Modernization or Neo-traditionalism?

Did the Soviet Union achieve their goal to modernize? According to Terry Martin, author of the article Modernization or Neo-traditionalism? Ascribed Nationality and Soviet Primordialism, argues the Soviet Union went did not achieve modernization instead they went to Neotradiononalism. What exactly is needed to reach modernization? Ernest Gellner believes modernization results from industrialization and to have a successful pre-industrial state you must achieve nationalism. Gellner believes one of the reasons the Soviet Union did not become a modernized state was Stalin forced industrialization on to the Soviets to rapidly which destroys cultures necessary to build a new high culture which is needed as the basis for a national identity needed to industrialize. Gellner also states the Bolsheviks follow an interpretation of nationality was to move the Soviets nationalist thoughts to the Bolsheviks sociological concept. In order to do this the Bolsheviks worked to remove national identity from the new high culture, with the idea of socialism not nationalism. But according to Gellner to achieve modernization is nationalism is needed. I found it interesting that even though the Soviet Union was culturally and ethically labeled and divided they were still unified on the ideas of Stalinism. And it was the Soviet Union’s devotion Stalinism and belief in socialism over nationalism prevented them from achieving modernization; instead they became a Neo-traditionalism state.

2 thoughts on “Modernization or Neo-traditionalism?

  1. Your summary of the article is pretty good and covers all the major points well. I thought it was interesting to see that, despite all the negative aspects of Stalin’s plans, they were, at the bottom line, successful in creating a more modern and industrial Soviet state.

  2. I agree that the Soviet Union never achieved Neo-Traditionalism as well as your great observations. Along with your observations, I was also struck by the paragraph discussing “Stalinist soslovnost” on page 170-171. By shifting social privileges from a structure based on past values, such as family and economic power, to one based on their relation to the Soviet government still seemed to support the principles of the past. Rather then Stalin stripping the Soviet Union of national and cultural- divide in this case, he redesigned the class structure to continue to socially stratify people. Was this principle driven by Stalin’s desire to secure power rather than to modernize the Soviet Union? This minor detail of his plan shows some concern and fogginess in his mission to create a modern Soviet Union.

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