chapter  3
13 Pages

Adjusting the Revolutionary Ideology to Totalitarian Goals

WithVladimir Shlapentokh

The Bolsheviks envisioned a clash of two minorities: a revolutionary minority, and a small group of landlords and exploiters. Pre-revolutionary Russian liberals (primarily the Constitutional Democrats [Kadets]) who dreamed of establishing Western-style democracy in the country, reacted much differently to the mass disturbances than the Bolsheviks. The Bolsheviks were certain not only that they could rely on the masses in the next revolution but also that the masses themselves, according to the tenets of Marxism, would actively participate in the governance of society, creating the highest form of democracy—proletarian democracy. As the Soviet leaders adjusted to the new social reality, they quickly modified their position on egalitarianism. Collectivism was glorified in numberless movies and novels. While preserving the fealty of collectivism, the rulers converted it into a powerful weapon of the totalitarian state. During perestroika liberal intellectuals were joined in their critique of Soviet collectivism by party officials who supported Gorbachev.