Human Rights Violations in Russia

Russia has a sad history of human rights abuses, spanning issues from the 2013 law banning “propaganda of nontraditional relationships” to the imprisonment of Pussy Riot in 2012 for an act of free speech. After researching Pussy Riot, I am aware that they performed in Moscow’s Cathedral of Christ the Savior, and chose the location in part because of their outrage in the church leaders’ support of Putin in his election. Members of Pussy Riot were arrested for “hooliganism” as well as for acts of religious hatred.… Read the rest here

L’viv Hippies and the Soviet Child

The hippies in L’viv were acting upon feelings of isolation in a modern industrial world, their perceptions of hypocrisy of Soviet Communist organizations, and a general yearning for individualism. Unlike Natalia and Gennadii, who were introduced to us in Raleigh’s “Sputnik Generation”, these hippies of the late 1960s and ’70s did not feel the same natural obligation to obey their parents and the soviet societal structure. In fact, many youths were drawn to the hippie culture by family conflicts.… Read the rest here

Developing Countries and the Cold War

In “The Superpower Quest for Empire: The Cold War and Soviet Support for ‘Wars of National Liberation'”, Kanet illustrates that the conflict between the Soviet Union and the United States in the Cold War had deep, lasting effects in the developing world, as each superpower attempted to assert its dominance over Third World countries to either lead them on the communist path or away from it. Unlike my previous perceptions of the Cold War, Kanet characterizes much of the Soviet Union’s initiative as resulting from a lack of US response.… Read the rest here

Nationalism and the Soviet State

In Trey Martin’s article, “Modernization or Neo-traditionalism? Ascribed Nationality and Soviet Primordialism”, he argues that the Soviet state most clearly mirrors a neo-traditional model, primarily evident in the Soviet approach to nationality, which was initiated through industrialization. According to Ernest Gellner’s theory of nationality, industrialization destroyed village folk culture by uprooting peasantry and placing them into an urban industrial environment. This led to the formation of a new high, or shared, culture to establish a base for national identity.… Read the rest here

Collectivization: No.

In Stalin’s drive for collectivization, we see the difference between “intent” and “reality”. Stalin put too much faith in workers, the proletariat, to successfully carry out collectivization. Although Stalin at first labeled collectivization as a political necessity that must be brought about gradually, the actual process was anything but gradual. What was meant to be a revolution built from the ground up incurred little more than destruction, and was wholly brought about from the top to the bottom, which is the exact opposite of Marxist ideology.… Read the rest here

Not Colonial but Not Much Better: Backwardness and the Quest for Civilization

While colonial empires strove to emphasize the difference between the “ruler” and the “ruled”, modern mobilizational states sought to homogenize the entire population. Modern mobilizational states, such as that of the Soviet Union and to the Kemalist regime, dealt directly with their citizens through destroying traditions and “micro-managing” society. Both the Soviet regime and the Kemalist regime emerged in the disorganization following WWI and both pursued “shock modernization” programs which involved radical and intense intervention in society and culture, including the spread of literacy, secularization, and the integration of women into public life.… Read the rest here

Russian Avant-Garde

The Russian avant-garde movement represented the struggle between the past and the future. The explosion of Russian artistry from 1907 to 1917 turned away from the realism that appeared to have dominated the end of the nineteenth century (like that reflected in the work of the Wanderers) and presented an even greater level of experimentation. In contrast to realism, there was an increased focus on beauty and emotion, particularly in dance. An example of beauty “for beauty’s sake” can be seen in Diaghilev’s “Ballet Russes”, which included elaborate and colorful set design and costumes as a vital component of dance performances.… Read the rest here

The Catechism of the Revolutionary

The Cathechism of the Revolutionary seems to be contradictory. The prevalent theme is that the primary and single motivator behind all decisions is the consideration of how said decision will benefit or harm the revolution. Any action that will benefit the revolution must be undertaken immediately, regardless of any personal conflicts or entanglements and, likewise, any action or person who could harm the revolution must be destroyed. While the idea that the revolution stands above all else remains constant throughout, there are discrepancies in the teaching that the entire modern world must be hated in order to appropriately embrace a new world embodied by happiness and peace.… Read the rest here

The Emancipation Manifesto, 1861

The Emancipation Manifesto of March 3, 1861 released serfs from their serfdom. However, this improvement of the peasant condition was emphasized as gradual, leading to the establishment of many temporary measures and statuses to ensure the process of serfdom abolishment went smoothly. For example, the peasants were still required to fulfill obligations to the nobles, so much so that they were “temporarily bound” to their nobles, which hardly seems different from their situation previously. Language regarding the nobility was extremely courteous, praising the nobility for their generous hearts in voluntarily renouncing serfdom, implying that the renouncement may not have been as “voluntary” as it was portrayed to be.… Read the rest here

Gogol’s “The Overcoat”

In “The Overcoat”, Gogol ridicules Russia’s ranking system and the emphasis placed on being a “significant person” in society. The flaws in this, system which is based in superficiality and vanity, are most readily evident in Akaky Akakiyevich’s attempts to report the theft of his greatcoat. He begins his efforts with a policeman, who failed to witness the crime even though it happened right in front of him. Akaky then implores the assistance of the next highest level of authority, the district superintendent.… Read the rest here