There are two main political concepts of the gone century which in many respects have defined the beginning of the present century – “nationalism” and “socialism”. The combination of these two words gave the Nazi party in Germany its name but if to speak about its long-lasting coexistence within the limits of one state system, coexistence in which there were both cooperation and rivalry – despite prevailing of “socialism” over “nationalism”, – more than 70 years of the USSR history are of the greatest interest for a researcher. The 78th issue of NZ deals with this experience. The twisted official Soviet formula “Socialist by the form, national by the content” has been taken as its name.
The texts which have been included into this issue could be divided into three categories: theoretical (or concerning the theory), analytical (devoted to particular cases of a parity between “socialist” and “national” in different republics and regions of the USSR and also in different aspects of its life) and “evidence”. With respect to the first category one could refer to the article by David Brandenberger “Stalin’s Populism and the Accidental Creation of Russian National Identity” in which the thesis (partly confirmed with some other articles of this issue) that the policy of “communists-internationalists” (from Lenin to Brezhnev, but, first of all, Stalin), eventually, has led to the inverse result – to the definitive formation of national consciousness of people entering into the Soviet Union – that, as a result, became the reason for its disintegration (section “Nation: “Socialist by the Content””). This opinion is shared in NZ interview by the well-known British historian Geoffrey Hosking. The history of studying of “nations”, “peoples” and “national consciousness” in 1920s, and also the conclusions which the first researchers in frameworks of “the Soviet internationalism” have come to – are provided in the article by Victor Shnirelman “In Search of Originality: At Sources of the Soviet Multiculturalism” (section “Empire of Nations: “Socialist by the Form – National by the Content””).
Articles devoted to the analysis of particular historic, political and cultural situations in the USSR are divided into four thematic sections. Their geography covers the majority of the Soviet republics – from the Russian Federation to Uzbekistan, from Moldova to Georgia.
The first section is focused on “nations”: these are the articles by Adeeb Khalid “Uzbekistan: A Nation Birth”, by Sergey Rumyantsev “The Soviet National Policy in Transcaucasia: Designing of National Borders, Histories and Cultures”, by Sergey Shtyrkov “The Soviet Roots of Ethnic Traditionalism: The Case of the North Ossetia”, and also by David Brandenberger as already mentioned.
The second section is devoted basically to the existence of the nations and peoples in republics and analysis of “the national policy”. Julia Chernyavskaya writes about Belarus (“Most Soviet of all Soviet…”), Sergey Abashin – about Uzbekistan (“The Soviet Power and Uzbek Mahalla”), Igor Casu – about Moldova (“Was the Soviet Union an Empire? Sight from Kishinev”). The history of how Volga region Germans tried to find an autonomy status in Russia is described in the essay by Nikolay Mitrokhin and Erika Rondo. Sergey Markedonov sees the roots of the present national conflicts in the Caucasus in the Soviet period (“Conflicts in the Caucasus: the Soviet Prelude”).
The common plot of the third block of articles – “empire vs. nation”. Here, besides Victor Shnirelman’s already mentioned research, one could read the text by Marina Mogilner about the early Soviet context of discussions about “natural” and “social” with reference to “the Jewish question”, by Alexander Osipov – about a parity between the concepts “nationality” and “equality” in the USSR, and also Nikolay Mitrokhin’s conversation with the former high-ranking Soviet party official Vyacheslav Mikhailov which was one of those who carried out the national policy in Ukraine.
At last, the fourth section of the 78th issue of NZ (“The Soviet Culture: “National by the Form – Socialist by the Content””) is devoted to the cultural aspect of the declared topic. The diversified plots are connected by one and the same approach: particular historical and cultural phenomena are considered through a prism of a parity between “national” and “socialist”. It should be specially noted the work by Evgeny Dobrenko about Soviet official pseudo-folklore “creativity of the people” – “Found in Translation: The Birth of the Soviet Multinational Literature from the Death of the Author”.
The articles of the fourth section are adjoined also by the mini-research by Nikita Braginsky “Do Russians Want War? Soviet “Songs in Struggle for Peace”: Nationality as an Anachronism” and our traditional heading Policy of Culture, presented by the text by Dmitry Gorin where the author analyzes the influence of the Soviet official concept of “dialectic materialism” on the culture.
As usual, in this NZ issue there are authors’ rubrics (Political Imaginary by Alexander Kustarev, Sociological Lyrics by Alexey Levinson, Daily Political Economy by NZ editor-in-chief Ilya Kalinin). The 78th NZ issue ends with the Russian Intellectual Journals’ Review (by Petr Rezvykh) and the New Books section.