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By Stephen Lovell

The Soviet Union at its top occupied one 6th of the world's land mass, encompassed fifteen republics, and stretched throughout 11 assorted time zones. greater than two times the dimensions of the us, it was once the good risk of the chilly struggle until eventually it without warning collapsed in 1991. Now, virtually two decades after the dissolution of this mammoth empire, what are we to make of its life? was once it a heroic test, an unmitigated catastrophe, or a possible if incorrect reaction to the fashionable international? Taking a clean method of the examine of the Soviet Union, this Very brief creation blends political background with an research into Soviet society and tradition from 1917 to 1991. Stephen Lovell examines facets of patriotism, political violence, poverty, and beliefs, and offers solutions to a few of the large questions on the Soviet adventure. all through, the publication takes a clean thematic method of the historical past of the Soviet Union and it offers an updated attention of the Soviet Union's effect and what we've got learnt due to the fact that its end.

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Extra resources for The Soviet Union: A Very Short Introduction (Very Short Introductions)

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In present-day Russia, for better or worse, the Soviet Union has found its niche in just such a story. 36 Chapter 2 Coercion and participation Political violence has always been recognized as crucial to the functioning of the Soviet state, especially in the first few decades of its existence. ‘Ordinary’ Soviet people have traditionally been seen as its helpless victims. Yet this notion overlooks another notable aspect of the Soviet system: the fact that it demanded – and received – an unprecedented level of participation from its citizens.

The political police became a more cold-blooded and pragmatic organization, making greater use of professional agents at the expense of ‘spontaneous’ denunciations. With the exception of purges of the Leningrad party and state planning organizations in 1949, there was no bloodletting in the upper political elite. The signs were that the Soviet system was becoming stable and hierarchical in a way that it had not been before the war. The historian Cynthia Hooper has drawn from this a provocative conclusion: ‘the Soviet state that emerged from the Second World War resembled that of its fascist enemy far more than it ever had in the 1930s’.

Nor was participation to become merely a matter of routine. The authorities were constantly mobilizing people for new feats of endurance and dedication. By engaging in ‘socialist competition’, citizens could demonstrate their devotion to the cause and their sterling qualities. The ‘campaign’ was close to the standard mode of operation for Soviet people from the late 1920s to World War II and beyond. 45 The Soviet Union To dismiss these forms of mass mobilization as mere coercion is to obscure one important point.

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