REINVENTING RUSSIA

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Harvard University Press, 2000 - History - 352 pages
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What caused the emergence of nationalist movements in many post-communist states? What role did communist regimes play in fostering these movements? Why have some been more successful than others? To address these questions, Yitzhak Brudny traces the Russian nationalist movement from its origins within the Russian intellectual elite of the 1950s to its institutionalization in electoral alliances, parliamentary factions, and political movements of the early 1990s.

Brudny argues that the rise of the Russian nationalist movement was a combined result of the reinvention of Russian national identity by a group of intellectuals, and the Communist Party's active support of this reinvention in order to gain greater political legitimacy. The author meticulously reconstructs the development of the Russian nationalist thought from Khrushchev to Yeltsin, as well as the nature of the Communist Party response to Russian nationalist ideas. Through analysis of major Russian literary, political, and historical writings, the recently-published memoirs of the Russian nationalist intellectuals and Communist Party officials, and documents discovered in the Communist Party archives, Brudny sheds new light on social, intellectual, and political origins of Russian nationalism, and emphasizes the importance of ideas in explaining the fate of the Russian nationalist movement during late communist and early post-communist periods.



Table of Contents:

Acknowledgments

1. Russian Nationalists in Soviet Politics
2. The Emergence of Politics by Culture, 1953-1964
3. The First Phase of Inclusionary Politics, 1965-1970
4. The Rise and Fall of Inclusionary Politics, 1971-1985
5. What Went Wrong with the Politics of Inclusion?
6. What Is Russia, and Where Should It Go? Political Debates, 1971-1985
7. The Zenith of Politics by Culture, 1985-1989
8. The Demise of Politics by Culture, 1989-1991
Epilogue: Russian Nationalism in Postcommunist Russia

Notes
Index



Reviews of this book:
Mr. Brudny provides a salient background to understanding one of the great phenomena of post-1945 history: how Russians arrive at their view of the West.
--Ron Laurenzo, Washington Times

Reviews of this book:
Brudny is a good guide to the origins of what probably lies ahead.
--Geoffrey A. Hosking, Times Literary Supplement

Reviews of this book:
If readers think that today's anti-Western, antimarket, antisemitic variety of Russian nationalism is simply the fallout from the country's current misery, they should think again. With care and intelligence, Brudny traces its lineage back to the Khrushchev years. What began among the so-called village prose writers as a lament for a rural past ravaged by Stalin's experimentation gradually accumulated further grievances: the devastation of Russian culture and monuments, the infiltration of 'corrupting' Western values, and ultimately under Gorbechev the 'criminal' destruction of Russian power. Much of the book concentrates on how Khrushchev and Brezhnev tried--but ultimately failed--to harness this discontent for their own purposes.
--Robert Legvold, Foreign Affairs

Reviews of this book:
Brudny's survey of relations between Russian nationalism and the Soviet state provides an in-depth insight into one of the most complicated aspects of the Soviet multi-national state.
--Taras Kuzio, International Affairs

Reviews of this book:
A thought-provoking book.
--Virginia Quarterly

Reviews of this book:
Brudny shows that Russian cultural nationalism was a powerful force in the post-Stalin years, with ultimate political consequences. In meticulous detail Brudny sets out the various strains of Russian nationalism and points to the regime's encouragement of a certain kind of nationalism as a means of bolstering legitimacy through the 'politics of inclusion'...This volume is a significant contribution to the literature.
--R. J. Mitchell, Choice

Reviews of this book:
In Reinventing Russia, situated at the intersection of culture (specifically the literature of the village prose movement) and politics, Brudny has managed admirably to draw out the wider implications of his inquiry and provided an extremely useful set of orientation points in the current, seemingly so chaotic, political debate in Russia.
--Hans J. Rindisbacher, European Legacy

Reviews of this book:
Brudny's book paints a fascinating picture. It delineates a rich Soviet culture and society, one that is much more varied than has been previously depicted by most Western researchers. The overriding importance of the book derives from its argument that the post-Stalinist cultural debate in the Soviet Union is what created the infrastructure for the seemingly odd alliance between communist ideology and the nationalist intelligentsia--today's 'red-brown' alliance. It's a significant contribution to our understanding of the history of the nationalist idea...[Reinventing Russia provides] an enthralling overview of a historic development that has been neglected by most Western researchers...His book proves once more that anyone who seeks to understand developments in Eastern Europe cannot do so by merely analyzing the economic policy of the political maneuvers of the governing elite.
--Shlomo Avineri, Ha'aretz Book Review

Yitzhak Brudny offers us a most persuasive attempt to explain the intricate, often puzzling relation between Soviet political and cultural bureaucracy and the rise of Russian nationalism in the post-Stalin era. His analysis of Russian nationalist ideology and its role in the corrosion of the official Soviet dogmas is uniquely insightful and provocative. Students of Soviet and post-Soviet affairs will find in Brudny's splendidly researched book an indispensable instrument to grasp the meaning of the still perplexing developments that led to the breakdown of the Leninist state. In the growing body of literature dealing with nationalism and national identity, this one stands out as boldly innovative, theoretically challenging, and culturally sophisticated.
--Vladimir Tismaneanu, University of Maryland, College Park, author of Fantasies of Salvation

Yitzhak Brudny has produced an impressive and scholarly account of the divisions within the Russian political and cultural elite during the last four decades of the Soviet Union's existence. His book is important both for the fresh light it throws on that period and as essential context for interpreting the debates on nationhood and statehood which rage in Russia today.
--Archie Brown, University of Oxford

Reinventing Russia provides us with a vivid portrayal of the politics behind the rise of Russian nationalism in post-Stalinist Russia. It is a finely detailed study of not only the relationship of political authority to the spread of nationalist ideas, but also reciprocally of the role played by these ideas in shaping the political.
--Mark Beissinger, University of Wisconsin-Madison

Rival nationalists literally shook the Soviet Union apart. The very structure of the Soviet state encouraged all major ethnic groups--including the Russians--to view battles over resources in terms of ethnic and national conflict. Brudny, in this important study, explores precisely how rival nationalist claims emerged during the years following Stalin's death, and why they proved to be simultaneously so robust and pernicious.
--Blair Ruble, Director, Kennan Institute, Woodrow Wilson Center
  

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Contents

Russian Nationalists in Soviet Politics
1
The Emergence of Politics by Culture 19531964
28
The First Phase of Inclusionary Politics 19651970
57
The Rise and Fall of Inclusionary Politics 19711985
94
What Went Wrong with the Politics of Inclusion?
132
What Is Russia and Where Should It Go? Political Debates 19711985
150
The Zenith of Politics by Culture 19851989
192
The Demise of Politics by Culture 19891991
226
Russian Nationalism in Postcommunist Russia
259
Notes
267
Index
337
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About the author (2000)

Yitzhak M. Brudny is Fellow, Harriman Institute, Columbia University.