Russia after the War: Hopes, Illusions, and Disappointments, 1945-1957

By Elena Zubkova; Hugh Ragsdale | Go to book overview

Chapter 9
"Something Must Be Done": The Intelligentsia and the Intellectual Mavericks

The political outlook of the public in the early postwar years reflected a broad spectrum of feelings, emotions, and expectations. Some people accepted the situation as it was. Others could not and criticized everything from particular personalities to the system as a whole. The former and the latter were alike in one respect: they lacked constructive ideas to turn their hopes and expectations into a program of concrete deeds. The function of generating ideas in this society traditionally devolved upon the supreme power, which, as it seemed to many, should propose a program to reform and reorganize the country. Not everyone, however, shared the outlook of the modest little man whose role was to await orders from above. There were people ready to take the initiative to share with the government their ideas, reflections, and plans. Immediately after the war, the intelligentsia lived with the illusion of liberalization, occasionally finding hopeful signs of its coming. Only in the course of several years did it become apparent that Stalin had no intention of changing his political course.

In 1946 a commission charged with preparing a draft of a new Soviet constitution finished its work. The draft in general fell well within the bounds of prewar political doctrine, yet it contained at the same time a number of progressive features, especially in respect to personal rights and liberties, and democratic principles in public life. Though recognizing state property as the predominant form of property in the USSR, the constitutional project nevertheless admitted a

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