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

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

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

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


What caused the emergence of nationalist movements in many post-communist states? What role did communist regimes play in fostering these movements? Why have some been more successful than others? To address these questions, Yitzhak Brudny traces the Russian nationalist movement from its origins within the Russian intellectual elite of the 1950s to its institutionalization in electoral alliances, parliamentary factions, and political movements of the early 1990s.

Brudny argues that the rise of the Russian nationalist movement was a combined result of the reinvention of Russian national identity by a group of intellectuals, and the Communist Party's active support of this reinvention in order to gain greater political legitimacy. The author meticulously reconstructs the development of the Russian nationalist thought from Khrushchev to Yeltsin, as well as the nature of the Communist Party response to Russian nationalist ideas. Through analysis of major Russian literary, political, and historicalwritings, the recently-published memoirs of the Russian nationalist intellectuals and Communist Party officials, and documents discovered in the Communist Party archives, Brudny sheds new light on social, intellectual, and political origins of Russian nationalism, and emphasizes the importance of ideas in explaining the fate of the Russian nationalist movement during late communist and early post-communist periods.


The years 1971 to 1982, the era of "mature Brezhnevism," witnessed a continuation of the party policies and social and intellectual trends that had evolved or were present by the late 1960s. the political practice of the inclusion of groups of Russian nationalist intellectuals in public political and social debates was no exception. This inclusionary policy lasted until 1982, and then was largely abandoned. Why these policies lasted another eleven years, what effect they had on the development of the political views of Russian nationalist intellectuals, and why they were discontinued are the main questions explored in this chapter.

Aleksandr Yakovlev and the Struggle over the Politics of Inclusion

Events that took place between 1971 and 1973 aptly illustrate that the struggle among members of the Soviet political establishment over the continuation of the inclusionary policy toward Russian nationalist intellectuals was far from resolved. Aleksandr Yakovlev and other opponents of Russian nationalism probably viewed the removal from the party apparat of Stepakov and Melentiev, ardent advocates of Russian nationalist inclusion, in addition to the Politburo's condemnation of Molodaya gvardiya, and the dismissal of its chief editor, Nikonov, in December 1970, as signs that Brezhnev and Suslov were reconsidering their positions on the politics of inclusion.

In early 1971, thinking that a retreat from the politics of inclusion was forthcoming, its opponents within the party ideological establishment, led by Yakovlev, launched a campaign aimed at discrediting Russian nationalist intellectuals and their sympathizers within the party apparat. It was prob-

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