Imagining socialism in the soviet century
© 2017 Informa UK Limited, trading as Taylor & Francis Group. Much of the current conversation about social justice, economic responsibility and individual self-realization is informed by an explicit or implicit comparison between capitalist and socialist modernities. The Soviet Union’s variety of socialism understandably serves as a critical master referent in this conversation. In this regard, a dominant historical narrative that ties the history of Soviet socialism to the Bolshevik origins imposes serious limitation to available depictions of socialism and histories of the twentieth century. This article turns the Bolshevik fundamentals assigned to the Soviet project into a problem of historical analysis and argues that the Soviet experience has more than one normative vision of socialism to offer. The goal is to foreground the divergence of normative conceptions of the socialist society and individual by historicizing the two principal and presently closely identified ideological-educational undertakings: those of the New Man and the ‘New Soviet Person’. By tracing the histories of the two projects, the article shows how the collectivist ethos of the Bolshevism of the 1910–1920s that rejected the ontological differentiation between the individual and his or her social milieu failed to retain its ideological, institutional, and cultural currency even during the 1930s, not to mention throughout the Soviet period.
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