Life’s a Circus

Theatrical poster for Circus

Theatrical poster for Circus

The 1936 Russian Soviet film, Circus, directed by Grigori Aleksandrov and Isidor Simkov, tells the story of a famous American performer, Marion Dixon, as she flees from the United States after persecution from giving birth to a black child. She goes with a corrupt theatrical agent, Franz von Kneishitz, who looks suspiciously like Adolf Hitler, to Russia where she becomes a circus performer. After falling in love with another performer, Ivan Petrovich Martinov, von Kneishitz becomes jealous and not only prevents her from staying with Petrovich, but actively abuses Marion, despite claiming to love her.… Read the rest here

Come one, come all

Aleksandrov and Simkov’s 1936 work of “Circus” combines the elements of farce, comedy, vaudeville, and melodrama in order to produce a ubiquitously enjoyable, light-hearted tale of heroism in the face of adversity laced with prominent themes of existing world politics and the Soviet socialist cause. The simple plot revolves mainly around the exploits of a fictitious American circus performer, Marion Dixon, and her engagements in love and peril as she tries to seek sanctuary in the Soviet Union in an attempt to escape the bigoted derision she faces in America at the cause of her being the mother to a black child.… Read the rest here

Contradiction Within Soviet Identity: The Soviet Union’s Struggle With Nationality

Because the Soviet government focused on indigenization (Korenizatsiya) in the 1920’s yet rejected the attempts at independence of socialist republics such as Ukraine, it was unable to create a concrete “Soviet identity” that separated “high culture” from “national identity.”1

Contradiction regarding the Soviet Union’s handling of nationalities began with the Law of the Finnish Sejm and the First Declaration of the Rada. In the former, Finland declared its independence after the fall of the Tsarist Regime.… Read the rest here

A Nation Divided

The early nineteen twenties were a challenging time for the leaders of the new Soviet Union. Not only were they trying to learn how to lead a country while already being in control, they were also trying to find balance between all their internal contradicting ideas. The six main leaders were Lenin, Stalin, Bukharian, Trotsky, Zinoviev, Kamenev. Because of their different backgrounds and skill sets their ideas regarding the future of Soviet Union were very diverse.… Read the rest here

Modernization or Bust, Right?

The goal for the Soviet Union was to modernize and move to from a pre-indurstial state through modernization to socialism. Was this goal achieved, did the Soviet Union modernize? Martin argues even though the Soviet Union was reaching for beyond modernization, that due to extreme Soviet statism it arrived at a different location; neo-traditionalism.

Ernest Gellner’s theory of nationality states that in reality nations are the inevitable by product of the social organization of industrial society.… Read the rest here

Who really likes living in a communal apartment anyways???

The idea of the USSR as a “communal apartment” presents the idea of socialism and the Soviet state in an analogy that is easy to grasp and remember1). The “communal apartment” ties in with the author’s thesis of the creation within the Soviet Union and the “Bolsheviks efforts on behalf of ethnic particularism.” Consistent efforts is seen in promoting group rights even at the cost of not harmonizing with rights of the proletariat, in contrast showing hostility to the rights of the individual2).… Read the rest here

The USSR as a Communal Apartment

Author Yuri Slezkine poses an interesting view of the USSR in the late 1920’s and early 30’s in his chapter “The USSR as a Communal Apartment, or How a Socialist State Promoted Ethnic Particularism” in the book Stalinism: New Directions. The chapter details the “Great Transformation” of 1928-1932, during which ethnic diversity was highlighted and celebrated; it then explains the “Great Retreat” during the 1930’s, when nationalism as a whole was discouraged except those select nationalities that reinforced socialist ideas and contributed to the overall success of the USSR.… Read the rest here