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Stalin’s Great Turn: a Revolution without Footsoldiers?

  • Catherine Merridale
Part of the Themes in Focus book series (TIF)

Abstract

Most of the revolutions discussed in this volume involved complete changes of regime, the more or less violent overthrow of an established government by revolutionaries dedicated to far-reaching political and, usually, economic and social change. By these criteria, Stalin’s so-called ‘great turn’ of 1929–32 is not at first an obvious candidate for the title of revolution. The Soviet Union’s leadership was not overthrown, and the political programme to which Lenin’s revolution of 1917 had been dedicated was ostensibly continued. But the speed and scope of change in the three years in question defy most other definitions. Contemporaries referred to the period as the ‘great break’ (velikii perelom); historians have spoken of ‘cultural revolution’, ‘revolution from above’, the turning point.

Keywords

Communist Party Cultural Revolution Secret Police Party Elite Soviet Citizen 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.

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Notes and References

  1. 1.
    For an excellent discussion of the ‘revolution from above’, see R. Tucker (ed.), Stalinism: Essays in Historical Interpretation (New York, 1977).Google Scholar
  2. 2.
    T. Skocpol, States and Social Revolutions (Cambridge, Mass., 1979), p. 4.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  3. 3.
    The best account of this in English remains R. W. Davies, The Socialist Offensive: the Collectivisation of Soviet Agriculture, 1929–1930 (London and Cambridge, Mass., 1980).CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  4. 4.
    See R. Conquest, The Harvest of Sorrow: Soviet Collectivisation and the Terror-Famine (London, 1986).Google Scholar
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  8. 10.
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  9. 11.
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    A study of this phenomenon was made in the 1920s by the Bolshevik Party itself. N. Semenov, Litso fabrichnykh rabochikh prozhivayushchikh v derevnyakh i politprosvetrabota sredi nikh (Moscow-Leningrad, 1929).Google Scholar
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Copyright information

© Catherine Merridale 2001

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  • Catherine Merridale

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