chapter  11
14 Pages

The Regime and the Empire A Complex Relationship

WithVladimir Shlapentokh

The complex relationship between the regime and the empire in many respects shaped the fate of the Jews in the Soviet Union. In the first two years of the regime, the Bolsheviks acquired new insight into the ethnic issue and began to behave not as Utopian leaders aloof from reality but as Machiavellian politicians. In the Soviet Union, the rulers employed all three strategies with respect to imperial policy. The essential difference between the regime and the empire was manifested clearly in the open ideology. Official ideology unequivocally presented Russians as "the senior brother" and all other nations and ethnic groups as "junior". While endowing Russians with the dominant role in the central elite, the empire energetically promoted the national elites in all the provinces, using "affirmative action". Most Jews identified with the socialist transformation of the country and with the Russians and did not consider themselves members of a non-Russian ethnic group.