Energizing the Everyday

Chapter 7 of Beyond Totalitarianism ,“Energizing the Everyday”, by Sheila Fitzpatrick and Alf Lüdtke explores bonds between people and bonds to Nazism and Stalinism. The authors attempt to explore the range of possibilities within society in each regime’s sphere. An area of this essay I found particularly interesting was Sociability Outside the Workplace.

 This section focuses on the difference between sociability in Russia and Germany, as they are strikingly dissimilar. In Russia during the Stalin period, there was great control over activities outside of Soviet productivity. When the New Economic Policy ended in the late 1920s, private industry closed down and the state created substitutes for this private sector. Contrastingly, in Germany, there was much reorganization of recreational activities. Sporting clubs and singing groups just to name a few were allowed in Nazi Germany. However, the incorporation of the swastika and Nazi ideals ensued. Although there was this reorganization, the fundamentals and inner-workings of each club did not change. Although there was a change in social structure in society both in Russia and Germany, there were underground scenes for things such as drinking and religion. I think one of the main reasons, at least in Russia, that this social elimination and/or reorganization occurred all leads to the productivity of each citizen. By eliminating areas in which citizens could become brainwashed or not in their best state of mind, the State gained more power for ideology infiltration.

Breaking and Mending of Social Bonds

In Chapter 7 of Beyond Totalitarianism ((Shelia Fitzpatrick and Alf Lüdtke, “Energizing the Everyday: On the Breaking and Making of Social Bonds in Nazism and Stalinism,” in Beyond Totalitarianism: Stalinism and Nazism Compared, ed. Michael Geyer and Shelia Fitzpatrick (New York: Cambridge University Press, 2009).)) Shelia Fiztpatrick and Alf Lüdtke discuss the breaking and mending of social bonds present in Nazi Germany and Stalinist Soviet Russia.  There a several types of bonds including inclusion, exclusion, and creation and renewal bonds.  Within exclusion bonds, Fitzpatrick and Lüdtke examine family bonds.  On page 286 it states:

It should be noted that implicit in this whole inquiry is the assumption that family bonds are the sources of support and that any weakening of them makes individuals mentally vulnerable and prone to loneliness.  Yet, families are not necessarily harmonious but often the source of pain, distress, and hardship; they may be rent with anger to the point that the family is incapable of offering support to its members and escape may seem highly desirable.  Such stifling family situations have often been discussed in societies facing both commodification and individualization of social and cultural relationships.

One bond that is constantly broken and then mended is that of family.  While family bonds are supposed to be strong, they typically dissolved within Germany and Soviet Russia at the time due to stronger ties and bonds to the state.  Often times children would rat out parents and other family members to state officials for offenses being done.  This intrigued me because it simply shows the great power of manipulation the state had over the individuals.  If family members were able to go against their own family to protect the state, how could individuals trust anyone?