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STALIN, THE GREAT PURGE, AND RUSSIAN HISTORY:
A NEW LOOK AT THE

~EW

by

MARSHALL SHATZ
Paper No. 305
1984

CLASS'

STALIN, THE GREAT PURGE, AND RUSSIAN HISTORY:
A NEW LOOK AT THE 'NEW CLASS'

~

MARSHALL SHATZ
Paper No. 305
1984

Marshall S. Shatz received his B.A. from Harvard College and his M.A., Certificate of the Russian Institute, and Ph.D. from Columbia University. He edited The Essential Works of
Anarchism (New York: Bantam Books, 1971; Quadrangle Books,
1972) and is the author of Soviet Dissent in Historical
¥erspective (Cambridge and New York: Cambridge University
Press, 1980). He is Professor of History, University of
Massachusetts at Boston.

1

STALIN; THE GREAT PURGE; AND RUSSIAN HIsroRY:
A NEW IOOK AT '!HE • NEW CLASS'

Though nearly fifty years in the past; Stalin •s Great Purge of the 1930s still loans as one of the nost enigmatic events of the twentieth century.
Whether we think of the Great Purge as a IOOre or less continuous process fran the assassination of Kirov in 1934 to Ezhov's replacement by Beria as head of the secret police at the

em of

1938; or limit it to the EzhoVshchina of 1937

and 1938; When the terror reached its peak; operation is astounding.

the sheer nagnitude of the

The nuniber of arrests; deportations; imprisonments;

and lives lost in these years is impossible to measure; and attempts to do so have varied wildly.

Even the lOi/est estimates; however; are staggering.l

It

is not merely the size of the Great Purge that makes it such a historical puzzle; however; but the fact that it tcx>k place in peacetime; in a society publicly and officially ccmnitted to rational values and the hllITaIlistic ideals of Marxism and the Russian revolutionary tradition.

In its controlled and

organized character the Great Purge seems conparable not to the primitive upheavals of "underdeveloped" countries in the secorrl half of the twentieth century; nor to the spontaneous bloodletting Russia itself experienced during the Civil War; but rather to the Nazi destruction of European Jewry in the
Holocaust.

Like the Holocaust; it is the seemingly atavistic nature of the

Great Purge; as much as its actual consequences; that has presented such a challenge to scholars seeking to explain the events of the Stalin period.
The

resources

available

for

considerably in recent years. campaign begun by Khrushchev

am

meeting

that

challenge

have

increased

First; both the official "de-StalinizationII the unofficial re-examination of the Stalin

era by Soviet dissidents have generated

a

wealth of new naterial

and

2

infonnation.

With the appearance of such documents as Khrushchev I s

II

secret

speech II to the Twentieth Party Congress in 1956; a plethora of m:moirs and personal test.i.rronies of the Great Purge; and literary works which distill the atnosphere and experiences of the time ~ our knowledge of What occurred in the thirties has vastly increased; though significant gaps remain and many of the new sources that have cane to light are less than fully reliable. 2

Just as

important; perhaps; as the availability of new sources is the reinterpretation of old ones.

The pa.ssage of time itself is beginning to alter our view of the

Stalin period as the Great Purge becanes part of our historical consciousness rather than of our recent experience.

Without

II

nonnali zing II the Great Purge

or denying its unprecedented character and still unexplained origins, we are rrM in a position to view it in a broader historical perspective than was

possible earlier; perceiving more clearly its place in the larger patterns of
Russian and \\Urld history.

As a result; new light has been shed on naterials

long available but insufficiently appreciated or understood. 3
Thus the subject of the Stalin period; and particularly the Great Purge, has been

undergoing

a

significant

reinterpretatioo.

in

recent

scholarly

\\Orks.

The nature and implications of this change fonn the subject of this

essay.

Its purpose is threefold: to classify

am evaluate

the main trends and

interpretations that have hitherto rrarked the historiography of the Stalin era; to identify the new directioo. in which recent studies of the period have been IOOVing; and to suggest sane of the broader historical insights that might be drawn fran this new orientation.

The essay does not attempt to provide an

exhaustive historiographical or bibliographical survey of the subject.

The

works selected for citation and discussicn are those which; in the author IS opinion, best represent the nest serious and influential interpretations of the Stalin era.

3

I

The Stalin period of Russian history places the scholar in an unusual predicament. It

is

inccmparable J.=hrase;

bad

enough

that

Stalin's

Russia~

in

Churchill's

is Ita riddle wrapped in a mystery inside an enigma. It

Even worse; in regard to the Great Purge; which must occupy a central place in any study of the Stalin period, the enigma itself remains under lock and key in the archives of the secret police.

The direct sources are finnly closed to

Western scholars (and prestnnably to Soviet scholars as well); while the public record newspapers,

speeches;

official

documents

is

notoriously

unreliable.

It was intended to propagandize rather than to Inform, to conceal

rather than to zeveaL, or', at best., to transmit coded infonnaticn to the initiated. SUch sources IlBy well prove useful in various ways ~ but they

cannot, serve as a solid foundaticn for a study of the Great Purge. 4

As a

result, scholars have had to be unusually inventive in extracting infonnation curl clues

fran a variety of more indirect sources.

Here~

\\1e

shift fran

Churchill •s metaphor to the old story of the three blind men trying to describe an elephant by touch: each historian's explanaticn of the Great Purge depends on his interpretation of the part of the record he manages to put his hands on,

the

bulk of

the

phenanenon remainiDJ

out of reach.

'Ib

a

considerable degree the documentary record ~ or absence thereof ~ has shaped the historiographical record;

as

scholars

have

constructed

a

variety

of

interpretive frameworks to hold such infonnation as they have been able to glean. Of the IlBjor approaches to the subject; perhaps the most inventive, by its very nature; has been the psychological; the attempt to oore to grips with
Stalinism by focusing on the personality of its perpetrator. primitive form, this approach explains -

In its most

or, more accurately; explains away

4

-" Stalin's major actions as simply the product of a warped psyche. outstanding exampl.e iof this genre is Khrushchev's "secret speech" of 1956.

The
By

painting a picture of Stalin as "a very distrustful man; sickly suspicious, 115 and attributing his misdeeds to these character defects (and the character defects of a fet1 other evil-doers such as Beria}, Khrushchev sought to deflect any attempt. to trace the roots of Stalinism to defects in the Party; the ideology; or other Soviet institutions. sources of his own authority;

He thus shielded fran criticism the

neatly avoiding the kind of socio-econanic

analysis that might have been expectErl fran the keeper of the Marxist-Leninist flame. Each in its own way; Svetlana Allilueva' s image (in her first 1:x:IOk) of

a Stalin "decedved" by Ber'La, so reminiscent of popular myths about the tsars, and Antonov-OVseenko' s

depiction of Stalin as

gangster;

fall

into this

reductionist category.6
On

a nere

sophisticated

level are the

several

examples of psycho-

biography; the effort to apply fonnal psychological (including psychoanalytic) theory to the person of Stalin. 7

Several studies have enployed the concept of

paranoia in trying to fonnulate a deeper and more revealing psychological profile. 8

The nest ambiti9uS psychobiographical study to date is Robert

Tucker IS Stalin""" as' 'Revolutionary; the first volume of a projectErl series. 9
All of these \\Urks suffer
Stalin

and

the

bibliographical
Stalin •s

inherent

roth fran the specific difficulties of studying weaknesses oostacle proves

childhocrl

psychobiography

virtually insunrountable:

adolescence;

and

of

the

fonnative years

itself. the The

sources on

crucial

to any

psychoanalytic investigation; are so scanty and tmreliable that very little can be

inferred

fran

them.

Thus

Tucker's

book;

a

well-infonned

and

historically sensitive Eriksonian treatment; is; at best; highly speculative as a psychological study.

Even for Stalin I s later years there is a signal

5

lack of

the

kim

of

personal

documentatien

mennirs; personal letters; "table-talk."

a

psychobiography requires :

The biographer is therefore forced

to rely en illuminating but distinctly second-ham accounts such as Svetlana
Allilueva •s two books and Milovan Djilas' description of his encourrcer-s with
Stalin in his last years .10

To varying degrees; psychobiographical studies of

Stalin also reflect the lack of agreement within psychological theory itself en the sources and dynamics of personality fonnation:

ignore the cultural

problem of applying any such theory to an individual fran a Georgian peasant background; illustrate

and

difficulties

the

of

applying

psychoanalytic

ooncepts and. nethods to a literary record rather than a live pa.tient .11

At

best, the attanpt to pursue a systematic psychological analysis of Stalin asks important questions that may be inherently tmanswerable. accounting for

Stalin •s

public

policies

am

At

political

\\1Orst~

it risks

decisions

in the

simplistic tenns of personal pa.thology.
The nost, widespread and influential approach to the Stalin period in
Western historiography; at least until recent years, utilized the concept of totalitarianism. the

element

In this theory the salient features of Stalinism; including

of

personality of

terror; the while

dictator ~

political system he headed.

significantly are regarded

affected by as integral

the

particular

elements

of

the

Originating in applicaticn to Fascist Italy and

Nazi Gennany; this "model," was subsequently extended and. refined to include
Stalin •s political Russia. oontrol unprecedented

It regards totalitarian regimes,

characterized by mass

based on both nanipulation and terror;

political

phenanencn of the

elaborate application of the
Friedrich and Brzezinski' s

twentieth

totalitarian nodel

as

century.

a

new and.
The most

to the Soviet Union

Totalitarian' Dictatorship 'and- - Autocracy,

is

which

delineates a syndrane of six features characteristic of Nazi Gennany; Fascist

6

Italy;

and Stalin' s

Russia.

The

same outlook penneates Merle Fainsod IS

classic How- -Russia-- Is -- -Ruled and S1l'olensk- --tmder --Soviet -- '-Rule .12

The lTOSt

systematic application of the totalitarian model, to the specific subject of the Great Purge is Zbigniew Brzezinski Is The - Pennanent- -Purge.

This \tJOrk views

the purge as an inherent feature of the totalitarian system of goverrnnent, a

characteristic instrument of totalitarian rule; though one that may vary in nature and intensity over time.

Hence the Great Purge differed only in

degree ~ not in kind; fran other Party purges before and after it .13
The totalitarian nodel has fallen out of favor since a1x>ut the 1960s. the one

hand;

On

there has been a growing awareness and documentation of how

diverse and CQ11Petitive political life within the Soviet systan can be; with a broad range of policy opinions and group interests striving for influence and requiring conciliation. that political

This realization has raised at least the possibility

life under

previously thought. 14

Stalin also was

less

rigidly oontrolled than

'Ib be sure; not all students of Soviet politics -

less of the Stalin era -

much

are prepared to accept the notion that Soviet

political life is characterized by "pluralism" in any meaningful sense, or that concepts of political analysis drawn fran Western experience are fully applicable to the Soviet case .15

At least sane elements of the totalitarian

concept may oontinue to be useful in canprehending the methods and aspirations of the Soviet political system.

Nevertheless; our image of the Soviet Union,

even under Stalin; has grown increasingly canplex and renote frem the fullblown image of nonolithic totalitarianism that prevailed in an earlier era.
At the same

time;

passage of time.

the totalitarian nodel has been undennined by the sheer
While the fundamental political;

social;

and econanic

structure Stalin created has remained intact; the all-pervasive terror once thought essential for maintaining that structure has virtually ceased; and

7

Soviet institutional life has been largely stabilized.

Such an evolution is

difficult to account for in tenns of the totalitarian rrode'l , system~ either that the differences between the Soviet

It suggests

en the one hand, and

Gennan Nazism and Italian Fascism~ on the other ~ were nore fundamental than

previously thought; in Which case little remains of the Friedrich-Brzezinski nodel; or that some of the salient features of Stalinism were temporary, historically conditioned aspects of Soviet developnent rather than essential characteristics of

the

system.

In

either

case;

the

interpretation of

Stalinism as a Russian version of twentieth-eentury totalitarianism loses much of its usefulness.
A third; considerably rrore vard.ed , approach to the Stalin period is the ideological; which regards the adoption, or distortion, of Marxism as the key to an understanding of Stalinism.

Broadly speaking, this approach is shared

both by those opposed to Marxism in

any

fonn

particular version of it represented by Stalin.

am

those opposed to the

Of the first group; sane have

located the roots of Stalinism in the displacement of traditional, authentic
Russian noral values by the alien outlook of Marxism; with its destructive materialism; ratdonal.Lsm,

am rroral

relativism.

Alexander Solzhenitsyn is the

leading representative of this viewpoint, and it infonns 1:x>t.h his fictional works en the Stalin period and his massive Gulag Archipelago.

It is a

position partiCUlarly associated with a carmit.ment to religious faith as the source of the true rroral values so shockingly violated under Stalin in the name of the

official

ideology;

a

carmit.ment

expressed nost

clearly by

Solzhenitsyn and his associates in the volume of essays entitled .Fran· Under the Rubble. 16

It may also be found in a more general and secular form, as in

Nedezhda Mandel' shtam' s harrowing account of the ordeal she ani her husband underwent at Stalin's hands: here, the author traces Stalinism ultimately back

8

to the jettisonirg of the Judeo-Christian rroral tradition; which lay at the foundation of her husband's poetry; by a light-minded intelligentsia in the name of the "progressive forces of history."17
Others have located the sources of Stalinism in umin' s particular use, or misuse; of Marxism: with his dictatorial proclivities and disciplined Party claiming the right to role

00

the basis of a higher wisdan; it was Lerrin Who

gave Stalin the necessary tcx>ls for building his regime.

While recognizing

that little direct precedent can be found in Lerrin ' s own years in power for such actions as collectivizatioo or the Great Purge; this interpretatioo sees an underlying !X'litical

Stalinism in their

continuity and

eatI1Dl

consistency between Leninism and

dictatorial nature.

Thus the roots of Stalinism go

back to the OCtober seizure of IX'Wer fran the fledgling derrocracy of the
Provisional

Goverrnnent;

Bolsheviks.

the

and

establishment

of one-party

role by the

This has been the view frequently taken by Western liberal

scholars .18
By

contrast,

the

one

proposition

sympathetic to Marxism and to the

that

unites

virtually

socialist aspirations

all

those

of the Russian

Revolution is that Stalinism was not the legiti.mate heir of Leninism but an unlawful usurper; just what the rightful successor was; and at what podnt, the usurpation occurred; however; remain matters of contention.

In Roy Medvedev' s

Iet· History 'Judge; which ranks with Robert Conquest's The-Great"Terror and
Solzhenitsyn , s

Gulag" -Archipelago arrong the nest extensive studies of the

period of the Great Purge; the road to Stalinism begins only with the death of

Leni.n

in

history.

1924:

to Medvedev;

this

is the great turning-point of Soviet

He acknowledges no continuity at all between the political methods

of lenin and Stalin;

even to the extent of justifying on the grounds of

historical necessity umin' s establishment of one-party rule and restrictions

9

on internal Party dissent in the early twenties -

justifications which he

does not find applicable to similar actions taken by Stalin .19
The best-known;

nost.

prolific;

and;

at

least

until

r'ecent.l.y,

nest

influential school of thought which sees Stalinism as a degeneration of Soviet socialism is the one emanating fran Trotsky's analysis.

Not surprisingly,

Trotsky and his adherents; explicitly or implictly; date the degeneration fran
Stalin's defeat of Trotsky and the Left Oppositian in the late twenties.
Unwilling to repudiate the Bolshevik seizure of power or the foundations of the SOviet system which he himself had done so much to constiruct., but unable

to accept Stalin's stewardship of that system, Trotsky fonnulated his theory of Stalinism as a "degenerated workers' state."

In The-Revolution-Betrayed;

written on the eve of the Great Purge in 1936 and oonstituting his najor exposition of this

theory~

he argued that the authentically socialist and

proletarian Russian Revolution had somehow produced not the role of the working class but the seizure of power by a "bureaucracy" spear-headed by
Stalin -

though precisely where that bureaucracy came fran and what its power

rested on remained unclear.

Even after the Great

Purge~

in the biography of

Stalin that he was 'NOrking on at the time of his assassination in 1940 ~ he still presented Stalin as an utter mediocrity and oppcrtiuni.st., a faceless creature of canmitment the bJreaucracy whose

to the

Revolution and Bokshevf.sm,

explanation of Stalin's rule ~
Stalin~

interests he his represented. search for

Trotsky's a Marxist

and his understandable desire to denigrate

generated a canpelling interpretation of

Stalinism~

but one canposed

of fundamentally oontradictory ingredients. 20
More recent scholarship on the Stalin period has placed greater emphasis on Bukharin; and the program of the Right OpJ;x>sition ~ than on Trotsky as an alternative to Stalinism.

This position has been enhanced by increased

10

skepticism regarding

the

econanic

particularly in agriculture. 2l

efficacy of Stalin's Five-Year Plans;

Fran this standpoint; of course; the defeat of

the Right rather than the 12ft; and the elimination of "Bukharinism" as an econanic and political al ternative , represents the irrevocable step toward
Stalinism and its works.
Finally;

there

is Khrushchev's position;

\\tUch takes 1934;

and the

assassination of Kirov; with all its attendant consequences; as the startingpoint of Stalin's "excesses."

As

the heir to the political and econanic

system Stalin mol.ded, Khrushchev had no incentive to raise fundamental doubts about the Party structure and methods of rule that ensued fran the political struggles of

the

late

twenties;

industrialization programs.

or about

Stalin's

collectivization and

In his "secret speech" he confined himself to

sane mild reservations about. the way it was all carried out. reserved his repudiation of Stalinism for events after 1934 -

He carefully

the Great

Purge; the deportation of national minorities; aspects of the conduct of the war -

When; of course; the foundations of the current Soviet system were

already in place.
In the ccmpany of those Who have scrutinized Stalin fran a point of view sympathetic to the Russian Revolution and

Marxism;

Isaac Deutscher today

stands virtually alone in his ultimately positive appraisal. biography of Stalin;

His classic

While drawiD3 on Trotsky's analysis and in no way

concealing Stalin's less savory deeds; concludes that the Stalin period was a harsh; but. historically necessary phase in the construction of the world I s first socialist society:

"What appears to be established is that Stalin

belongs to the breed of the great revolutionary despots; to which Cranwell;
Robespierre;

and

Napoleon belonged ••• Stalin undertook;

to quote a

faIIDUS

saying; to drive barbarism out. of Russia by barbarous means ••• Stalin has been

11

both the leader and the exploiter of a tragic; self-contradictory but creative

revolution." 22

At the other end of this spectnnn is Jean Ellenstein; a French

Camnmist who seeks to dissociate European socialism aln'ost entirely fran the historical fonn it assumed in the Soviet Union. phenanenon" had

considerably more

to

do

with

'lb Ellenstein; the "Stalin

Russian backwardness

and

despotism than with the inherent nature of socialism: European Carmunism, therefore; arising

in

an

advanced

industrial

society

with

deep-rooted

demxratic traditions; will assuredly prove much nore civilized. 23
A fourth approach to the question of Stalinism; perhaps the broadest and nost general one; views it in tenns of one or another oon-Marxist form of nodernization theory; an example of the phenanenon of the industrialization of backward agrarian societies. was occurring

under

Stalin;

It can hardly be denied that such a transition although the

precise

degree

of

Russia's

''backwardness'' after half a century of tsarist industrialization effort is at least debatable. nethods of

rapid

One problem with this approach, however; is that Stalin's industrialization have

not

been

repeated

in

other

"underdeveloped" nations in any recognizable form: it is the peculiarities of the Soviet experience under Stalin that seem to stand out in any cnnparative perspective; and efforts to fit that experience into a broader pattern or nodel of developmant have proved unconvincinq, 24

Aoother difficulty is that

the relationship of sane of Stalinism's most visible collectivization; the Great Purge; cultural conservatism needs

of

large-scale

mystifying. 25

industrialization

is

either

features

-

e.g. ,

to the functional

dubious

or

downright

Theodore Von Laue; €fl1l.i1asizing the external pressures on Russia

to industrialize in order to preserve her sovereignty in a canpetitive world,

offers a variation on the nodernization theme cast in a nold of historical determinism. 26

Neither this argument nor Deutscher's Hegelian/Marxist concept

12

of historical necessity adequately explains Why Russian industrialization took the particular pathways by which it proceeded under Stalin.
Each of the interpretations outlined above has made its contribution, and each has shed light on, or at least called attention of Stalinism. long to~

sane important aspect

:None of then has proved fully satisfactory or enjoyed a very

scholarly

life~

however~

and the reasons appear to go beyond the

limitations specific to each one.

If we re-examine these various approaches

and ''rcodels'' we find a general characteristic underlying almost, all of them;

with the exception of the develq;mental nodel, rrost, studies of Stalinism have perceived it as an aberration of same sort, deviation fran a nann.

an abnornel

developnent~

a

Whether the nann be psychological (Stalin as a deviant

personality) ~ political (totalitarianism as an aberrant p:>litical system), or ideological (Stalinism as

a

violation

of

liberal

values,

religio-noral

tradition, or true Marxism) ~ Stalin's actions and :policies have been regarded therefore~ has been to

measure the distance fallen and describe the evil oonsequences.

(I am not

as a falling away fran a standard; the task at hand,

referring~

of course; to the notion that Russia itself is an aberration and

Stalinism a mere oontinuation of traditional Russian barbarism. ) errcerpr.i.se ,

Even aside it is

fran the value

difficult

to

explain

judgments the if not Tatar!

implicit

impressive

in

such an

longevity of an

aberration; the ability of Stalin to acquire and maintain his

pc1Ner

for sane

twenty-five years and of the Stalinist system to endure even in the absence of terror, "true" Marxism or

Leninism~

or Stalin himself.

Paradoxi.cakfy, the one

exception to this historiographical practice, the application of m::Xlernization

fheory, suffers fran the opposite defect: in exceptional ~

or unique ~

accamtOdate it.

effect~

it has triErl to fit an

national experience into a nodel Which will not

13

All of the above approaches share a second broad characteristic which helps to account, for the first one. uni,versal one

They view the Stalin era in tenns of a

pattern or experience; of which the Soviet Unien under Stalin is but

instance.

Whether

it

be

totalitarianism;

Marxism;

third-world

deve.lopnent., or even psychoanalytic theory; Stalin and his policies are taken as a case study of sane nore general phencmenon ,

In large part., this stems

fran the fact that untd.l, fairly recently nost scholars of the Stalin period have employed the methods and approaches of the social sciences: by and large; they have been political scientists; sociologists; econcmi.st.a, Marxists of various stripes; rather than specialists in Russian history and culture.

It

is not that the social sciences have usurped Clio's turf; but rather that the ground has 'been abandoned to them: historians have shied away fran such a recent and politically charged subject;

am

students of Russian culture have

fOlUld little to attract them in the thirties and forties. 27
Consequently;

the

tendency has

been

to

treat

the

subject

fran

a

perspective which plucks the Stalin era out of its Russian historical and cultural context and places it in the context of a larger model of social; p:>litical; or econanic development.

Fran the podnt, of view of nost

such

models; derived as they are largely fran Westem experience; Stalinism does indeed look like an abnonnality.

Not that these various perspectives are

entirely incorrect; or their practitioners ignorant of things Russian the

contrary;

they have provided us wi.th rrany

on

specific insights and a

foundation for further investigation. But they have failed; on the whole; to explain the rise and perpetuation of Stalinism.
It is only in recent years that Russianists; literature specialists;

and

that is;

historians;

other scholars Whose basic starting-p:>int is

Russian history and culture; have turned their attentien to a systematic

14

examination of the Stalin era.

Putting to use both the new material available

and the broader historical perspective reorient our

thinki.n:J on

the

to Which Stalinism fits

extent

the subject.

am.

historical development

p:>ssible;

rrJW

they have begun to

What this recent work is uncovering is into the broad p3.ttern of

fonns an integral part of it.

Russian

'Ib be sure, much

about Stalinism remains; and probably will remain, irrational and "aberrant, II but the Stalin period as a whole is becaning more canprehensible as a phase of
Russian history.

The next section of this paper sunmarizes the principal

direction of recent work on Stalinism and sane of the conclusions that may be drawn fran it.

II
The nost,

significant aspect of recent scholarship on Stalin is its

emphasis on the beneficiaries of Stalinism and of the Great Purge itself, rather than just its victims.

Nor were these beneficiaries limited to the

"provocateurs" and "conscienceless careerists II on Whom Khrushchev blamed the mass terror of the Ezhovshchina. 28

Stalin I s policies; fran the First Five-

Year Plan to the Great Purge; were accanpanied by the rise of a broad new
Soviet elite which helped to consolidate Stalin IS p:Mer and the systan he

created in those years. discovery: references

In itself; the anergence of this elite is not a new

to

the

II

new class II

of

Soviet

rulers;

the

tenn

popul.azLzed by Milovan Djilas; can be found in much of the literature cited above. 29

It is only in rrore recent scholarship; however; that the character

of this new elite has been clearly delineated and the full importance of its prarotion disclosed.

Rather than the rise of a "new class;" a concept 'Whose

misleading inplications will be discussed later in this essay; we may nore accurately characterize the Stalin period; centerpiece, as the triumph of plebeian Russia.

with the Great Purge as

its

15

'Ib use a kim of sociological shorthand; the merribers of this new elite

were

essentially

lithe

Khrushchevs."

In

Nikita

outstanding representative of the new elite;

am

Khrushchev we

have

an

also; in his memoirs; an

invaluable expression of the outlook and rrentality it brought with it into its
Like so much of the Russian "proletariatll in the

new lX)sitions of authority.

early twentieth century; Khrushchev was a peasant-worker.

Born in a peasant

village, he went to work early on as a metal-fitter at a coal mine in the
Ibnbass and never looked back to the countryside.

Here was a nan Whose

identification with urban-industrial values had the whole-heartedness of a recent convert; but Who had been fonned in the village and still bore nany of the marks of peasant culture.
Khrushchevs II

lies

in

the

A major key to the subsequent behavior of "the interaction between

the

aspirations

of

such

individuals within the new industrial society Stalin was constructing and their deep-rooted peasant heritage. 30
The first step in the rise of the Khrushchevs was the mass recruitment of workers and peasants into higher technical education; and their prarotion into nenagerial and administrative positions during the First Five-Year Plan.

The

work of Sheila Fitzpatrick and Kendall Bailes; in particular; has charted this social developnent.

It was signalled by the Shakhty Affair, a show trial in

the spring of 1928 of mining engineers accused of sabotage.

This was the

first step in an attack on the old technical intelligentsia; or ''bourgeois specialists; II dependent. on

Whose

industrial

skills

the

regirre had hitherto been

'!be attack on engineering personnel culminated in the Industrial

Party trial of 1930; while

II

specialist-baiting" in various fonns constituted a

significant element of the "cul.tural, revolution II Which accanpanied the First
Five-Year Plan. 3l

The posd.tdve side of this process was an effort to create a

new Soviet intelligentsia drawn fran "socfal.Ly reliable" elements of the

16

population. draw new

This effort took the fonn of a massive and deliberate campaign to people of

engineering education;

\\1Orker and

peasant

background

into

technical

and

including the use of such devices as social class

quotas in educational institutions.

The leading proponent of this drive; with

ranarkab1e consistency throughout the thirties ~ was Stalin. figures on social origin are difficult to

detennine~

Although precise

Sheila Fitzpatrick has

estimated that sane one-hundred thousam adult workers and worker-Camll.mists were sent to higher technical schools during the First Five-Year Plan; and this was only part of the educational rnobility of the period. 32
Individual

beneficiaries

can

be

found

in

the

neroir

literature.

Khrushchev himself was a pr:i.Ire product of the campaign: at the age of 35 he entered the Stalin Industrial Academy in r-bscow to study metallurgy fran 1929 to 1932.

Another example was the future General Petro Grigorenko; sanewhat

younger than Khrushchev but also born and brought up in a peasant village.

In

1928 Grigorenko recruited for; and himself at.tended, a rabfak; a school to prepare young \\1Orkers for higher education -- "the system' s goal \\'as the creation of a proletarian intelligentsia" -

am at the age of 22 was sent to

the Khar' kov Teclmical Institute to study construction engineering. 33
The rise of the Khrushchevs into positions of responsibility within the
Soviet system in subsequent years; and the outlook and values they brought with them; help to explain a great deal about the contours of Stalinism.
Although the Khrushchevs were not yet in a position to be directly responsible for the collectivization of agriculture; 34 Stalin must have found in them a finn source of support for it.

Certainly the campaign against the traditional

structure of peasant agriculture paral.Lefed, and perhaps even validated; their personal rejection of their peasant heritage.

Collectivization; after al.l.,

was not just the destruction of private landholding but a frontal assault on

17

the traditional way of life of the peasantry.

themselves fran peasant tradition ~

Having recently emancipated

sometimes at oonsiderable psychological

cost., they could fim in the regime' s attack on the oouncrysdde in the narre of progress and m:xIernity a confinnation of the rightness of their choice.

As

Grigorenko puts it in explai.ni.n3 his decision to leave the village and attend a teclmical school, ~

"I felt I must go and build industry so that I could

attack backward agriculture. u35

That collectivization had at least the tacit

approval of some of the nost energetic and ambitious men of peasant background in the eourrtzy may help to explain why it ultimately prevailed. 36

Given the background and ambitions of these rising pl.ebei.ans , it is not surprising that in the Party IXJWer struggles of the late twenties they felt a strong sense of affinity for Stalin (and vice versa).

Fran their point of

view he did not lcx:m as the crude, cruel intriguer that his rivals for power and their supporters depicted, but a practical, tough-minded ~ down-to-earth

leader wb::> knew how to get things done.

The negative picture Khrushchev

paints in his 1956 speech (Which may well apply to the older Stalin) should be set against the admiration he and his young colleagues felt for the Stalin of the late

twenties

and

early thirties ~

and

for his

supporters

such as

Kaganovich; because; in Khrushchev's phrase; they really made the chips fly when they chopped down the forest. 37

Moreover ~ Stalin •s Marxisrn~ crude and

fonnulaic though it may have seemed to the better-educated Party members, sanctioned precisely the

objectives

that nost

appealed

to

the plebeian

members: modenri.zation of the councry in the concrete, measurable tenns of eoonanic progress and national IXJWer •38

As non-property owners they oould

find considerable attractiveness in the collective aspect of Marxism even as the Party served. them as an inst.rulrent of llpIlard nobility in much the same way as the Georgian Orthodox Church had done in Stalin' s boyhood.

Uninterested

18

either in philosophical niceties or abstract visions of human liberation; they could readily accept. an ideology reduced to econanic and military developnent under the

guidance

conscienceless eventually of

the

careerists

becane

one

or

Cannunist

nor the Party.

On

faceless

blreaucrats

other) ;

they

fourx1

the

whole

(though in neither

they

this

could

prospect

a

satisfactory realization of both their ideals and their ambitions.
It is in the cultural realm that the rise of the Khrushchevs durinJ the
Stalin period is nost vividly reflected.
1940s~

"Stalinist" culture of the 1930s and

Whatever its value in absolute tenns;

reflected like a mirror the

cultural level; tastes; and aspirations of the new elite.

The conservatism of

that culture; for example the peculiarly old-fashioned zest for fringed lampshades and overstuffed furniture ~ not to nention traditionalistic family and educational pol.Lci.es, is an aspect of the Soviet industrialization process that has long baffled theorists of nodernization, Whether Marxist or nonMarxist.

But those archaic tastes in creature-eanforts are precisely what

might be expected of upwardly-nobile peasarrt-workers with limited cultural experience: their image of the gocx:1 life remained; figuratively speaking, the scenes of bourgeois felicity

gl~ed

through the windows of the factory-

owner's house in their youth; and it is not. surprising that they would attempt to replicate it When they had the means to do so.

The reversion of "socialist

realism" to representational modes in art and Iiterature~ severinJ the ties that had

previously

existed

between

Russian

avant-garde

art

Revolution; may have had practical value for mass propaganda purposes.

and

the

At the

same time, hovIever; traditional representational fonns were much better suited to the needs of the new rulinJ elite than abstract IOOdernist fonns: they

19

confonned to the personal taste of the new ccmrdasara. and at the same time they nade it much easier for men of limited Education to censor and control the arts. 39

Even nore specifically; recent re-examinations of the Soviet novel have brought out the extent to which the rise of the new elite is reflected in the very content of Stalinist literature as well as in its style and form,
Katerina Clark has found that fran the First Five-Year Plan to the postwar period, the history of the officially approved novel in effect traces the life-eycle of the "new men" as they rise within the ranks of the systan and nature. The novel of the First Five-Year Plan and the "cultural revolution,"

a pericrl with a youthful, anti-elitist; proletarianiziBJ thrust, glorified the
"little man" and eschewed heroes.

SUch novels both reflected and provided

ideological sanction for the rise of the plebeians.
Five-Year Plan -

By the end of the First

by \\bi.ch time yesterday's "little men" lNere noving into

positions of influence and responsibility-the novel begins to focus en a hero figure, the dynamic Party leader Who carries out the dramatic exploits of the thirties. Finally,

youthful

heroics

over,

elements

of

materialistic

canplacency and self-gratification mark the postwar novel: hence the orange lampshades and scalloped doilies Vera Dunham finds as recurrent emblems of naterial well-being in forties novels, and the antique crystal that covers the table at the prosecutor's dinner-party in Solzhenitsyn' s First"" Circle, which has a postwar setting. 40

Clark points out a particularly revealing aspect of

the novel's -- and the Soviet Union's 1940s.

evolution fran the 1930s to the

She found that the hero of the postwar novel tends to be older and

rrore established than the typical hero of the thirties novel: he is

ncM

35-40

years old, and instead of a young initiate into the Party he is an executive making his way into the upper reaches of the hierarchy. 41

'Ib be sure, the

20

whole of Soviet society was changing and settling down in these decades.

But

it is hard to escape the thought that for all it nay tell us about Soviet society in general; projection, or

the Stalinist novel was a kind of biographical self-

even self-eelebration,

of the country's up-and-ecming new

elite.
If the attack en the ''bourgeois specialists" and the nass educational enrollment of men of plebeian origins during the "cultural revolution" and the
First Five-Year Plan narked the start of the new elite's narked its culmination.
Establislunent -

rise~

the Great Purge

The Ezhovshchina; with its decimation of the Soviet

Party secretaries;

Old Bolsheviks;

the professional and

managerial ranks of Soviet society -

enabled the new men to canplete their

rise and consolidate their position.

In 1938; Stalin \\1Ould speak of "a new,

Soviet; people's intelligentsia," which Zhdanov identified as "yesterday's workers and peasants and sons of \\1Orkers and peasants praroted to cx:mnand positions. ,,42
The exact relationship of the Great Purge to the rise of the new elite is not entirely clear.

Stalin's part. -

Did it all represent a carefully thought-out plan on

a question Which asaumes that fran 1928 he had the power, as

well as the foresight; to carry out such a project?

Did the prcm:>tion of an

ideologically and politically nore congenial elite; rather than leading by design to the Great Purge; merely create an opportunity for it,

enabling

Stalin as circumstances pennitted to dispense with the services of those he had always distrusted as too independent-minded or rooted in the pre-Soviet past?43 Or;

as J. Arch Getty has arqued, was the rapid entrenclunent of the

new elite in the wake of the Ezhovshchina. simply a coincidence; a social change that \VOuld have occurred eventually but was speeded up by a political event that had

other

causes?44

The

redirection

of

attenticn

to

the

21

significance of the new elite has led scholars to larger questions concerning the nature of the Soviet system in the Stalin period and Stalin's role within it; questions that need to be asked but can have no easy or inmediate

resolution.

What

seems

increasingly

clear;

however;

is

that

a

very

significant social developnent underlay the dramatic events of the decade fran
1928 to 1938:

the creation and rapid prarotion of a new political and

managerial elite and its displacement of the Soviet Establishment that had entrenched itself in the post-revolutionary years.

The rise of this ne\\' elite

-- sanetimes callerl the "Brezhnev generation; II for Leonid Brezhnev was one of its nenbers;45 or lithe class of '38 11
Great Purge;

-

cannot explain every facet of the

and may or may not have been one of its major notivations.

Nevertheless; it may well have been its rrost, lasting consequence; requiring an
II

agonizing reappraisal II of the role of Stalinism in Russian history.
III

To identify the emergence of a ne\\' elite under Stalin has proved easier than to assess the nature and significance of the change that took place.

Most frequently the new elite has been labelled lithe ne\\' class; II a tenn that has cane to designate the new ruling stratum that consolidated its

p:>Wer

privileges in the thirties and continues to daninate Soviet life today.

and

It

may be found both in older works representing the interpretations discussed in the first part. of this essay; and in the more recent studies which have pl.aced greater Em];i1asis on the social change described in Part II. 46

As an ironic

metaphor for the re-emergence of privilege in a purportedly classless society; the tenn is hannless enough.

As a historical or sociological designation;

however;. it risks serious distortion of what Stalinism actually signifierl; for it is; so to speak; a Marxist concept that is being used to describe a nonMarxist phenanenon.

22

Although the widespread use of the tenn "new class" derives fran Milovan
Djilas'

p::>pularization of it;

the source of the concept; and Djilas'

aNn

inspiration; was Trotsky's notion of the "Soviet Thennidor; II the bureaucratic degeneration of the Revolution at the hands of the Stalinists. himself; however;

in The ... Revoluticn . "Betl:ayErl am elsewhere;

Trotsky

consistently

repudiated the suggestion that the Stalinists constituted a new ruling class; an the

grounds that they had effected

ownership.

00

significant change in econanic

'!be means of production remained nationalized; and there had been

no reversion to capitalism.

but a ruling st.ratum,

The bureaucracy represented not an econanic class

or caste; Which had parasitically battened en the

socialized econany as a consequence of Russia's backwardness. little about the precise

social origins of these

Trotsky said

"bureaucrats; II hinting

vaguely at the bourgeois or petty-bourgeois roots am mentality of at least sane of them. 47
Ironically; it was sane of Trotsky's followers; or fanner followers; Who in the last year or so of his life began to use his analysis to develop a full-fledged "new class II theory \'Itrlch Trotsky himself had rejected. argued; as Djilas was later to p::>litical dordnatdon,

perpetuated

its

do;

controlled

that the Connunist Party;

the

eooncmy,

own econanic privileges;

enjoyed

it had

its

therefore

They

through its profits; and

replaced the

capitalists as "owners" of the means of production and in a real sense fanned a new ruling ,class.

This theory effectively cut the Gordian knot which

Trotsky had been unable to unravel: it applied the Marxist class analysis to the Soviet situation rrore consistently than Trotsky had done; while leading its practitioners precisely to the repudiation of the OCtober Revolution and the Soviet Union which Trotsky had sought to avoid. 48

Ard yet;

it is

difficult not to agree with Trotsky in rejecting the assertion that the Soviet

23

rulers under Stalin truly constituted a "class" in the Marxist sense. bureaucracy;" he p:>inted out; "has neither stocks nor bonds. supplemented renewed

and

"The

It is recruited;

in the manner of an administrative hierarchy;

independently of any special property relations of its st-revolutionary Establishment.

24

The

fonner

education;

were no people

with

only a

rudimentary;

or

recently

foreign travel or exposure to other cultures;

experience of the humanistic niceties of the old educated elite.

acquired

and

little

These were

the characteristics that shaped their resentments and their behavior in the thirties. These are not easy distinctions to identify or measure; and often they were subjective rather than objective.

Mercoir literature is particularly

helpfUl in providing illustrations of how they operated.

Irtant provincial Party an integral part of the entrenched elite.

official~

she was

This is her reaction upon finding

herself in a prison-eamp hospital at one point in her Siberian odyssey:
I had seen no men of this sort; our sort - the intellectuals; the country's fonner establishment - since transit camp... The men here were like us. Here was Nathan Steinberger; a Gennan Cannunist fran
Berlin.
Next to him was Trushnov; a professor of language and literature fran sanewhere along the Volga; and over there by the window lay Arutyunyan; a fonner civil engineer fran Leningrad... By sare sixth sense they imnediately divined that I was one of them and' rewarded me with warm, friendly; interested glances. They were just as interest~ to me.
These were the people I used to knCM in my fonner life. 5
A certain amount; of generational difference is to be expected between the old elite and the

new~

and sentiments similar to Ginzburg's can be found in the

menoirs of older intellectuals Who clearly belonged to the pre-revolutionary intelligentsia. 54

The gap was only in part a generational one; however -

Ginzburg was in fact younger than Khrushchev. difference in

cultural

and

educational

It was a nore fundamental

experience;

a

product of social

background and the type and degree of education. 55
This cultural gap sheds light not only on the social change which the
Ezhovshchina had the effect of canpleting and coneol.ddatdnq, but on other aspects of the Great Purge as well.

The viciousness of the charges levelled

26

against the victims of the purge; and the apparent willingness of much of the
Russian p.:lblic to accept them; seems evidence of a considerable social and cultural distance between the elite that was decimated by the Ezhovshchina and the rest of Soviet society.

Several recent scholars have found continuities;

or at least parallels; between the "cultural revolution" of the late twenties and the Ezhovshchina;

both of \thich were marked by a

certain streak of

"populism": in each case; the authorities at the center were able to draw en a degree of support fran below \4'hen it came to intelligentsia-baiting and attacks on local "bosses. 1156

The new elite -

and much of the Soviet public

at large; Which shared the new men I s cultural background -

could accept and

even approve of the Great Purge; both because in many cases they were its direct beneficiaries and because rrost of the victims were so alien to them that the accusations against than seemed not implausible.
To be

sure;

Ezhovshchina.

sane of the new men were themselves swept away in the

But the characteristics of the newcaners prepared then to

accept the high risks; as well as the p:>tential rewards; of service tmder
Khrushchev; for example; felt that he owed his survival in part to

Stalin.

his good relations with Stalin I s wife; Nadezhda Allilueva; a fellow-student at the Industrial Academy; and tenns this his "Lucky lottery ticket. II that we II

ll

He adds

always follQ\\1ed the rule that if you weren t t told sanething you

didn't ask about it;

for the less you knew;

the better. 57

wariness; and a good bit of luck were essential to success fell after all; well; life was harsh; wasn't it?

Hard work;

but if the axe

General Alexander Gorbatov

provides a good illustration of the new elite I s resilience.

Gorbatov came

fran a large; poor peasant family; fought in World War I and the Civil War; joined the Bolshevik Party in 1919; and rose successfully through the military ranks. As he says in his menoirs; in the tsarist anny there was a saying that

27

II

it •s a bad soldier who doesn' t hope to becane a general; II but in the Red Army

that hope became a real possibility.58

In 1938, however, caught up in the

military purge; he was imprisoned; sent to forced labor in Kolyma reinstated in the anny just before the war began.

and then

Despite the humiliations

and brutality he had endured, he resUInErl his career,

served faithfully and

successfully; and was one of the generals in ccmnand of the Russian forces that captured Berlin.

More than just ambition or patriotism; a peasant

toughness and acceptance of life •s caprices seem to underlie such stories; enabling both the new elite and the system itself to survive under Stalin.
If one does choose to characterize the displacement of the entrenched
Soviet Establishment by the new Stalinist elite as the rise of a "new class, II the tenn should rot be taken in a Marxist or Trotskyist sense.

'Ib conclude

our discussion of the social change that occurred in the thirties,

it is

useful to turn back for a m:rnent to the man \\ho was actually the father of the

modern concept of the lineN class,

II

Jan

Wac~aw

Machajski.

Born in Russian

Poland in 1866; Machajski became active in the Russian revolutionary novement and at the turn of the century began to develop his distinctive views; which

were known

as

Makhaevshchina;

or Makhaevism;

currency in the years before the Revolution.

and

had

Arrong

fairly widespread

those familiar with

Makhaevism; in fact; was Trotsky, \\ho had read sane of Machajski' s writings during an early stint of Siberian exile.

It cannot be detenninerl whether; or

to what excent., Trotsky drew on Machajski' s ideas in fonnulating his notion of
Stalinism as "bureaucratic degeneration. II in 1926.)

(Macha jski himself died in Moscow

It was Machajski; however; Who first developed the concept of the

lineN class" and gave it a content that makes it highly pertinent to the Stalin period. 59

28

Machajski saw modern class divisions not in strictly socio-econanic terms fundamentally in cultural and aiucational tenns.

but nore

The prinary

division in capitalist society was not., as the Marxists madrrtedried, the one between the capitalists and the proletarians ~ but the one that divided all of
"educated society" am the manual workers. professional ~ industrial and

society

managerial
(the

knowledge

Those who "owned" the essential "intellectual workers ~ "

for or running

technical~

a

nodem

librain \'JOrkers ~ "

as

Machajski tenned them) belonged to the pr.ivi.Leqed, exploiting part of society; while those who lacked such education and the possibility of acquirin:J it were excluded fran p:JWer and privilege and condenmed to lifelong P'tysical labor. socialist revolution \'JOuld by no means overcore this dfvi.sdon,

A

Machajski

contended: it \'JOuld perpetuate itself even after the overthrow of capitalism

am

the socialization of the means of production.

rrovement to ride to power the
\'JOuld merely replace the society ~
\'JOrkers.

as

II

Havi.n:J used the labor

intellectual \'JOrkers ~ II led by the socialists ~

capitalists~

the property-owni.r¥] wing of educated

the ne\\' ruling class and the new exploiters of the manual

Their JOOnopoly of the specializai kn sat behind a desk; whether truly

educated or not) and manual \tJOrkers (or those \\ho identified with them) was the crucial distinction that surfaced; with Stalin I s encouragement; fran the
"cul'tural. revolution II through the Great Purge; this was a Makhaevist, not a
Marxist; distinction.

Fran the Shakhty Trial to the Ezhovshchina; the post-

revolutionary Soviet Establislurent was tmder attack: Old Bolsheviks (but not just Old Bolsheviks);

local

Party bosses;

the

"bourqeod.s"

professional,

managerial; and technical elite, were objects of a hostility ccmparable to that previously directed against the property-owning classes.

Fran the point

of view of ordinary workers and peasants; this Establishment could easily seem a mere extension of the old propertied classes,

"bourqecd.s" by status,

education, and culture; if not in strictly socio-econanic tenns. 60
Meanwhile; the educational crash program that accanpanied the First FiveYear Plan began to create a new political; technical; and rranagerial elite drawn fran the truly plebeian ranks of Soviet society.

With the Great Purge

the displacement of the old Establishment (ll ol d ll only in tenns of a decade, to be sure, but even a decade can seem significant in a revolutionary age) by the

new elite reached its culmination; consolidating Stalin I s political pclWer but at the sane time carg;>leting a social am cultural transfonnation that would long outlive its sponsor. egalitarian II

'!he end result; of course; was not the kind of

society Machajski had had

socialization of knowledge."

in mind when

for

the

Instead; a new privileged stratum arose -

but

he

called

one that was in many ways more accessible and more "democratd.c" in its origins than the previous one.

30

Fran this perspective~ Stalinism must be seen as a logical outcane of the historical course Russia had been following since 1917 ~ the final Ihase of a bitter rebellion against property and privilege Which finally brought into poai,tions of leadership representatives of precisely the classes in Whose name the OCtober Revolution had been carried out. degeneration fran sane kind of norm,

It was not simply a deviation or

either psychological; lX)litical; or

ideological; and to the extent that it was related to Russia' s "nodemization" the relationship was rooted in social and cultural condi.tdons specific to
Russia.

With the rise of a new elite of plebeian origins under Stalin •s

auspices; the 1930s marked a fulfillment of the "deroocratic" principles of the
OCtober Revolution -

~ fulfillment~

be it stressed; not the fulfillment; for

had the times and the leaders been different; the costs; timing; and methods might well have been different also. 61

Social mobility alone; after all;

cannot account for such developments as the terror of the Ezho'Q'shchin-a; and here sane aspects of traditional historiographical approaches to the question of Stalinism retain their usefulness. sane of the specific features of Stalinist pol.Ltics and culture Which have long seemed aberrant; however; can be explained by the rise of the new elite; and the rise of that new elite marks the great historical significance of Stalinism as a whole.

In a process culminating in the Great Purge; worker-

peasant Russia; having rid itself of the old propertied and ruling classes; noN turned against the new post-revolutiona:ry elite; many of whose merribers

were of middle-class origin and "bourgeois" in their education and cultural orientation. The latter were naturally bewildered at their cruel fate; and

their 'bewildennent generated sane of the theories of Stalin' s rule that have long marked the historiography of the period. bewildering; though no

less cruel,

Their fate becanes less

as our historical perspective on

it

31

broadens and deepens.

If the political; social; and econanic structures that

took shape in the thirties have survived largely intact into the eighties without pervasive terror or the cult of Stalin; it is because those structures had deep social roots Which Stalin's death did nothing to alter. we have care to call the

II

And if What

new class II in the Soviet Union has deIOOnstrated such

staying power; it is because its nembers are not just the ''heirs of Stalin" but the heirs of 1917 and of Russian history.

32

1.

Robert Conquest ccmes up with an estirrate of three million dead and

nine million held in prisons and camps by the em of 1938.

'l'he"Great-Terror:

Stalin I s "Purge" "of" -the- --Thirtres ~ revised ed , (New York: Collier Books ~ 1973),
According to Roy Medvedev; "In 1936-39; on the most cautious

pp. 708-09.

estimates,

four to five million people \\1ere subjected to repression for

political reasons."

Let- --Hi-story' . JUdge':-' The' , origins'- and- . Consequences' "of

Stalinism, trans. by Colleen Taylor; ed , by David Joravsky and Georges Haupt
(New York: Knopf; 1971); p. 239.

At the lower em of the scale, Jerry Hough

regards "a figure in the low hundreds of thousands" as the nest probable number of deaths in the Great Purge.

Jerry F. Hough and Merle Fainsod; HeM

the Soviet' , Union- "'is' "Governed (cambridge ~ Mass.: Harvard University Press ~
1979); p. 177.

Conquest (chap. 10 and Appendix A) provides the most extensive

discussion of attempts to estimate the nuniber of victims.

It is particularly

revealing of the widely divergent dates; categories of victims; and types of sources that go into the making of such estimates; as well as the amount of inspired guesswork involved.
2.

For a critique of the standard sources on the Great Purge~ see Jolm

Arch Getty;

liThe •Great Purges'

Reconsidered: The Soviet Ccmnunist Party;

1933-1939;"

(Ph.D.

Boston College;

Medvedev' s

Dissertation;

ret ...-Hi-story- ,- -JUdge

and

Alexander

1979) ~

pp.

24-48.

Solzhenitsyn •s

Archipelago-;-" -1918;.;1956: ,... An" -Experiment" in' "Literary'Investigation;

Both

The ' . -Gulag

3 vols.;

trans. by Thanas P. Whitney (vols. i-z) and Harry Willetts (vol., 3) (New York:
Harper &

Row;

1973-78); make extensive use of unpublished letters and menoirs

on the Great Purge; most of which would never be available to a Western researcher. On

the other hand; sane of the limitations inherent in the use of

unpublishErl personal accounts are reflected all too clearly in Anton Antonov-

33

Ovseyenko's The --Time -.of· Stalin-:- _. Portrait of ··a Tyranny;
Saunders (New York: Harper

& Row,

trans. by George

1980), Which seems to have assembled all the

nasty rumor's and gossip available on the subject of Stalin.

See the detailed

review by M. Ibvner, "Lubok vrnesto istorii," Pamiat': istoricheskii sbornik, vyp. IV (Paris: YMCA-Press, 1981); pp. 442-55, which poirrts out the numerous

inconsistencies and unverified and improbable stories the book contains.
3.

Examples are Getty's "The 'Great Purges' Reconsidered," based on

extensive use and reappraisal of the Sro1ensk Archive,

and two literary

studies which have found new meaning in the Stalinist novel: Vera Dunham, In
Stalin's Time:

Middlec1ass Values· in Soviet Fiction (cambridge University

Press,

and Katerina

1976);

Clark,

The

soviet Novel:

History as

Ritual

(Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1981).
4.

A goo1 example of a fresh interpretation of such material is Robert

Tucker's re-reading of the Bukharin show-trial.

see

his Introduction to

Robert C. Tucker and Stephen F. Cohen, eds., The Great Purge Trial (New York:

Grosset and Dunkap, 1965).

Also \\Orth ooting is Robert H. McNeal' s admonition

to study nore closely the large body of Party decisions relating to the purge years. see

his

Studies,

22,

2

"The Decisions of the CPSU and the Great Purge," SOViet
(OCtober 1971), 177-85; also;

Robert H. McNeal,

gen. eel.,

Resolutions and Decisions of the Carmunist Party of the Soviet Union, 4 vols.
(Toronto: University of Toronto Press, 1974).
Stalin's

C1Nl1

accessible. vo1s. The same might be said of

writings and speeches; Which McNeal has also helped to make rrore
See Robert H. McNeal, ed , , I. V. Stalin, Works, 1934-1953, 3

(Stanford: Hoover Institution,

1967),

a supplement to the 13-vo1ume

Soviet edition.

5.

Boris I. Nico1aevsky, ed., The Crimes of the Stalin Era (New York:

The New Leader, 1962), p. S34.

34

6.

Svetlana Alliluyeva; Twenty'Letters"'W-a-Friend; trans. by Priscilla

Johnson McMillan (New York: Harper &

ReM;

1967); p. 8 and :Q:1ssim: Antonov-

ovseyenko, The-Time-of-Stalin; pp. 51; 252; 308.

7.

These \'\lOrks differ fran traditiona! p::>litical biographies such as

Bertram D.

Wolfe IS Three- Who- - Made" 'a' -Revolution:- .. -A- . BiograpMcal- - History;
0'

revised ed , (New York: Dell; 1964 ); or Mam B. Ulam IS Stalin: - The -- Man - and -. His
Era

(New York:

Viking Press;

1973);

in that the latter;

while offering

considerable psychological insight into their subject; do not explicitly make use of fonnal theory.

8.

Robert C. Tucker; liThe Dictator and Totalitarianism; II in The-SOViet

political·" Minttf -o'Steilinism-" and· - Post.;;.Stalin ·-Change;

revised ed ,

Norton;

Lenin;

1971);

pp.

20-46:

Philip Panper;

"Neeaev;

(New York:

and Stalin:

The

Psychology of leadership; tI Jahrbucher' °fUr··Geschichte·· osteuropas , Neue Folge;
Band 26 (1978); Heft 1; pp. 11-30: by Gustav Bychowski;

am

the strident and poorly infonned essay

tlJoseph V. Stalin: Paranoia and the Dictatorship of the

Proletariat; tI in Benjamin B. Wolman;

ed.; The -PsychOlogtcal- -Interpretation- ·of

History (New York: Basic Books; 1971); pp. 115-49.

On the other hand;

a

recent survey of psychohistorical literature concludes that the answer to the question; was Stalin paranoid?; "must, be a qualified no. ..

salvatore Prisco

III; An - Introduetibr1- 'to - Psychohistory'f . Theories - -and" ·case· -Studies (Lanham; MD: university Press of America; 1980); p. 144.

9.

Robert C. Tucker;

Stalin - -as . -'ReVOlutionary~ .- °1879.;;.1929·:" -A-' Study' - in

ai"stOry-and-personality (New York: Norton; 1973).
10.
Paul

Alliluyeva; Twenty-Letters·-to°,oa"Friend; and only-one" Year; trans. by

Chavchavadze

(New

York:

Harper

&

ReM;

1969):

Milovan

Djilas;

COnversations"'with°Sta-lin; trans. by Michael B. Petrovich (New York: Harcourt;
Brace & World; 1962).

For an evaluation of the clues to Stalin I S personality

35

contained

in

his

daughter's

Alliluyeva as Witness of

writings;

see

C.

Robert

Stalin~ II Slavic"Review~

Tucker;

"Svetlana

27; 2 (June 1968); 296-312.

11. A cautionary example of those difficulties is the effort that has gone into analyzing a pencilled doodle that Stalin made during the Yalta
Conference.

See Charles S. Clark; liThe Stalin Doodl.ea, II Manuscripts, 35, 2

($Pring 1983);

101-12.

I

am grateful to Stephen Nonack of the Boston

Athenaeum for bringing this item to my attention.

For an examinatien of the

genre of psychobiography and sane of its problems;

see William McKinley

Rtmyan; Life" Histories- -and - Psychobiography: -Explorations- "in -Theo:ry -and Method

(New York: OXford University Press, 1982); chap. 10.
12

Carl

J.

Friedrich

Dictatorship "and- -Autocracy;
Press,

am
2nd

Zbigniew
00 •

K.

Brzezinski;

(Cambridge Mass.:

Total-itarian

Harvard University

1965): Merle Fainsod; Sntolensk - under "Soviet Rule (canroridge; Mass.:

Harvard

University

Press;

1958);

and How' - Russia -is -Ruled,

(cambridge; Mass.: Harvard University Press, 1963).

revised

00.

Roger Pethybridge's The

Social-Prelude- -to--Stalinism (London: Macmillan; 1974) is a nore recent \\1Ork
Which also adopts the framework of totalitarianism but with emphasis en its

sociological rather than merely political or ideological roots.
13.

Zbigniew K.

Brzezinski;

The-·Pennanent-- Purge:--Politics- -in SOViet

'Ibtalitariani-sm (Cambridge; Mass.: Harvard University Press; 1956).
14. The leading exponent of this approach is Jerry Hough; who develops the concept of "institutional pluralism" to characterize the Soviet l,X)litical system. Jerry

F.

Hough;

The -Soviet - Unicn -and - SOCial- -SCience" - "Theory

(cambridge; Mass.: Harvard University Press; 1977).

Although he applies this

nodel principally to the" l,X)st-Stalin Soviet Union, he suggests that to sane degree it may be applicable to the Stalin period as well.
F. Hough;

Ibid.; p, 12: Jerry

liThe Cultural Revolutien and Western Understanding of the Soviet

36

System; II in Sheila Fitzpatrick; ed.; CUltaral- ReV01:Uti01- in - Russia:~ -1'92S-":;1931
(Blocmington: Indiana University Press; 1978). pp. paints a

250-51.

J. Arch Getty

picture of the Camluni.st Party in the late twenties

am

early

thirties as a distinctly unkempt. organization Which scarcely knew Who its merribers were;

and whose central institutions in Mosccw were often able to

exert only weak and ineffectual control over local Party officials. liThe 'Great Purges'

atolensk:

2;

and

1933-1937;" with discussion by Robert C.

Rosenfeldt;
15 •

Reconsidered;" esp, chap.

Slavi~ -Review;

See;

Getty,

IIparty and Purge in

Tucker and Niels Erik

42; 1 (Spring 1983), 60-96.

for example; ravid E. Powell; "In Pursuit of Interest Groups in

the USSR; II SOViet-union; 6; 1 (1979); 99-124; and replies by Jerry F. Hough and Peter H. Solaron; Jr.; ibid.; 8; 1 (1981); 103-18.
16. Alexander Solzhenitsyn et
Brock et ale

al.;

FratrUnder the Rubble; trans. by A. M.

(Boston: Little; Brown; 1975).

17 • Nadezhda Mandelstam;

Hope - against - -Hope: A Menoir;

trans. by Max

Hayward (New York: Atheneum; 1970); esp. chaps. 36-37, and Hope --Abandoned, trans. by Max Hayward (New York: Atheneum, 1974).
18. See; for example; Conquest; '!be--Great- Terror; pp. 19-25.
19. The sharp demarcation between Lenin and Stalin is sanewhat rrodified but not fundamentally questioned in his nore recent On -Stalin-- -and- Stalinism, trans. by Ellen de Kadt (OXford: OXford University Press; 1979).
20, Leon Trotsky; The Revolution Betrayed:·· -What· is -the' .SOViet Union and
Where -1:s -- -It - Going?; trans. by Max Easbnan (New York: Pathfinder Press; 1972: first ed.: 1937): Stalin:- -An -Apprai'sal- of -'the -Man -and -His -Influence (New York:
Stein and Day; 1967: first pub. 1941). developnent by

his

followers;

On Trotsky's theory and its subsequent

see

Robert

H.

McNeal;

IITrotskyist

Interpretations of Stalinism;" in Robert C. Tucker; ed.; stalini:sm: --Essays - in

37

Htst.ortCal-""Int~rpretation

(New York: Norton;

1977); pp. 3D-52; and Baruch

Knei-Paz; '!he - SOCial" and Political Thought of "leon" Trotsky (Oxford: Clarendon
Press; 1978); chap. 10.

McNeal's conclusion is that IIIn a sense Trotsky

struggled to avoid making a Marxist analysis of Stalinismll (p. 51).
21. Stephen F. Cohen; Bukharin and" the Bolshevik" Revolution:· A . Political
Biography; -1888...;.1938 (NeIf/ York: Knopf; 1973) ; M.

I2w:i.n;

Russian-peasants - and

SOViet"·Power: - "A- "Study" "of-COllectivization; trans. by Irene Nove (New York:
Norton; 1975).
22 • Isaac Deutscher;

Stalin:· A· -Political -Biography; 2nd ed • (Oxford:

Oxford University Press; 1966); pp. 565-66, 568; 569.

On the evolution of

Deutscher's interpretation; see McNeal; IITrotskyist Interpretations; II pp. 4851.
23. For example: liThe objective basis for the Stalin ptlencmenon does not in any way exist in contemporary France; for example; where the level of the productive forces is already high ••• it was a phenanenon restricted in tenns of time and place; and not a historical necessity universally true of socialism; whether past; present or future. II

The- Stalin" Phencmenon , trans. by Peter

Latham (IDndon: Lawrence and Wishart; 1976); p. 60.
24. 'lb cite two examples; see Charles K. Wilber; The" SoViet - r-t::Jdel" "and
Underdeveloped . COuntries (Chapel Hill : University of North Carolina Press;
1969); and the essays by Alex Inkeles in his Social·· Change . in -Soviet" "Russia
(cambridge;

Mass. :

Harvard University Press;

1968) •

For sane pertinent

criticism of the idea that Stalinism might serve as a rrodel for mderdeveloped countries today;

see

Robert

C.

Tucker's

remarks

in G.

R.

Urban;

ea.;

Stalinism-:· -Its - Impact "on "Russia" and ."the "WOrld (New York: St. Martin's Press;
1982); pp. 168-77.

38

25. As one scholar has put it; "Precisely because Stalinism joined a radical transfonnation of the econanic, political; and social bases of Soviet society to a

systan of values and a pattern of authority relations with

J.X'Il&ful traditionalist and authoritarian canponents; it gave a very special character to Soviet patterns of modernization."

Gail Warshovsky lapidus,

"Educational

The

Strategies

and

Cultural

Revolution:

Politics of Soviet

Develcpnent," in Fitzpatrick; ed.; Cultural Revolution' in 'Russia; p, 103.
26. Theodore H. Von Laue; Why' Ienin?Why Stalin? -A--Reappraisal of -the
Russian - Revolution~ --190Q-;-1930; 2nd ed , (Philadelphia: Lippincott; 1971), and
"Stalin Am:>ng the l-bral and Political Imperatives; or How to Judge Stalin?"
Soviet Union; 8; 1 (1981); 1-17.
27. As late as 1978; Sheila Fitzpatrick could write that "Stalin' s Russia is still al..nnst uncharted territory for the historian." in Russia, p. 7.

Cultural- "Revolution

Katerina Clark nakes a similar point in remarking that in

Western scholarship the subject of Soviet Socialist Realism "can be discussed, but preferably only in tones of outrage, bemusement., derision; or elegy."

The

Soviet Novel, p. Ix,
28. Nicolaevsky; ed.; The Cr:i.rnesof the Stalin "Era; p. S26.
29. For example; Fainsod, smolensk" under Soviet" 'Rule; pp. 451-54.
30. Robert Eugene Johnson' s Pea"santana"Proletarian:" -The Working "Class of
f.t:>scow in

the late -Nineteenth Century

(New Brunswick: Rutgers University

Press, 1979) is a recent reminder of the extent to which Russian industrial
\\1Orkers were rooted in peasant culture.

see

also Diane Koenker ,

~scow

Workers and- 'the- -1917 "Revolution (Princeton; NJ: Princeton University Press,
1981); chaps. 1-2.

~he

Ie.dn nakes a similar point for the period of the

First Five-Year Plan in his "Society; State; and Ideology during the First
Five-Year Plan;" in Fitzpatrick; ed.; Cultural" "Revolution- -in - -Russi-a; pp. 41-

\

39

77.

Pethybridge' s SOCial- ,- 'Prelude" -to -Stalinism deals extensively with the

impact of Russian peasant tradition on the rise of Stalinism; and sane older works 10n:J ago pointed to the peasant roots of the new elite.

The figure of

Gletkin in Arthur Koestler's Darkness at 'N::x:>n, published in 1941; cx:mes to

mind;

and Nicholas Vakar's The-Taproot-of"Soviet 'SOCiety (New York: Harper and

Brothers, 1962) is an essay devoted to the subject.
31. Kendall E. Bailes; Technology·' and' 'SOCiety- under - Lenin -and- Stalin:
"19l7~1941

Origins of the - .Soviet Technical' -Intelligentsia',
Princeton University Press; 1978); chaps. 3-6.

(Princeton; NJ:

Sheila Fitzpatrick, Education

and' 'SOCial-'~ility' 'in-' 'the' "Soviet Union,' 1921~1934 (cambridge:

University Press; 1979); chap. 6; and "Stalin

am

CaIribridge

the Making of a New Elite,

1928-1939; II Slavic Review; 38; 3 (Septenroer 1979); 377-93.

On various aspects

of the "cultural revolution; II see the articles in Fitzpatrick; ed., Cultural
Revolution in' Russia •
32.

Fitzpatrick;

Education' and . Social' '~ility; pp.

Technology -and 'Society; pp. 188-201. thirties, liTo Stalin;

186-89;

Bailes;

all the refonns of the

fran expansion to educational facilities to Stakhanovism to the

abolition of wage differentials were designed to create the red specialists.
To him, these red technicians were necessary for rapid econanic growth without

having to depend on the 'class enemy' specialists of the bourgeoisie. II

Getty,

liThe 'Great Purges' Reconsidered; II p. 498.
33.
Little,

Khrushchev' 'Remembers;

Brown;

Thanas P.

1970); pp.

Whitney

trans.

and

ed,

by Strobe Talbott

34-35; Petro G. Grigorenko,

(New York:

Norton;

1982);

pp.

Mennirs;

30-31.

(Boston:

trans. by

For additional

examples; see Bailes; Technology' -and .' Society; pp. 198-200; and Fitzpatrick;
"Stalin and the Making of a New Elite; II pp. 385-86.

40

34.

The Party "ThOUSandS; II however;

special levies of Party members

recruited for higher technical Erlucation in the years 1928-31; majority of

whan

were

workers;

collectivization in the countryside.

were

callErl

upon

to

the great

help

enforce

Bailes; Technology- and·· Society; pp. 198,

255, 259.
35. Grigorenko; Metoirs; p. 22.
36 • Grigorenko;

for exanple, a witness to the devastating effects of

collectivization an the

countryside;

writes:

"I blamed all

this

an

the

peasantry's lack of conscientiousness and tmdertook a one-man struggle against the people's indifference. II

He sums up his attitude in the following words:

"In 1930-31 the Soviet Union had a totally ruined agricultural system and a

disorganiZed transIX'rt system.

Yet people like me continuErl to be hypnotiZed

by the old ideals and the new construction projects. II

should also be rememberErl that Khrushchev, sixties; Ibid.;

w.

39; 40.

It

in the late fifties and early

instigated one of the nest virulent anti-religious campaigns of

Soviet history -

religion being sanething that he seems to have identified

see

with the peasant 'backwardness of his childhood.

Khrushchev ·Remermers; p,

22.
37. Ibid.; W. 30; 34.
38. liAs Stalin was speaking [this is in 1930] I thought to myself; 'Here is a man Who knows how to direct our minds and our energies toward the priority goals of industrializing our country and assuring the impregnability of our Haneland' s borders against the capitalist world; the well-being of the people is obviously in finn hands!' II the ready

appeal

Menoirs, p, 25.

of Stalin's

Ibid.; p. 37.

argument

for

II

Grigorenko testifies to

socialism

in

one

country. II

41

39. Although it took place at a much later date; Khrushchev's outburst against abstract art during his celebrated visit to the Manezh Gallery in 1961 provides a reflection of his cultural tastes ani of his suspicion of art that he could not understand or appreciate.

Priscilla

J~hnson

and Leopold

labedz~

eds , ; Khrushchev -- -and'··- the" -Arts:' ' The -Politi-cs" -of' .- 'Soviet-- eulture~ - -1962;...1964
(cambridge; Mass.: M.I.T. Press; 1965); pp. 101-05.

The classic work an the

cultural changes of the thirties is Nicholas S. Timasheff; The-Great-'Retreat:
The Growth -and- Declme--of'canmuni-sm' in' Russia (New York: Dutton; 1946).

See

also Fitzpatrick:; Education- -and- .SOCial' Mobi1:ity; pp. 249-54.
40. Clark;

The- -SOViet -, 'Novel;

chaps. 2-8; and IlLittle Heroes and Big

Deeds: Literature Responds to the First Five-Year Plan; II in Fitzpatrick:; II ed.;
Cultural Revolution in' Russia; pp. 189-206.
Anthropology

as

a

Context

Stalini-sm; pp. l8D-98.

for

Dunham;

Stalinist

See also her article IIUtopian

Literature; II

In" Stalin "s 'Time;

in

chap. 3.

Tucker;

ed , ;

Aleksandr I.

Solzhenitsyn; The' First" -Circle; trans. by Thanas P. Whitney (New York: Harper

& Row; 1968); chap. 56.
41. Clark; FIbs-Soviet' 'Novel; pp. 201-03.

It is tempting to see the final

stage of this life-cycle reflected in a one-page story which appeared in the leningrad literary journal Avrora in December of 1981.

It described a great

writer who stubbornly refuses to die ani assume the rightful place of a classic: IIAny nan \tJho had written so many books would long since have been lying in the grave.

But this one is truly superhuman [nechelovek]l

and has no intention of dying; to the amazement of one and all.

think that he died a talent. II

long time ago,

He lives

t-bst people

so great is the admiration of this

Appearing on p. 75 of the issue dedicated to the seventy-fifth

birthday of Leonid Brezhnev, it was considered by many to be a satire on the

42

10ng";"ai1ing leader.

see

1981); p. 75.

Viktor Go1iavkin; "Iubi1einaia rech", n Avrora (Deceniber

Newsweek; NOvember 22, 1982; p. 39

42. Quoted in Fitzpatrick,

see

399.

nSta1in and the Making of a New Elite; II p.

also Fitzpatrick; Fducation and Social

nStalin

am

Purges'

Reconsidered; n pp.

the MakiD,;J of a New Elite; n pp.
489-501.

"~ility;

W. 239-49; and

393-402: Getty;

liThe 'Great

Even Soviet publications have called

attention to the large-scale prarotion of new men as a result of the Great
Purge.

In 1966~ Voprosy" istorii nade the following statement:

"In 1937-38

Soviet industry suffered a heavy b1CM as a result of mass repressions. loss thus inflicted was difficult to nake good.

The

A large nmnber of young

engineers who had graduated fran technical college as late as 1933 or 1934 became directors of errterprd.sea,

and nany gifted organizers of production

arose fran their ranks as the new caunanders gradually gained experience. II
Quoted

in

Boris

~vytsky;

ed , ;

The -Stalinist -"Terror" in " the- , -Thirties:

JX)cumentation -fran" the Soviet -Press (Stanford: Hoover Institution; 1974); p,
421.
43. This seems to be Fitzpatrick's cautious; rot plausible ~ conclusion in nStalin and the Making of a New' Elite; n p. 401.
44. Getty; "The 'Great Purges' Reconsidered; II pp. 532-33.
45. Fitzpatrick; IISta1in and the Making of a New Elite; n pp. 385, 397.
46. Merle Fainsod; for example, concluded Srolensk- "under" Soviet Rule with an examination of a IInew cfass" of beneficiaries of Stalinism (pp. 451-54).
Sheila

Fitzpatrick also

uses

the

tenn in her

Introduction to Cultural

Revolution" 'in"" 'Russia; p. 7; and Education 'and -SOCial' Mobility; p. 249-54.
47. Trotsky; The' 'Revolution Betrayed.;

w.

86-94.

Marc Ferro also sees

the origins of Stalinism in "bureaucratdzatdon, II but as early as 1917 more ~cific

social terms.

am

in

In the course of 1917 he finds the various

43

popular institutions generated by the Revolution; the soviets; factory and district cxmnittees;

bureaucratization;

with

Guards;

Red

new'

etc.;

plebeian

undergoing

elements

joining

a

process

fonner

of

tsarist

officials; intelligentsia; and Old Guard Bolsheviks to fonn the apparatchiki of the new' Soviet state.

The Stalin era represented the rise to danination of

the plebeians; who \\ere predaninantly of peasant origin; at the expense of the other elements.

OCtober - '1917: A· 'Social -History- of -the 'Russian- - Revolution;
0

0 0

o

.

0

trans. by Nonnan Stone (London s Routledge & Kegan Paul; 1980); pp. 196-202;
274-77.
48. McNeal; "Trotskyist Interpretations of Stalinism; II pp. 36-48; Knei-

Paz; The -SOCial- and"Pol±tica-l Thought--of- -Leon --Trotsky; pp. 410-41.

See also

Milovan Dji.Laa, The-New-'Class: An Analysis·ofthe-ecmnunistSystem (New' York:
Praeger; 1957).
49 • Trotsky; The -- Revo1utionBetrayed; pp. 249-50.
50. Khrushchev ··Remembers; p. 30.
51. __
Ib';-d' p. 39 •
.J._.,
52 • Is Khrushchev's reference to ccmron geographical origin ("We all came fran the South ll ) possibly an echo of the zem1iachestvo; the regional network through Which migrant peasarrt-workere often \-Jere recruited by factories before the Revolution -- and thus another reminder of the impact of peasant culture on "the

Khrushchevs "?

On

the

zemliachestvo;

see

Johnson;

Peasant - and

Proletarian; chap. 4.
53 • Eugenia Ginzburg; Within' the· Whirlwind ; trans. by Ian Boland (New o o

York: Harcourt Brace Jovanovich; 1981); p, 112.
Ginzburg's menoirs;

This is the second volume of

the first being Journey--into--the- "Whirlwind (New York:

Harcourt; Brace & World; 1967).

44

54. Both Ivanov~Razumni.k and Nadezhda Mandel' shtam, for example~ cannent on the precipitous decline of literary knowledge on the part of secret p:>lice interrogators as the thirties progressed -- in a Russian context; probably as good an index of cultural stratification as any.

Razumni.k;
139-501

The' "Me!roirs·· ·of ' Ivanov-

trans. by P. S. Squire (IDndon: OXford University Press; 1965), pp.

Mandelstam~

Hope against Hope; p. 79.

55. Getty canpared the 1934 and 1939 Central Ccmnittees and found that the great najority of the 1934 Central Ccmnittee had been educated before the
Revolution; while most; of the 1939 Central Ccmnittee members had been educated in the twenties or even the thirties.

liThe' Great Purges' Reconsidered; II pp.

512-13.
56. Ibid.; pp. 165-204; 456-57; 499-5001 Hough; liThe Cultural Revolution and Western Understanding of the Soviet System; II pp.

245-47; Fitzpatrick,

IIStalin and the Making of a New Elite, II passim.
57. Khrushchev· Remembers; pp. 44; 79.
58. A. V. Gorbatov,

"Gody i

vodny, II Navyi mir (April 1964); p. 100.

Gorbatov's rnenoirs were serialized in the March; April, and May, 1964 issues of Novyi mir.

An abridged English translation is A. V. Gorbatov; Years off My

Life; trans. by Gordon Clough and Anthony cash (IDndon: Constable; 1964).
59. For sumnaries of Machajski' s doctrines see Paul Avrich;

"What Is

'Makhaevism • ?.. SOViet' -Studies, 17 , 1 (July 1965), 66-751 Marshall S. Shatz,
IIJan waclaw Machajski: The 'Conspiracy' of the Intellectuals; II SUrvey; NO. 62
(January 1967); pp. 45-57; and liThe Makhaevists and the Russian Revolutionary r-twement, II

International··· Review' ··of 'SOCial 'History,

15;

2

(1970);

235-651

Anthony D' Agostino; "Intelligentsia Socialisn and the 'Workers' Revolution • :
The Views of J. W. Machajski;" International Review of sex:ial 'History; 14; 1
(1969);

54-89.

For

Trotsky' s

ccnmenta

on

Machajski

see

L.

Trotskii,

45

"Vospaninaniia

0

rroei

pervoi

sibirskoi

ssylke," Katorga

i ssylka, I\h. 5

(1923), pp. 91-95, and Leon Trotsky, No/ Life: An Attempt at an Autobiography
(New

York: Scribner, 1930), pp. 129, 143.
60. Marc Ferro, characterizing this process,

includes a particularly

apposite phrase fran Gorky: "Ole function of the purges and show-trials was to eliminate the fOnTer privileged groups to whan even the 'old style' Bolsheviks had belonged despite their being, historically, in the 'vanguard'.

The rise

of popular elements could quite easily be adapted to the elimination, both at the top and at lower levels, of these fonmerly privileged elements, 'these men with their knowledge, all these swine', as Gorky said." October 1917, p. 202.
61. As Sheila Fitzpatrick neatly puts it, and with appropriate emphasis, the Revolution turned out to be a rretter of "terror, progress and upward rmb i l i t y ,"
8.

The Russian Revolution (Oxford: Oxford Lhiversity Press, 1982), p ,

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