Stalinism: New Directions

Stalinism: New Directions

Stalinism: New Directions

Stalinism: New Directions

Synopsis

Stalinism is a controversial new addition to the current debates related to the history of the Stalinist period of the Soviet Union. Sheila Fitzpatrick has collected together not only the classics of the revisionist period including Moshe Lewin, but also new work by young Russian, American and European scholars, in an attempt to reassess this contentious and deeply-politicised subject.The articles are contextualised by a thorough introduction to the totalitarian/revisionist arguments. Eschewing an exclusive high political focus, the book draws together work on class, identity, gender, work and agency. Stalinism offers a nuanced navigation of an emotive and misrepresented chapter of the Russian past.Books in Series: Atlantic American Societies Diversity and Unity in Early North America The French Revolution Gender and American History Since 1890 The Israel/Palestein Question Nazism and German Society 1933-1945 The Origins of the Cold War Reformation to Revolution The Revolutions of 1989 Segregation and Apartheid in Twentieth Century South Africa Society and Culture in the Slave South Stalinism Forthcoming: Global Feminisms The Chinese Revolution

Excerpt

Rewriting history, or revisionism, has always followed closely in the wake of history writing. In their efforts to re-evaluate the past, professional as well as amateur scholars have followed many approaches, most commonly as empiricists, uncovering new information to challenge earlier accounts. Historians have also revised previous versions by adopting new perspectives, usually fortified by new research, which overturn received views.

Even though rewriting is constantly taking place, historians' attitudes towards using new interpretations have been anything but settled. For most, the validity of revisionism lies in providing a stronger, more convincing account that better captures the objective truth of the matter. Although such historians might agree that we never finally arrive at the “truth, ” they believe it exists and over time may be better approximated. At the other extreme stand scholars who believe that each generation or even each cultural group or subgroup necessarily regards the past differently, each creating for itself a more usable history. Although these latter scholars do not reject the possibility of demonstrating empirically that some contentions are better than others, they focus upon generating new views based upon different life experiences. Different truths exist for different groups. Surely such an understanding, by emphasizing subjectivity, further encourages rewriting history. Between these two groups are those historians who wish to borrow from both sides. This third group, while accepting that every congeries of individuals sees matters differently, still wishes somewhat contradictorily to fashion a broader history that incorporates both of these particular visions. Revisionists who stress empiricism fall into the first of the three camps, while others spread out across the board.

Today the rewriting of history seems to have accelerated to a blinding speed as a consequence of the evolution of revisionism. A variety of approaches has emerged. A major factor in this process has been the enormous increase in the number of researchers. This explosion has reinforced and enabled the retesting of many assertions. Significant

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