Everyday Stalinism

546 Words3 Pages
When most people hear the name Joseph Stalin, they usually associate the name with a man who was part of the Communist Party of the Soviet Union and was responsible for the deaths of millions of people. He was willingly to do anything to improve the power of the Soviet Union’s economy and military, even if it meant executing tens of millions of innocent people (Frankforter, A. Daniel., and W. M. Spellman 655). In chapter three of Sheila Fitzpatrick’s book, Everyday Stalinism, she argues that since citizens believed the propaganda of “a radiant future” (67), they were able to be manipulated by the Party in the transformation of the Soviet Union. This allowed the Soviet government to expand its power, which ultimately was very disastrous for the people. The Soviet citizens during the 1930s, particularly the younger ones, believed “they were participants in a history process of transformation, their enthusiasm for what was called ‘the building of socialism’” (68). The Soviets built hotels, palaces, and had blueprints displayed all throughout “that was supposed to set a pattern for urban planning throughout the country and provide a model of the socialist capital for foreigners” (69). To further transform the Soviet Union, state officials encouraged citizens to help improve the literacy rate and recognize the many heroes of the socialist state. These heroes, including Joseph Stalin, “received huge amounts of fan mail and were lionized on appearances throughout the country” (72). They also encouraged the remaking of individuals, particularly through work. Before the transformation, many did not enjoy working, but “under socialism, it was the thing that filled life with meaning” (75). Numerous interviews an author had with “transformed” felons, illustrated that even criminals could be transformed into good citizens through work (76). However, Sheila Fitzpatrick argues that these interviews were “clearly a propaganda project.” The transformation of individuals also included citizens’ desire to become more cultured. Many Soviet citizens characterized peasants, those who were not yet part of the transformation, as “economical[ly] and cultural[y] backwards” (70); thus, the people wanted to be more cultured to distinguish themselves from the lower-class. Such things as brushing teeth, table manners, and public behavior allowed them to be distinguished (80). Fitzpatrick says on page 80, “Newspapers and journals carried regular accounts of successes in mastering the first level of culture, […] these should not always be taken literally.” Fitzpatrick again emphasizes that much of the reports during this period were propaganda.
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