since it was anti-German the Teutonic Knights were Germansit was banned again during the period of German-Soviet friendship in 1939-41. Here the young Tsar was shown as an idealist working for the good of the Russian people. In fact, Stalin told the actors how he saw the Tsar, and the film was generally seen as an allegory for Stalin. Today, Eisenstein's films are recognized as cinema classics. Since communism was atheistic, it is not surprising that religion came under attack.

This was the u s s r under stalin the more so, since the Orthodox Church had been a pillar of Tsarism and supported the "Whites" anti-communists in the civil war. Thus, thousands of churches were destroyed, while priests and nuns were arrested and sent to labor camps. At the same time, strident propaganda campaigns condemned religion as a fraud and as "an opiate for the people" Marx.

The government briefly supported the establishment of a counter church, called the "Living Church," made up of renegade priests. However, in 1927, Metropolitan Sergei, officially recognized the Soviet regime and ordered the clergy and the faithful to accept it. This policy is sometimes justified by the argument that it allowed the church to survive - but we should note that it was infiltrated by government agents.

Finally, the church was under complete government control, which led to the creation of an "underground church" which did not recognize Sergei and his successors.

Under Soviet rule, the non-Russian nationalities were allowed their own schools, but teaching had to conform to communist doctrine. In 1925, when Soviet control was considered secure, there was a very brief period of free cultural development. This policy aimed at fusing national cultures with communism, but it actually produced a vigorous development of these cultures, especially in Soviet Ukraine. In Moscow, this raised fears of Ukrainian nationalism and separatism; therefore, extensive purges of literary organizations took place in Ukraine in 1927.

These purges were replicated in Belorussia now Belarus and other non-Russian republics. For a few years, Soviet Jews were allowed to use Yiddish in Jewish schools and to publish Yiddish and Hebrew newspapers. However, synagogues were closed down. In fact, while Yiddish and Hebrew were tolerated, or at least encouraged, the official policy was to use these languages as instruments to effect the total assimilation of the Jews.

Thus, while the Soviet government officially condemned anti-semitism, it aimed at eradicating the Jewish faith. Furthermore, Jewish self-help organizations were abolished and pre-revolutionary Jewish political parties were banned, as were all parties except the communists.

Most of the Jews in the Soviet Union lived in towns. At one time, Soviet policy aimed at persuading as many as possible to take up farming in compact Jewish settlements, which were hardly conducive to assimilation.

The most ambitious such project was launched in 1928; in 1934, it led to the creation of the Jewish Autonomous district of Birobiian, located 78 miles west of Khabarovsk, near China Soviet Far East.

This was a failure, for most Jews preferred city work and in any case collectivization meant the Jews could not farm their own land. This was to counter Zionism, which called for a Jewish homeland in Palestine. Soviet policy toward the Jews was a success. The official condemnation of anti-semitism and the the u s s r under stalin of equal rights for all quickly led to the assimilation of the vast majority of Soviet Jews, while also attracting sympathy and support for Soviet communism and the USSR from Jews outside the Soviet Union.

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However, although Russian anti-semitism was muted, it remained strong, manifesting itself in anti-Jewish discrimination in higher education and employment. Jews had their race listed in their identity papers "Yevrei"but then all Soviet passports listed the owners' nationality.

The Moslem peoples of the Caucasus and Soviet Central Asia also benefitted briefly from early Soviet toleration for they were allowed to use the Arabic script. However, the Soviet government aimed at their total integration in the Soviet state and therefore cut them off from their brethren in neighboring states.