Majesty and Tragedy of the Soviet "Experiment"

Krasin Yu.A.,

Dr. Sci. (Philos.), Professor, honorary Dr. of Institute of Sociology of the Russian Academy of Sciences,

elibrary_id: 250827 |

DOI: 10.17976/jpps/2017.01.03
For citation:

Krasin Yu.A. Majesty and Tragedy of the Soviet "Experiment". – Polis. Political Studies. 2017. No. 1. P. 10-23. (In Russ.).


Almost a century has passed since the events of October 1917, which encourages us to estimate “from a distance” the Soviet experience born by the Russian revolution. The Soviet system emerged at a crisis stage of development of industrial society in the capitalist guise. In Russia, where contradictions of violently developing capitalism were tangled in Gordian knot with semi-feudal archaic, an alternative of development emerged, perceived by Bolsheviks as “socialism” and “dictatorship of proletariat”. The independent organizations that spontaneously grew up “from bottom” – the Soviets of Workers’ and Peasants’ Deputies – appeared as an original form of “downstream” democracy. Their ambivalent symbiosis with the authoritarian “party of a new type” formed the Soviet statehood. The antinomic ambiguity of the Soviet system is a thread that runs through the entire history of the Soviet Union, defining duality of the Soviet experience’ estimation. On the one hand, there is greatness in people’s deed – the transformation, which presented an alternative to capitalist alienation and which forced capitalism to social modification. On the other hand, there are authoritarian trends of Soviet power, which resulted in a totalitarian canalization of the revolutionary enthusiasm, while the energy of mass creativeness was strangled in clutches of the ideological myths and political repressions. The Soviet experience is appealing because it embodies the mass solidarity around “the common cause” of creating a new society free from exploitation. This great idea captured mass consciousness and prompted people to “storm the heaven” in spite of regime’s despotism. It is a complicated question whether it was possible to reform the Soviet system, while saving its best traditions. However, a quarter of a century after the collapse of the USSR, the Soviet legacy hasn’t been neglected: there is still a crave for a greater “common cause” in Russian transforming society, and the Russian reformation is far from over. 

democracy; authoritarianism; Soviets; statehood; antinomic character of the Soviet system; democratism of “common cause”; Russian reformation.


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Content No. 1, 2017

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Bolshakov A.G.,
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Derluguian G.,
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