Tuesday, January 19, 2016

The USSR as a Communal Apartment, or how a Socialist State promoted ethnic particularism by Yuri Slezkine

Democracy and Class Struggle publishes article by a bourgeois scholar on the National Question in the Soviet Union in the 1920's to 1950's has part of our investigation into the National Question in Soviet Union under Socialist and Revisionist periods of history.

The article illustrates the opposite of what most people in West believe - who base their opinions on Robert Conquests falsified history of Soviet Union has Nation Killers.

Has Yuri Slezkine points out the Soviet Union was :

"The world's first state of workers and peasants" was the
world's first state to institutionalize ethno territorial federalism, classify all citizens according to their biological nationalities and formally prescribe preferential treatment of certain ethnically defined populations

It should come as no surprise that there were contradictions in this new policy and we will examine these in later articles. 

You should also bear in mind that this bourgeois anti communist scholar Yuri Slezkine equates the right of self determination with nationalism and not democracy, a mistake that continues to dominate the bourgeois Left.

Soviet nationality policy was devised and carried out by nationalists.
Lenin's acceptance of the reality of nations and "national rights" was one
of the most uncompromising positions he ever took, his theory of good
("oppressed-nation") nationalism formed the conceptual foundation
of the Soviet Union and his NEP-time policy of compensatory "nationbuilding"
(natsional'noe stroitel'stvo) was a spectacularly successful
attempt at a state-sponsored conflation of language, "culture," territory
and quota-fed bureaucracy.

The Lenin Guard duly brought up the rear,but it was Stalin who became
the true "father of nations" (albeit not all nations and not all the time).

The "Great Transformation" of 1928-1932 turned into the most extravagant
celebration of ethnic diversity that any state had ever financed; the "Great Retreat"
of the mid-1930s reduced the field of "blossoming nationalities" but called for an
 ever more intensive cultivation of those that bore fruit; and the Great Patriotic War
 [World War II] was followed by an ex cathedra explanation that class was secondary to
ethnicity and that support of nationalism in general (and not just Russian
nationalism or "national liberation" abroad) was a sacred principle of

If this story sounds strange, it is because most historical accounts of
Soviet nationality policy have been produced by scholars who shared
Lenin's and Stalin's assumptions about ontological nationalities endowed
with special rights, praised them for the vigorous promotion of national
cultures and national cadres, chastized them for not living up to their
own (let alone Wilsonian) promises of national self-determination, and
presumed that the "bourgeois nationalism" against which the Bolsheviks
were inveighing was indeed equal to the belief in linguistic/cultural -
therefore - political autonomy that the "bourgeois scholars" themselves
understood to be nationalism.

Non-Russian nationalism of all kinds appeared so natural and the Russian
version of Marxist universalism appeared so Russian or so universalist that
most of these scholars failed to notice the chronic ethnophilia of the Soviet regime,
took it for granted or explained it as a sign of deviousness, weakness or negligence.

This essay is an attempt to recognize the earnestness of Bolshevik
efforts on behalf of ethnic particularism.

1 Uncompromisingly hostile to individual rights, they eagerly, deliberately
 and quite consistently promoted group rights that did not always coincide
with those of the proletariat. "The world's first state of workers and peasants" was the
world's first state to institutionalize ethnoterritorial federalism, classify
all citizens according to their biological nationalities and formally prescribe
preferential treatment of certain ethnically defined populations.

2 As I. Vareikis wrote in 1924, the USSR was a large communal apartment
in which "national state units, various republics and autonomous
provinces" represented "separate rooms."

3 Remarkably enough, the communist landlords went on to reinforce many of the partitions and
never stopped celebrating separateness along with communalism.

4 "A nation," wrote Stalin in his very first scholarly effort, "is a historically
evolved, stable community based on a common language, territory,
economic life and psychological make-up manifested in a community of

5 On the eve of World War I this definition was not particularly
controversial among socialists. There was disagreement about the
origins of nations, the future fate of nationalism, the nature of pre-nation
nationalities, the economic and political usefulness of nation states
and the relative importance of nations' "characteristic features," but
everyone seemed to assume that, for better or worse, humanity consisted
of more or less stable Sprachnationen [nations united by a common
language] cemented by a common past.

6 Language and history (or Schicksalgemeinschaft
"community of fate,") both the precondition and consequence
of linguistic unity), were generally taken for granted; but even
the more debatable items on Stalin's list were usually - if not always
explicitly - considered legitimate.

The Austrian Marxist theorist Otto Bauer, who attempted to detach nationality
from territory, clearly assumed that the "community of fate" was ultimately the
fate of a physical community. Rosa Luxemburg, who believed that the "principle of
nationality" contradicted the logic of capitalism, saw large, "predatory"
nation states as tools of economic expansion.

And Lenin, who rejected the concept of "national culture," routinely spoke of "Georgians,"
"Ukrainians" and "Great Russians" as having national traits, interests
and responsibilities. Nations might not be helpful and they might not
last, but they were here and they were real.

As far as both Lenin and Stalin were concerned, this meant that nations
had rights: "A nation can organize its life as it sees fit. It has the right to
organize its life on the basis of autonomy. It has the right to enter into federal
relations with other nations. It has the right to complete secession.
Nations are sovereign and all nations are equal."

7 All nations were not equal in size: there were small nations and there were large
and hence "great-power") nations. All nations were not equal in their development:
there were "backward" nations (an obvious oxymoron in Stalin's terms)
and there were "civilized" nations.

All nations were not equal in their economic (hence class hence moral)
personae: some were "oppressor nations" and some were "oppressed."

8 But all nations - indeed all nationalities
no matter how "backward" - were equal because they were equally
sovereign, that is, because they all had the same rights .. . [The section
omitted underlines Lenin's and Stalin's commitment to "a strictly territorial
definition of autonomy" and their assertion that modern territorial
divisions should be "based on popular sympathies" and result in "the
greatest homogeneity in the national composition of the population,"
though with a guarantee of equal status for national minorities.]

The "practice" of the revolution and civil war did nothing to change
this program. The earliest decrees of the new Bolshevik government
described the victorious masses as "peoples" and "nations" endowed
with "rights,"

9 proclaimed all peoples to be equal and sovereign, guaranteed
their sovereignty through an ethnoterritorial federation and a
right to secession, endorsed "the free development of national minorities
and ethnic groups," and pledged to respect national beliefs, customs
and institutions.

10 By the end of the war the need for local allies and the
recognition of existing (and sometimes ethnically defined) entities
combined with principle to produce an assortment of legally recognized
(and increasingly ethnically defined) Soviet republics, autonomous
republics, autonomous regions and toilers' communes. Some autonomies
appeared more autonomous than others but "nationality" reigned
supreme. "Many of these peoples have nothing in common except the
fact that before they were all parts of the Russian Empire and now they
have all been liberated by the revolution, but there are no internal connections
among them."

11 According to Lenin's paradox, the surest way to
unity in content was diversity in form. By "fostering national cultures
[nasazhdaf natsional'nuiu kul'turu]" and creating national autonomies,
national schools, national languages and national cadres, the Bolsheviks
would overcome national distrust and reach national audiences.

 "We are going to help you develop your Buriat, Votiak etc. language and culture,
because in this way you will join the universal culture [obshchechelovecheskaia
kul'tara], revolution and communism sooner."

12 To many communists this sounded strange. Did nations not consist of
different classes? Should not proletarian interests prevail over those of
the national(ist) bourgeoisie? Were not the proletarians of all countries
supposed to unite? And were not the toilers of the besieged Soviet state
supposed to unite with all the more determination?

In spring 1918 M.I. Latsis attacked the "absurdity of federalism"
and warned that the endless "breeding of republics," particularly
 in the case of "undeveloped ethnic groups" such as the Tatars
or the Belorussians, was as dangerous as it was ludicrous.

13 In winter 1919, A.A. Ioffe cautioned against growing
nationalist appetites and appealed for the "end of separatism" on the
part of the "buffer republics."

14 And in spring 1919, at the VIII Party Congress, N . I . Bukharin
and G.L. Piatakov launched an all-out assault
against the slogan of national self-determination and the resulting
primacy of ethnicity over class in non-Russian areas.

15 Lenin's response was as adamant as it was familiar. First, nations
existed "objectively." "If we say that we do not recognize the Finnish
nation but only the toiling masses, it would be a ridiculous thing to say.
Not to recognize something that is out there is impossible: it will force
us to recognize it."

16 Second, former oppressor nations needed to gain
the trust of the former oppressed nations:

The Bashkirs do not trust the Great Russians because the Great
Russians are more cultured and used to take advantage of their
culture to rob the Bashkirs.

So in those remote places the name "Great Russian" stands for
 "oppressor" and "cheat." We should take this into account.
We should fight against this. But it is a long-term thing. It cannot be abolished by decree.
We should be very careful here. And a nation like the Great Russians should
be particularly careful because they have provoked such bitter
hatred in all the other nations.

17 Finally, backward nations had not developed a "differentiation of the proletariat
from bourgeois elements" and thus could not be expected to have
revolutionary classes consistently hostile "to their mullahs."

18 Taken as a whole and compared to more "cultured" nations, however, they were
legitimate proletarians by virtue of having been cheated and oppressed.
Under imperialism ("as the highest and final stage of capitalism") colonial
peoples had become the global equivalents of the western working

Under the dictatorship of the (Russian) proletariat, they were entitled
to special treatment until the economic and psychological wounds of
colonialism had been cured. Meanwhile, nations equaled classes.

Lenin lost the argument but won the vote because, as [trade union
leader M.P.] Tomskii put it, while "not a single person in this room
would say that national self-determination or national movements were
either normal or desirable," most people seemed to believe that they
were a "necessary evil" that had to be tolerated.

19 Accordingly, the scramble for national status and ethnoterritorial recognition
continued unimpeded. The Kriashen were different from the Tatars in customs,
alphabet and vocabulary, and thus needed a special administrative unit.

20 The Chuvash were poor and did not speak Russian, and thus needed a
special administrative unit.

21 The Iakut deserved their own government because they lived compactly and were ready to "organize their lives through their own efforts."

22 The "primitive tribes" who lived next to the Iakut deserved a special
government because they lived in widely dispersed communities and were
 not ready to run their own affairs

.23 The Estonian settlers in Siberia had a literary tradition and needed a
special bureaucracy to provide them with newspapers.

24 The Ugrian natives of Siberia had no literary tradition and needed "an independent
government" to "direct at the dark masses a ray of enlightenment and
to cultivate their way of life [kul'tivirovaf ikh byt zhizni]."

25 Local intellectuals,Commissariat of Nationalities officials,
 "native conferences" and Petrograd ethnographers all demanded
 institutional autonomy, offices and funding (for themselves or their proteges).
Having received autonomy, they demanded more offices and more funding [ . . . ]

When the X Party congress [1920-21] legitimized the policy of institutionalized
ethnicity no one called it a "necessary evil," let alone bourgeois

What the X Congress (and specifically Stalin) did was to
conflate Lenin's themes of national oppression and colonial liberation,
equate the "nationality question" with the question of backwardness and
present the whole issue as a neat opposition between "Great Russians"
and "non-Great Russians."

The Great Russians belonged to an advanced,formerly dominant nation
 possessed of a secure tradition of national statehood
and frequently guilty of ethnic arrogance and insensitivity known
as "great-power chauvinism." All the other nationalities, defined
negatively and collectively as "non-Great Russians," were victims of
tsarist-imposed statelessness, backwardness and "culturelessness [nekuVturnost'],"
which made it difficult for them to take advantage of new revolutionary
opportunities and sometimes tempted them to engage in "local

26 In Stalin's formulation, "the essence of the nationality
question in the RSFSR consists of the need to eliminate the backwardness
(economic, political and cultural) that the nationalities have inherited
from the past, to allow the backward peoples to catch up with central

27 To accomplish this goal, the Party was to help them:
a) develop and strengthen their own Soviet statehood in a form
that would correspond to the national physiognomy of these
peoples; b) introduce their own courts and agencies of government
that would function in native languages and consist of
local people familiar with the life and mentality of the local
population; c) develop their own press, schools, theaters, local
clubs and other cultural and educational institutions and native

28 There were to be as many nation states with varying degrees of autonomy
as there were nationalities (not nations!) in the RSFSR. Nomads would
receive lands lost to the Cossacks and "national minorities" scattered
among compact ethnic groups would be guaranteed "free national development"
(which called for the creation of territorial units).

29 Perhaps most remarkably, this triumph of ethnicity was presented by Stalin as
both the cause and the consequence of progress. On the one hand, "free
national development" was the only way to defeat non-Russian backwardness.
On the other: You cannot go against history. Even though the Russian element
still predominates in Ukrainian cities, it is clear that as time goes
on these cities will inevitably become Ukrainianized.

About forty years ago Riga was a German city, but as cities grow at the
expense of villages, and villages are the keepers of nationality,
Riga is now a purely Latvian city.

About fifty years ago all cities of Hungary were German in character,
but now they have been Magyarized.

The same will happen to Belorussia, in whose cities
non-Belorussians currently predominate.

30 Once this had happened, the Party would redouble its efforts at nation
building because, "in order to conduct communist work in the cities, it
will be necessary to reach the new proletarian-Belorussian in his native

31 However "dialectical" the logic of the official policy, its practice was
unequivocal and, by 1921, fairly well established. In a sense, the introduction
of the New Economic Policy at the X Congress was tantamount
to the "lowering" of all other pursuits to the level of the already "NEPlike"
nationality policy. NEP constituted a temporary but deliberate reconciliation
with "backwardness" - backwardness represented by peasants, traders, women,
all non-Russian peoples in general and various
"primitive tribes" in particular.

There was a special women's department,a Jewish section and the
Committee for Assistance to the People of the Northern Borderlands.
 among others. Backwardness endlessly multiplied itself
and each remnant of the past required an individual approach based
on "specific peculiarities" and characterized by sensitivity and paternal

The ultimate goal was the abolition of all backwardness and
thus all difference, but the fulfillment of that goal was postponed indefinitely.
Attempts to force it through would be "dangerous" and "utopian"
- as was the impatience of those otherwise "mature and politically aware
comrades" in central Asia who asked, " What on earth is going on? How
much longer are we going to keep breeding separate autonomies?"

32 The Party's answer was the vague but emphatic: "For as long as it takes." For
as long as it takes to overcome "economic and cultural backwardness .. .,
economic differences, differences in customs (particularly important
among nations that have not yet reached the capitalist stage) and linguistic

33 Meanwhile, nation building appeared to be a praiseworthy
goal in its own right. There was beauty in difference.

With one exception. One particular remnant of the past had few
redeeming qualities and was to be tolerated but not celebrated, used but
not welcomed. This was the Russian peasant. The NEP alliance (smychka)
between the peasantry and the working class seemed to mirror similar
arrangements with other "underdeveloped" groups but its official rationale
was quite different. The "peasant element" was aggressive,
contagious and menacing. No one assumed that its brand of savagery
would dialectically dissolve itself through further development because
the stubbornly "somnolent" Russian peasant was incapable of development
as a peasant (his was a difference "in content").

By equating ethnicity with development and dividing the population of the country into
Russians and non-Russians, the X Congress recognized and reinforced
this distinction.

The Russian nationality was developed, dominant and thus irrelevant.
The Russian territory was "unmarked" and, in effect,
consisted of those lands that had not been claimed by the non-Russians
known as "nationals [natsionaly]." Mikoyan's objection that this was too
neat, that Azerbaijan was culturally and economically "ahead of many
Russian provinces" and that the Armenian bourgeoisie was as imperialistic
as any was dismissed by Stalin and by the congress.

34 But what was "nationality"? At the time of the February revolution,
the only characteristic ascribed to all imperial subjects was "religious
confession," with both the Russian national identity and the tsar's
dynastic legitimacy largely associated with Orthodoxy. Not all of the
tsar's subjects and not all Orthodox believers were Russians, but all
Russians were expected to be Orthodox subjects of their Orthodox tsar.

The non-Orthodox could serve the tsar in his capacity as emperor, but
they had no immunity from occasional conversion campaigns and were
legally handicapped in cases of mixed marriages. Some non-Orthodox
were legally designated as "aliens" (inorodtsy), a term whose etymology
("non-kin," "non-native") suggested genetic difference but which was
usually interpreted to mean "non-Christian" or "backward." These two
concepts reflected the Muscovite ("premodern") and petrine ("modern")
notions of otherness and were now used interchangeably. Some baptized
communities were too backward to be "real Christians" and all
aliens were formally classified according to their religion ("Muslim,"
"Lamaist") or "way of life" understood as degree of development
("settled," "nomadic," "wandering"). With the spread of state-sponsored
education and the attendant effort to reach the "eastern aliens"35 and to
control (and Russify) the autonomous educational institutions of western
non-Russians, "native language" also became a politically meaningful
category The names of languages, however, did not always coincide
with the collective names that variously defined communities used to
refer to themselves and to others. On the eve of the revolution, Russia
had census nationalities, nationalist parties and national "questions," but
it had no official view of what constituted nationality.

On the eve of the February revolution (exactly one day before Nicholas
II left for Mogilev and the locked-out Putilov workers poured into the
streets of Petrograd), President of the Russian Academy of Sciences S.F.
Ol'denburg wrote to Minister of Foreign Affairs N.N. Pokrovskii that,
moved by a "sense of patriotic duty," he and his colleagues would like
to propose the formation of a Commission for the Study of the Tribal
Composition of the Russian Borderlands:

The most thorough determination of the tribal composition of
the areas lying on both sides of Russia's borders with hostile
states is of extraordinary importance at the present moment
because a world war is being waged to a considerable extent
over the national question. The determination of the validity of
various territorial claims by various nationalities will become
particularly important at the time of peace negotiations because,
even if new borders are drawn in accordance with certain
strategic and political considerations, the national factor will still
play an enormously important role.

36 Under the Provisional Government the nationality question moved
farther inland and the new commission was charged with the study of
the whole population of Russia, not just the borderlands. Under the
Bolsheviks "the essence of Soviet nationality policy" came to consist in
the "coincidence of ethnographic and administrative borders,"

37 which meant that most of the imperial territory would have to be divided into
borderlands and that professional ethnographers would have to play an
important role in the endeavor.

There was no time to discuss terminology Aliens and Christians were
replaced by an undifferentiated collection of narody (peoples), narodnosti
(peoples sometimes understood to be small or underdeveloped), natsional'nosti
(nationalities), natsii (nations) and plemena (tribes).

There was no agreement as to how durable (and hence territorially viable) these entities
were. In what seems to have been a common attitude, the head of
the commission's Caucasian section,

N.Ia. Marr, considered nationality to be too "transitory" and too complex to be pinned down by "primitive territorial demarcation," but worked hard (a lot harder than most, in fact)
to uncover "primeval ethnicity [etnicheskaia pervobytnost']" and "true
tribal composition."

38 The most commonly used "marker of tribal composition"
was language. Party ideologues championed "native-language
education" as the basis for their nationality policy; education officials
proceeded from a "linguistic definition of national culture";

39 and ethnographers tended to fall back on language as the most dependable, albeit
not universal, indicator of ethnicity. Thus, E.F. Karskii, the author of
Ethnographic Map of the Belorussian Tribe, adopted mother tongue as
"the exclusive criterion" of national difference and claimed, in a characteristic
non sequitur, that Lithuanians who spoke Belorussian should be
considered Belorussians.

40 More controversially, the central Asian Sart (usually defined as settled Muslims)
were decreed out of existence, the various Pamir communities became "Tajiks"
and the Uzbeks were radically redefined to include most of the Turkic speakers of Samarkand,
Tashkent and Bukhara.

41 Yet language was still perceived to be insufficient
and the 1926 census included two unequal categories of "language"
and "nationality," revealing large numbers of people who did not speak
"their own language." Such communities were considered "denationalized"
by ethnographers

42 and not entirely legitimate by party officials
and local elites: Russian-speaking Ukrainians or Ukrainian-speaking
Moldavians were expected, and sometimes forced, to learn their mother
tongue irrespective of whether their mothers knew how to speak it.
What made "denationalized" Ruritanians Ruritanians? More often than
not, it was the various combinations of "material life", "customs" and
"traditions" jointly known as "culture." Thus, when dealing with areas
where "Russian" and "Belorussian" dialects blend into each other, Karskii
distinguished between the two nationalities by referring to differences
in clothing and architecture.

43 Similarly, Marr classified Iranian-speaking
Ossetians and Talysh as north Caucasians (Japhetids) on the basis of
their "ethnic culture," "genuine popular religion," "way of life [byt]"
and "emotional attachment to the Caucasus."

44 Sometimes religion-asculture
outweighed language and became a crucial ethnic marker in its
own right, as when the Kriashen (Tatar-speaking Christians) received
their own "department" and the Adzhar (Georgian-speaking Muslims)
received their own republic (a similar appeal by Marr on behalf of
Muslim, Armenian-speaking Khemshil proved unsuccessful

45 ). Cultures,religions and indeed languages could be reinforced by
topography (highland versus valley Caucasians) and chronological primacy (in the
Caucasians case, a native-versus-settler distinction did not necessarily
coincide with a dichotomy based on progress, as it did in Siberia

46). Physical ("racial", "somatic") type was never used independently but
sometimes - particularly in Siberia - was used to support other distinguishing

47 Finally, none of these features could be decisive in
the case of the steppe nomads, whose "national awareness" or "tribal
self-identity" were considered so strong as to make any other criteria
practically useless.

Linguistic, cultural and religious differences among the Kazakh,
Kirgiz and Turkmen might be negligible, but their clan
genealogies were so clearly drawn and so vigorously upheld that most
ethnographers had no choice but to follow.

48 To be sure, the actual borders of new ethnic units did not always correspond
to those suggested by scholars. Kazakh authorities demanded
Tashkent, Uzbek authorities wanted autonomy for the Osh district and the
Central Committee in Moscow formed special arbitration commissions:
Subsequently the Kirgiz [i.e., Kazakh] abandoned their claims
on Tashkent but became all the more insistent in their demand
that three volosts . . . of the Tashkent uezd be included in
Kazakhstan. If this demand had been fully satisfied, the portions
of the canals . . . that feed Tashkent would have wound up on
Kirgiz territory . . . Besides, the adoption of the Kirgiz variant
would have cut the central Asian railway line by a Kirgiz wedge
17 versts south of Tashkent.

49 Such odd strategic or "national interest" considerations (as in Kazakh
versus Uzbek), as well as more conventional political and economic priorities
at various levels affected the final shape of ethnoterritorial units,
but there is no doubt that the dominant criterion was indeed ethnic.
"Nationality" meant different things in different areas but the borders of
most areas were seen as truly "national" and were, indeed, remarkably
similar to ethnographic maps drawn up by the Commission for the Study
of Tribal Composition. Bolshevik officials in Moscow saw the legitimation
of ethnicity as a concession to ethnic grievances and developmental constraints,
not as a brilliant divide-and-rule stratagem, and confidently
asserted, after Lenin and Stalin, that the more genuine the "national
demarcation" the more successful the drive to internationalism.
In the short run, national demarcation resulted in a puzzling and
apparently limitless collection of ethnic nesting dolls. All non-Russians
were "nationals" entitled to their own territorial units and all nationally
defined groups living in "somebody else's" units were national minorities
entitled to their own units.

By 1928, various republics contained national okrugs, national raions,
national Soviets, native executive committees
(tuzriki), native Soviets (tuzemnye sovety), aul {aul'jiye) Soviets, clan
(rodovye) Soviets, nomadic (kochevye) Soviets and encampment committees

50 Secure within their borders, all Soviet nationalities were
encouraged to develop and, if necessary, create their own autonomous
cultures. The key to this effort was the widest possible use of native
languages - "native language as a means of social discipline, as a social
unifier of nations and as a necessary and most important condition of
successful economic and cultural development."

51 Both the main reason
for creating a national autonomy and the principal means of making
that autonomy truly national, "native language" could refer to the official
language of a given republic (almost always indicated by the republic's

52), to the official language of a given minority unit or to the mother
tongue of particular individuals. The proliferation of territorial units
seemed to suggest that eventually there would be an official language for
most individuals, even if it resulted in state-sponsored trilingualism (in
1926 Abkhaz-speaking Abkhazia, itself a part of Georgian-speaking
Georgia, had 43 Armenian, 41 Greek, 27 Russian, 2 Estonian and 2 German

53). To put it differently, all 192 languages identified during the
1920s would sooner or later become official. [ . . . ]
Duly codified and apparently insulated from each other (not least by
means of dictionaries

54), the various official languages could be used to reach the "toiling nationals."
By 1928, books were being published in 66 languages
(as compared to 40 in 1913) and newspapers in 47 (205 non-
Russian titles in all

55). How many people were actually reading them
was not of immediate importance: as in other Soviet campaigns, supply
was supposed to generate demand (or suppliers would engineer it).
Much more ambitious was the requirement that all official business
including education be conducted in native languages (the languages of
the eponymous republics as well as the languages of local communities).

56 This was necessary because Lenin and Stalin kept saying it was
necessary, because it was the only way to overcome national mistrust,
because "speech reactions in native languages occur more quickly,"

57 because socialist content was only accessible to nationals in national
form, because "developed" nations consisted of individuals whose native
language equaled the official language equaled the nation's name, and
because the adoption of rigid literary standards had created large
numbers of people who either spoke non-languages or spoke their native
languages "incorrectly."

58 By 1927, 93.7 percent of Ukrainian and 90.2 percent of Belorussian
elementary-school students were taught in their
"native" languages (that is, the language implied by the name of their

59 High schools, vocational schools and colleges lagged
behind, but everyone seemed to agree that the ultimate goal was a total
coincidence of national and linguistic identity.

Theoretically at least, a Jew from a shtetl was to be educated in Yiddish
even if parents preferred Ukrainian (Hebrew not being an option),
while a Ukrainian from Kuban' was to be taught in Ukrainian if scholars and
administrators decided that her parents' vernacular was a dialect of Ukrainian
rather than a dialect of Russian (or a Kuban' language in its own right).

60 As one official put it, "We cannot take the desires of parents into account.

We must teach the child in the language he speaks at home."

61 In many parts of the USSR such an approach could not be implemented or even seriously
argued, but the validity of the final goal (total ethnolinguistic consistency
under socialism rather than total ethnolinguistic transparency
under communism) was usually taken for granted.

Finally and most dramatically the promotion of native languages was
accompanied by the promotion of the speakers of those languages.
According to the official policy of korenizatsiia (literally, "taking root"
or indigenization), the affairs of all ethnic groups at all levels - from
union republics to clan Soviets - were to be run by the representatives
of those ethnic groups. This involved the preferential recruitment of
"nationals" to party, government, judicial, trade union and educational
institutions, as well as the preferential "proletarianization" of mostly
rural non-Russian population.

62 The specific goals were not clear,however.
On the one hand, an ethnic group's share of the total population
on a given territory was to be equal to its share in all high-status
occupations, which in effect meant all occupations with the exception of
traditional rural ones (precisely those that, according to ethnographers,
made most nationalities "national").

63 On the other hand, not all territories were equal or equally self-contained,
with the "republican" identity frequently domiinating over all others.

Indeed, most indigenization campaigns assumed republic-controlling
(non-Russian) nationalities to be more indigenous than others, so that if
the share of Armenian office-holders actually exceeded the share of Armenians in the total
population of "their own" republic, no one seemed to allege a violation
of the Soviet nationality policy (the Kurds were to control their own
village Soviets; their proportionate representation on the republican level
was not a clearly stated priority)

64 No other union republic could equal Armenia's success but most of them tried (with Georgia making particularly great strides). Nationality was an asset and there were no
nationally defined entities above the union republic.

Yet even though administrative hierarchy tended to interfere with the
principle of national equality, the idea of a formal ranking of ethnic
groups was absent from the NEP nationality policy. No one bothered
with Stalin's distinction between nations and nationalities, least of all
Stalin himself. The dictatorship of the proletariat consisted of countless
national groups (languages, cultures, institutions) endowed with apparently
limitless national - that is, "nonessential" - rights (to develop their
languages, cultures, institutions). The key themes were "national diversity
[raznoobrazie]" and "national uniqueness [svoeobrazie]," both useful
as paradoxical prerequisites for ultimate unity but also as values in their
own right. The symbolic representation of the USSR at the Agricultural
Exhibit of 1923 included:

The majestic ancient mosques of Samarkand . . . ; the white
minarets of Azerbaijan; a colorful Armenian tower; a strikingly
Oriental building from Kirghizia; a solid Tatar house covered
with grillwork; some picturesque chinoiserie from the far east;
and further on the yurts and chums [nomad's tents] from
Bashkiria, Mongol-Buriatia, Kalmykia, Oiratia, Iakutia, the
Khakass, the Ostiak and the Samoed; all of it surrounded by the
artificially created mountains and villages of Dagestan,
Caucasian Highland [Gorskaia] Republic, and Chechnia . . . They
each have their own flag; signs in their own language; maps of
their own expanses and borders; diagrams of their own riches.
Nationality, individuality and uniqueness are forcefully emphasized

65If the USSR was a communal apartment, then every family that inhabited
it was entitled to a room of its own. "Only through free national
self-determination could we arrive in this apartment," argued Vareikis,
"for only because of this self-determination can any formerly oppressed
nation shed its legitimate mistrust of larger nations."

66 But what about the Russians? In the center of the Soviet apartment
there was a large and amorphous space not clearly defined as a room,
unmarked by national paraphernalia, unclaimed by "its own" nation and
inhabited by a very large number of austere but increasingly sensitive
proletarians. The Russians, indeed, remained in a special position.

They could be bona fide national minorities in areas assigned to somebody else,
but in Russia proper they had no national rights and no national opportunities
(because they had possessed and misused them before). The war
against Russian huts and Russian churches was the Party's raison d'etre,
and the heavy burden of that war was the reason it needed the support
of the yurts, chums and minarets.

In fact, ethnicity-based affirmative action in the national territories was an exact replica of class-based affirmative action in Russia. A Russian could benefit from being a proletarian;
a non-Russian could benefit from being a non-Russian. "Udmurt"
and "Uzbek" were meaningful concepts because they substituted for
class; "Russian" was a politically empty category unless it referred to
the source of great-power chauvinism (which meant arrogant bureaucratic
statism, not excessive national self-assertion) or to the history of
relentless imperialist oppression (which meant that the tsarist state was
a prison for non-Russian peoples). In Trotsky's March 1923 formulation
of Lenin's policy:

The relationship between the Great Russian proletariat and the
Great-Russian peasantry is one thing. Here the question is one
of class, pure and simple, which makes the solution of the
problem easier. The relationship between the Great Russian
proletariat, which plays first fiddle in our federal state, and the
Azerbaijani, Turkestani, Georgian and Ukrainian peasantry is
something else entirely.

67 The Russians were not the only non-nation in the Soviet Union. The
Soviets were not a nation either (the apartment was not larger than the
sum total of its rooms).

This is all the more remarkable because after
March 1925 the citizens of the USSR were building socialism "in
one country" - a country with a central state, a centralized economy,
a definite territory and a monolithic Party. Some people ("greatpower
chauvinists") associated that country with Russia

68 but as far as the party line was concerned, the USSR had no national identity,
no official language and no national culture. The USSR was like Russia insofar
as both represented pure "socialist content" completely devoid of
"national form."

One could not criticize socialist content, of course, but the campaign
to foster national forms had numerous, though mostly inarticulate,
detractors. While almost none of the delegates to the X I I Congress spoke
out against the Lenin/Stalin indigenization (korenizatsiia) program, the
greatest applause was reserved for the few attacks on "local nationalism,"
not for the Party's crusade against great-power chauvinism.

69 Meanwhile, in the Tatar Republic great-power chauvinism consisted in
complaints "that 'all the power is in Tatar hands these days'; that
'Russians are badly off now'; that 'Russians are being oppressed'; that
'Russians are being fired from their jobs, not hired anywhere, and not
admitted to colleges'; that 'all Russians should leave Tataria as soon
as possible,' etc."

70 In Povolzh'e, Siberia and central Asia, "non-native"
settlers, teachers and administrators resented official pressure to learn
languages they considered useless, hire "nationals" they deemed incompetent,
teach children they called "savage" and waste scarce
resources on projects they regarded as unfair tokenism.

71 Ukrainian peasants were not enthusiastic about the arrival of Jewish agricultural
colonists, while the "overrepresented" Jewish officials objected to
wholesale Ukrainianization.

72 The presumed beneficiaries were not always grateful, either. "Politically immature" parents, students and teachers exhibited an "abnormal attitude" towards native-language
education and had to be forced along the path of "Yiddishization" and
"Belorussification" (for technical reasons, this path rarely stretched
beyond middle school and thus appeared to be an educational dead

73 "Backward" Belorussian settlers in Siberia preferred instruction
in Russian, while "particularly backward" indigenous peoples of Siberia
argued that insofar as literacy was of any value in the tundra, it was
to get to know the Russian ways and learn the skills that could not
be mastered at home.

74 While NEP lasted, these arguments fell on deaf ears because the correct
way out of backwardness lay through exuberant and uncompromising
nation building (natsional'noe stroitel'stvo) - that is, in official terminology,
through more backwardness. But in 1928 NEP came to an end and
so did the toleration of all "survivals." The "revolutionaries from
above" restored the original Bolshevik equation of "otherness" with
"backwardness" and vowed to destroy it within ten years.

Collectivization would take care of rural barbarians, industrialization would
bring about urban progress and the cultural revolution would "liquidate
illiteracy" (and thus all deviance).

According to the apostles of the Great Transformation,
 "socialism in one country" meant that the difference
between self and other would soon coincide with the borders of that
country: all internal boundaries would presently disappear, schools
would merge with production, writers with readers, minds with bodies.

But did any of this apply to nationalities?

Did this mean that national territories were a concession to backwardness
that had to be withdrawn?

That nations were to be eliminated like NEPmen or collectivized like
peasants? Some serious signs pointed in that direction. Just as legal
scholars anticipated the withering away of law and teachers predicted
the imminent obsolescence of formal education, linguists and ethnographers
expected - and tried to bring about - the fusion and consequent
disappearance of linguistic and ethnic communities.

75 According to N.Ia.Marr's allegedly Marxist and hence obligatory "Japhetic theory,"
language belonged to a social superstructure and thus reflected the
cyclical changes of the economic base.

Language families were remnants of evolutionary stages united by the
inexorable process of global "glottogony" and were destined to become
merged under communism

Similarly, the speakers of those languages ("nationalities") constituted
historically "unstable" communities that rose and fell with socioeconomic

77 "By freeing itself from its bourgeois aspect,national culture will
become fused into one human culture . . . The nation
is a historic, transitional category that does not represent anything
primeval or eternal. Indeed, the process of the evolution of the nation
essentially repeats the history of the development of social forms."

78 In
the meantime, the need to speed up the study of Marxism-Leninism and
"master technology" seemed to require both the abandonment of the
"preposterous" practice of linguistic indigenization among mostly
"assimilated" groups and the encouragement of the widest possible use
of the Russian language.

79 This was not to be, however. Linguistic purism did come under attack
from the Marrists and latter the Party,80 but the issue was not officially
resolved until 1933-1934 and the principle of ethnocultural autonomy
was never put into question.

As Stalin declared to the XVI Party Congress
in July 1930:

The theory of the fusion of all nations of .. . the USSR into one
common Great Russian nation with one common Great Russian
language is a nationalist-chauvinist and anti-Leninist theory that
contradicts the main thesis of Leninism, according to which
national differences cannot disappear in the near future but will
remain in existence for a long time, even after the victory of the
proletarian revolution on a world scale?

Accordingly, for as long (very long) as "national differences, language,
culture, ways of life, etc." remained in existence, the ethnoterritorial entities
would have to be preserved and reinforced.82 The Great Transformation
in nationality policy consisted in a dramatic escalation of the
NEP nation-building drive. The champions of the Russian language were
forced to recant,

83 and all of Soviet life was to become as "national" as possible as quickly as possible.

If there were no fortresses that the Bolsheviks could not storm, no plan that
they could not overfulfill and no fairy tale that they could not turn into reality, then surely it would
not take more than a few months to master Uzbek, let alone the "mere
600 to 700 everyday words" that made up the Nenets language.

84 On 1March 1928 the Central Asian Bureau of the Party, the Central Committee
of the Communist Party of Uzbekistan and the Uzbek Executive
Committee formally decided to become fully "Uzbekified" by 1
September 1930.

85 On 28 December 1929 the Uzbek government required
that all officials of the Central Committee, Supreme Court and commissariats
of labor, enlightenment, justice and social welfare learn the Uzbek
language within two months (the other commissariats were given nine
months and "everyone else" a year).

86 On 6 April 1931 the Central Executive Committee of the Crimean Autonomous Republic decreed that the share of indigenous government officials be raised from 29 to 50
percent by the end of the year.

87 And on 31 August 1929 the predominantly
Russian-speaking residents of Odessa woke up to discover that
their daily Izvestiia had been transformed into the Ukrainian-language
Chornomors'ka komiina.

Only cities, however, were expected to become fully Ukrainianized or
Kazakhified. The most spectacular aspect of the Stalin revolution among
nationalities was the vastly increased support for the cultural autonomy
of all "national minorities" (non-titular nationalities), however small.
"The essence of indigenization does not fully coincide with such concepts
as Ukrainianization, Kazakhization, Tatarization, etc. . . . Indigenization
cannot be limited to issues relating only to the indigenous nationality
of a given republic or province."

89 By 1932 Ukraine could boast of Russian, German, Polish, Jewish, Moldavian, Chechen, Bulgarian, Greek,Belorussian and Albanian village Soviets, while Kazakhstan hosted
Russian, Ukrainian, "Russo-Cossack," Uzbek, Uigur, German, Tajik,
Dungan, Tatar, Chuvash, Bulgarian, Moldavian and Mordvinian
rural Soviets, not counting 140 that were "mixed."90

It was a feast of ethnic fertility, an exuberant national carnival sponsored by the Party
and apparently reaffirmed by Stalin's attack on Rosa Luxemburg in
his letter to Proletarskaia revolhitsiia.

91 It turned out that the Chechen andIngush were different nationalities (and not all Vainakh speakers), that Mingrelians were different from Georgians, that Karels were different
from Finns, that the "Pontus Greeks" were different from the "Ellas
Greeks," that the Jews and Gypsies were different (but not that different)
from everybody else and that therefore all of them urgently needed their
own literary languages, presses and education systems.

92 Between 1928 and 1938 the number of non-Russian newspapers increased from 205
titles in 47 languages to 2,188 titles in 66 languages.

93 It was considered a scandal if north Caucasians of Ukrainian origin did not have their own
theaters, libraries and literary organizations, if the people of Dagestan
had a Turkic lingua franca (as opposed to several dozen separate standards),
or if the cultural needs of the Donbass workers were being served
"only in the Russian, Ukrainian and Tatar languages."

94 Most official positions and school admissions in the Soviet Union were subject to
complex ethnic quotas that aimed at a precise correspondence between
demography and promotion - an almost impossibly confusing task given
the number of administrative levels at which demography and promotion
could be measured.

95 The dictatorship of the proletariat was a Tower of Babel in which all tongues on all floors would have a proportionate share of all jobs. Even shock-worker detachments at individual factories
and construction sites were to be organized along ethnic lines if at all
possible (the famous female Stakhanovite, Pasha Angelina, was a proud
member of the "Greek brigade").

96 The Great Transformation was not just NEP gone berserk, however. In
nationalities policies as much as any other, it represented the last war
against backwardness-as-exploitation, a permanent escape from social
(and hence all?) difference, and the final leap into timelessness conceived
as classlessness. Great Transformation goals and identities were valid only
if they were obstructed by villains.

Starting in 1928, real or imaginary non-Russian elites could no longer claim nationwide backwardness or nationwide rights. Collectivization presupposed the existence of classes and that
meant that all nationalities without exception had to produce their own
exploiters, heretics, and anti-Soviet conspirators.

97 (If classes could not be found, gender and age sufficed.

98)  Life consisted of "fronts" and fronts - including the national one - separated warring classes.
 "If in the case of the Russian nationality the internal class struggle has been extremely
acute from the very first days of October ..., the various nationalities are
only now beginning to engage in [it] . . . "

99 Indeed, sometimes the social corrective to the ethnic principle seemed to
dissolve that principle altogether, as when a prominent party spokesman declared that "the
intensification of class conflicts reveal[ed] the class essence of many
national peculiarities,"

100 or when a young ethnographer/collectivizer
concluded that the whole "system that impressed] the superficial and
usually naive observer as a national peculiarity . . . turn[ed] out to be a
system of ideological defense of private property."

101 Not all national peculiarities could be dissolved by class analysis,
however. The rhetoric of ethnic diversity and the practice of ethnic quotas
remained obligatory, and most local officials purged during the first five year
plan were replaced by their social betters from the same

102 What did change was the amount of room allowed for
"national form." The ethnic identity of the Great Transformation was the
ethnic identity of NEP minus "backwardness" as represented and
defended by the exploiting classes. The members of the so-called Union
for the Liberation of Ukraine were accused of nationalism not because
they insisted on Ukraine's separate identity, administrative autonomy or
ethnolinguistic rights - that was the official Soviet policy.

They were accused of nationalism because the Ukraine they allegedly defined and
celebrated was a rural Utopia from the remote but recoverable past, not
an urban Utopia from the near but ethnically fragmented future:

They remained emotionally attached to the old Ukraine dotted
with farmsteads and manor houses, a predominantly agrarian
country with a solid base for the private ownership of land. . ..
They were hostile to the industrialization of Ukraine and to the
Soviet five-year plan, which was transforming the republic and
endowing it with an independent industrial base.

They sneered [glumilis'] at the Dnieper Hydroelectric Dam and at Soviet
Ukrainianization. They did not trust its sincerity and seriousness.
They were convinced that without them, without the old
Ukrainian intelligentsia, no genuine Ukrainianization was
possible. But more than anything else they were afraid that their
monopoly on culture, literature, science, art and the theater
would be wrested from them.

103 The continued existence of nationally defined communities and the legitimacy
of their claims to particular cultural, territorial, economic and
political identities (which Stalin regarded as the principle of national
rights and which I call "nationalism") was never in doubt.

The crime of "bourgeois nationalism" consisted in attempts by some
 "bourgeois intellectuals" to lead such communities away from the party line - in the
same way as the crime of wrecking consisted in the attempts by some
"bourgeois specialists" to derail Soviet industry.

To engage in "bourgeois nationalism" was to sabotage a nation, not to "build" it.

In 1931 the "socialist offensive" began to wane and in 1934 it was
effectively halted for lack of an adversary. Addressing the "Congress of
Victors" [XVII Party Congress, 1934], Stalin declared that the USSR had
finally "divested itself of everything backward and medieval" and
become an industrialized society based on a solid socialist foundation.104
For purposes of official representation, time had been conquered and the
future had become present.

All essential differences had been overcome,all scholarly pursuits had become
Marxist and all non-Marxist pursuits had disappeared.
In the absence of backwardness, there was no need
for the institutions that had been created to deal with its various manifestations:
the Women's Department, the Jewish Section, and the
Committee for the Assistance to the Peoples of the Northern Borderlands
had all been closed down. The science of pedology had been banned
because it claimed that women, minorities and the socially disadvantaged
might need special assistance along the path to modernity. The
science of ethnology had been banned because it assumed that some
contemporary cultures might still be primitive or traditional. And all
non-socialist-realist art had been banned because all art reflected reality
and all Soviet reality was socialist.

According to the X Congress's equation of nationality with backwardness,
nationality would have had to be banned, too. Once again,
however, it weathered the storm and re-emerged chastened but vigorous.
"High Stalinism" did not reverse the policy of nation building, as most
authors on the subject would have us believe.

105 It changed the shape of ethnicity, but it never abandoned
the "Leninist principle" of unity through diversity.
It drastically cut down on the numbers of national
units but it never questioned the national essence of those units. The
abolition of the Central Asian Bureau was no more a call for ethnic
assimilation than the abolition of the Women's Department was a prelude
to an attack on gender differences. In fact, just as the newly emancipated
Soviet women were expected to become more "feminine," the fully
modernized Soviet nationalities were supposed to become more national.
Class was the only legitimate kind of "content" and by the late 1930s
class-based quotas, polls and identity cards had been discontinued.

106 Differences "in form" remained acceptable, however, and nationality (the
most venerable and certifiably hollow form of "form") was allowed to
develop, regroup and perhaps even acquire a little content.
The most striking innovation of the early 1930s was the emergence of
the Russians as an ethnic group in their own right. As class criteria
became irrelevant, the former default nationality became almost as saturated
with ethnicity as all others. The noun "national" was criticized and
later killed because there were no "non-nationals" left.

107 First cautiously but then more and more forcefully as the decade progressed, the Party
began to endow Russians with a national past, national language and
an increasingly familiar national iconography, headed principally by
Alexander Pushkin - progressive and "freedom-loving" to be sure, but
clearly celebrated as a great Russian, not a great revolutionary. By 1934,
"derussifying" Russian proletarians and deliberately pulling away from
Moscow in the course of "cultural construction" had become a serious
crime, not a "mistake" born of well intentioned impatience.

108 And yet,the Russians never became a nationality like any other. On the one hand,
they did not have a clearly defined national territory (RSFSR remained
an amorphous "everything else" republic and was never identified with
an ethnic or historic "Russia"), they did not have their own Party and
they never acquired a national Academy. On the other hand - and this,
of course, explains the lacunae - the Russians were increasingly identified
with the Soviet Union as a whole.

Between 1937 and 1939 Cyrillic replaced Latin in all the literary standards
created in the 1920s, and in 1938, after a three-year campaign, Russian became an
obligatory second language in all non-Russian schools.

The Soviet past was becoming progressively more Russian and so were the upper echelons of the Party and state.

109 "Internationalism," defined as close ties among Soviet
nationalities, and later "friendship of the peoples," defined as even closer
ties among Soviet nationalities, became official dogmas

110 and both could
only be expressed in Russian, the Soviet lingua franca. Still, no one ever
suggested that there existed a "Soviet nation" (natsiia, that is, as opposed
to the ethnically non-specific narod) or that Russian should become the
first language in all national areas or institutions. Even in Karelia, where
in 1938 the local Finnish standard was discovered to be "fascist," the
orphaned Finnic-speakers were forced to switch to the newly-codified
"Karelian" rather than Russian, which had already become "the language
of interethnic communication."

111 The Russians began to bully their neighbors
and decorate their part of the communal apartment (which included
the enormous hall, corridor and the kitchen where all the major decisions
were made), but they did not claim that the whole apartment was
theirs or that the other (large) families were not entitled to their own
rooms. The tenants were increasingly unequal but reassuringly separate.
The culture of the Great Transformation had been, by definition, rootless,
fluid and carnivalesque. Old people acted like adolescents, children
acted up, women dressed like men (although not vice versa), classes
changed places and words lost meaning. People, buildings, languages
and nationalities endlessly multiplied, migrated and spread evenly and
thinly over a leveled, decentered landscape. But this proletarian postmodernism
proved premature.

The Great Retreat of the 1930s was the
revenge of the literal - the triumph of real korenizatsiia, as in "taking
root" or "radicalization." The forces of gravity (in both senses) pinned
buildings to the ground, peasants to the land, workers to factories,
women to men and Soviets to the USSR.

112 At the same time and in the
same basic way, each individual got stuck with a nationality and most
nationalities got stuck with their borders. In the early 1930s, at the time
of the reappearance of college admissions tests and shortly before the
introduction of student files (lichnye dela), employee cards (trudovye
knizhki) and the death penalty for attempted flight abroad, all Soviet citizens
received internal passports that formally defined them in terms of
name, time and place of birth, authorized domicile (propiska) and nationality.
One's name and propiska could be changed, nationality could not.
By the end of the decade every Soviet child inherited his [sic] nationality
at birth: individual ethnicity had become a biological category
impervious to cultural, linguistic or geographical change.

113 Meanwhile,collective ethnicity was becoming more and more territorial.
The administrative units created just a few years before in order to accommodate
pre-existing nationalities were now the most important defining feature
of those nationalities. To cite a typical and perfectly circular argument,
"The fact that an ethnic group has its own national territory - a republic,
province, district or village soviet - is proof that the ethnic group in
question is an officially recognized nationality. . . . For example, the existence,
in Cheliabinsk province, of a Nagaibak national district makes it
imperative that a special nationality, the Nagaibak, be distinguished from
the Tatars."

114 In the same way, the Jews became a true nation after the creation of
the Jewish Autonomous district in Birobidzhan:
By acquiring their own territory, their own statehood, the toiling
Jews of the USSR received a crucial element that they had lacked
before and that had made it impossible for them to be considered
a nation in the scientific sense of the term. And so it
happened that, like many other Soviet nationalities completing
the process of national consolidation, the Jewish national
minority became a nation as a result of receiving its own national
administrative entity in the Soviet Union.

115 This view refers to two important innovations. First, the formal ethnic
hierarchy was back for the first time since 1913. Different ethnoterritorial
units (republics, provinces, districts) had always had different
statuses, but no serious attempt had been made to relate this bureaucratic
arrangement to an objective and rigidly evolutionary hierarchy of

After the mid-1930s students, writers, and shock-workers could
be formally ranked - and so could nationalities. Second, if the legitimacy
of an ethnic community depended on the government's grant of
territory, then the withdrawal of that grant would automatically "denationalize"
that community (though not necessarily its individual
passport-carrying members!).

This was crucial because by the second half of the decade the government
had obviously decided that presiding
over 192 languages and potentially 192 bureaucracies was not a very
good idea after all. The production of textbooks, teachers and indeed
students could not keep up with formal "nationalization," the fully
bureaucratized command economy and the newly centralized education
system required manageable and streamlined communication channels,
and the self-consciously Russian "promotees" who filled the top jobs in
Moscow after the Great Terror were probably sympathetic to complaints
of anti-Russian discrimination (they themselves were beneficiaries of
class-based quotas). By the end of the decade most ethnically defined
Soviets, villages, districts and other small units had been disbanded,
some autonomous republics forgotten and most "national minority"
schools and institutions closed down.

116 However - and this is the most important "however" of this essay -
the ethnic groups that already had their own republics and their own
extensive bureaucracies were actually told to redouble their efforts at
building distinct national cultures. Just as the "reconstruction of Moscow"
was changing from grandiose visions of refashioning the whole cityscape
to a focused attempt to create several perfect artifacts,

117 so the nationality policy had abandoned the pursuit of countless rootless nationalities
in order to concentrate on a few full-fledged, fully equipped "nations."
While the curtailment of ethnic quotas and the new emphasis on Soviet
meritocracy ("quality of cadres") slowed down and sometimes reversed
the indigenization process in party and managerial bureaucracies, the
celebration of national cultures and the production of native intelligentsias
intensified dramatically.

Uzbek communities outside Uzbekistan were left to their own devices but Uzbekistan as a quasi-nation-state remained in place, got rid of most alien enclaves on its territory and
concentrated on its history and literature.

The Soviet apartment as a whole was to have fewer rooms but the ones that remained were to be
lavishly decorated with hometown memorabilia, grandfather clocks and
lovingly preserved family portraits.

Indeed, the 1934 Congress of Soviet Writers, which in many ways inaugurated
high Stalinism as a cultural paradigm, was a curiously solemn
parade of old-fashioned romantic nationalisms. Pushkin, Tolstoy and
other officially restored Russian icons were not the only national giants
of international stature - all Soviet peoples possessed, or would shortly
acquire, their own classics, their own founding fathers and their own
folkloric riches.

The Ukrainian delegate said that Tar as Shevchenko was
a "genius" and a "colossus" "whose role in the creation of the Ukrainian
literary language was no less important than Pushkin's role in the
creation of the Russian literary language, and perhaps even greater."

118 The Armenian delegate pointed out that his nation's culture was "one
of the most ancient cultures of the orient," that the Armenian national
alphabet predated Christianity and that the Armenian national epic was
"one of the best examples of world epic literature" because of "the lifelike
realism of its imagery, its elegance, the profundity and simplicity of
NT its popular wisdom and the democratic nature of its plot."

119 The Azerbaijani delegate insisted that the Persian poet Nizami was actually
a classic of Azerbaijani literature because he was a "Turk from Giandzha,"
and that Mirza Fath Ali Akhundov was not a gentry writer, as some
proletarian critics had charged, but a "great philosopher-playwright"
whose "characters [were] as colorful, diverse and realistic as the characters
of Griboedov, Gogol' and Ostrovskii."

120 The Turkmen delegate told the Congress about the eighteenth-century
"coryphaeus of Turkmen poetry," Makhtum-Kuli; the Tajik delegate explained that Tajik literature
had descended from Rudaki, Firdousi, Omar Khayyam and "other brilliant
craftsmen of the word"; while the Georgian delegate delivered an
extraordinarily lengthy address in which he claimed that Shot'ha
Rust'haveli's The Man in the Panther's Skin was "centuries ahead of west
European intellectual movements," infinitely superior to Dante and
generally "the greatest literary monument of the whole . . . so-called
medieval Christian world."

121 According to the new party line, all officially recognized Soviet nationalities
were supposed to have their own nationally defined "Great
Traditions" that needed to be protected, perfected and, if need be,
invented by specially trained professionals in specially designated institutions.
A culture's "greatness" depended on its administrative status
(from the Union republics at the top to the non-territorial nationalities
who had but a tenuous hold on "culture"), but within a given category
all national traditions except for the Russian were supposed to be of
equal value. Rhetorically this was not always the case (Ukraine was
sometimes mentioned as second-in-command while central Asia was
often described as backward), but institutionally all national territories
were supposed to be perfectly symmetrical - from the party apparatus
to the school system.

This was an old Soviet policy but the contribution of the 1930s consisted
in the vigorous leveling of remaining uneven
surfaces and the equally vigorous manufacturing of special - and also
identical - culture-producing institutions. By the end of the decade all
Union republics had their own writers' unions, theaters, opera companies
and national academies that specialized primarily in national history,
literature and language.

122 Republican plans approved by Moscow called
for the production of ever larger numbers of textbooks, plays, novels,
ballets and short stories, all of them national in form (which, in the case
of dictionaries, folklore editions and the "classics", series came dangerously
close to being in content as well).

If some republics had a hard time keeping up with others, Moscow
tried to oblige. In 1935 and 1936, for example, the new State Institute of
Theater Art was in the process of training or had already released eleven
national theater companies with all actors and full repertoires.

123 If a national repertoire was still incomplete, translations from mostly
nineteenth-century Russian and west European literatures were actively
encouraged or provided (the first productions of the new Bashkir Opera
in 1936 were Prince Igor and The Marriage of Figaro124). In fact, in the late
1930s translation became one of the major Soviet industries as well as
the main source of sustenance for hundreds of professional writers. The
"friendship of the peoples" thesis required that all Soviet nationalities
be deeply moved by the art of other Soviet nationalities. As Gorky put
it, "We need to share our knowledge of the past. It is important for all
Union republics that a Belorussian know what a Georgian or a Turk is
like, etc."

125 This resulted not only in frenzied translation activity but
also in histories of the USSR that were supposed to include all the Soviet
peoples, radio shows that introduced Soviet listeners to "Georgian
polyphony and Belorussian folk songs," tours by hundreds of regulation
"song and dance ensembles," decades of Azerbaijani art in Ukraine,
evenings of Armenian poetry in Moscow, exhibits of Turkmen carpets
in Kazan' and festivals of national choirs, athletes and Young Pioneers
all over the country. From the mid-1930s through the 1980s, this activity
was one of the most visible (and apparently least popular) aspects of
Soviet official culture.

The pursuit and propagation of national cultures were far from
uneventful, of course. Within ten years of the First Writers' Congress most
of the founding fathers of the new cultural institutions had perished; large
areas had been annexed, lost and reannexed; numerous small ethnic units
had been abolished as "unpromising"; and several nations and former
"national minorities" had been forcibly deported from their territories. At
the same time, the Russians had been transformed from a revolutionary
people recovering a national past into "the most outstanding of all nations
comprising the Soviet Union"

126 and the focus of world history. Once again, however,
the legitimacy of non-Russian "Great Traditions" was not

The main enemies of Russia-as-progress were "bourgeois nationalism," which now referred to insufficient admiration for Russia, and "rootless cosmopolitanism," which represented the opposite of korenizatsiia- as-rootedness.

Even in 1936-1939, when hundreds of alleged
nationalists were being sentenced to death, "the whole Soviet country"
was noisily celebrating the 1000th anniversary of Firdousi, claimed by the
Tajiks as one of the founders of their (and not Persian) literature; the 500th
anniversary of Mir Ali Shir Nawaiy (Alisher Navoi), appropriated by the
Uzbeks as the great classic of their (and not Chaghatay) culture; and the
125th anniversary of Taras Shevchenko, described by Pravda as "a great
son of the Ukrainian people" who "carried Ukrainian literature to a height
worthy of a people with a rich historical past."127 The few national icons
that suffered during this period were attacked for being anti-Russian, not
for being national icons.

128 Similarly, when the Ukrainian poet Volodymyr Sosiura was castigated
by Pravda in 1951 for his poem "Love Ukraine,"
the alleged sin consisted not in loving Ukraine too much but in not thanking
the elder brother enough.

129 A major reason for gratitude was the recent Soviet annexation of west Ukraine and the subsequent "reunification" of the Ukrainian nation state, a Soviet/Russian achievement widely
advertised as a fulfillment of Ukrainian national aspirations.
In fact, it was in this period of Russian delusions of grandeur that the
theoretical justification for non-Russian national aspirations was clearly

On 7 April 1948 Stalin said something that closely resembled
his 1913 statement on national rights:

Every nation, whether large or small, has its own specific qualities
and its own peculiarities, which are unique to it and which
other nations do not have. These peculiarities form a contribution
that each nation makes to the common treasury of world
culture, adding to it and enriching it. In this sense all nations,
both small and large, are in the same position and each nation
is equal to any other nation.

130 This seemed to suggest that ethnicity was universal, irreducible
and inherently moral. But this was only an overture.

In summer 1950 Stalin put his pen to paper in order to exorcize the spirit of [the linguist]
N.Ia. Marr, one of last saints of the Great Transformation whose theories
and students had somehow escaped the fate of the other "simplifiers and
vulgarizers of Marxism."

131 According to Stalin, language was not part of the superstructure -
 or, indeed, of the base. It "belonged to the whole
nation" and was "common to the whole society" across social classes and
throughout history. "Societies" represented ethnic communities and ethnic
communities had "essences" that existed "incomparably longer than
any base or any superstructure."

132 In short, it was official: classes and their "ideologies" came and went,
 but nationalities remained. In a country free from social conflict, ethnicity was the only meaningful identity.

This was the legacy that Stalin bequeathed to his successors and that
survived 1984 to haunt Gorbachev and his successors [ . .. ]
Civilized Stalinism ("developed socialism") was the credo of the
"collective leadership" that presided over the twilight years of the Soviet
Union. Deriving its legitimacy from the "really existing" ethnoterritorial
welfare state rather than future communism and past revolution, the
new official discourse retained the language of class as window dressing
and relied on nationality to prop up the system.

133 Every Soviet citizen was born into a certain nationality, took it to day care and through high
school, had it officially confirmed at the age of sixteen and then carried
it to the grave through thousands of application forms, certificates,
questionnaires and reception desks. It made a difference in school admissions
and it could be crucial in employment, promotions and draft

134 Soviet anthropologists, brought back to life in the late
1930s and provided with a raison d'etre after the banishment of Marrism,
were not supposed to study "culture": their job was to define, dissect
and delight in the primordial "ethnos." Even abroad, in a world dominated
by capitalism, the most visible virtue was "national liberation."

All nationalities were ranked - theoretically along the evolutionary
scale from tribe to nation, and practically by territorial or social status.
The status of a given nationality could vary a great deal but the continuing
use of ethnic quotas made sure that most practical advantages
accrued to the members of titular nationalities residing in "their own"

Sixty years of remarkable consistency on this score had resulted
in almost total "native" control over most Union republics: large ethnic
elites owed their initial promotions and their current legitimacy (such
as it was) to the fact of being ethnic.

135 Dependent on Moscow for funds,the political and cultural
entrepreneurs owed their allegiance to "their own people" and their
 own national symbols. But if the politicians were
structurally constrained within the apparatus, the intellectuals were
specifically trained and employed to produce national cultures. Limits
were set by the censor but the goal was seen as legitimate both by party
sponsors and by national consumers.

A very large proportion of national intellectuals were professional historians,
philologists and novelists, and most of them wrote for and about their own ethnic group.

136 They produced multi-volume national histories, invented national genealogies,
purified national languages, preserved national treasures and bemoaned
the loss of a national past.

137 In other words, they acted like good patriots - when they were not acting
 like bad nationalists. As time went on, however, it became increasingly difficult to distinguish between the two because the national form seemed to have become the content and
because nationalism did not seem to have any content other than the
cult of form.

More ominously, the country's leaders found it harder and
harder to explain what their "socialist content" stood for and, when
Gorbachev finally discarded the worn-out Marxist verbiage, the only
language that remained was the well honed and long practiced language
of nationalism.

The Soviet regime's contribution to the nationalist cause was not
limited to "constructive measures," of course. It forced the high priests
of national cultures to be part-time worshipers of other national cultures,
it instituted an administrative hierarchy that privileged some ethnic
groups over others, it interfered in the selection and maintenance
of national pantheons, it isolated ethnic communities from their relatives
and sympathizers abroad; and it encouraged massive migrations
that resulted in competition for scarce resources, diluted the consumer
base of the national elites and provoked friction over ethnic quotas.
Finally and most fatefully, it deprived the various nations of the
right to political independence - a right that was the culmination of all
nationalist doctrines, including the one that lay at the foundation of the
Soviet Union.

This points to another great tension in Soviet nationality policy: the
coexistence of republican statehood and passport nationality.

138 The former assumed that territorial states made nations, the latter suggested
that primordial nations might be entitled to their own states. The former
presupposed that all residents of Belorussia would (and should) some
day become Belorussian, the latter provided the non-Belorussian residents
with arguments against it.

The Soviet government endorsed both definitions without ever attempting to
 construct an ethnically meaningful Soviet nation or turn the U S S R into a Russian nation state, so that when the non-national Soviet state had lost its Soviet meaning, the national
non-states were the only possible heirs.

Except for the Russian Republic,that is. Its borders were blurred, its identity was not clearly ethnic and its "titular" residents had trouble distinguishing between the RSFSR and
the USSR.

139 Seventy years after the X Party Congress the policy of indigenization
reached its logical conclusion: the tenants of various rooms barricaded their doors and started using the windows, while the befuddled residents of the enormous hall and kitchen stood in the center
scratching the backs of their heads.

Should they try to recover their belongings? Should they knock down the walls? Should they cut off the gas? Should they convert their "living area" into a proper apartment?


This article is reprinted from Slavic Review, 53(2) (Summer 1994), 415-452,
and has been abridged by the editor of this volume.

The first draft of this chapter was written for a seminar organized by the
Program for Comparative Studies in Ethnicity and Nationalism at the Henry
M. Jackson School of International Studies, University of Washington. I am
grateful to the Program's co-chairs, Charles Hirschman and Charles F. Keyes,
for their hospitality and criticism, as well as for their permission to submit
the piece to the Slavic Review. I also thank Peter Blitstein, Victoria Bonnell,
George Breslauer, Daniel Brower, Michael Burawoy, Jane Burbank, Sheila
Fitzpatrick, Bruce Grant, David Hollinger, Terry Martin, Nicholas V.
Riasanovsky, Reggie Zelnik, the Berkeley Colloquium for the Study of Russia
ad Eastern Europe and the University of Chicago Russian History Workshop,
for stimulating discussions and helpful comments.

1 Not the first such attempt, of course, but sufficiently different from the previous
ones to make it worth the effort, I hope. My greatest debt is to the work
of Ronald Grigor Suny, most recently summarized in his The Revenge of the
Past: Nationalism, Revolution, and the Collapse of the Soviet Union (Stanford:
Stanford University Press, 1993). On the last three decades, see also
Kenneth C. Farmer, Ukrainian Nationalism in the Post-Stalin Era (The Hague:
Martinus Nijhoff, 1980); Gail Warshofsky Lapidus, "Ethnonationalism and
Political Stability: the Soviet Case," World Politics 36, no. 4 (July 1984): 355-80;
Philip G. Roeder, "Soviet Federalism and Ethnic Mobilization," World Politics
23, no. 2 (January 1991): 196-233; Teresa Rakowska-Harmstone, "The
Dialectics of Nationalism in the USSR," Problems of Communism XXIII
(May-June 1974), 1-22; and Victor Zaslavsky, "Nationalism and Democratic
Transition in Postcommunist Societies," Daedalus 121, no. 2 (Spring 1992):
97-121. On the promotion of "national languages" and bilingualism, see the
work of Barbara A. Anderson and Brian D. Silver, especially "Equality,
Efficiency, and Politics in Soviet Bilingual Education Policy, 1934-1980,"
American Political Science Review 78, No. 4 (October 1984): 1019-39; and "Some
Factors in the Linguistic and Ethnic Russification of Soviet Nationalities: Is
Everyone Becoming Russian?" in Lubomyr Hajda and Mark Beissinger, eds,
The Nationalities Factor in Soviet Politics and Society (Boulder: Westview Press,
1990). For a fascinating analysis of state-sponsored nationalism in a non-federal
communist state, see Katherine Verdery, National Ideology under Socialism:
Identity and Cultural Politics in Ceausescu's Romania (Berkeley: University of
California Press, 1991).
2 For an excellent overview of recent debates on the ethnic boundaries of
political communities, see David A. Hollinger, "How Wide the Circle of the
'We'? American Intellectuals and the Problem of Ethnos since World War
Two," American Historical Reviezv 98, no. 2 (April 1993): 317-37.
3 I. Vareikis and I. Zelenskii, Natsional'no-gosudarstvennoe razmezhovanie Srednei
Azii (Tashkent: Sredne-Aziatskoe gosudarstvennoe izdatel'stvo, 1924), 59.
4 For a witty elaboration of the reverse metaphor (the communal apartment
as the USSR), see Svetlana Boym, "The Archeology of Banality: the Soviet
Home," Public Culture 6, no. 2 (1994): 263-92.
5 I.V. Stalin, Marksizm i natsional'nyi vopros (Moscow, Politizdat, 1950), 51.
6 For early Marxist debates on nationalism, see Walker Connor, The National
Question in Marxist-Leninist Theory and Strategy (Princeton: Princeton
University Press, 1984); Helene Carrere d'Encausse, The Great Challenge:
Nationalities and the Bolshevik State, 1917-1930 (New York: Holmes and Meier,
1992); Helmut Konrad, "Between 'Little International' and Great Power
Politics: Austro-Marxism and Stalinism on the National Question," in Richard
L. Rudolph and David F. Good, eds, Nationalism and Empire: The Habsburg
Empire and the Soviet Union (New York: St Martin's Press, 1992); Richard
Pipes, The Formation of the Soviet Union: Communism and Nationalism,
1917-1923 (Cambridge, Mass., Harvard University Press, 1964); Roman
Szporluk, Communism and Nationalism: Karl Marx versus Friedrich List (New
York: Oxford University Press, 1988).
7 Stalin, Marksizm i natsional'nyi vopros, 51. See also V.I. Lenin, Voprosy natsional'noi
politiki i proletarskogo internatsionalizma (Moscow, Politizdat, 1965),
8 The "oppressor" was not always "civilized," as in most Marxist analyses of
Russia vis a vis Poland or Finland.
9 "Peoples" and "nations" were used interchangeably.
10 Dekrety Sovetskoi vlasti (Moscow: Gospolitizdat, 1957), 1: 39-41, 113-15,
168-70, 195-96, 340-44, 351, 367.
11 S. Dimanshtein, "Narodnyi komissariat po delam natsional'nostei," Zhizn'
natsional'nostei 41 (49) (26 October 1919).
12 S. Dimanshtein, "Sovetskaia vlast' i melkie natsional'nosti," Zhizn' natsional'nostei
46 (54) (7 December 1919). See also S. Pestkovskii, "Natsional'naia
kul'tura," Zhizn' natsional'nostei 21 (29) (8 June 1919).
13 A.P. Nenarokov, K edinstvu ravnykh: Kul'turnye faktory ob"edinitel'nogo
dvizheniia sovetskikh narodov, 1917-1924 (Moscow: Nauka, 1991), 91-92.
14 Ibid., 92-93.
15 Vos'moi s"ezd RKP(b): Protokoly (Moscow: Gospolitizdat, 1959), 46-48, 77-81.
16 Ibid., 55.
17 Ibid., 106.
18 Ibid., 53. In the same speech, Lenin argued that even the most "advanced"
western countries were hopelessly behind Soviet Russia in terms of social
differentiation (which meant that they could - and sometimes should - be
regarded as integral nations rather than as temporarily isolated class battlefields).
By being Soviet, Russia was more advanced than the advanced west.
19 Ibid., 82.
20 Fedor Kriuchkov, "O Kriashenakh," Zhizn' natsional'nostei 27 (84) (2
September 1920).
21 R. El'mets, "K voprosu o vydelenii chuvash v osobuiu administrativnuiu
edinitsu," Zhizn' natsional'nostei 2 (59) (11 January 1920).
22 V. Vilenskii (Sibiriakov), "Samoopredelenie iakutov," Zhizn' natsional'nostei
3 (101) (2 February 1921).
23 V.G. Bogoraz-Tan, "O pervobytnykh plemenakh," Zhizn' natsional'nostei
1 (130) (10 January 1922); idem, "Ob izuchenii i okhrane okrainnykh
narodov," Zhizn' natsional'nostei 3-4 (1923): 168-177; Dan. Ianovich,
"Zapovedniki dlia gibnushchikh tuzemnykh piemen," Zhizn' natsional'nostei
4 (133) (31 January 1922); Gosudarstvennyi arkhiv Rossiiskoi Federatsii
(GARF), f. 1377, op. 1, d. 8, 11. 126-27, d. 45, 11. 53, 77, 81.
24 "Chetyre goda raboty sredi estontsev Sovetskoi Rossii," Zhizn' natsional'nostei
24 (122) (5 November 1921).
25 GARF, f. 1318, op. 1, d. 994, 1. 100.
26 Desiatyi s"ezd Rossiiskoi Kommnnisticheskoi partii: Stenograficheskii otchet
(Moscow: Gosudarstvennoe izdatel'stvo, 1921), 101.
27 Ibid.
28 Ibid., 371
29 Ibid., 372.
30 Ibid., 115.
31 "Belorusskii natsional'nyi vopros i kommunisticheskaia partiia," Zhizn'
natsional'nostei 2 (131) (17 January 1922).
32 Vareikis and Zelenskii, Natsional'no-gosudarstvennoe razmezhevanie, 57.
33 Ibid., 60. "Nations that have not yet reached the capitalist stage" were not
nations according to Stalin's definition.
34 Desiatyi s"ezd, 112, 114.
35 See, for example, "S"ezd po narodnomu obrazovaniiu," Zhurnal Ministerstva
narodnago prosvieshcheniia L (March-April 1914): 195, 242-AA.
36 Ob uchrezhdenii Komissii po izucheniiu plemennogo sostava naseleniia Rossii.
Izvestiia Kommissii po izucheniiu plemennogo sostava naseleniia Rossii
(Petrograd: Rossiiskaia Akademiia Nauk, 1917), 1: 8.
37 I. Gertsenberg, "Natsional'nyi printsip v novom administrativnom delenii
RSFSR," Zhizn' natsional'nostei 37 (94) (25 November 1920).
38 N.Ia. Marr, Plemennoi sostav naseleniia Kavkaza: Trudy Komissii po izucheniiu
plemennogo sostava naseleniia Rossii (Petrograd: Rossiiskaia Academiia nauk,
1920), 3: 9, 21-22. See also N.Ia. Marr. "Ob iafeticheskoi teorii," Novyi vostok
5 (1924): 303-9.
39 "The richest associations and the strongest perceptions are those acquired
through the mother tongue" (Segal', "Vserossiiskoe soveshchanie").
40 E.F. Karskii, Etnograficheskaia karta Bielorusskago plemeni: Trudy Komissii po
izucheniiu plemennogo sostava naseleniia Rossii, vol. 2 (Petrograd: Rossiiskaia
Akademiia nauk 1917).
41 I.I. Zarubin, Spisok narodnostei Turkestanskogo kraia: Trudy Komissii po izucheniiu
plemennogo sostava naseleniia Rossii, vol. 9 (Leningrad: Rossiiskaia Akademiia
nauk, 1925); I . I . Zarubin, Naselenie Samarkandskoi oblasti: Trudy Komissii po
izucheniiu plemennogo sostava naseleniia Rossii, vol. 10 (Leningrad: AN SSSR,
1926); Edward A. Allworth, The Modern Uzbeks: From the Fourteenth Century to
the Present (Stanford: Hoover Institution Press, 1990), 181; Alexandre
Bennigsen and Chantal Lemercier-Quelquejay, Islam in the Soviet Union (New
York: Praeger, 1967), 131-33; Teresa Rakowska-Harmstone, Russia and
Nationalism in Central Asia: The Case of Tadzhikistan (Baltimore: Johns Hopkins
University Press, 1970), 78.
42 Instruktsiia k sostavleniiu plemennykh kart, izdavaemykh Komissiei po izucheniiu
plemennogo sostava naseleniia Rossii: Trudy Komissii po izucheniiu plemennogo
sostava naseleniia Rossii (Petrograd: Rossiiskaia Akademia nauk, 1917), 1: 11.
43 Karskii, Etnograficheskaia karta, 19.
44 N.Ia. Marr, Plemennoi sostav naseleniia Kavkaza: Trudy Komissii po izucheniiu
plemennogo sostava naseleniia Rossii (Petrograd: Rossiiskaia Akademiia nauk,
1920), 9: 24-25; N.Ia. Marr, Talyshi: Trudy Komissii po izucheniiu plemennogo
sostava naseleniia Rossii (Petrograd: Rossiiskaia Akademiia nauk, 1922), 4: 3-5,
45 Marr, Plemennoi sostav, 9.
46 Ibid., 59-61. Cf. S.K. Patkanov, Spisok narodnostei Sibiri: Trudy Komissii po
izucheniiu plemennogo sostava naseleniia Rossii (Petrograd: Rossiiskaia
Akademiia nauk, 1923), 7: 3.
47 See, for example, Patkanov on "Paleoasiatics" in Patkanov, Spisok, 8.
48 V I . Kun, "Izuchenie etnicheskogo sostava Turkestana," Novyi vostok 6 (1924):
351-53; Zarubin, Spisok, 10.
49 I. Khodorov, "Natsional'noe razmezhevanie Srednei Azii," Novyi vostok 8-9
(1926): 69.
50 See, for example, S. Dimanshtein, "Desiaf let natsional'noi politiki partii i
sovvlasti," Novyi vostok 19 (1927): vi; "Vremennoe polozhenie ob upravlenii
tuzemnykh narodnostei i piemen Severnykh okrain," Severnaia Aziia 2 (1927):
85-91; N . I . Leonov, "Tuzemnye sovety v taige i tundrakh," Sovetskii Sever:
Pervyi sbornik statei (Moscow: Komitet Severa, 1929), 225-30; Zvi Y. Gitelman,
Jewish Nationality and Soviet Politics: The Jewish Sections of the CPSU, 1917-1930
(Princeton: Princeton University Press, 1972), 289; Gerhard Simon, Nationalism
and Policy toward the Nationalities in the Soviet Union: From Totalitarian
Dictatorship to Post-Stalinist Society (Boulder: Westview Press, 1991), 58.
51 I. Davydov, "O probleme iazykov v prosvetitel'noi rabote sredi natsional'nostei,"
Prosveshchenie natsional'nostei 1 (1929): 18.
52 After the abolition of the "Highland" (Gorskaia) republic, the only
autonomous republic that had no ethnic "landlord" and hence no obvious
official language was Dagestan, one of the most linguistically diverse places
on earth (see A. Takho-Godi, "Problema iazyka v Dagestane," Revoliutsiia i
natsional'nosti 2 [1930]: 68-75).
53 V.A. Gurko-Kriazhin, "Abkhaziia," Novyi vostok 13-14 (1926): 115.
54 M. Pavlovich, "Kul'turnye dostizheniia tiurko-tatarskikh narodnostei so
vremeni Oktiabr'skoi revoliutsii," Novyi vostok 12 (1926): viii.
55 Simon, Nationalism, 46. The number of Yiddish books and brochures, for
example, rose from 76 in 1924 to 531 in 1930 (see Gitelman, Jexvish Nationality,
56 See, for example, Fierman, Language Planning, 170-76; Gitelman, Jewish
Nationality, 351-65; James E. Mace, Communism and the Dilemmas of National
Liberation: National Communism in Soviet Ukraine, 1918-1933 (Cambridge,
Mass.: Harvard Ukrainian Research Institute, 1983), 96; Simon, Nationalism,
57 Davydov, "O probleme iazykov," 23.
58 The Ukrainian Commissar of Education, Mykola Skrypnyk, defined the
Donbass vernacular as a "neither Russian nor Ukrainian" patois in need of
proper Ukrainianization (see Mace, Communism and the Dilemmas, 213).
59 Simon, Nationalism, 49.
60 I. Bulatnikov, "Ob ukrainizatsii na Severnom Kavkaze," Prosveshchenie
natsional'nostei 1 (1929): 94-99; Gitelman, Jewish Nationality, 341-44.
61 Gitelman, Jewish Nationality, 342.
62 For a survey, see Simon, Nationalism, 20-70.
63 See, for instance, Borozdin, "Sovremennyi Tatarstan," 118-19; 122-23;
Dimanshtein, "Desiat' let," v - v i , xvii.
64 Simon, Nationalism, 32-33, 37.
65 A. Skachko, "Vostochnye respubliki na S.-Kh. Vystavke SSSR v 1993 godu,"
Novyi vostok 4 (1923): 482-84. Emphasis in the original.
66 Vareikis and Zelenskii, Natsional'no-gosudarstvennoe razmezhevanie, 59.
67 Quoted in Nenarokov, K edinstvn ravnykh, 132.
68 See, in particular, M. Agurskii, Ideologiia natsional-bol'shevizma (Paris: YMCA
Press, 1980).
69 Dvenadtsatyi s"ezd, 554, 556, 564.
70 N. Konoplev, "Shire front internatsional'nogo vospitaniia," Prosveshchenie
natsional'nostei 2 (1931): 49. See also N. Konoplev, "Za vospitanie internatsional'nykh
boitsov," Prosveshchenie natsional'nostei 4-5 (1930): 55-61.
71 GARF, f. 1377, op. 1, d. 224,11. 8,32; N. Amyl'skii, "Kogda zatsvetaiut zharkie
tsvety," Severnaia Aziia 3 (1928): 57-58; Fierman, Language Planning, 177-85;
N. I. Leonov, "Tuzemnye shkoly na Severe," Sovetskii Sever: Pervyi sbornik
statei (Moscow: Komitet Severa, 1929), 200^1; Leonov, "Tuzemnye sovety,"
242, 247-48; D.F. Medvedev, "Ukrepim sovety na Krainem Severe i ozhivim
ikh rabotu," Sovetskii Sever 1 (1933): 6-8; P. Rysakov, "Praktika shovinizma
i mestnogo natsionalizma," Revoliutsiia i natsional'nosti 8-9 (1930): 28; T.
Semushkin, Chukotka (Moscow: Sovetskii pisatel', 1941), 48; I. Sergeev, "Usilif
provedenie natspolitiki v Kalmykii," Revoliutsiia i natsional'nosti 7 (1930): 66;
Simon, Nationalism, 25, 41, 73-74.
72 Gitelman, Jewish Nationality, 386, 398, 402-3.
73 Davydov, "O probleme iazykov," 22; Konoplev, "Shire front," 50; A. Valitov,
"Protiv opportunisticheskogo otnosheniia k stroitel'stvu natsshkoly,"
Prosveshchenie natsional'nostei 5-6 (1932): 68.
74 I. Skachkov, "Prosveshchenie sredi belorusov RSFSR," Prosveshchenie natsional'nostei
3 (1931): 76; P. Kovalevskii, "V shkole-iurte," Sovetskii Sever 2 (1934):
105-6; I. Nesterenok, "Smotr natsional'nykh shkol na Taimyre," Sovetskii
Sever 6 (1932): 84; G.N. Prokof'ev, "Tri goda v samoedskoi shkole," Sovetskii
Sever 7-8 (1931): 144; S. Stebnitskii, "Iz opyta raboty v shkole Severa,"
Prosveshchenie natsional'nostei 8-9 (1932): 49-51.
75 For professional abolitionism during the first five-year plan, see Sheila
Fitzpatrick, ed., Cultural Revolution in Russia, 1928-1931 (Bloomington:
Indiana University Press, 1978). On linguistics and ethnography, see Yuri
Slezkine, "The Fall of Soviet Ethnography, 1928-38," Current Anthropology
32, no. 4 (1991): 476-84.
76 Slezkine, "The Fall/' 478.
77 N.Ia. Marr, "K zadacham nauki na sovetskom vostoke/' Prosveshchenie
natsional'nostei 2 (1930): 12; S. Asfendiarov, "Problema natsii i novoe uchenie
o iazyke/' Novyi vostok 22 (1928): 174.
78 Asfendiarov, "Problema natsii/' 174.
79 I. Davydov, "Ocherednye zadachi prosveshcheniia natsional'nostei,"
Prosveshchenie natsional'nostei 4-5 (1930): 30-34; M. Vanne, "Russkii iazyk v
stroitel'stve natsional'nykh kul'tur," Prosveshchenie natsional'nostei 2 (1930):
80 I. Kusik'ian, "Ocherednye zadachi marksistov-iazykovedov v stroitel'stve
iazykov narodov SSSR," Prosveshchenie natsional'nostei 11-12 (1931): 75; E.
Krotevich, "Vypravif nedochety v stroitel'stve Kazakhskoi terminologii,"
Prosveshchenie natsional'nostei 8-9 (1932): 94-96; Fierman Language Planning,
126-29; Mace, Communism, 277-79; Roman Smal-Stocki, The Nationality
Problem of the Soviet Union and Russian Communist Imperialism (Milwaukee:
The Bruce Publishing Company, 1952), 106-41.
81 I.V. Stalin, Sochineniia (Moscow: Politizdat, 1952), 13: 4. Emphasis in the
82 Ibid., 12: 365-66.
83 See, for example, Prosveshchenie natsional'nostei 11-12 (1931): 102-6.
84 Fierman, Language Planning, 177; Evgen'ev and Bergavinov, "Nachal'niku
Obdorskogo politotdela Glavsevmorputi t. Mikhailovu," Sovetskaia Arktika 4
(1936): 65-67.
85 P. Rysakov, "Praktika shovinizma i mestnogo natsionalizma," Revoliutsiia i
natsional'nosti 8-9 (1930): 29.
86 S. Akopov, "K voprosu ob uzbekizatsii apparata i sozdanii mestnykh
rabochikh kadrov promyshlennosti Uzbekistana," Revoliutsiia i natsional'nosti
12 (1931): 22-23.
87 B. Rodnevich, "Korenizatsii apparata v avtonomiiakh i raionakh natsmen'shinstv
RSFSR," Revoliutsiia i natsional'nosti 12 (1931): 19-20.
88 Mace, Communism, 212. See also Simon, Nationalism, 39-40.
89 A. Oshirov, "Korenizatsiia v sovetskoi strane," Revoliutsiia i natsional'nosti
4r-5 (1930): 111.
90 A. Gitlianskii, "Leninskaia natsional'naia politika v deistvii (natsional'nye
men'shinstva na Ukraine)," Revoliutsiia i natsional'nosti 9 (1931): 37; A. Zuev,
"Natsmeny Kazakhstana," Revoliutsiia i natsional'nosti 4 (1932): 48.
91 Or so most people thought. Cf. Stalin, Sochineniia 13: 91-92 and Revoliutsiia
i natsional'nosti 1 (1932); and Iiul'skii, "Pis'mo t. Stalina - orudie vospitaniia
Bol'shevistskikh kadrov," Prosveshchenie natsional'nostei 2-3 (1932): 9.
92 See for example I.K., "Indoevropeistika v deistvii," Prosveshchenie natsional'nostei
11-12 (1931): 97-102; I. Kusik'ian, "Protiv burzhuaznogo kavkazovedeniia,"
Prosveshchenie natsional'nostei 1 (1932): 45-47; I. Zhvaniia, "Zadachi
sovetskogo i natsional'nogo stroitel'stva v Mingrelii," Revoliutsiia i natsional'nosti
7 (1930): 66-72; D. Savvov, "Za podlinno rodnoi iazyk grekov
Sovetskogo Soiuza," Prosveshchenie natsional'nostei 4 (1932): 64-74; M. Bril',
"Trudiashchiesia tsygane v riady stroitelei sotsializma," Revoliutsiia i
natsional'nosti 7 (1932): 60-66; S.D., "Evreiskaia avtonomnaia oblast, -
detishche Oktiabr'skoi revoliutsii," Revoliutsiia i natsional'nosti 6 (1934):
93 Simon, Nationalism, 46.
94 Revoliutsiia i natsional'nosti 1 (1930): 117; A. Takho-Godi, "Problema iazyka
v Dagestane," Revoliutsiia i natsional'nosti 2 (1930): 68-75; Gitlianskii,
"Leninskaia natsional'naia politika," 77.
95 See, for example, G. Akopov, "Podgotovka natsional'nykh kadrov,"
Revoliutsiia i natsional'nosti 4 (1934): 54-60; A. Polianskaia, "Natsional'nye
kadry Belorussii," Revoliutsiia i natsional'nosti 8-9 (1930): 79-88; Rodnevich,
"Korenizatsiia apparata"; Zuev, "Natsmeny"; E. Popova, "Korenizatsiia
apparata - na vysshuiu stupen'," Revoliutsiia i natsional'nosti 7 (1932): 50-55;
I. Iuabov, "Natsmeny Uzbekskoi SSR," Revoliutsiia i natsional'nosti 9 (1932):
74-78; P. S-ch, "Partorganizatsii natsional'nykh raionov," Revoliutsiia i natsional'nosti
10-11 (1932): 143^18; I. Karneev, "Nekotorye tsifry po podgotovke
inzhenerno-tekhnicheskikh kadrov iz korennykh natsional'nostei,"
Revoliutsiia i natsional'nosti 3 (1933): 86-92.
96 Kh. Khazanskii, I. Gazeliridi, "Kul'tmassovaia rabota sredi natsional'nykh
men'shinstv na novostroikakh," Revoliutsiia i natsional'nosti 9 (1931): 86-91;
A. Kachanov, "Kul'turnoe obsluzhivanie rabochikh-natsmen Moskovskoi
oblasti," Revoliutsiia i natsional'nosti 6 (1932): 54-58; I. Sabirzianov,
"Natsmenrabota profsoiuzov Moskvy," Revoliutsiia i natsional'nosti 9 (1932):
97 A. Mitrofanov, "K itogam partchistki v natsrespublikakh i oblastiakh,"
Revoliutsiia i natsional'nosti 1 (1930): 29-36; Martha Brill Olcott, The Kazakhs
(Stanford: Hoover Institution Press, 1987), 216-20; Mace, Communism, 264-80;
Rakowska-Harmstone, Russia and Nationalism, 39-41; Azade-Ayse Rorlich,
The Volga Tatars: A Profile in National Resilience (Stanford: Hoover Institution
Press, 1986), 155-56.
98 In other words, women and children could become default proletarians. See
Gregory Massell, The Surrogate Proletariat: Moslem Women and Revolutionary
Strategies in Soviet Central Asia, 1919-1929 (Princeton: Princeton University
Press, 1974); Yuri Slezkine, "From Savages to Citizens: The Cultural
Revolution in the Soviet Far North, 1928-1938," Slavic Review 51, no. 1 (Spring
1992): 52-76.
99 "Vskrytie klassovoi rozni," See N. Krupskaia, "O zadachakh natsional'no-kul'-
turnogo stroitel'stva v sviazi s obostreniem klassovoi bor'by," Prosveshchenie
natsional'nostei 4-5 (1930): 19.
100 S. Dimanshtein, "Za klassovuiu chetkost' v prosveshchenii natsional'nostei,"
Prosveshchenie natsional'nostei 1 (1929): 9.
101 N. Bilibin, "U zapadnykh koriakov," Sovetskii Sever 1-2, (1932): 207.
102 See, for example, Olcott, The Kazakhs, 219; Rakowska-Harmstone, Russia and
Nationalism, 100-1.
103 D. Zaslavskii, "Na protsesse 'vyzvolentsev'," Prosveshchenie natsional'nostei
6 (1930): 13.
104 Stalin, Sochineniia, 13: 306, 309.
105 For two remarkable exceptions, see Barbara A. Anderson and Brian D.
Silver, "Equality, Efficiency and Politics in Soviet Bilingual Education
Policy, 1934-1980," American Political Science Review 78, no. 4 (October
1984): 1019-39; and Ronald Grigor Suny, "The Soviet South: Nationalism
and the Outside World," in Michael Mandelbaum, ed., The Rise of
Nations in the Soviet Union (New York: Council of Foreign Relations Press,
1991): 69.
106 Sheila Fitzpatrick, Education and Social Mobility in the Soviet Union, 1921-1934
(Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1979), 235.
107 Pervyi vsesoiuznyi s"ezd sovetskikh pisatelei. Stenograficheskii otchet (Moscow:
Khudozhestvennaia literatura, 1934), 625.
108 Compare, for example, Stalin, Sochineniia, 8: 149-54; and S. Dimanshtein,
"Bol'shevistskii otpor natsionalizmu," Revoliutsiia i natsional'nosti 4 (1933):
1-13; S.D., "Bor'ba s natsionalizmom i uroki Ukrainy," Revoliutsiia i natsional'nosti
1 (1934): 15-22.
109 Simon, Nationalism, 148-55.
110 After Stalin's speeches at the XVII party Congress and at the Conference of
the Leading Collective Farmers of Tajikistan and Turkmenistan (see Stalin,
Sochineniia, 13: 361; 14 [1]: 114-115).
111 Paul M. Austin, "Soviet Karelian: The Language That Failed," Slavic Review
51, no. 1 (Spring 1992), esp. 22-23.
112 This is, in effect, a crude summary of Vladimir Papernyi's delightful Kul'tura
"Dva" (Ann Arbor: Ardis, 1985).
113 On the "passport system," see Victor Zaslavsky, The Neo-Stalinist State
(Armonk, N.Y.: M. E. Sharpe, 1982), 92ff.
114 L. Krasovskii, "Chem nado rukovodstvovat'sia pri sostavlenii spiska narodnostei
SSSR," Revoliutsiia i natsional'nosti 4 (1936): 70-71.
115 S. Dimanshtein, "Otvet na vopros, sostavliaiut li soboi evrei v nauchnom
smysle natsiiu," Revoliutsiia i natsional'nosti 10 (1935): 77.
116 Simon, Nationalism, 61.
117 Greg Castillo, "Gorki Street and the Design of the Stalin Revolution," in
Zeynep Celik, Diane G. Favro and Richard Ingersoll, eds, Streets: Critical
Perspectives on Public Space (Berkeley: University of California Press, 1994).
118 Pervyi vsesoiuznyi s"ezd, 43, 49.
119 Ibid., 104.
120 Ibid., 116-17.
121 Ibid., 136, 142, 77.
122 Zaslavsky, "Nationalism and Democratic Transition," 102.
123 North Ossetian, Iakut, Kazakh, Kirghiz, Kara-Kalpak, Kabarda, Balkar,
Turkmen, Taijk, Adyge and Kalmyk (see A. Furmanova, "Podgotovka
natsional'nykh kadrov dlia teatra," Revoliutsiia i natsional'nosti 5 [1936]:
124 A. Chanyshev, "V bor'be za izuchenie i sozdanie natsional'noi kul'tury,"
Revoliutsiia i natsional'nosti 9 (1935): 61.
125 Pervyi vsesoiuznyi s"ezd, 43. "Turk" stands for "Azerbaijani."
126 Stalin, Sochineniia 2 (XV): 204.
127 "Khronika," Revoliutsiia i natsional'nosti 8 (1936): 80; Rakowska-Harmstone,
Russia and Nationalism, 250-59; AUworth, The Modern Uzbeks, 229-30; Yaroslav
Bilinsky, The Second Soviet Republic: The Ukraine after World War II (New
Brunswick: Rutgers University Press, 1964), 191.
128 Lowell Tillett, The Great Friendship: Soviet Historians on the Non-Russian
Nationalities (Chapel Hill: University of North Carolina Press, 1969), passim.
129 Bilinsky, The Second Soviet Republic, 15-16; Robert Conquest, Soviet
Nationalities Policy in Practice (New York: Praeger, 1967), 65-66.
130 Stalin, Sochineniia 3 (XVI): 100.
131 Ibid., 46.
132 Ibid., 117, 119, 138.
133 See, in particular, Lapidus, "Ethnonationalism and Political Stability," 355-80;
Zaslavsky, "Nationalism and Democratic Transition"; Farmer, Ukrainian
Nationalism, 61-73.
134 Rasma Karklins, Ethnic Relations in the USSR: The Perspective from Beloxv
(Boston: Unwin Hyman, 1986).
135 See Roeder, "Soviet Federalism," 196-233.
136 Rakowska-Harmstone, "The Dialectics," 10-15. Cf. Miroslav Hroch, Social
Preconditions of National Revival in Europe (New York: Cambridge University
Press, 1985).
137 See, in particular, Farmer, Ukrainian Nationalism, 85-121. Also AUworth, The
Modern Uzbeks, 258-59; Simon, Nationalism, 281-82.
138 For a remarkably elegant interpretation of this tension, see Rogers Brubaker,
"Nationhood and the National Question in the Soviet Union and Post-Soviet
Eurasia: An Institutionalist Account," Theory and Society, 23: 1 (1994).
139 Victor Zaslavsky. "The Evolution of Separatism in Soviet Society under
Gorbachev," in Gail W. Lapidus and Victor Zaslavsky, with Philip Goldman,
eds, From Union to Commonwealth: Nationalism and Separatism in the Soviet
Republics (New York: Cambridge University Press, 1992), 83; Leokadiia
Drobizheva, "Perestroika and the Ethnic Consciousness of the Russians," in
ibid., 98-111



Interesting how he attacks communism for being Utopian but ends up supporting Zionism the ideology which turns out to be the real Utopian existential enemy of the Jewish People.

He chooses his Jewish Grandmother over his Soviet Grandmother - he could not make the particularity of Jewishness be part of the universal of socialism - his loss.

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