3 Stalin’s Last Purge One of the things that I had really liked over the years was the possibility of giving documentary workshops in different countries. And the longer the period the better. So when I was invited by Ngee Ann Poly in Singapore to be a guest lecturer there for six months I was absolutely delighted. On arrival I was even more delighted to find that I only had to teach one and a half days a week. In addition I had a few hours of consulting, but nothing serious. As a result of these arrangements I had a lot of time on my hands. The only problem was
Epiphany Sheila Fitzpatrick was a geeky ten-year-old Melbournian when, on a Saturday afternoon in 1951, Robert C. Tucker had an epiphany. He was in Moscow. I had been browsing in the Academy of Sciences bookstore and was walking down Gorky Street toward the U.S. embassy on Mokhovaia. In full view below was the Red Square and, off to its right, the Kremlin. … Suddenly I had … a momentous thought …: What if the idealized image of Stalin, appearing day after day in the party-controlled, party-supervised Soviet press, were an
Debates on Stalinism gives an up-to-date, concise overview of major debates in the history of Stalinism. It introduces readers to changing approaches since the 1950s, and more broadly to scholarly views on this society reaching back to the 1930s. It argues that writing the history of Stalinism is not only about the Soviet past. It is also centrally shaped by current anxieties and concerns of the scholars studying it. In short, there is a politics of writing the history of Stalinism. Combining biographical investigation of leading historians with thematic and chronological analysis of major topics of study, Debates on Stalinism uncovers the history of these politics. The book provides a snapshot of the state of the field and suggests possible future avenues of further research.
Stalinism The historiography of the Soviet Union contains three major fields of contention. The first is the Revolution of 1917, a debate about origins and legitimacy. Why did the Revolution happen? Who supported it? Could it have been avoided? Was it a legitimate revolution or an illegitimate coup? 1 The Soviet Union's end is also controversial, a debate about the future of socialism as much as its history. Was the Soviet Union reformable? Could 1991 have been avoided? Was it doomed from the start, or could it have developed into a more
5 Stalin and the housewife The socially minded woman A young mother lays in an iron bed, her head on her elbow and a smile on her face, the picture of a happy mother. She reaches across her newborn baby to hand the viewer an envelope (Figure 5.1). A framed photograph of Stalin rests on the bed stand, next to a bouquet of fresh flowers. The caption to this image explains that the woman is voting for the person in the photograph, who is her and the child’s “best friend.” This is an image of a Soviet labour ward of 1938. Here, the father of the child is replaced by
When it started to get dark on 1 March 1953, the guards at Stalin's country residence not far from Moscow began to worry: he still had not emerged from his room and was unusually silent. Having summoned their courage, one of the guards and a maid ventured into the room to meet with a shocking scene: Stalin was lying on the floor of his bedroom, conscious but making incoherent noises. He had also wet himself. Members of the Politburo – Stalin's main associates – quickly arrived but were told the leader was in an “unpresentable state” and was
1 The aesthetic turn after Stalin In October 1967 readers of the journal Dekorativnoe Iskusstvo SSSR were probably surprised to find that the latest issue lacked its usual table of contents and was mostly devoid of text. Instead, they were confronted with forty-five pages of high-quality colour and black-and-white images of objects produced in the Soviet Union over the past five decades since its founding. This is how the journal’s editors – made up of decorative artists, designers, critics and philosophers – chose to celebrate the jubilee of the October
A loud silence One voice was conspicuously absent from the 1986–87 debate on Stalinism: Moshe Lewin, then at the University of Pennsylvania. An unorthodox Marxist scholar of the Soviet experience, a social historian well before ‘revisionism’ emerged, Lewin had become a mentor to many who thought of themselves as ‘socialist historians’, and ‘Marxist–Lewinists’. 1 Sheila Fitzpatrick was neither, and Lewin had never been very impressed by the Australian. In 1979, after he had read her nearly decade-old volume, The Commissariat of Enlightenment
Joseph Stalin and his cronies hated homosexuals. In fact, they never called them homosexuals – instead they called them “pederasts” – a crude and vulgar Russian counterpart of the English word “queer”. The ruthless Soviet leader, responsible for the death and suffering of millions of Soviet people, was unconcerned with political correctness. The Soviet Union, the largest communist state in the world, over which Stalin presided, was slightly over a decade old when he came to power. In 1917, the Bolsheviks led by Vladimir
This book tells the story of the political and intellectual adventures of Edward Palmer Thompson, one of Britain's foremost twentieth-century thinkers. It shows that all of Thompson's work, from his acclaimed histories to his voluminous political writings to his little-noticed poetry, was inspired by the same passionate and idiosyncratic vision of the world. The book demonstrates the connection between Thompson's famously ferocious attack on the ‘Stalinism in theory’ of Louis Althusser and his assaults on positivist social science in such books as The making of the English working class, and produces evidence to show that Thompson's hostility to both left- and right-wing forms of authoritarianism was rooted in first-hand experience of violent political repression.