POL359 Lecture 8 - Stalinism Concluded
Thursday, November 3, 2011
The importance of the role of coercion as an integral part of Stalinism
Nationalities Policy – Remember Lenin supported and encouraged the development of
national identities among the national minorities of the country.
Stalin’s nationality policy has two very different interpretations of its implications and its
consequences for the collapse of the Soviet Union:
1) The Soviet union under Stalin had been an experience of nation destroying that was very
deliberate. Collectivization and the purges impacted national communities. The famine of
1932-33 directed at Ukranians and Kasachs. These communities saw this as a deliberate
attack on their own identity. Stalin saw these people as being too nationalistic. The ideology
itself led to a wide range of policy that undermined national identites:
Class would become the new identity
The emergence of the new soviet man who would have a set of secular
socialist values – see himself in terms of relations and class interest
Militant athiesm – aggressive attacks on established religions which
constitute an integral part of any national identity.
Under Stalin there was a very extensive program of deportations of entire nationalities.
These began in the late 1930s with the deoportation of the community of ethnic Koreans.
Deportations of a very large ethnic German region who’s ancestors dated back to Catherine
the Great on the grounds that the constituted a national security threat with the impending
war from Germany.
After the victory of the Red Army Stalin issued the decrees calling for the deportation of
several countries on the grounds that they had committed treason. This included the North
Caucuses – The Chechens, the Georgian/Armenian Republic, the Crimean Tatars.
The deportation simply involved a decree issued under Stalin’s name and called on military
forces to use whatever means necessary to quickly remove the ethnic group from the region
and move them far east. Involved 1.2-5 million people. Priority of deportations over rode
war needs, so these groups were reported en masse. Roughly 20-25% of these populations
were lost in transit but each community survived the processes to some degree.
Stalin undertook a systematic policy of resettlement within the country over the entire
period of his Regime. Ethnic Russians from the Russian republic were encouraged to
migrate to minority republics. Russian language was the language of public communication
in these regions. They were “made to feel at home” wherever they were in the Soviet Union.
Thus you have huge concentrations of Russians in Ukrain, Latvia, Estonia and Kazakhstan.
Another policy of the regime under Stalin was to reinforce and enhance the treaching of the
Russian language to minorities. Required that Russian be taught in primary and secondary
schools as a second language.
In the territories acquired after WWII the same processes took place but were even more
intense. There were deportations of political/economic/intelectual elites. Large numbers of ethnic Russians were brought into these territories and the Soviet modle of development
was imposed over a short period of time in these regions.
The argument is that the nationalities harboured grievences towards the regime due to the
policies of Stalin. When Gorbachev opens up the issue for discussion the opportunity arises
for nationalist movements that advocate for and achieve independence from the Soviet
The secon argument What occurred in the late 1980s and early 1990s was the
unintended result of national building.
A lot of the traditionally based smaller communities are able to retain their culture along
with elites who are privilaged in this region. By the end of Stalin, Khrustov and Brezhnev
these elites retain power.
This is reinforced by Stalins ambiguous nationality policy In the early 1930s Stalin
realized that the commitment of the people to Socialism was insufficient to create cohesion
for the sacrifices the people had to give up.
Begins to talk about the idea of a “mother land”. This term has strong ressonance with the
various nations within the Union.
Friendship of Nations – This counters the idea that national identity be weakened. Argued
that all nations should work in harmony together to build socialism and defend their
country. This phrase was exhibited in all sorts of exhibitions in Moscow. Increasicly fell out
of use because Stalin began to use the idea of “Russia”.
When the Bolsheviks came to power they wanted to separate themselves from the past. As
the 30s progress Stalin begins to rehabilitate Russian heros. Stalin began to introduce
Russian as a second language in all non-Russian schools. Encouraged the migration of
Russians to other territories. Cinemtography and liturature were used to enhance the public
image and brand the country as Russia. Russian writers from the past were reintroduced as
Russian heros and revered as great contributers to the development of Russian identity and
This pro-Russia propaganda were muted to some degree especially during WWII (it would
be hard to get a Ukrainian to fight for “Russia”)
In 1945 – Stalin allows for a significant amount of discussion over who contributed the most
to WWII – some argue it was the party, others argue that it was the Red Army, argue that it
is the Soviet people as a whole, or Stalin himself.
Stalin states that Russians and Russia are above all other nations in the Soviet Union. Stalin
attributes primordial characteristics to the Russian people as though they crompromised an
organic entity. In the 30s this would have been seen as an anti-party stance. This speech
sets the tone for the rest of Stalin’s regime a wave of Russian nationalism and patriatism.
Cultural Revolution Under Stalin:
Brokedown Russian civil society By the early 1930s under Stalin Stalin defines all types of Social activity as
transmition belts – mechanisms for conveying the messages of the regime and
converting them into actvities that are consistent with building new attitudes and
Ensures that the personnel of all insitutions of civil society are appointed by the
part and are party members – unlike most civil societies, the organizational
structure of society was one that Stalin attempted to control to the maximum
extent. The leadership, activities and expression of ideas/interests were all very
carefully controlled by the state through a massive level of censorship
Stalin Himself – The Cult of the Individual (Kult Lichnost)
Refers to the idea of a leader who focuses the spotlight of publicity primarily on himself. A
leader who is depicted as a living icon. Refers to the idea of an individual who accumulates
as much power as possible in his own hands. Rules through division rather than the
building of coalitions. Most importantly abuses his power for personal or social purposes
that are inconsistent with the interests of society.
Stalin was known as the great leader of the Soviet people, the leader of the proletariat, the
greatest genius of all times and peoples etc…
Post Stalinism –
Stalin’s regime comes to an end on a very uncer