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The Gorbachev Revolution and Stalinism: Rewriting Soviet History under Glasnost

  • Journal of Humanities, Seoul National University
  • 2005, (54), pp.3-44
  • Publisher : Institute of Humanities, Seoul National University
  • Research Area : Humanities > Other Humanities

김남섭 1

1가톨릭대학교

Candidate

ABSTRACT

This paper aims to examine the various discussions about the nature of Stalinism among Russian writers, particularly historians, during the Gorbachev era. Enjoying almost unlimited freedom of speech under glasnost', Russian writers tried to rewrite the history of Stalin's era overall. They sought to find the origins of Stalinism, reexamined the causes and results of the forced collectivization of agriculture and industrialization, and wrote about the Stalin's crimes of which almost most of the Soviet people did not know until then. Moreover, they challenged the traditional interpretations of the Soviet-German War through which the Soviet Union emerged as one of two superpowers in the postwar era. The enlarged freedom of research of the Soviet past, however, did not always produce good works. This is because rewriting Soviet history has been begun mainly by the nonspecialists such as publicists and journalists who were less familiar with historical research. In analysing the main aspects of Stalinism, they tended to put certain fixed conceptions over the empirical facts in order to serve a political purpose. Therefore, for them, Stalinism was not the complicated social and political phenomena whose mechanism was to be explained, but a historical deviation from "normal course" which was to be refused. Such a low quality of the debate was aggravated by the fact that most of Russian writers still kept traditional Soviet Marxist views of history as their main methodology, which has tended to emphasize political and economic history. They failed to reinterpret Soviet history with new historical methodology emphasizing social and cultural views of history. Some researchers, however, showed their capability sufficient for rewriting Soviet history seriously. Their works made much contribution to the development of the Russian historiography after Gorbachev.

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