Soviet Marxism-Leninism: The Decline of an Ideology

Soviet Marxism-Leninism: The Decline of an Ideology

Soviet Marxism-Leninism: The Decline of an Ideology

Soviet Marxism-Leninism: The Decline of an Ideology

Synopsis

This study examines the development of Marxist-Leninist ideology in the U.S.S.R. from its origins to the collapse of the Soviet regime. Alfred Evans argues that Soviet Marxism-Leninism was subject to significant adaptation under various leaders, contrary to the widespread impression that official Soviet ideology remained static after Stalin. While taking account of scholarly literature on each of the periods covered, the work is significant for being based principally on an analysis of primary (Soviet) sources. Evans' integrated analysis of changes in ideology during the post-Stalin decades is an important contribution to the literature in political science, political economy, and Soviet studies.

Excerpt

There is an abundance of writings describing the intellectual trends that led to the shaping of the official ideology of the Soviet regime in the form in which it appeared by the middle of the 1930s, but no single volume provides an overview of developments in Soviet Marxism-Leninism from the 1930s until the time of the disintegration of the USSR. Some of the most crucial issues addressed by that ideology in its last decades as an official belief system have attracted little attention among Western scholars. Such large gaps in the narration of the story of Soviet Marxism-Leninism have fostered the impression that there was virtually no change in the ideology for several decades after the elaboration of its key concepts under Stalin in the 1930s. A number of scholars have offered perceptive analyses of revisions in the Soviet leadership's views on international relations, but most specialists studying Soviet affairs seemed to assume that there had been no corresponding alterations in the leadership's perceptions concerning domestic Soviet institutions. Although this author argued against that assumption in an essay published in 1977, and although the volume of scholarly analysis of changes in the ideology's depiction of Soviet society subsequently increased, general awareness of ferment and change in Soviet Marxist-Leninist ideological theory only dawned after Mikhail Gorbachev came to power as head of the Communist party of the Soviet Union in March 1985 and launched his drive for the restructuring (perestroika) of the official belief system and established institutions. Western specialists' analysis of changes in doctrinal tenets and policy prescriptions in one area after another revealed that the radical changes in the ideology, which apparently exploded suddenly after Gorbachev called for reform in the Soviet system, were in fact the result of pressures for . . .

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