What led to the breakdown of the Soviet Union? Steven Solnick argues, contrary to most current literature, that the Soviet system did not fall victim to stalemate at the top or to a revolution from below, but rather to opportunism from within. In three case studies--on the Communist Youth League, the system of job assignments for university graduates, and military conscription--Solnick makes use of rich archival sources and interviews to tell the story from a new perspective, and to employ and test Western theories of the firm in the Soviet environment. He finds that even before Gorbachev, mechanisms for controlling bureaucrats in Soviet organizations were weak, allowing these individuals great latitude in their actions. Once reforms began, they translated this latitude into open insubordination by seizing the very organizational assets they were supposed to be managing. Thus, the Soviet system, Solnick argues, suffered the organizational equivalent of a colossal bank run. When the servants of the state stopped obeying orders from above, the state's fate was sealed. By incorporating economic theories of institutions into a political theory of Soviet breakdown and collapse, Stealing the State offers a powerful and dynamic account of the most important international political event of the later twentieth century.
As their woefully backward economy continues to crumble, much of the Soviet population remains indifferent, if not downright hostile, to the idea of reform. This phenomenon, so different from the Solidarity movement in Poland or the velvet revolution in Czechoslovakia, has been explained in terms of a âeoesocial contractâeâe"a tacit agreement between the post-Stalin regime and the working class whereby the state provided economic and social security in return for the workers' political compliance. This book is the first critical assessment of the likelihood and implications of such a contract. Linda Cook pursues the idea from Brezhnev's day to our own, and considers the constraining effect it may have had on Gorbachev's attempts to liberalize the Soviet economy. In case studies on job security, retail price stability, and social service subsidies, Cook identifies points at which leaders had to make critical decisionsâe"to commit more resources or to abandon other policies at significant costâe"in order to maintain the contract. The pattern that emerges attests to the validity of the social contract thesis for the Brezhnev period. At the same time, Cook's analysis points to several important factors, such as the uneven distribution of benefits, that help explain why labor unrest and activism have varied dramatically from sector to sector in recent years. Ultimately, these case studies reveal, particularly for the Gorbachev period, deep conflicts between the old contract and the requisites of economic reform. Cook extends her analysis into the Yeltsin period to show how the democratizing state dealt weakly with labor's demands, seeking to stabilize labor relations with an inappropriate corporate structure. In the end, mobilized labor contributed greatly to the pressures that undermined Gorbachev's regime, and remained an obstacle to economic reform through the early months of Yeltsin's Russia.
These essays rethink the nature of Stalinism and Nazism and establish a new methodology for viewing their histories that goes well beyond outdated twentieth-century models of totalitarianism, ideology, and personality. They offer a new understanding of the intertwined trajectories of socialism and nationalism in European and global history.
Collects and analyzes seventy years of communist crimes that offer details on Kim Sung's Korea, Vietnam under "Uncle Ho," and Cuba under Castro.
In 1991 the Soviet empire collapsed, at a stroke throwing the certainties of the Cold War world into flux. Yet despite the dramatic end of this 'last empire', the idea of empire is still alive and well, its language and concepts feeding into public debate and academic research. Bringing together a multidisciplinary and international group of authors to study Soviet society and culture through the categories empire and space, this collection demonstrates the enduring legacy of empire with regard to Russia, whose history has been marked by a particularly close and ambiguous relationship between nation and empire building, and between national and imperial identities. Parallel with this discussion of empire, the volume also highlights the centrality of geographical space and spatial imaginings in Russian and Soviet intellectual traditions and social practices; underlining how Russia's vast geographical dimensions have profoundly informed Russia's state and nation building, both in practice and concept. Combining concepts of space and empire, the collection offers a reconsideration of Soviet imperial legacy by studying its cultural and societal underpinnings from previously unexplored perspectives. In so doing it provides a reconceptualization of the theoretical and methodological foundations of contemporary imperial and spatial studies, through the example of the experience provided by Soviet society and culture.
When the Bolsheviks came to power in 1917, they believed that under socialism the family would "wither-away." They envisioned a society in which communal dining halls, daycare centers, and public laundries would replace the unpaid labor of women in the home. Yet by 1936 legislation designed to liberate women from their legal and economic dependence had given way to increasingly conservative solutions aimed at strengthening traditional family ties and women's reproductive role. This book explains the reversal, focusing on how women, peasants, and orphans responded to Bolshevik attempts to remake the family, and how their opinions and experiences in turn were used by the state to meet its own needs.
The annexation of Crimea in 2014 and Russia’s support for military insurgency in eastern Ukraine undermined two decades of cooperation between Russia and the EU leaving both sides in a situation of reciprocal economic sanctions and political alienation. What is left of previous positive experiences and mutually beneficial interactions between the two parties? And, what new communication practices and strategies might Russia and Europe use? Previously coherent and institutionalized spaces of communication and dialogue between Moscow and Brussels have fragmented into relations that, while certainly not cooperative, are also not necessarily adversarial. Exploring these spaces, contributors consider how this indeterminacy makes cooperation problematic, though not impossible, and examine the shrunken, yet still existent, expanse of interaction between Russia and the EU. Analysing to what extent Russian foreign policy philosophy is compatible with European ideas of democracy, and whether Russia might pragmatically profit from the liberal democratic order, the volume also focuses on the practical implementation of these discourses and conceptualizations as policy instruments. This book is an important resource for researchers in Russian and Soviet Politics, Eastern European Politics and the policy, politics and expansion of the European Union.
Reveals what really happened in Russia following the breakup of the Soviet Union, and the complicity of U.S. policy in a great human tragedy. Reprint.
The political revolutions which established state socialism in the Soviet Union and Eastern Europe were accompanied by revolutions in the word, as the communist project implied not only remaking the world but also renaming it. As new institutions, social roles, rituals and behaviours emerged, so did language practices that designated, articulated and performed these phenomena. This book examines the use of communist language in the Stalinist and post-Stalinist periods. It goes beyond characterising this linguistic variety as crude "newspeak", showing how official language was much more complex – the medium through which important political-ideological messages were elaborated, transmitted and also contested, revealing contradictions, discursive cleavages and performative variations. The book examines the subject comparatively across a range of East European countries besides the Soviet Union, and draws on perspectives from a range of scholarly disciplines – sociolinguistics, anthropology, literary and cultural studies, historiography, and translation studies. Petre Petrov is an Assistant Professor in the Department of Slavic Languages and Literatures at the University of Texas at Austin. Lara Ryazanova-Clarke is Head of Russian and Academic Director of the Princess Dashkova Russia Centre in the School of Literatures, Languages and Cultures at the University of Edinburgh.
When the Bolsheviks seized power in 1917, they set themselves the task of building socialism in the vast landscape of the former Russian Empire, a territory populated by hundreds of different peoples belonging to a multitude of linguistic, religious, and ethnic groups. Before 1917, the Bolsheviks had called for the national self-determination of all peoples and had condemned all forms of colonization as exploitative. After attaining power, however, they began to express concern that it would not be possible for Soviet Russia to survive without the cotton of Turkestan and the oil of the Caucasus. In an effort to reconcile their anti-imperialist position with their desire to hold on to as much territory as possible, the Bolsheviks integrated the national idea into the administrative-territorial structure of the new Soviet state. In Empire of Nations, Francine Hirsch examines the ways in which former imperial ethnographers and local elites provided the Bolsheviks with ethnographic knowledge that shaped the very formation of the new Soviet Union. The ethnographers—who drew inspiration from the Western European colonial context—produced all-union censuses, assisted government commissions charged with delimiting the USSR's internal borders, led expeditions to study "the human being as a productive force," and created ethnographic exhibits about the "Peoples of the USSR." In the 1930s, they would lead the Soviet campaign against Nazi race theories . Hirsch illuminates the pervasive tension between the colonial-economic and ethnographic definitions of Soviet territory; this tension informed Soviet social, economic, and administrative structures. A major contribution to the history of Russia and the Soviet Union, Empire of Nations also offers new insights into the connection between ethnography and empire.
By the 1980s the Soviet scientific establishment had become the largest in the world, but very little of its history was known in the West. What has been needed for many years in order to fill that gap in our knowledge is a history of Russian and Soviet science written for the educated person who would like to read one book on the subject. This book has been written for that reader. The history of Russian and Soviet science is a story of remarkable achievements and frustrating failures. That history is presented here in a comprehensive form, and explained in terms of its social and political context. Major sections include the tsarist period, the impact of the Russian Revolution, the relationship between science and Soviet society, and the strengths and weaknesses of individual scientific disciplines. The book also discusses the changes brought to science in Russia and other republics by the collapse of communism in the late 1980s and early 1990s.
If the Soviet Union did not have a socialist society, then how should its nature be understood? The present book presents the first comprehensive appraisal of the debates on this problem, which was so central to twentieth-century Marxism.
The Dynamics of Soviet Politics is the result of reflective and thorough research into the centers of a system whose inner debates are not open to public discussion and review, a system which tolerates no public opposition parties, no prying congressional committees, and no investigative journalists to ferret out secrets. The expert authors offer an inside view of the workings of this closed system a view rarely found elsewhere in discussions of Soviet affairs. Their work, building as it does on the achievements of Soviet studies over the last thirty years, is firmly rooted in established knowledge and covers sufficient new ground to enable future studies of Soviet politics and social practices to move ahead unencumbered by stereotypes, sensationalism, or mystification. Among the subjects included are: attitudes toward leadership and a general discussion of the uses of political history; the dramatic cycles of officially permitted dissent; the legitimacy of leadership within a system that has no constitutional provision for succession; the gradual adoption of Western-inspired administrative procedures and "systems management"; a study of group competition, and bureaucratic bargaining; Khrushchev's virgin-lands experiment and its subsequent retrenchment; the apolitical values of adolescents; the problems of integrating Central Asia into the Soviet system; a history of peaceful coexistence and its current importance in Soviet foreign policy priorities, and, finally, an overview of Soviet government as an extension of prerevolutionary oligarchy, with an emphasis on adaptation to political change.
In this book Bessinger traces the rise and decline of administrative strategies throughout Soviet history, focusing on the roles of managerial technique and disciplinary coercion.
Eco-nationalism examines the spectacular rise of the anti-nuclear power movement in the former Soviet Union during the early perestroika period, its unexpected successes in the late 1980s, and its substantial decline after 1991. Jane I. Dawson argues that anti-nuclear activism, one of the most dynamic social forces to emerge during these years, was primarily a surrogate for an ever-present nationalism and a means of demanding greater local self-determination under the Soviet system. Rather than representing strongly held environmental and anti-nuclear convictions, this activism was a political effort that reflected widely held anti-Soviet sentiments and a resentment against Moscow’s domination of the region—an effort that largely disappeared with the dissolution of the USSR. Dawson combines a theoretical framework based on models of social movements with extensive field research to compare the ways in which nationalism, regionalism, and other political demands were incorporated into anti-nuclear movements in Russia, Lithuania, Ukraine, Armenia, Tatarstan, and Crimea. These comparative case studies form the core of the book and trace differences among the various regional movements to the distinctive national identities of groups involved. Reflecting the new opportunities for research that have become available since the late 1980s, these studies draw upon Dawson’s extended on-site observation of local movements through 1995 and her unique access to movement activists and their personal archives. Analyzing and documenting a development with sobering and potentially devastating implications for nuclear power safety in the former USSR and beyond, Eco-nationalism’s examination of social activism in late and postcommunist societies will interest readers concerned with the politics of global environmentalism and the process of democratization in the post-Soviet world.
Notions of culture, rituals and their meanings, the workings of ideology in everyday life, public representations of tradition and ethnicity, and the social consequences of economic transition- these are critical issues in the social anthropology of Russia and other postsocialist countries. Engaged in the negotiation of all these is the House of Culture, which was the key institution for cultural activities and implementation of state cultural policies in all socialist states. The House of Culture was officially responsible for cultural enlightenment, moral edification, and personal cultivation-in short, for implementing the socialist state's program of "bringing culture to the masses." Surprisingly, little is known about its past and present condition. This collection of ethnographically rich accounts examines the social significance and everyday performance of Houses of Culture and how they have changed in recent decades. In the years immediately following the end of the Soviet Union, they underwent a deep economic and symbolic crisis, and many closed. Recently, however, there have been signs of a revitalization of the Houses of Culture and a re-orientation of their missions and programs. The contributions to this volume investigate the changing functions and meanings of these vital institutions for the communities that they serve.
Now fully updated and revised, this clear and comprehensive text explores contemporary Soviet/Russian international relations, comparing foreign policy formation under Gorbachev, Yeltsin, Medvedev, and Putin. Challenging conventional views of Moscow’s foreign policy, Andrei Tsygankov shows that definitions of national interest depend on visions of national identity and are rooted both in history and domestic politics. Yet the author also highlights the role of the external environment in affecting the balance of power among competing domestic groups. Drawing on both Russian and Western sources, Tsygankov traces how Moscow’s policies have shifted under different leaders’ visions of Russia’s national interests. He gives an overview of the ideas and pressures that motivated Russian foreign policy in six different periods: the Gorbachev era of the late 1980s, the liberal “Westernizers” era under Kozyrev in the early 1990s, the relatively hardline statist policy under Primakov, the more pragmatic course of limited cooperation under Putin and then Medvedev, and the assertive policy Putin has implemented since his return to power. Evaluating the successes and failures of Russian foreign policies, Tsygankov explains its many turns as Russia’s identity and interaction with the West have evolved. The book concludes with reflections on the emergence of the post-Western world and the challenges it presents to Russia’s enduring quest for great power status along with its desire for a special relationship with Western nations.

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