Alexander Rabinowitch is Professor Emeritus of History and Indiana University, where he taught from 1968 until 1999, and an Affiliated Research Scholar at the St. Petersburg Institute of History, Russian Academy of Sciences since 2013. He’s the author of several studies on the Russian Revolutionary era, including Prelude to Revolution: The Petrograd Bolsheviks and the July 1917 Uprising published by Indiana University Press, The Bolsheviks Come To Power: The Revolution of 1917 in Petrograd published by Haymarket Books, and The Bolsheviks in Power: The First Year of Soviet Rule in Petrograd published by Indiana University Press.
Cat Power, “You are Free,” You Are Free, 2003.
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By Sean — 12 years ago
The question “Why do Russians love Stalin?” continues to fascinate observers but often serves as a means for them to paint Russians as inherently “abnormal,” authoritarian and violent. I think that Professor Andrei P. Tsygankov of San Francisco State University has given one of the most reasonable explanations why Russians continue to look favorably toward Stalin. Here is a snippet, but I encourage readers to check out the whole thing.
It is misleading to interpret strong public support for the revolution, Stalin or the Soviet Union as evidence for the Russians’ inability to come to grips with their past. Instead, such support confirms their refusal to come to grips with the present situation of mass poverty, coupled with a largely inefficient and persistently corrupt state. In the public mind, Yeltsinism, as a system that has created such a state, lives on. Unsurprisingly, a growing sympathy for Stalin strongly correlates with feelings of being “abandoned” by the state. Rather than being an outlandish authoritarian response, it is a natural, protest-like reaction to the political system of the 1990s many features of which remain part of everyday reality. Anywhere in the world people would withdraw their support for a state that consistently denies them sense of dignity and a decent level of living standards. State ability to formulate a paternalistic popular vision continues to matter. For example, Americans seem to love Ronald Reagan because he restored their sense of dignity (even while undermining middle class and economic foundations). French people think highly of Charles De Gaulle partly because the state was then socially paternalistic and autonomous.Post Views: 48
By Sean — 4 months ago
By Sean — 9 years ago
Here are some interesting findings from a recent VTsIOM survey on corruption:
Thirty percent of Russians approve of the idea of public executions to fight corruption, the All-Russia Center for the Study of Public Opinion has found. Fifty-nine percent of those opposed to that innovation are not opposed to public execution itself, they simply doubt its effectiveness against corruption (Emphasis mine–Sean). The idea found the most support (40-41%) among respondents older than 35.
Thirty-one percent of Russians would inform law enforcement agencies about corruption if it became known to them. Thirty percent would tell no one. Two years ago, only 24 percent of respondents would be willing to inform the police of corruption, and 29 percent would tell no one. Others would tell other local authorities (8%), the media (7%), human rights or other public organizations (6%) or the president personally (3%). Fifteen percent were unable to provide an answer to the question.
About 90 percent of respondents are for executing corrupt officials (though 59 percent felt it would be ineffective) and about a third would denounce them if given the opportunity. This is an interesting concept of justice, indeed. Comrade Stalin would have been quite proud.
While reading about corrput officials and Russians’ frustrations with them, I was reminded of the opening scene of Wendy Goldman’s Terror and Democracy in the Age of Stalin. She writes:
Emboldened by the new rhetoric [of unmasking enemies], a miner named Shadabudinov shyly stepped up to the rostrum. “Comrades,” he began nervously, “i cannot speak as well as the comrades who have spoken, but I would ask you to hear me out.” Shadabudinov explained that he wanted to say “several words about my pit which todays gives the country so much copper.” He “fell into this plenum by accident,” and had never met the head of his union until this day. Union officials rarely visited his settlement and, when they did, they never went down into the pits. The local union tried to help the workers, but “things do not always go right, especially when wreckers interfere.” And, in 1936, “we had a lot of wrecking.” Sixteen miners had died, four in the past four months alone. Many more had been wounded, blinded, and crippled in accidents. “So frankly, this is a horror,” Shadabudinov said quietly. Even worse, officals seemed not to care. Under the guise of political education, the party organizer did nothing but read the newspaper aloud. “He tells us fairytales,” Shadabudinov said in disgust; “And for this he gets 400 rubles a month.” The mine director was unresponsive, and the secretary of the party committee was in the director’s back pocket. The director had recently given him 4,000 rubles and a fine fur coat, which he sported around the frozen pits. Shadabudinov had written repeatedly to various officials about the situation, but none had responded. Finally he had gathered copies of all his lettrers, glued together a makeshift envelope from old newspaper, and sent the package off to Nikolai I. Ezhov, the head of the Commissariat of Internal Affairs. “I did not recieve an answer, but all the same, I feel something was done,” Shadabudinov noted with satisfaction. “Five days ago, the Party Control Comission demanded to see the director and the secretary of the party committee.” Shadabudinov’s denunciation opened an investigation of the director and party committee secretary. Denounced for “wrecking,” in all likelihood they suffered fates resembling those of countless other victims of terror. Yet in Shadabudinov’s view, who, if not these “wreckers” in fur coats, should answer for the dead and maimed miners? (11-12)Post Views: 44