Paper Title

[2.1] Otherwise-Thinkers of Moscow: The Origins of Soviet Dissent, 1950-1980

Location

IB 1019

Start Date

January 2020

End Date

January 2020

Disciplines

History | Philosophy | Political Science

Presentation Type

Presentation

Abstract

The Soviet dissidents active during Nikita Khrushchev’s Thaw and Brezhnev’s Era of Stagnation were mostly of the same generation. They were not always dissidents. Born into families who had benefitted immensely from the socialist revolution, they grew up with opportunities that were unimaginable to their ancestors. They believed in the propaganda they were taught in schools; that their socialist society was the pinnacle of civilization. During their childhoods, adolescences, and young adulthoods, the dissidents experienced events that shattered their illusion of a socialist utopia. World War II was the earliest of these events. Having previously trusted in the invincibility of the Red Army, living through an occupation was the first sign that not all was as it was proclaimed. The next event that changed their perspectives was their university years. During the late-Stalinist period (early 1950s) they realized the state of paranoia, constant inter-peer surveillance, and ‘brainwashing’ that they lived in. It was also during this period that they would read Lenin for the first time. Those who this did not disillusion with the Soviet system discovered a style of arguing that was analytical and logic based – a stark contrast to the Stalinist style of arguing, which was based off repeating the ‘Unquestionable Truths.’ After graduating, during Khrushchev’s Thaw, they formed a private counter-culture, but they were not yet publically dissenting. The final event that pushed them to publically dissent was when the state authorities began to crack down on their private counter-culture and freedom of expression.

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Jan 18th, 1:00 PM Jan 18th, 2:15 PM

[2.1] Otherwise-Thinkers of Moscow: The Origins of Soviet Dissent, 1950-1980

IB 1019

The Soviet dissidents active during Nikita Khrushchev’s Thaw and Brezhnev’s Era of Stagnation were mostly of the same generation. They were not always dissidents. Born into families who had benefitted immensely from the socialist revolution, they grew up with opportunities that were unimaginable to their ancestors. They believed in the propaganda they were taught in schools; that their socialist society was the pinnacle of civilization. During their childhoods, adolescences, and young adulthoods, the dissidents experienced events that shattered their illusion of a socialist utopia. World War II was the earliest of these events. Having previously trusted in the invincibility of the Red Army, living through an occupation was the first sign that not all was as it was proclaimed. The next event that changed their perspectives was their university years. During the late-Stalinist period (early 1950s) they realized the state of paranoia, constant inter-peer surveillance, and ‘brainwashing’ that they lived in. It was also during this period that they would read Lenin for the first time. Those who this did not disillusion with the Soviet system discovered a style of arguing that was analytical and logic based – a stark contrast to the Stalinist style of arguing, which was based off repeating the ‘Unquestionable Truths.’ After graduating, during Khrushchev’s Thaw, they formed a private counter-culture, but they were not yet publically dissenting. The final event that pushed them to publically dissent was when the state authorities began to crack down on their private counter-culture and freedom of expression.