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The Anatomy of TerrorPolitical Violence under Stalin$
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James Harris

Print publication date: 2013

Print ISBN-13: 9780199655663

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: September 2013

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780199655663.001.0001

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Ideological Zig-Zag: Official Explanations for the Great Terror, 1936–1938

Ideological Zig-Zag: Official Explanations for the Great Terror, 1936–1938

(p.143) 8 Ideological Zig-Zag: Official Explanations for the Great Terror, 1936–1938
The Anatomy of Terror

David Brandenberger

Oxford University Press

Did the Great Terror contribute to party ideology? Between the late 1920s and early 1930s, Soviet ideology underwent a major reorientation as the previous decade's focus on anonymous social forces and Marxist–Leninist materialism was supplanted by a new, more animated line, populated by an array of concrete historical personalities. Heroes from the ranks of the party, the Red Army, industry, and agriculture came to personify Soviet socialism. A successful approach to popular mobilization, it was subsequently hamstrung by the purge of members of the new Soviet Olympus between 1936 and 1938. Paralysis within the Soviet ideological establishment was so complete that Stalin was forced to reorient ideology back to anonymous schematicism—‘theory,’ as he called it—something epitomized by the notoriously dense and plodding Short Course, which emerged in 1938.

Keywords:   ideology, Short Course, Stalin, propaganda, Great Terror—official explanations

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