Did Stalin have a consistent national policy?


Term Paper (Advanced seminar), 2002
18 Pages, Grade: 1 (A)

Excerpt

Inhalt

Did Stalin have a consistent National Policy ? Discuss with reference to Stalin’s own speeches and writings and other published documents

1. Introduction

2. Marxism and the National Question

3. Stalin’s pre-revolutionary works on the National Question

4. From the Revolution towards the creation of the USSR – Stalin as the commissar of Narkomnats
a) The Creation of Autonomous Republics
b) The Promotion of National Cultures and Languages
c) Korenizatsiia
d) The Foundation of the USSR

5. Stalin in Power: from Collectivization until the Great Patriotic War
a) Collectivization and Industrialization
b) The Great Purges and Rerussification
c) The Great Patriotic war and Soviet patriotism

6. Conclusion

7. Bibliography

8. Collections of Documents

Did Stalin have a consistent National Policy ? Discuss with reference to Stalin’s own speeches and writings and other published documents.

1. Introduction

This essay is intended to give an outline of Stalin’s National Policy, its main aims and ideological foundations. With regards to Stalin’s own statements on this issue it shall be discussed to what extent he pursued a consistent strategy or what changes he made in this respect throughout his political life. Illustrated by the major developments and decisions it shall be shown that inspite of turns and changes in ideology and politics there was an underlying rationale for his National policy: the build-up of a modern, centralized state.

2. Marxism and the National Question

According to Marxist theory nationalism is one of the outcomes of capitalism. Nations were seen as temporal modern phenomena.[2] The Communist Manifesto states, that the working men ‘have no country’.[3] In a finally classless society nations would no longer have any meaning. Marxist theorists were convinced that once the national question of the supressed people was solved nationalism would give way to to international class consciousness. Some Marxists such as Luxemburg even denied any progressive role of the nation as it divided the working classes of different countries[4] while others saw nationalism as a legitimate and progressive movement.[5][1]

The Austrian Marxists Bauer and Renner had worked on the concept of cultural autonomy that should be granted to people with a common language and culture independently from their territorial status.[6]

In contrast to that Lenin developed the concept of the right to self-determination which meant that any nation had the right to secession and political self-determination.[7] In Lenin’s opinion having the right to secede would make smaller nations not exercise it but rather make them confidently take part in the build-up of a strong central state.[8] Moreover, the right to secession should not run counter the right of a unitary dicatorship of the proletariat.[9]

In short, Stalin could not resort to an existing coherent communist theory about nations and nationalism.

3. Stalin’s pre-revolutionary works on the National Question

The early Stalin was strongly opposed to any kind of national movement of small nations such as the Georgians or the Jews.[10] Later in 1913 under the influence of both Lenin and the Austro-Marxists in his famous work on the national question in the Bolshevik journal Prosvechshenie he points out his conviction that a nation has to be based in a common territory in addition to having a common language and culture.[11] This goes far beyond the Austro-Marxists’ concept of only cultural autonomy.[12] Besides, he added the feature of a common economic life to his definition of a nation. All these features had to be in place to constitute a nation. Therefore nationalities that did not settle in a coherent territory or did not constitute the majority in their territory (e.g. the Jews) could be denied any national status.[13]

Stalin also advocated the idea of territorial autonomy as more favourable to federalism in order to break down national barriers and bring together different peoples.[14] In the beginning he also opposed the secession of nations such as Poland and Finland.[15] Moreover, the repression of language in his opinion was a major reason for national aspirations. Granting the right to use one’s native language or even allow education in it would therefore make the discontent disappear.[16] The interplay of culture, territory and economy should also later be the underlying rationale in his policies of nation-building.

4. From the Revolution towards the creation of the USSR – Stalin as the commissar of Narkomnats

From the collapsing tsarist regime the Bolsheviks had inherited an empire consisting of more than 100 different nationalities, most of them suppressed for a long time under Russian domination. During the civil war the Bolsheviks tried to win over the smaller nations for their struggle.[17] In many regions such as in the Ukraine, Georgia, Armenia, Azerbaidzhan and Turkestan national movements took over power or formed alliances with the Bolsheviks such as the Jadids in Central Asia.[18]

The People’s Commissariat for Nationalitiy Affairs (Narkomnats) was established under the chairmanship of Stalin on November 8, 1917. In the beginning it was intended to help improve the dialogue with the nationalities and support the government in dealing with questions concerning the minorities. Every national unit was represented by its own department or section led by a representative of the respective nation.[19] Soon Narkomnats became not only an institution for representation of national minorities but took over responsibilities in many fields.[20] It started fighting ‘backwardness’ through nation-building.[21] Generally speaking Narkomnats promoted all forms of national identity that did not conflict with a unitary socialist state.[22]

In January 1918 the Declaration of the Rights of the Toilers and Exploited People was passed by the All-Russian Congress of Soviets that declared a free federative union of Soviet national republics.[23] This federation was seen only as a transitional form before a new centralized state could arise.

a) The Creation of Autonomous Republics

The creation of the first autonomous republics of Turkestan and Bashkiria[24] in 1918-19 served as a model to win support from local nationalist movements for the Bolsheviks besides preventing a pan-Turkic-movement from gaining too much influence. Other republics within Russia, such as the Chuvash, Kirgiz, Votiak, Kalmyk and Mari ones followed soon, all established through Narkomnats’ initiative. Other peoples, such as the Komi and the Buriats were granted autonomy at the request of local Soviets.[25]

Jeremy Smith points out that already during the Bashkir crisis it had become clear to the Bolsheviks that the structure of autonomous republics would be more a permanent feature of Soviet rule[26] than a transitional model.[27]

Some applications for autonomy were refused although the existence of a nation was explicitly stated,[28] while other autonomus republics were created obviously for merely political reasons. The establishment of the Gori Republic in early 1921 combining a number of smaller nationalities was seen as a way to reduce inter-ethnic conflicts in the region besides curbing aspirations for complete independence.[29] Only a few months later the Gori Republic was split into a number of double-nationality republics such as the Karbadino-Balkar, the Checheno-Ingush and the Karachai-Cherkess republics combining people often alien or even hostile towards each other. This move, although officially explained with economic considerations[30] could also be seen as a means to absorb and divert the anti-Soviet attitudes of the locals.[31] The Karelian Toilers’ Commune was mainly established to support Finnish communists in their efforts for a united Finno-Karelian Soviet Republic.[32]

[...]


[1] In this context I will not give my own definition of nation, nationality or people. In most cases the rather unsystematic communist terminology will be applied which includes the categories of peoples (narody), smaller or underdeveloped people (narodnosti), nationalities (natsional’nosti), nations (natsii) and tribes (plemena). (Y Slezkine, ‘The USSR as a Communal Apartment, or how a Socialist State promoted Ethnic Particularism’, in: S Fitzpatrick (ed.), Stalinism: New Directions, L: Routledge, 2000, p 320.)

[2] T Martin, ‘Modernization or Neo-Traditionalism? – Ascribed nationality and Soviet primordialism’, in: S Fitzpatrick (ed.), Stalinism: New Directions, L: Routledge, 2000, p 348.

[3] K Marx / F Engels, Manifest der Kommunistischen Partei, Stuttgart: Reclam, 1998, p 77.

[4] J Smith, The Bolsheviks and the National Question 1917-1927, L: Macmillan, 1999, pp 12-15.

[5] T Martin, ‘Modernization or Neo-Traditionalism? – Ascribed nationality and Soviet primordialism’, in: S Fitzpatrick (ed.), Stalinism: New Directions, L: Routledge, 2000, p 353.

[6] E van Ree, ‘Stalin and the National Question’, Revolutionary Russia, Vol. 7, No. 2, 1994, pp 216-218; J Smith, The Bolsheviks and the National Question 1917-1927, L: Macmillan, 1999, pp 11-12.

[7] V I Lenin, ‘O prave natsii na samopredelenie’, PSS, 191, vol. 25, pp 316-317, English translation in: R Sakwa (ed.), The Rise and Fall of the Soviet Union 1917-1991, L: Routledge, 1999, pp 23-24.

[8] V I Lenin, ‘The Socialist Revolution and the Right of Nations to Self-determination’, 1916, Selected Works, pp 159-161, in: R Sakwa (ed.), The Rise and Fall of the Soviet Union 1917-1991, L: Routledge, 1999, pp 24-25.

[9] H Carrière d’Encausse, ‘Determinants and Parameters of Soviet Nationality Policy’, in : J Azrael (ed.), Soviet Nationalities’ Policies and Practices, NY: Praeger, 1978, p 40.

[10] This view can be found e.g. in his article ‘How Social-Democracy Understands the National Question’ in the Georgian journal Proletariatis Brdzola in 1904 (E van Ree, ‘Stalin and the National Question’, Revolutionary Russia, Vol. 7, No. 2, 1994, p 214, pp 218-219).

[11] J Stalin, ‘Marxism and the National Question’, 1913, in: B Franklin (ed.), The Essential Stalin – Major Theoretical Writings 1905-1952, L: Croom Helm, 1973, pp 54-84.

J Stalin, ‘Marxism and the national question’ (1913), in: J Stalin, Works, Vol. 2, Moscow: Foreign Languages Publishing House, 1953, pp 303-313.

[12] J Smith, ‘The Origins of Soviet National Autonomy’, in: Revolutionary Russia, Vol. 10, No. 2, 1997, p 62.; J Smith, The Bolsheviks and the National Question 1917-1927, L: Macmillan, 1999, p 10-12.

[13] J Smith, The Bolsheviks and the National Question 1917-1927, L: Macmillan, 1999, pp 18-19;

J Stalin, ‘Marxism and the national question’ (1913), in: J Stalin, Works, Vol. 2, Moscow: Foreign Languages Publishing House, 1953, pp 344-359.

[14] Nevertheless Stalin’s definition of a federation in differentiation from autonomy remains unclear (J Smith, ‘The Origins of Soviet National Autonomy’, in: Revolutionary Russia, Vol. 10, No. 2, 1997, p 63. ).

[15] J Stalin, ‘The Policy of the Soviet Government on the national question in Russia’ (1920), in: J Stalin, Works, Vol. 4, Moscow: Foreign Languages Publishing House, 1953, pp 365-367.

[16] R Conquest, Soviet Nationalities Policy in Practice, L: Bodley, 1967, p 19.

[17] R Pipes, The Formation of the Soviet Union, Cambridge / Mass.: Harvard University Press, 1964, p 295.

[18] H Carrière d’Encausse, Islam and the Russian Empire, L : Tauris, 1988, pp 148-184.

[19] R Conquest, Soviet Nationalities Policy in Practice, L: Bodley, 1967, pp 32-33.

[20] R Pipes, The Formation of the Soviet Union, Cambridge / Mass.: Harvard University Press, 1964, pp 112-113.

[21] J Smith, The Bolsheviks and the National Question 1917-1927, L: Macmillan, 1999, p 28.

[22] T Martin, ‘Modernization or Neo-Traditionalism? – Ascribed nationality and Soviet primordialism’, in: S Fitzpatrick (ed.), Stalinism: New Directions, L: Routledge, 2000, p 353.

[23] R Conquest, Soviet Nationalities Policy in Practice, L: Bodley, 1967, p 25.

[24] The first Bashkir Autonomous Soviet Republic which had extensive constitutional rights and even its own military forces was only shortly afterwards forcefully dissolved by the Red Army as the cooperation between the nationalist Bashkir committees and the Bolsheviks failed (J Smith, The Bolsheviks and the National Question 1917-1927, L: Macmillan, 1999, pp 94-98).

[25] J Smith, ‘The Origins of Soviet National Autonomy’, in: Revolutionary Russia, Vol. 10, No. 2, 1997, p 66.

The last autonomous subject to be established was the Jewish Autonomous Territory of Birobidzhan in 1934. Stalin had finally accepted the Jews as a nation and following his conviction of a necessary territorial base alloted them the (rather inhospitable and far away) Birobidzhan area.

[26] J Smith, ‘The Origins of Soviet National Autonomy’, in: Revolutionary Russia, Vol. 10, No. 2, 1997, p 73.

[27] In the beginning Stalin had underlined that federalism would only play a transitional role before the creation of a strong unitary state (J Stalin, ‘Organization of a Russian Federal Republic’ (1918), in: J Stalin, Works, Vol. 4, Moscow: Foreign Languages Publishing House, 1953, p 74).

[28] This was the case with the Altais and Karaim. (J Smith, ‘The Origins of Soviet National Autonomy’, in: Revolutionary Russia, Vol. 10, No. 2, 1997, p 68).

[29] J Smith, ‘The Origins of Soviet National Autonomy’, in: Revolutionary Russia, Vol. 10, No. 2, 1997, pp 68-69.

[30] J Smith, ‘The Origins of Soviet National Autonomy’, in: Revolutionary Russia, Vol. 10, No. 2, 1997, pp 72-73.

[31] A still existing powerful national opposition against the Bolshevism and Russian chauvinism maintained by many Russian communists can be seen in the longlasting Basmachi revolt in Central Asia (H Carrière d’Encausse, Islam and the Russian Empire, L : Tauris, 1988, p 177-180) and different uprisings in the Caucasus until the mid-1920s or the case of Sultan Galiev, the erstwhile editor of Narkomnats official magazine Zhizn natsionalnostei, who was expelled from the party and arrested for nationalism.

[32] J Smith, ‘The Origins of Soviet National Autonomy’, in: Revolutionary Russia, Vol. 10, No. 2, 1997, p 67.; J Smith, The Bolsheviks and the National Question 1917-1927, L: Macmillan, 1999, p 54.

Excerpt out of 18 pages

Details

Title
Did Stalin have a consistent national policy?
College
University of Birmingham  (Centre for Russian and East European Studies)
Course
Soviet Social and Economic History
Grade
1 (A)
Author
Year
2002
Pages
18
Catalog Number
V13309
ISBN (eBook)
9783638189972
ISBN (Book)
9783638757935
File size
468 KB
Language
English
Tags
Stalin, Stalinism, Nationalität, nationality, nationalism, Minderheit, minority, korenizatsiia, identity, Identität, Sowjetrepublik, Soviet republic, Autonomie, autonomy, autonom, autonomous, homela
Quote paper
Maximilian Spinner (Author), 2002, Did Stalin have a consistent national policy?, Munich, GRIN Verlag, https://www.grin.com/document/13309

Comments

  • No comments yet.
Read the ebook
Title: Did Stalin have a consistent national policy?


Upload papers

Your term paper / thesis:

- Publication as eBook and book
- High royalties for the sales
- Completely free - with ISBN
- It only takes five minutes
- Every paper finds readers

Publish now - it's free