What stood out in Khalid’s article is the thinking and the desired outcomes behind the Soviet Revolution and that of the Russian colonial empire. Russia before the revolution was less concerned with assimilation of the native population. The Russian government like most imperial powers looks at economic gains and has little interest in cultural issues. Russian even went so far as to allow for a measure of autonomy among various central Asian counties under its control. The question I would pose is whether Russia or any of the other major colonial empires valued or at least had a measure of respect for indigenous cultures, or perhaps realized that allowing people to keep that, which defines them their culture unmolested, makes it easier to control and exploit them?
The example of the way in which the socialists after the February Revolution looked at these people is quite different from the tsarist approach to these same peoples. The article mentions the idealistic views of some socialists immediately following the revolution that, national identity would remain in place for these peoples. Within two years, Stalin already determined to subjugate and assimilate the indigenous people. As Khalid points out “Much about the national cultural form had to be transformed if backwardness were to be overcome.”1 Unlike the conquests of colonial empires the goal of the “Soviet project was one of cultural revolution”2). It is truly amazing that the socialists considered their view of society and human thinking superior to 6000 years of human history. To say that another culture is backward or not progressive in comparison to one’s own shows the mindset, not one of a revolution for equality, but rather it manifests the latent imperialist thinking permeating even the pragmatic socialists leaders of the revolution. The Soviets “sought nothing less than the remaking of human nature”3). The Soviets turned socialism into a religious movement that imposed it unyielding thinking upon the people much the way the conquistadors imposed Christianity on the indigenous people of the America’s. The socialists like all other governments quickly lose touch with their ideological thinking and revert to human nature of man dominating man to his injury.
- Adeeb Khalid, “Backwardness and the Quest for Civilization: Early Soviet Central Asia in Comparative Perspective” Slavic Review 65 no. 2, (2006), p. 238 [↩]
- Adeeb Khalid, Backwardness and the Quest for Civilization: Early Soviet Central Asia in Comparative Perspective) Slavic Review 65 no. 2, (2006), p. 238 [↩]
- Adeeb Khalid, Backwardness and the Quest for Civilization: Early Soviet Central Asia in Comparative Perspective) Slavic Review 65 no. 2, (2006), p. 239 [↩]