Abstract

SUMMARY:

In his article Ronald Suny takes aim at a critical examination of relationship between modernity and the Soviet experiment, ideology and analytical apparatus employed for exploration of Soviet history, placing that examination in the context of historiographic discussions in the US Slavic field. The author takes as a point of departure the recent book by J. Scott and combines the analysis of Scott’s argument with a scrutiny of major interpretative models used in American historiography for Soviet studies, namely the “Totalitarian” and “developmentalist” ones. He differentiates between the modernization trend, which focuses on processes of social change in Soviet society, revises the image of the 1917 revolution and the nature of the soviet political regime, and modernity trend, which emphasizes the legacy of enlightenment and modern rationality in the Soviet experiment, stressing the revisionist impact of both on the historiographic image of the Soviet history. However, the author notes that the collapse of the Soviet Union has reversed the balance between the “Totalitarian” and “developmentalist” interpretations of Soviet history to the advantage of libertarian perspective on modern state and society, which now necessitates a reconstruction of relationship between soviet socialism and European modernity. Identifying modernity as a normative discourse, Suny analyzes the interplay between modernism and antimodernism, asserting that soviet socialism was not an alternative to modernity but rather an alternative within the range of historic variations of modernity. He then reviews in detail two major contributions to Soviet history by US historians of Russia, M. Malia and S. Kotkin. While welcoming their approaches to the Soviet Union as a variant and modification of European modernity, he criticizes their way of reducing the Soviet experience to the Bolshevik ideological blueprints, offering instead an understanding of Soviet ideology (socialism) and politics as a dynamic, contingent, and eventually evolving discursive process.

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Additional Information

ISSN
2164-9731
Print ISSN
2166-4072
Pages
pp. 19-54
Launched on MUSE
2015-10-07
Open Access
No
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