Imagining socialism in the soviet century
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Much of the current conversation about social justice, economic responsibility and individual self-realization is informed by an explicit or implicit comparison between capitalist and socialist modernities. The Soviet Union’s variety of socialism understandably serves as a critical master referent in this conversation. In this regard, a dominant historical narrative that ties the history of Soviet socialism to the Bolshevik origins imposes serious limitation to available depictions of socialism and histories of the twentieth century. This article turns the Bolshevik fundamentals assigned to the Soviet project into a problem of historical analysis and argues that the Soviet experience has more than one normative vision of socialism to offer. The goal is to foreground the divergence of normative conceptions of the socialist society and individual by historicizing the two principal and presently closely identified ideological-educational undertakings: those of the New Man and the ‘New Soviet Person’. By tracing the histories of the two projects, the article shows how the collectivist ethos of the Bolshevism of the 1910–1920s that rejected the ontological differentiation between the individual and his or her social milieu failed to retain its ideological, institutional, and cultural currency even during the 1930s, not to mention throughout the Soviet period.
Published Version (Please cite this version)10.1080/03071022.2017.1327640
Publication InfoKrylova, Anna (2017). Imagining socialism in the soviet century. Social History, 42(3). pp. 315-341. 10.1080/03071022.2017.1327640. Retrieved from https://hdl.handle.net/10161/15159.
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Associate Professor in the Department of History
Anna Krylova is Associate Professor of Modern Russian History at Duke University. She works on twentieth-century Russia and the challenges posed in envisioning and building a socialist alternative in the age of industrial and post-industrial modernity and globalization. Questions of historical theory and gender theory propel her work on contemporary historiography. She is the author of Soviet Women in Combat: A History of Violence on the Eastern Front (Cambridge University