Everything Was Forever Until It Was No More

Author: Alexei Yurchak
Publisher: Princeton University Press
ISBN: 9781400849109
Release Date: 2013-08-07
Genre: Social Science

Soviet socialism was based on paradoxes that were revealed by the peculiar experience of its collapse. To the people who lived in that system the collapse seemed both completely unexpected and completely unsurprising. At the moment of collapse it suddenly became obvious that Soviet life had always seemed simultaneously eternal and stagnating, vigorous and ailing, bleak and full of promise. Although these characteristics may appear mutually exclusive, in fact they were mutually constitutive. This book explores the paradoxes of Soviet life during the period of "late socialism" (1960s-1980s) through the eyes of the last Soviet generation. Focusing on the major transformation of the 1950s at the level of discourse, ideology, language, and ritual, Alexei Yurchak traces the emergence of multiple unanticipated meanings, communities, relations, ideals, and pursuits that this transformation subsequently enabled. His historical, anthropological, and linguistic analysis draws on rich ethnographic material from Late Socialism and the post-Soviet period. The model of Soviet socialism that emerges provides an alternative to binary accounts that describe that system as a dichotomy of official culture and unofficial culture, the state and the people, public self and private self, truth and lie--and ignore the crucial fact that, for many Soviet citizens, the fundamental values, ideals, and realities of socialism were genuinely important, although they routinely transgressed and reinterpreted the norms and rules of the socialist state.

Everything was Forever Until it was No More

Author: Alexei Yurchak
Publisher: Princeton University Press
ISBN: 0691121176
Release Date: 2006
Genre: History

Drawing on diaries, correspondence, interviews and memoirs, and applying historical, anthropological and linguistic analyses, this text explores late Soviet period (1960s-80s) through the eyes of the last Soviet generation.

Everything Was Forever Until It Was No More

Author: Alexei Yurchak
Publisher: Princeton University Press
ISBN: 9781400849109
Release Date: 2013-08-07
Genre: Social Science

Soviet socialism was based on paradoxes that were revealed by the peculiar experience of its collapse. To the people who lived in that system the collapse seemed both completely unexpected and completely unsurprising. At the moment of collapse it suddenly became obvious that Soviet life had always seemed simultaneously eternal and stagnating, vigorous and ailing, bleak and full of promise. Although these characteristics may appear mutually exclusive, in fact they were mutually constitutive. This book explores the paradoxes of Soviet life during the period of "late socialism" (1960s-1980s) through the eyes of the last Soviet generation. Focusing on the major transformation of the 1950s at the level of discourse, ideology, language, and ritual, Alexei Yurchak traces the emergence of multiple unanticipated meanings, communities, relations, ideals, and pursuits that this transformation subsequently enabled. His historical, anthropological, and linguistic analysis draws on rich ethnographic material from Late Socialism and the post-Soviet period. The model of Soviet socialism that emerges provides an alternative to binary accounts that describe that system as a dichotomy of official culture and unofficial culture, the state and the people, public self and private self, truth and lie--and ignore the crucial fact that, for many Soviet citizens, the fundamental values, ideals, and realities of socialism were genuinely important, although they routinely transgressed and reinterpreted the norms and rules of the socialist state.

Dreamworld and Catastrophe

Author: Susan Buck-Morss
Publisher: MIT Press
ISBN: 0262523310
Release Date: 2002
Genre: History

Developing the notion of dreamworld as both a poetic description of a collective mental state and an analytical concept, Susan Buck-Morss attempts to come to terms with mass dreamworlds at the moment of their passing. The dream of the twentieth century was the construction of mass utopia. As the century closes, this dream is being left behind; the belief that industrial modernization can bring about the good society by overcoming material scarcity for all has been challenged by the disintegration of European socialism, capitalist restructuring, and ecological constraints. The larger social vision has given way to private dreams of material happiness and to political cynicism. Developing the notion of dreamworld as both a poetic description of a collective mental state and an analytical concept, Susan Buck-Morss attempts to come to terms with mass dreamworlds at the moment of their passing. She shows how dreamworlds became dangerous when their energy was used by the structures of power as an instrument of force against the masses. Stressing the similarities between the East and West and using the end of the Cold War as her point of departure, she examines both extremes of mass utopia, dreamworld and catastrophe. The book is in four parts. "Dreamworlds of Democracy" asks whether collective sovereignty can ever be democratic. "Dreamworlds of History" calls for a rethinking of revolution by political and artistic avant-gardes. "Dreamworlds of Mass Culture" explores the affinities between mass culture's socialist and capitalist forms. An "Afterward" places the book in the historical context of the author's collaboration with a group of Moscow philosophers and artists over the past two tumultuous decades. The book is an experiment in visual culture, using images as philosophy, presenting, literally, a way of seeing the past. Its pictorial narratives rescue historical data that with the end of the Cold War are threatened with oblivion and challenge common conceptions of what this century was all about.

Khrushchev s Cold Summer

Author: Miriam Dobson
Publisher: Cornell University Press
ISBN: 9780801447570
Release Date: 2009
Genre: History

Between Stalin's death in 1953 and 1960, the government of the Soviet Union released hundreds of prisoners from the Gulag as part of a wide-ranging effort to reverse two decades and revive the spirit of the revolution. This exodus included not only victims of past purges but also these sentenced for criminal offenses. In Khrushchev's Cold Summer Miriam Dobson explores the impact of these returnees on communities and, more broadly, Soviet attempts to come to terms with the traumatic legacies of Stalin's terror. Drawing on private letters as well as official reports on the party and popular mood, Dobson probes social attitudes toward the changes occurring in the first post-Stalin decade.

Empire of Nations

Author: Francine Hirsch
Publisher: Cornell University Press
ISBN: 9780801455933
Release Date: 2014-10-03
Genre: History

When the Bolsheviks seized power in 1917, they set themselves the task of building socialism in the vast landscape of the former Russian Empire, a territory populated by hundreds of different peoples belonging to a multitude of linguistic, religious, and ethnic groups. Before 1917, the Bolsheviks had called for the national self-determination of all peoples and had condemned all forms of colonization as exploitative. After attaining power, however, they began to express concern that it would not be possible for Soviet Russia to survive without the cotton of Turkestan and the oil of the Caucasus. In an effort to reconcile their anti-imperialist position with their desire to hold on to as much territory as possible, the Bolsheviks integrated the national idea into the administrative-territorial structure of the new Soviet state. In Empire of Nations, Francine Hirsch examines the ways in which former imperial ethnographers and local elites provided the Bolsheviks with ethnographic knowledge that shaped the very formation of the new Soviet Union. The ethnographers—who drew inspiration from the Western European colonial context—produced all-union censuses, assisted government commissions charged with delimiting the USSR's internal borders, led expeditions to study "the human being as a productive force," and created ethnographic exhibits about the "Peoples of the USSR." In the 1930s, they would lead the Soviet campaign against Nazi race theories . Hirsch illuminates the pervasive tension between the colonial-economic and ethnographic definitions of Soviet territory; this tension informed Soviet social, economic, and administrative structures. A major contribution to the history of Russia and the Soviet Union, Empire of Nations also offers new insights into the connection between ethnography and empire.

Post Soviet Russia

Author: Roy A. Medvedev
Publisher: Columbia University Press
ISBN: 9780231502634
Release Date: 2000-11-07
Genre: Political Science

Roy Medvedev, one of the world's best-known Russian scholars and a former consultant to both Gorbachev and Yeltsin analyzes the main events that have transpired in the Russian federation since late August 1991. He looks at the plans that were meant to restructure a society in crisis but—for reasons both complex and obvious—were destined to fail. From the drastic liberalization of prices and "shock therapy" to the privatization of state owned property and Yeltsin's resignation and replacement by Vladimir Putin, this is an intricately fascinating saga of good intentions, philosophical warfare, and catastrophic miscalculations. Among the many compelling facts detailed here are Yeltsin's utter surprise—and lack of preparation—at the failed coup against Gorbachev in 1991, when power fell virtually into his lap; his failure to heed the warnings of learned advisers like Yuri Yaremenko, who knew that Western economics could not be applied to Russia; and Yeltsin's dramatic (and unprecedented) decree in 1992 allowing anyone to sell or buy anything they wished. In a sweeping conclusion covering the critical events of 1998 and 1999 as well as a detailed analysis of the 1995 and 1996 elections, Medvedev lays forth an exhaustive survey of recent political shifts, attitudes, statistics, and trends. From birth and death rates on the farm and in the city through a number of highly charged campaigns and elections to the new goal of the Communist Youth League (to become millionaires), this is a breathtakingly detailed survey of an unforgettable chapter in Russia's history.

Soviet Baby Boomers

Author: Donald J. Raleigh
Publisher: Oxford University Press
ISBN: 9780199311231
Release Date: 2013-09-19
Genre: History

Soviet Baby Boomers traces the collapse of the Soviet Union and the transformation of Russia into a modern, highly literate, urban society through the life stories of the country's first post-World War II, Cold War generation.

Time and Revolution

Author: Stephen E. Hanson
Publisher: Univ of North Carolina Press
ISBN: 9780807861905
Release Date: 2000-11-09
Genre: Political Science

Stephen Hanson traces the influence of the Marxist conception of time in Soviet politics from Lenin to Gorbachev. He argues that the history of Marxism and Leninism reveals an unsuccessful revolutionary effort to reorder the human relationship with time and that this reorganization had a direct impact on the design of the central political, socioeconomic, and cultural institutions of the Soviet Union from 1917 to 1991. According to Hanson, westerners tend to envision time as both rational and inexorable. In a system in which 'time is money,' the clock dominates workers. Marx, however, believed that communist workers would be freed of the artificial distinction between leisure time and work time. As a result, they would be able to surpass capitalist production levels and ultimately control time itself. Hanson reveals the distinctive imprint of this philosophy on the formation and development of Soviet institutions, arguing that the breakdown of Gorbachev's perestroika and the resulting collapse of the Soviet Union demonstrate the failure of the idea.

The Socialist Sixties

Author: Anne E. Gorsuch
Publisher: Indiana University Press
ISBN: 9780253009494
Release Date: 2013-06-12
Genre: History

The 1960s have reemerged in scholarly and popular culture as a protean moment of cultural revolution and social transformation. In this volume socialist societies in the Second World (the Soviet Union, East European countries, and Cuba) are the springboard for exploring global interconnections and cultural cross-pollination between communist and capitalist countries and within the communist world. Themes explored include flows of people and media; the emergence of a flourishing youth culture; sharing of songs, films, and personal experiences through tourism and international festivals; and the rise of a socialist consumer culture and an esthetics of modernity. Challenging traditional categories of analysis and periodization, this book brings the sixties problematic to Soviet studies while introducing the socialist experience into scholarly conversations traditionally dominated by First World perspectives.

Youth Politics in Putin s Russia

Author: Julie Hemment
Publisher: Indiana University Press
ISBN: 9780253017819
Release Date: 2015-09-14
Genre: Social Science

Julie Hemment provides a fresh perspective on the controversial nationalist youth projects that have proliferated in Russia in the Putin era, examining them from the point of view of their participants and offering provocative insights into their origins and significance. The pro-Kremlin organization Nashi ("Ours") and other state-run initiatives to mobilize Russian youth have been widely reviled in the West, seen as Soviet throwbacks and evidence of Russia’s authoritarian turn. By contrast, Hemment’s detailed ethnographic analysis finds an astute global awareness and a paradoxical kinship with the international democracy-promoting interventions of the 1990s. Drawing on Soviet political forms but responding to 21st-century disenchantments with the neoliberal state, these projects seek to produce not only patriots, but also volunteers, entrepreneurs, and activists.

Insectopedia

Author: Hugh Raffles
Publisher: Vintage
ISBN: 9781400096961
Release Date: 2011
Genre: Nature

Originally published in hardcover in 2010.

The Cultural Front

Author: Sheila Fitzpatrick
Publisher: Cornell University Press
ISBN: 0801495164
Release Date: 1992
Genre: History

When Lenin asked, "Who will beat whom?" (Kto kogo?), he had no plan to wage revolutionary class war in culture. Many young Communists thought differently, however. Seeking in the name of the proletariat to wrest "cultural hegemony" from the intelligentsia, they turned culture into a battlefield in the 1920s. But was this, as Communist militants thought, a genuine class struggle between "proletarian" Communists and the "bourgeois" intelligentsia? Or was it, as the intelligentsia believed, an onslaught by the ruling Communist Party on the eternal principles of cultural autonomy and intellectual freedom?In this volume, one of the foremost historians of the Soviet Union chronicles the fierce battle on "the cultural front" from the October Revolution through the Stalinist 1930s. Sheila Fitzpatrick brings together ten of her essays—two previously unpublished and all revised for inclusion here—which illuminate key arenas of the prolonged struggle over cultural values and institutional control. Individual essays deal with such major issues as the Cultural Revolution, the formation of the new Stalinist elite, and socialist realism, as well as recounting colorful episodes including the uproar over Shostakovich's opera Lady Macbeth of the Mtsensk District, arguments over sexual mores, and the new consumerism of the 1930s. Closely examining the cultural elites and orthodoxies that developed under Stalin, Fitzpatrick offers a provocative reinterpretation of the struggle's final outcome in which the intelligentsia, despite its loss of autonomy and the debasement of its culture, emerged as a partial victor.The Cultural Front is essential reading for anyone interested in the formative history of the Soviet Union and the dynamic relationship between culture and politics.

Armageddon Averted

Author: Stephen Kotkin
Publisher: Oxford University Press
ISBN: 0199743843
Release Date: 2008-12-23
Genre: Political Science

Featuring extensive revisions to the text as well as a new introduction and epilogue--bringing the book completely up to date on the tumultuous politics of the previous decade and the long-term implications of the Soviet collapse--this compact, original, and engaging book offers the definitive account of one of the great historical events of the last fifty years. Combining historical and geopolitical analysis with an absorbing narrative, Kotkin draws upon extensive research, including memoirs by dozens of insiders and senior figures, to illuminate the factors that led to the demise of Communism and the USSR. The new edition puts the collapse in the context of the global economic and political changes from the 1970s to the present day. Kotkin creates a compelling profile of post Soviet Russia and he reminds us, with chilling immediacy, of what could not have been predicted--that the world's largest police state, with several million troops, a doomsday arsenal, and an appalling record of violence, would liquidate itself with barely a whimper. Throughout the book, Kotkin also paints vivid portraits of key personalities. Using recently released archive materials, for example, he offers a fascinating picture of Gorbachev, describing this virtuoso tactician and resolutely committed reformer as "flabbergasted by the fact that his socialist renewal was leading to the system's liquidation"--and more or less going along with it. At once authoritative and provocative, Armageddon Averted illuminates the collapse of the Soviet Union, revealing how "principled restraint and scheming self-interest brought a deadly system to meek dissolution." Acclaim for the First Edition: "The clearest picture we have to date of the post-Soviet landscape." --The New Yorker "A triumph of the art of contemporary history. In fewer than 200 pagesKotkin elucidates the implosion of the Soviet empire--the most important and startling series of international events of the past fifty years--and clearly spells out why, thanks almost entirely to the 'principal restraint' of the Soviet leadership, that collapse didn't result in a cataclysmic war, as all experts had long forecasted." -The Atlantic Monthly "Concise and persuasive The mystery, for Kotkin, is not so much why the Soviet Union collapsed as why it did so with so little collateral damage." --The New York Review of Books

Soviet Society in the Era of Late Socialism 1964 1985

Author: Neringa Klumbytė
Publisher: Rowman & Littlefield
ISBN: 9780739175835
Release Date: 2012
Genre: History

In Soviet Society in the Era of Late Socialism, 1964–85, Neringa Klumbyte and Gulnaz Sharafutdinova bring together scholarship examining the social and cultural life of the USSR and Eastern Europe from 1964 to 1985. This interdisciplinary and comparative study explores topics such as the Soviet middle class, individualism, sexuality, health, late-socialist ethics, and civic participation. The socialist state was not simply an oppressive institution that dictated how to live and what to think—it also responded to and was shaped by individuals' needs.