“What is to be done” in Stalin’s Russia?

I am curious as to how one might consider Stalin’s creation of a new Communist elite a fulfillment of some of the points Lenin outlines in his 1902 pamphlet “What is to be done?” Did Lenin have in mind the creation of such a new Red elite? Does Lenin’s reluctant stance on terror come to fruition in Stalin’s 1937 terror?

I would argue that Pasha Angelina’s autobiography denotes a realization of some of the ideas conceived in Lenin’s  “All-Russian” newspaper which would help workers interpret current events and identify structural problems in Russian society. Angelina’s autobiography can only be described as such in a loose manner. Even Angelina admits that Soviet “…lives are so inextricably linked to the live of [their] state and party…” that her biography is situated within a larger, state biography, a term she herself uses on page 321. Is this not a fulfillment of Lenin’s project? The idea that a worker situates their life in the official narrative of the state/communist party seems to me the direct fulfillment of Lenin’s newspaper project. Whereas locals in Donbass only offered Angelina resistance and ridicule, the party offered her something she could relate to and get behind. I am tempted to question, then, whether Angelina’s autobiography should  be considered her own, or merely a small part of a larger biography, that of the Soviet state itself. Angelina seems to prefer the latter notion.

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1 Response to “What is to be done” in Stalin’s Russia?

  1. bravery says:

    Yeah I was thinking about this and also they way Angelina’s autobiography reflected how Stalin’s “proletarian promotion policies dramatized the phenomenon [of inevitable upward mobility as a result of industrialization], and in effect, took credit for it in advance” (Fitzpatrick 1992,181). We can see this political legitimization in Angelina’s sentiment that, “whatever good we have within us, whatever knowledge, wealth, strength, and happiness we enjoy-all this is the consequence of one great event: the triumph of Soviet power”(2000,307).

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