Reinventing Russia: Russian Nationalism and the Soviet State, 1953-1991

Article excerpt

REINVENTING RUSSIA: Russian Nationalism and the Soviet State,

1953-1991, Yitzhak M. Brudny, Harvard University Press, Cambridge, MA, 1998, 352 nap-es. $45.00.

The strength of Yitzhak M. Brudny's book, Reinventing Russia, is its explanation of how Russian Nationalists worked to advance their cause from the time of Stalin's death to the Soviet Union's demise. The book's surprise is Brudny's suggestion that radical Russian Nationalists, because of Soviet "politics of inclusion," operated much more adeptly in the Soviet system than in the turbulent new Russian state.

Brudny first looks at "politics by culture" that emerged as the Soviet hierarchy allowed relatively open discussion of Russian nationalism in Soviet society during President Nikita Khrushchev's program of "deStalinization" from 1953 to 1964. The debate, carried out in the pages of literary "thick journals," allowed intellectuals to ponder new reasons to tie Soviet citizens to the state. Since outward expressions of change were severely limited, the debates in the journals assumed more importance than they would have otherwise.

Brudny devotes several chapters to "inclusionary politics" from 1965 to 1985 when Soviet leaders attempted to use Russian Nationalist ideas as a way to avoid serious discussion of radical political, social or economic reforms. …