One morning I joined the archivists of a Moscow archive for tea. Discussion turned to Trotsky and what difference it would have made had he rather than Stalin succeeded Lenin. The group concluded that in domestic policy there would have been little difference. Trotsky would have imposed industrialization and collectivization. His harshness would have brought terror, if not the Terror. But a few argued that he differed from Stalin in one respect. Trotsky would never have trusted Hitler and would therefore have spared the country some of the worst horrors of World War II.
Other questions underlay the discussion that morning, all relevant to a journal devoted to the NEP era. Were the 1920s a foundation for the Soviet period, setting the stage for the decades to follow? Or do those years stand alone, an anomaly when compared to what followed? A founding decade naturally juxtaposes continuity to change, consistency to inconsistency. In and of itself a first decade is important.
It is the premise of this journal that to focus the attention of scholars on the NEP era is a worthy enterprise. We are not alone in that conviction. As I noted in my introduction to an issue of Russian History/Histoire Russe, vol. 27, no. 4 (winter 2000) entitled "New Perspectives on the NEP Era," in the last decade (and into our own) a significant amount of scholarship devoted to the Soviet 1920s has appeared both in Russia and the West.
I also observed that a divide existed between the type of scholarship produced in Russia and that produced in the West, more particularly in the U.S. Russian scholars tend to explore political history; Westerners focus on society. This journal hopes to bridge that gap, encouraging both social and political history in the belief that social history informs the study of political developments and political history adds clarity to study of society. William Rosenberg made the latter point a decade and a half ago. (Russia in the Era of NEP: Explorations in Soviet Society and Culture [Bloomington and Indianapolis: Indiana University Press, 1991] p. 320).
The journal hopes to do more. Benedetto Croce's British disciple, R. G. Collingwood, argued that the job of the historian was "to re-enact the past in his own mind." (R. G. Collingwood, The Idea of History [New York: Oxford University Press, 1956] p. 282). That process, honed in the focus of this publication, will raise questions and provide answers that may otherwise have eluded scholars of the 1920s. We seek contributions on the NEP era that treat "either foreign or domestic issues or both. " We are as concerned with the center as with the regions and welcome all fields of scholarship in a collective effort to understand the Soviet 1920s.
Submissions should be sent to: Dr. Alexis Pogorelskin, Department of History, University of Minnesota-Duluth, 1121 University Drive, Duluth, MN 55812-2496, and email to: firstname.lastname@example.org
In the current issue Markku Kangaspuro uses hitherto unexamined archival collections to recount the events of 1921-1922 that led to the formation of the Soviet Socialist Autonomous Republic of Karelia. He places the founding of Soviet Karelia in its domestic as well as international context, revealing that a division existed within the Soviet leadership that pitted Petrograd and Moscow against each other regarding Karelia. Moscow sought to consolidate its hold on the region while conciliating Finland. It supported Karelian autonomy. Petrograd sought expansion via revolution in Finland and opposed autonomy.
Schliapnikov's biographer, Barbara Allen, relies on archival records to recount the debates among disaffected metal workers that led to the Letter of the Twenty-Two. Sent to the Comintern Executive Committee in February 1922, the letter condemned bourgeois influence, suppression of dissent, and increasing bureaucratization within the trade unions and the party. Dr. Allen shows the hitherto unknown links among the signatories of the letter and draws a vivid portrait of Shliapnikov, committed to "worker empowerment" and hopelessly out of step with NEP. She argues that the events surrounding the letter figure in the transition from the dictatorship of the party to the dictatorship of its General Secretary.
Parallels exist between the events that Markku Kangaspuro and Barbara Allen describe. The so-called Laskikapina or attempt to ignite a revolution in Finland starting in Lapland occurred just weeks before the Comintern Executive Committee received the Letter of the Twenty-Two. The Comintern supported the revolt, a policy clearly at odds with Moscow's foreign policy. Similarly, Dr. Allen shows that Shliapnikov and his allies turned to the Comintem not only in defense of Soviet workers, but to condemn "the ideological compromise that NEP entailed." Her work confirms Dr. Kangaspuro' s point that starting in 1921-1922, ideology had become "a sort of matrix or model. . . [ rather] than a . . . source of policy." Compromise born of necessity had become the order of the day in the transition to NEP.
Irina Takala examines Soviet alcohol policy in the 1920s, describing a pattern similar to the one noted above. A compromise "curtailing anti-alcohol measures" followed the "dictatorship of sobriety." Dr. Takala recounts how counter-revolutionary leaflets revealing the addresses of wine storehouses helped fuel chaos at the end of 1917. The regime then struggled to impose sobriety. NEP encouraged the contradictory policies which ensued from 1921- 1930. The sale of alcohol both pleased the peasantry and brought the state significant revenue. In the end, as Dr. Takala shows, the subsequent "alcoholization of [Russian] society" had its roots in NEP.
Bulgakov scholar Edythe C. Haber raises the important question of the roots of NEP satire, placing the foundation of the genre in "the years immediately preceding the revolution" and suggesting avenues of research for the whole NEP era. The period not only poses questions of continuity and discontinuity with the decades to follow but raises the question of its own origins, as Dr. Haber notes. Focusing on the relationship between two great satirists, she demonstrates the influence of Teffi's "laughing words" on Zoshchenko along with her ability to combine the comic with the tragic and, as Haber is the first to observe, create a "dark...kingdom of fools." For Zoshchenko, Teffi's example provided an "alternative path" to a new proletarian literature during NEP.
The essay on Kamenev's tenure as Soviet ambassador argues that the ten month period had greater significance than its brevity would suggest. Kamenev 1) forged a partnership with Christian Rakovsky 2) developed a surprising closeness with the conservative Italian ambassador in Moscow, Vittorio Cerruti 3) took the example of Benedetto Croce, whom he may have met, subsequently opposing Stalin the same way that Croce fought Mussolini.
In this issue, Lars Lih and Clayton Black have initiated a long overdue re-examination of G. E. Zinoviev’s reputation. They continue the work of Myron W. Hedlin, who first attempted more than thirty years ago to revise the negative consensus on Zinoviev. Hedlin’s essays, too long neglected, suggested rational sources of Zinoviev’s seemingly erratic conduct. He con-tended, for example, that Zinoviev and Kamenev opposed October because they feared the quick removal of the Bolsheviks which would postpone the triumph of the proletariat indefinitely.
Similarly, Lih finds consistency from 1918 to 1925 in Zinoviev’s prescrip-tions rather than the eccentricity condemned by most scholars of the period. Lih maintains that in Zinoviev’s attention to the party’s relationship to the working class and the battle “for the soul of the peasantry,” he showed remarkable certitude during the most turbulent period of Bolshevik rule. Black agrees that Zinoviev’s “hesitation . . . at critical moments . . . should not be conflated with inconsistency of political conviction.”
Lih and Hedlin also concur that Zinoviev harbored deep fear over Bolshe-vik unpopularity: potentially destructive in October and subsequently should the regime fail to win peasant loyalty. It could be argued, on the other hand, that there was more to Zinoviev’s fear than Bolshevik isolation or unpopularity. Zinoviev and Kamenev present a striking contrast to Stalin at the Twelfth Party Congress in April 1923, the first without Lenin in attendance. Stalin, in Lenin’s absence, saw opportunity. Kamenev and Zinoviev, invoking Lenin at every turn, could not conceal the fear that Lenin’s absence engendered. What could cause such insecurity in individuals who now ruled Russia? What made them feel like outsiders with such a tenuous hold on power now that Lenin’s support was gone? At the Twelfth, Stalin appeared to throw off his Georgian identity. Kamenev and Zinoviev could not so easily divest themselves of their Jewish identity. Zinoviev openly denounced anti-Semitism at the Twelfth Party Congress. Was that the source of the insecurity that undermined him from within and without?
Michael Hickey provides examples of the conflicts that divided the “Jewish street” during NEP. He shows that, despite the Smolensk Evsektsiia’s campaign to secularize the Jewish population, two religious communities could skillfully preserve each congregation’s synagogue, at least temporarily, by insisting on the guarantees of Soviet law for religious rights. During NEP “the face of legality” could prevail.
Hickey’s work reveals that examination of the “Jewish street” offers rich rewards regarding how NEP policy could operate at the local level. As noted above, much remains to be done regarding the Jewish question and the early Soviet elite.
Elizabeth Harry, like Hickey, examines NEP outside the political elite. She suggests that by 1927 support for the Revolution from Above lay with the one in twenty-five unemployed Communists. In the capital in the same year, one in four industrial workers had lost a job, belying the prosperity that NEP allegedly brought to “calico” Moscow. Such figures, including the account of immiseration that she provides, justified the fears that Zinoviev harbored for the regime’s popularity.
The journal welcomes further contributions on the issues that Lars Lih and Clayton Black have raised and is willing to continue discussion of the contributions for this issue in the next.
Submissions should be sent to: Dr. Alexis Pogorelskin, Department of History, University of Minnesota-Duluth, 1121 University Drive, Duluth, MN 55812-2496. They may also be sent electronically in Microsoft Word to: email@example.com. Please adhere to the University of Chicago Manual of Style (fifteenth edition) in formatting your submission.
Guidelines for Reviewers
We will accept reviews of scholarly monographs, essay collections, multimedia mate-rials, web sites, films, and texts that might be used in graduate or undergraduate classes on Russian and Soviet history. Some reviews will be assigned to recognized authorities in the field, but unsolicited reviews are also welcome. All materials for review should include significant discussion of the NEP era, focusing on either foreign or domestic issues or both. We will welcome reviews of works that treat issues in other countries that bear important similarities to NEP era developments in the Soviet Union or that affected those developments.
Reviews should explain the work’s argument, purpose, and contribution to the field, placing the book, film, or other material under review in historiographic context. Assess the strengths and weaknesses of the item under review in a manner that is thoughtful, balanced, and respectful. Book reviewers must be willing to accept revisions offered by the editors. Book reviews should be from 1000 to 3000 words. Review essays may be from 3000 to 8000 words and should discuss two or more separately produced works.
Reviews should not have been previously published and should not be under consid-eration elsewhere.
Books for review may be sent to: Barbara Allen, Department of History, La Salle University, 1900 West Olney Avenue, Philadelphia, PA 19141. Reviews may be sent to the same address or electronically in Microsoft Word to:
Please include your name, institutional affiliation, and current contact information. Please follow the form and style conventions in the University of Chicago Manual of Style (fifteenth edition).
As we noted in our first issue, “we are as concerned with the center as with the regions . . . .” We are therefore pleased to introduce to Western readers the work of Viktor Bakhtin, a Docent at Voronezh State Technical University. Bakhtin offers an intriguing micro-history of the post-Civil War countryside with Voronezh in early NEP as its focus. He shows how difficult it was to initiate the new policy away from the center, affirming, “in 1921 the Voronezh countryside did not know NEP.” Not until 1923 did NEP begin to take root in that part of Russia.
Bakhtin also reminds us that while Western scholars have largely focused on the intra-Party struggle at the center, in Voronezh the SRs and other pre-revolutionary opposition parties remained active. Even a former priest in the entourage of Nicholas II found a following among Voronezh peasants.
Within the Party itself, Bakhtin shows, opposition to NEP seethed. Party organizations ignored official policy, refusing to contribute to the “rebirth of the bourgeoisie.” Former loyalists abandoned the Party which the peasants regarded as a “chuzhaia vlast’”anyway. Bakhtin maintains that by 1927 Russia was ripe for another revolution, either from above or below.
The journal is proud to honor the foremost interpreter of the great perelom as a revolution from above, Robert C. Tucker. Lars Lih, the prolific independent scholar of party history, honors his friend and mentor with an essay that complements Bakhtin’s.
Lih’s recounting of debates in the Gorbachev years suggest that it proved just as difficult to resurrect NEP in 1987 as it had been to initiate it in 1921. Bakhtin’s image of the NEP man, minus the anti-Semitic overtones, could illustrate the co-op price gouger under Gorbachev.
Both scholars address the end of NEP, Bakhtin succinctly: “From 1927 the regime began to conduct a [harsh] policy . . . which . . . led to the establishment of a totalitarian regime.” Lih recounts the debate over “the historical fate of NEP,” fading by 1990 when “the NEP image . . . [ran] out of steam” and khozraschet socialism, the new NEP, gave way to a market economy.
We are pleased to introduce Viktor Bakhtin to Western readers and to join Lars Lih in reminding our readers of the “transitory, swift-changing and passionate” Gorbachev years while honoring Bob Tucker at the same time.
Submissions should be sent to: Dr. Alexis Pogorelskin, Department of History, University of Minnesota-Duluth, 1121 University Drive, Duluth, MN 55812-2496. They may also b e sent electronically in Microsoft Word to: apogorel@Qd.umn.edu. Please adhere to the University of Chicago Manual of Style (fifteenth edition) in formatting your submission.
Guidelines for Reviewers
We will accept reviews of scholarly monographs, essay collections, multimedia materials, web sites, films, and texts that might be used in graduate or undergraduate classes on Russian and Soviet history. Some reviews will be assigned to recognized authorities in the field, but unsolicited reviews are also welcome. All materials for review should include significant discussion of the NEP era, focusing on either foreign or domestic issues or both. We will welcome reviews of works that treat issues in other countries that bear important similarities to NEP era developments in the Soviet Union or that affected those developments.
Reviews should explain the work’s argument, purpose, and contribution to the field, placing the book, film, or other material under review in historiographic context. Assess the strengths and weaknesses of the item under review in a manner that is thoughtful, balanced, and respectful. Book reviewers must be willing to accept revisions offered by the editors. Book reviews should be from 1,000 to 3,000 words. Review essays may be from 3,000 to 8,000 words and should discuss two or more separately produced works.
Reviews should not have been previously published and should not be under consideration elsewhere.
Books for review may be sent to: Barbara Allen, Department of History, La Salle University, 1900 West Olney Avenue, Philadelphia, PA 19141. Reviews may be sent to the same address or electronically in Microsoft Word to: firstname.lastname@example.org.
Please include your name, institutional affiliation, and current contact information. Please follow the form and style conventions in the University of Chicago Manuel of Style (fifteenth edition).
All reviews become property of the journal.
Editor’s Statement / Obituaries
In March of this year two memebers of the editroial boad of this journal died: Richard Stites on March 7 and Robert V. Daniels on March 28. We are grateful for their numerous contributions to understanding of the NEP Era and for their support of this journal. We offer our tribute to them now.
Richard Stites, though trained by leading intellectual historians at Harvard, struck out on his own to prioneer the firls of Russian social history, to explore making history from below rather then from above. In riveting prose, he crafted masterful history, weaving brilliant insights with what most historians ignored or overlooked to fill in so many of the "blank spots" in our understanding of Russian society. His Revolutionary Dreams. Utopian Vision and Experimental Life in the Russian Revolution, which won the Vucinich Prize in 1989, utilized underground news papers and gypsy music as sources. He knew when the movies of Harold Lloyd appeared in Moscow. He caputured the "currents... borne on the should of large numbers of unidentified people-crowds, organizations, communities, groups of workers, creative artists..."
Stites wrote engaged history at its best. He resurrected the hidden and the neglected for a reason. He admitted to producing with Revolutionary Dreams to what should matter most to civilization. He argued, "the 'utopian propensity' is the only mechanism through which humankind and the culture it has created down through the ages." Culture itself, he insisted, could not endure without the "utopian propensity," and culture constitutes a part of "all the realities" that we "cherish."
Stites truly belonged to what he wrote. "Its been a touch year," he told The New Yorker in 1990. "I researched my new book on Soviet popular culture. Three months in Moscow, threen in Leningrad. Night after night, I went to theater, to cabarets, music bars, movies. It was really tough," HE circulated at the AASS that year, sharing the latest perestroika anecdotes.
Robert V. Daniels poseessed the same moral impulse that engaged Richard Stites. He as muchas proclaimed it with the title of his first major work: The Conscience of the Revolution: Communist Opposition in Societ Russia.. Though Lewis siegelbaum has labeled the work's "moralistic clavor," "deterministic," Daniels has left us a portrait that captures in equal measure the frustration, courage, ineptitude, and desperation of the Opposition.
Its origina lay in his initial experience in the field. He assisted George Fischer in cataloging the Trotsky Archive, descibing Trotsky's papers as "crucially important for certain portions of the history the Opposition," especially "for the 1926-1927 period."
The Trotsky Archive, along with the stenografickeskie otechey of the party congress enabled Leonard Schapiro to produce his political historied: The History of the CPS and The Origin of the Communist Autocracy. Historians follow thier sources. The foundational works of Russian studies in the West ipso facto , were works of political history.
While both historians moved beyond their initial monographs in women's history and the opposition to Stalin, respectively, they remained wedded to their formative experienced in their approach to history. Lewis Siegelbaum, in writing of Daniels's later work on the Soviet Union and its demise, laments that he "cannot find mush social history in" such work; Daniels "restricts his vision to the political elites..." Unlike Moshe Lewin, according to Siegelbaum, Daniels fails to "insert the social 'canvas' in all of historical complexity." But Lewing had himself emerged from Soviet society. Speculation on Soviet society came naturally to him. Neither the absence of social history in Daniel's writing nor the emphasis on political history should surprise us. The founding fathers or our field, whose formation lay in the West, like Robert Daniels and Leonard Schapri, went in one direction. The next generation, represented by Ricahrd Stites and those whom he inspiried, could go in another. As we noted at the time we began this jounal, we hope to bring both social and political history together in one venue to illumnuate the NEP Era.
Our Firls, like Russia itself, has turned a corner, with the end ot the first decade of the new century. Robert Daniels, Robert Tucker, Moshe Lewin, and Richard Stites joined Leopold Haimson, Adam Ulam, and Leonard Schapiroin laying the foundation stoned of Russian studies in the second half of the twentieth century. The scholars of this century had a firm platform on which to build.
All reviews become property of the journal.