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Beyond Psychohistory: The Young Stalin in Georgia

  • Ronald Grigor Suny (a1)

Extract

Within Russian and Soviet studies psychohistory has had few practitioners and a negligible effect, with the notable exception of Robert C. Tucker, an eloquent theorist of Soviet politics and a preeminent biographer of Stalin. His strategy for uncovering the unknown early Stalin has involved borrowing from the methodologies of psychoanalysis with the aim of showing how the pathology of the adult Stalin was rooted in the child. Yet his approach has found few adherents.

Stalin is without doubt one of the least hospitable subjects for the psychohistorian. Not particularly introspective, he left no intimate letters, no secret diary, and few witnesses to his inner life. Moreover, Bolshevik political culture was hostile to open personal expression and imposed on Stalin and other adherents an enforced modesty.

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This article is planned as the introduction and part of the first chapter of a book-length study of the young Stalin, 1879-1924. The author wishes to thank his many colleagues and friends who have read and listened to earlier versions, among them Leopold H. Haimson, Martin Miller, Geoff Eley, Norman Naimark, and the members of the history department of the University of California, Irvine.

1. Among Russianists who have used psychohistorical methodologies one might mention Patrick P. Dunn, Arthur P. Mendel, Nigel Moore, Philip Pomper, Robert C. Tucker, and Richard Wortman. See also the essays by Baron, Samuel H., Wortman, , and Tucker, in Introspection in Biography: The Biographer's Quest for Self-Awareness, ed. Samuel H., Baron and Pletsch, Carl (Hillsdale, N.J.: Analytic Press, 1985).

2. Iremaschwili, Joseph, Stalin und die Tragodie Georgiens: Erinnerungen von seinem langjahrigen Freund (Berlin: Verfasser, 1932), 12 .

3. Bychowski, Gustav, “Joseph V. Stalin: Paranoia and the Dictatorship of the Proletariat,” in The Psychoanalytic Interpretation of History, ed., Wolman, Benjamin B. (New York: Basic, 1971), 125 .

4. Rancour-Laferriere, Daniel, The Mind of Stalin: A Psychoanalytic Study (Ann Arbor, Mich.: Ardis, 1988), 119 .

5. Tucker, Robert C., Stalin As Revolutionary, 1879-1929: A Study in History and Personality (New York: Norton, 1973), xvi .

6. Ibid., 76.

7. Ibid., 81, 82, 115, 120, 137, 140, 142.

8. Iremashvili is the source for the many rumors that Beso Jughashvili was an Ossetian, rather than a pure Georgian and that this fact accounts for his crudeness and lack of culture (Iremaschwili, Stalin und die Tragodie Georgiens, 12). It is impossible to verify Beso's ethnic origins.

9. Kaminskii, V. and Vereshchagin, I., “Detstvo i iunost’ vozhdia: dokumenty, zapiski, rasskazy,” Molodaia gvardiia, no. 12 (1939):2425 .

10. Kaminskii and Vereshchagin, “Detstvo i iunost’ vozhdia,” 26; Iosif Grishashvili, Literaturnaia bogema starogo Tbilisi (Tbilisi: Merani, 1977), 13. This latter work is a translation from the original Georgian dzveli tpilisis literaturuli bogema (Tbilisi, 1927), an idiosyncratic collection of poems and ethnographic detail on the traditions and customs of Tbilisi.

11. Much useful information on the history and customs of Gori can be found in G. Bukhnikashvili, Gori: lstoricheskii ocherk (Tbilisi: Zaria vostoka, 1947).

12. Yochanan Altman, “A Reconstruction, Using Anthropological Methods, of the Second Economy of Soviet Georgia” (Ph.D. diss., Middlesex Polytechnic, 1983), chap. 4, 9.

13. In one of his best-known verses, “To a Georgian Mother,” the Georgian nationalist poet Ilia Chavchavadze wrote: “Ah here, o mother, is thy task, Thy sacred duty to thy land: Endow thy sons with spirits strong, With strength of heart and honor bright, Inspire them with fraternal love, To strive for freedom and for right.” English translation by Venera Urashadze, Anthology of Georgian Poetry (Tbilisi: Sabchota Sakartvelo, 1958), 57.

14. Iremaschwili, Stalin und die Tragodie Georgiens, 10.

15. Allilueva, Svetlana, Dvadtsat’ pisem k drugu (New York: Harper and Row, 1967), 145.

16. Iremaschwili, Stalin und die Tragodie Georgiens, 12; Allilueva, Dvadtsat’ pisem, 145n. The date of Beso's death is in dispute. Using a statement from Keke Jughashvili to the United States reporter H. R. Knickerbocker (New York Post, 1 December 1930), most authors believe he died in a violent brawl around 1890, but Ilia Tabagua of the Institute of History of the Georgian Academy of Sciences told Robert H. McNeal that Beso died in Tbilisi in 1909; McNeal, Robert H., Stalin, Man and Ruler (New York: New York University Press, 1988), 336nl5.

17. Allilueva, Dvadtsat’ pisem, 145, 189. In the English translation a line has been added: “He was much more like her than like his father”; Allilueva, Svetlana, Twenty Letters to a Friend (New York: Harper and Row, 1967), 204 .

18. Allilueva, Svetlana, Tol'ko odin god (New York: Harper and Row, 1969), 313 ; Only One Year (New York: Harper and Row, 1969), 360. Allilueva confirms that her father was capable of sudden rage but, in her experience, was usually quite self-controlled (Only One Year, 365).

19. Stalin, I. V., Sochineniia, 13 vols. (Moscow: Gosudarstvennoe izdatel'stvo politicheskoi literatury, 1946-1952) 13:113 .

20. “The Mediterranean,” writes J. Davis, “attracted attention from anthropologists almost before any other region of the world. Maine, Fustel de Coulanges, Robertson-Smith, Frazer, Durkheim, Westermarck— the roll-call of those early generals marks out mediterranean anthropology as a special case” (People of the Mediterranean: An Essay in Comparative Social Anthropology [London: Routledge and Kegan Paul, 1977], 1). Beginning in 1959 a series of conferences and volumes has explored the concepts of Mediterranean honor and shame, and an impressive number of volumes, several edited by J. G. Peristiany, have appeared. For an introduction to the subject, see Peristiany, J. G., ed., Honour and Shame: The Values of Mediterranean Society (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1966).

21. Pitt-Rivers, Julian, “Honour and Shame,” in Honour and Shame, 21 .

22. See Pierre, Bourdieu, “The Sentiment of Honour in Kabyle Society,” in Honour and Shame, 228 .

23. Stalin, I. V., Sochineniia 1:314315 .

24. Kaminskii and Vereshchagin, “Detstvo i iunost’ vozhdia,” 41-42; Iremaschwili, Stalin und die Tragodie Georgiens, 7-8.

25. Altman, “A Reconstruction, Using Anthropological Methods,” chap. 5, 5-6, 16. Much of my discussion of the patterns of Georgian friendship is indebted to the excellent field work and analysis of Altman, who worked among Georgian Jews who had emigrated to Israel. Though I am not a trained anthropologist, Altman's findings confirmed and corroborated my own observations and experiences during my visits and research stays in Georgia (1966, 1972, 1975-1976, 1988, 1990).

26. Stalin, , Sochineniia 13:113114 .

27. Agursky, Mikhail, “Stalin's Ecclesiastical Background,” Survey 28 (Winter 1984):23 . Agursky carefully documents the high degree of right-wing sentiment and Russian chauvinism among Russian priests in Georgia.

28. For more complete discussions of the conflicts in Georgian intellectual life at the end of the nineteenth century, see James William Robert Parsons, “The Emergence and Development of the National Question in Georgia, 1801-1921” (Ph.D. diss., University of Glasgow, 1987); and Suny, Ronald Grigor, The Making of the Georgian Nation (Bloomington: Indiana University Press, 1988), 113143 .

29. Iremaschwili, Stalin und die Tragodie Georgiens, 17.

30. Ibid., 18.

31. The first, “dila” (morning), signed “J-shvili,” was considered good enough to be reprinted by the grammarian I. Gogebashvili in his textbook, deda ena (mother tongue). Another verse, signed “Soselo” and dedicated to the Georgian playwright Rapiel Eristavi, was also reprinted in collections of Georgian writing.

32. Iremaschwili, , Stalin und die Tragodie Georgiens, 18 .

33. Tucker, , Stalin As Revolutionary, 80 .

34. Armenians, who have historically endured countless massacres and deportations, as well as the first genocide in the twentieth century, use the word vrezh (revenge) as a name for male children.

31. The first, “dila” (morning), signed “J-shvili,” was considered good enough to be reprinted by the grammarian I. Gogebashvili in his textbook, deda ena (mother tongue). Another verse, signed “Soselo” and dedicated to the Georgian playwright Rapiel Eristavi, was also reprinted in collections of Georgian writing.

32. Iremaschwili, Stalin und die Tragodie Georgiens, 18.

33. Tucker, Stalin As Revolutionary, 80.

34. Armenians, who have historically endured countless massacres and deportations, as well as the first genocide in the twentieth century, use the word vrezh (revenge) as a name for male children.

35. For a discussion of Russian literary treatment of the Caucasus, see Layton, Susan, “The Creation of an Imaginative Caucasian Geography,” Slavic Review 45 (Fall 1986):470485 ; and Gadzhiev, Agil’, Kavkaz v russkoi literature pervoi poloviny XIX veka (Baku: Novaia tipografiia, 1982).

Beyond Psychohistory: The Young Stalin in Georgia

  • Ronald Grigor Suny (a1)

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