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  • Print publication year: 2006
  • Online publication date: March 2008

25 - The Soviet Union and the road to communism

from Part II - Russia and the Soviet Union: Themes and Trends


The heart of the governing ideology of the Soviet Union was an image of itself as a traveller on the road to communism. This image was embedded in the narrative of class struggle and class mission created by Karl Marx and first embodied in a mass political movement by European Social Democracy. When the pioneers of Russian Social Democracy looked West in the 1890s, they saw a powerful, prestigious and yet still revolutionary movement. They saw mass worker parties, inspired by the Marxist class narrative that continued to advance despite the persecutions of such redoubtable enemies as Chancellor Bismarck. The man who gave canonical expression to the elaborated class narrative of Social Democracy was Karl Kautsky. The link between the class narrative and Bolshevik thinking about the peasantry is the scenario summarised by the phrase kto-kogo or 'who-whom'. Joseph Stalin presented the mass collectivisation of 1929-30 as the triumphal outcome of Vladimir Lenin's kto-kogo scenario.
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