Soviet Political Culture Reassessed

  • Stephen White
Part of the St Antony’s/Macmillan Series book series

Abstract

It may seem rather soon to reassess a subject of which one has recently completed a book-length study.1 Nor, indeed, do I feel that there are more than a few substantial points on which I would as yet wish to undertake a major revision of the general treatment of Soviet political culture presented in my Political Culture and Soviet Politics. Given the breadth of a subject of this kind, however, particularly when (as in the definition I prefer to use) patterns of political behaviour as well as political beliefs and values are subsumed within the concept of political culture, there are inevitably aspects of the subject on which new evidence now exists, points that may have been neglected in the earlier discussion, and issues in the analysis of Soviet political culture that require fuller consideration and perhaps some adjustment of emphasis. In this chapter I propose to focus on two such issues, both of which are central to my own work on Soviet political culture as well as to that of most other scholars who have written on this theme. These are the distinctiveness of the pre-revolutionary Russian political culture, and the extent to which its chronological successor — the political culture of the contemporary USSR — may usefully be regarded as a continuation of that earlier political culture rather than as a radical break with it.2

Keywords

Europe Turkey Posit Boris Stake 

Preview

Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.

Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.

Notes and References

  1. 1.
    Stephen White, Political Culture and Soviet Politics (London and New York, 1979).CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  2. 3.
    Lucian Pye, ‘Culture and Political Science: Problems in the Revaluation of the Concept of Political Culture’, in Louis Schneider and Charles M. Bonjean (eds) The Idea of Culture in the Social Sciences (Cambridge, 1973) p. 68.Google Scholar
  3. 4.
    Robert C. Tucker, ‘Culture, Political Culture, and Communist Society’, Political Science Quarterly, vol. 88, no. 2 (June 1973) pp. 173–90 (Tucker argues more generally, however, for a ‘cultural approach to politics’: ibid, p. 181).CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  4. 5.
    Clifford Geertz, The Interpretation of Culture (London, 1975). A distinction similar to that proposed here is suggested in David J. Elkins and Richard E. B. Simeon, ‘A cause in search of its effect, or what does political culture explain?’, Comparative Politics vol. 11 no. 2 (January 1979) pp. 127–45, esp. p. 131.Google Scholar
  5. 6.
    Archie Brown and Jack Gray (eds) Political Culture and Political Change in Communist States (London, 1977; 2nd edn, 1979 [subsequent references are to this edition]).Google Scholar
  6. 7.
    Lucian W. Pye and Sidney Verba (eds) Political Culture and Political Development (Princeton, New Jersey, 1965).Google Scholar
  7. 8.
    Richard R. Fagen, The Transformation of Political Culture in Cuba (Stanford, 1969).Google Scholar
  8. Maurice Zeitlin, Revolutionary Politics and the Cuban Working Class, rev. edn (New York, 1970).Google Scholar
  9. 11.
    Marc Szeftel, The Russian Constitution of April 23, 1906. Political Institutions of the Duma Monarchy (Brussels, 1976) chs. 5 and 6, examines this issue thoroughly.Google Scholar
  10. 14.
    A. I. Gertsen, Sobranie sochinenii v tridtsati tomakh, vol. 7 (Moscow, 1956) p. 161; similarly vol. 12 (Moscow, 1957) p. 171. The extent to which the political development of Lithuania presented an alternative model is considered in Richard Pipes, Russia under the Old Regime (Harmondsworth, 1977) pp. 38–40.Google Scholar
  11. 15.
    William G. Rosenberg, ‘The Russian Municipal Duma Elections of 1917: A Preliminary Computation of Returns’, Soviet Studies, vol. 21, no. 2 (October 1969) pp. 131–63, at p. 163;CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  12. John L. H. Keep, The Russian Revolution. A Study in Mass Mobilization (London, 1976) p. 324.Google Scholar
  13. 18.
    Paul Dukes, October and the World: Perspectives on the Russian Revolution (London, 1979) pp. 6–12. I am grateful to Paul Dukes for some helpful bibliographical advice on this section of the paper.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  14. 20.
    Rene David and John E. C. Brierley, Major Legal Systems in the World Today, 2nd edn (London, 1978) p. 25 and more generally pp. 21–9.Google Scholar
  15. 23.
    John A. Armstrong, The European Administrative Elite (Princeton, New Jersey 1973) ch. 1 and p. 276.Google Scholar
  16. 25.
    Marc Raeff, ‘The Enlightenment in Russia and Russian Thought in the Enlightenment’, in J. G. Garrard (ed.) The Eighteenth Century in Russia (Oxford, 1973) p. 31.Google Scholar
  17. 27.
    Dieter Nohlen, Wahlsysteme der Welt (Munich, 1978) p. 37. There is a helpful general discussion of these matters in F. H. Hinsley (ed.) The New Cambridge Modern History, vol. XI: Material Progress and World-Wide Problems 1870–1898 (Cambridge, 1962) pp. 25–32 and 254–62.Google Scholar
  18. 29.
    Frederick C. Barghoorn, Soviet Russian Nationalism (New York, 1956) pp. 160–1;Google Scholar
  19. Leonard Schapiro, Rationalism and Nationalism in Russian Nineteenth-Century Political Thought (New Haven and London, 1967) pp. 8–9.Google Scholar
  20. 31.
    Eugene N. and Pauline R. Anderson, Political Institutions and Social Change in Continental Europe in the Nineteenth Century (Berkeley and Los Angeles, 1967) pp. 251 and 269–70; Hugh Seton-Watson, The Russian Empire 1801–1917 (Oxford, 1967) p. 629.Google Scholar
  21. 34.
    Donald W. Treadgold, The West in Russia and China. vol. 1: Russia, 1472–1917 (Cambridge, 1973) p. 250.Google Scholar
  22. 36.
    Maureen Perrie, ‘The Popular Image of Ivan the Terrible’, Slavonic and East European Review, vol. 56, no. 3 (April 1978) pp. 275–86.Google Scholar
  23. 37.
    Leopold H. Haimson (ed.) The Politics of Rural Russia 1905–1914 (Bloomington and London, 1979) pp. 225–7; the quotation is at p. 227.Google Scholar
  24. 38.
    Brian Barry, Sociologists, Economists and Democracy (London 1970) pp. 48–52.Google Scholar
  25. 40.
    Marc Ferro, October 1917 (London, 1980) p. 84;Google Scholar
  26. Allan K. Wildman, The End of the Russian Imperial Army (Princeton, New Jersey 1980) p. 364;Google Scholar
  27. Norman Stone, The Eastern Front 1914–1917 (London, 1975) p. 300 (from which the quotations are derived).Google Scholar
  28. 41.
    P. E. Lyubarov and A. S. Rud’, ‘Proletariat i Gosudarstvennaya Duma’, in L. M. Ivanov (ot. red.) Rossiyskiy proletariat: oblik, bor’ba, gegemoniya (Moscow, 1970) pp. 186–7, 192–3 and 202.Google Scholar
  29. 42.
    Marc Ferro, The Russian Revolution of February 1917 (London, 1972) pp. 115 and 121.Google Scholar
  30. 44.
    Graeme J. Gill, Peasants and Government in the Russian Revolution (London, 1979) pp. 30–1; the quotation is at p. 31.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  31. 49.
    Jerry F. Hough and Merle Fainsod, How the Soviet Union is Governed (Cambridge, Mass., 1979) pp. 4–5.Google Scholar
  32. 51.
    Alexander I. Solzhenitsyn, The Gulag Archipelago, vol. 1 (London, 1974) chs. 8, 11 and 12.Google Scholar
  33. 52.
    S. G. Pushkarev, ‘Russia and the West: Ideology and Personal Contacts before 1917’, Russian Review, vol. 24, no. 2 (April 1965), pp. 138–64, at pp. 153–4.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  34. 55.
    Ilya Ehrenburg, Eve of War 1933–1941 (London, 1963) p. 195.Google Scholar
  35. 56.
    V. V. Smirnov, ‘“Kruglyy stol” po problemam politicheskoy kul’tury’, in D. A. Kerimov (ed.) Politicheskie otnosheniya: prognozirovanie i planirovanie (Moscow, 1979) pp. 125–33;Google Scholar
  36. similarly William Smirnov, ‘Political Culture as a Factor of Progress’, in V. Semenov et al. (eds) Political Theory and Political Practice (Moscow, 1979) pp. 199–206.Google Scholar
  37. 57.
    David Lane and Felicity O’Dell, The Soviet Industrial Worker (Oxford, 1978).Google Scholar
  38. 62.
    Herbert Goldhammer, The Soviet Soldier (London and New York, 1975) ch. 7; and Sovetskaya Armiya-shkola ideyno-nraystvennogo vospitaniya molodezhi (Moscow, 1979) pp. 19–20, 31–42 and 73.Google Scholar
  39. 65.
    Quoted in Rudolf L. Tökés (ed) Opposition in Eastern Europe (London, 1979) p. 97.Google Scholar
  40. 67.
    Zbigniew K. Brzezinski, ‘Soviet Politics: From the Future to the Past?’, in Paul Cocks et al (eds) The Dynamics of Soviet Politics (Cambridge Mass., and London, 1976) pp. 337–51, at pp. 337 and 340.Google Scholar
  41. 68.
    Roy A. Medvedev, On Stalin and Stalinism (Oxford, 1979) pp. 184–5.Google Scholar
  42. 69.
    Boris Shragin, The Challenge of the Spirit (New York, 1978) pp. 132, 70 and 110.Google Scholar
  43. 70.
    Igor Kon, Sotsiologiya lichnosti (Moscow, 1967) pp. 322–3.Google Scholar
  44. 71.
    F. Nesterov, Svyaz’ vremen. Opyt istoricheskoy publitsistiki (Moscow, 1980) as quoted in the Current Digest of the Soviet Press, vol. 33, no. 14 (6 May 1981) pp. 5–6.Google Scholar
  45. 72.
    Mikhail M. Zoshchenko, Nervous People and Other Satires (London, 1963) p. 368.Google Scholar
  46. 73.
    John A. Armstrong, Ideology, Politics and Government in the Soviet Union, 4th edn (New York, 1978) p. 6 (Armstrong is in fact generally favourable to a political culture approach: see p. vi).Google Scholar
  47. 75.
    Frederick C. Barghoorn, Politics in the USSR, 2nd edn (Boston, 1972) p. 18.Google Scholar
  48. 78.
    James G. Kellas, The Scottish Political System, 2nd edn (Cambridge, 1975) p. 2 and ch. 7.Google Scholar
  49. 79.
    Jack V. Haney, ‘The Revival of Interest in the Russian Past in the Soviet Union’, Slavic Review, vol. 32, no. 1 (March 1973) pp. 1–16, provides a useful survey. On related developments in literature, particularly the derevenshchiki see Geoffrey Hosking, Beyond Socialist Realism (London, 1980) esp. ch. 3.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  50. 80.
    Peter H. Juviler, Revolutionary Law and Order (New York, 1976) p. 7.Google Scholar
  51. 81.
    N. S. Timasheff, ‘The Impact of the Penal Law of Imperial Russia on Soviet Penal Law’, American Slavic and East European Review, vol. 12, no. 4 (December 1953) pp. 441–63.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  52. 84.
    Theodore H. Friedgut, Political Participation in the USSR (Princeton, New Jersey, 1979) pp. 103 and 132.Google Scholar
  53. 85.
    G. P. van den Berg, ‘Elements of Continuity in Soviet Constitutional Law’, in William E. Butler (ed.) Russian Law: Historiai and Political Perspectives (Leyden, 1977) pp. 215–34.Google Scholar
  54. See also T. H. Rigby, Lenin’s Government (Cambridge, 1979) ch. 15;Google Scholar
  55. T. H. Rigby, ‘Some historical reflections’, in Walter McK. Pintner and Don Karl Rowney (eds) Russian Officialdom (London, 1980) which emphasises the ‘fundamental continuity’ of official institutions (p. 16 and elsewhere).Google Scholar
  56. 87.
    E. H. Carr, ‘The Legacy of History’, in Socialism in One Country 1924–1926, vol. 1 (London, 1964) ch. 1, at p. 4. This masterly chapter defies adequate summarisation.Google Scholar
  57. 93.
    Isaiah Berlin, Russian Thinkers (Harmondsworth, 1979) p. 181.Google Scholar
  58. 97.
    David Holloway, ‘Decision-making in Soviet Defence Policies’, in Christopher Bertram (ed.) The Prospects of Soviet Power in the 1980s (London, 1980) p. 90. (the quotation is from Brezhnev’s Vozrozhdenie in his Leninskim kursom, vol. 7 (Moscow, 1979) p. 62).Google Scholar
  59. 98.
    Max Hayward and Leopold Labedz (eds) Literature and Revolution in Soviet Russia 1917–62 (London, 1963) pp. 23–4.Google Scholar
  60. 101.
    Dmitry Pospielovsky, ‘A Comparative Inquiry into Neo-Slavophilism and its Antecedents in the Russian History of Ideas’, Soviet Studies, vol. 31, no. 3 (July 1979) pp. 319–42, at pp. 300–1.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  61. 104.
    Paul Avrich, Russian Rebels (London, 1973) pp. 272–3.Google Scholar
  62. 110.
    George Fischer, Soviet Opposition to Stalin. A Case Study in World War II (Cambridge, Mass., 1952) p. 88.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  63. 114.
    Gabriel A. Almond et al., Crisis, Choice and Change. Historical Studies of Political Development (Boston, 1973) ch. 1.Google Scholar

Copyright information

© Archie Brown, Mary McAuley, John Miller, David W. Paul, H. Gordon Skilling, Stephen White 1984

Authors and Affiliations

  • Stephen White

There are no affiliations available

Personalised recommendations