Lecture 21 - Stalinism

author: John Merriman, Department of History, Yale University
recorded by: Yale University
published: April 16, 2010,   recorded: November 2008,   views: 3036
released under terms of: Creative Commons Attribution No Derivatives (CC-BY-ND)

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One of the central questions in assessing Stalinism is whether or not the abuses of the latter were already present in the first years of the Russian Revolution. The archival evidence suggests that this is partly the case, and that even in its early stages Soviet Russia actively persecuted not just those who were believed to have profited unfairly, without laboring, but also non-Russian ethnic groups. Stalin, although not an ethnic Russian himself, was committed to the assimilation of national identity, and universal identification with the Soviet State. This commitment, coupled with his paranoia, lead to executions and deportations aimed at solidifying the state through exclusion of "undesirable" or politically suspect elements. Throughout years of economic hardship and violent purges, Soviet rhetoric consistently emphasized a glorious future in order to justify the miseries of the present. Such a future proved, in many ways, to be an illusion.

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