At the Crossroads of Lenin and Stalin

Map of the USSR portraying 1922-1928

Map of the USSR portraying 1922-1928

(( Soviet Union 1922-1928 : Socialist republics – National powers. Digital image. Hisatlas – Map of Soviet Union 1922-1928. Accessed February 21, 2016. http://www.euratlas.net/history/hisatlas/ussr/192822URSS.html. ))

 

During the Russian Civil War, nationalist uprisings and criticisms left Bolshevik leadership with some important questions and decisions to make. They had to determine whether to grant different ethnicities and nationalities sovereignty, how to cope with those that did not receive as such, and how to make the union of soviet socialist republics stronger and well-connected.… Read the rest here

Propaganda by Rail

A Soviet propaganda train.

A Soviet propaganda train. [6]

While the leaders of the Bolshevik revolution were made up highly educated revolutionaries who trained body and mind to overcome the constraints of the the capitalist bourgeois, most of the population (around ninety percent) was of the peasant class. Most of the peasants in Tsarist Russia were illiterate, uneducated, and knew little of the world outside the villages that dotted the countryside. These villages were scattered over the 6 million square miles of Russia making contact with all of them a challenge.… Read the rest here

Fascism and the Inevitability of War & Stalin’s Master Plan

Fascism and the Inevitability of War & Stalin’s Master Plan

 

When representatives from Germany and the USSR established the Nazi-Soviet Non-Aggression Pact, it is difficult to tell whether the Soviets actually believed in the treaty lasting. The fact that the war resulted in a victory for the Allies and the USSR probably allowed the Soviets to see the war differently than the Axis powers, certainly with a different bias. In Joseph Stalin’s 1946 speech, he seemed to think that because the Germans were fascist with the Nazi Party at the helm, war was inevitable.… Read the rest here

A Manifesto So Compelling, Intriguing, Controversial, and Most Importantly, Still Relevant Today

The Communist Manifesto (1848)

Author: Karl Marx (1818-1883)

  • One of the most important and influential intellectuals of the nineteenth century
  • Economic situation was very volatile, but usually in poverty
  • Banned from entering many locations due to his radical ideas

Context:

  • Published in 1848
  • Industrial Revolution is either in full swing or starting to take hold, depending on location
  • The Communists has become feared by many in Western Europe, yet the group itself does not have a clear purpose, direction, or organization
    • Many of its members are not that knowledgeable of the complexities and history that Marx was able to notice
  • Western Europe is on the verge of revolution in many different locations – especially Germany

Language:

  • The Manifesto seems to be split into two in this regard:
    • Some sections are very dense with heavy academic wording and style → hard to read
    • Some sections are very straightforward and easy for everyone to understand
      • The list Marx made towards the end of the second section
      • The last words of the Manifesto, which are in all caps and are in simple terms
    • Marx, who ran his own newspaper, likely did this on purpose.
Read the rest here

Terror and Surveillance

“Surveillance means that the population is watched; terror means that its members are subject on an unpredictable but large-scale basis to arrest, execution, and other forms of state violence.”1 This is the theme of Chapter 8 of Sheila Fitzpatrick’s Everyday Stalinism, in which the modes of Soviet public repression and purging are explored in detail.

The development of the Communist “Great Purges” in the 1930s was a self-propelling loop of suspicion, witch-hunts, and above all else, terror.… Read the rest here

Soviet and Italian Planned Industry 1930s

While the United States and Western Europe raised eyebrows towards Stalin’s fantastical collectivization plans, Russia committed to several massive industrial projects in order to mobilize the Soviet Union’s rising communist dream. Many of these industrial projects were characterized by prometheanism, or, newfound strategies to subjugate and conquer lands for means of industry. The project of Magnitogorsk, a massive city constructed in the 1930s under Stalin’s five year plan, prevails as a paragon example of Soviet economic mobilization.… Read the rest here

The Age of Propaganda

japtrap

“Jap Trap,” World War II propaganda poster, United States Information Service, 1941–45. Densho Digital Archive, http://www.densho.org/.

“Propaganda can tip the scales,” claims Schivelbusch in regards to state influence in times of political turmoil in his Three New Deals. (85) The usual dialogue on the topic of interwar propaganda mostly elicits imagery associated with the USSR and Nazi regime, but what about the propaganda and control by the United States government? This is an example:

This blatantly racist imagery not only compares the Japanese to rats, it also depicts the rat with the physical stereotypes American’s gave the Japanese during the time.… Read the rest here

Political Leadership

The desire to make such historical comparisons is especially evident when examining the political systems of systems of Europe and the United States in the period surrounding World War II. Yoram Gorlizki and Hans Mommsen’s article “The Political (Dis)Orders of Stalinism and National Socialism” and Wolfgang Schivelbusch’s book Three New Deals make comparisons between the political systems of Hitler, Stalin and Roosevelt.

Both the pieces look at the leadership qualities of Hitler and compare them to another notable leader during the same time.… Read the rest here

Totalitarianism: A Comparison

Ian Kershaw’s Totalitarianism Revisited: Nazism and Stalinism in Comparative Perspective applies the modern definition of totalitarianism to Nazism, Fascism, and Stalinism. On the surface level, these three governments appear to be similar in their nature. A powerful figurehead dominating the governments ideologies and fueling the motives at large, while controlling their state with force and surveillance. Kershaw does a good job in pointing out while the term authoritarianism needs to be adjusted based on the evolution of Nazism and Stalinism, the term can be applied to Italy’s, Russia’s, and Germany’s governments spanning from a pre-WWII era to the transition the USSR endured following Stalin’s death, but emphasizes the importance of not losing track of their singularities.… Read the rest here

Modernity in the Soviet Union

In this article, historian, David Hoffman discusses the trends of modernity during the late 19th to 20th century, particularly in Russia as it became the Soviet Union. According to Hoffman, modernity is linked with the many ideals of the Enlightenment. Many tend to link the term modernity with democracy and associate it with the political and economic systems of the United States, England, and France. Hoffman briefly discusses the ideas of the enlightenment and the need for reason.… Read the rest here