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An Inspiring Vision


It is obvious, then, that to understand the triumphs and failures of Russia’s Soviet and post-Soviet development, it is essential to study them within Russia’s own cultural and historical context. The true essence of the Soviet period of Russian history was modernization in the broad sense of the word, including industrialization, urbanization, and secularization of popular mentality. The singularity of the Communist regime was that it pledged to carry out this vast transformation of society on the basis of Marxist ideology, that is, without private ownership that bred excessive exploitation of wage labor and other predatory capitalist practices. 

To a large extent, many of the Communist dogmas proved utopian and unrealistic, but it would be one-sided to reduce the process of Soviet modernization to a “revolution from above” imposed by a radical government on an unwilling population. The Bolshevik vision of socialism, including industrialization, urbanization, and cultural revolution, appealed to many sections of society as essential directions of the country’s progress and evoked massive social support. It reflected aspirations of different social classes and groups and, in particular, the longing of the working classes for social justice.

Many driven by enthusiasm were prepared to sweat at construction sites round the clock virtually for free. Young people, in particular, were deeply motivated by the idea that it was possible to build a better and fairer society relatively quickly, within their lifetime, by mounting a huge, exhausting effort and accepting hardships and self-sacrifice.

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The Soviet Period


Soviet Russia

Understanding the Soviet Period
Russian Political Culture
Soviet Ideology
The Soviet System
Soviet Nationalities
The Economic Structure
The Socialist Experiment
"Great Leap" to Socialism
The USSR in World War II
Stalin's Legacy
Brezhnev's Stagnation
The Economy in Crisis
Political Reform
The USSR's Collapse

Models of Soviet Power

Tables and Statistics

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