Monday, February 04, 2008
Sovietology posted by Richard Seymour
Intellectual conformity, American style:
A reader unfamiliar with Western scholarly literature on Soviet history would ... reasonably expect to find it full of rival schools and intense debate on this central issue ... All the more astonishing, then, is the fact that until recently the question produced very little dispute in academic Soviet studies. Instead, during the expansion of the field between the late 1940s and 1960s, a remarkable consensus of interpretation formed on the subject of Bolshevism and Stalinism. Surviving the rise and decline of various methodologies and approaches in Sovietology, the consensus posited an uncomplicated conclusion: No meaningful differences or discontinuities existed between Bolshevism and Stalinism, which were fundamentally the same, politically and ideologically ... Stalinism, according to the consensus, was the logical, rightful, triumphant, and inevitable continuation, or outcome, of Bolshevism. For twenty years, this historical interpretation was axiomatic in almost all scholarly works on Soviet history and politics. (Stephen F Cohen, Rethinking the Soviet Experience: Politics and History Since 1917, Oxford University Press, 1984, p 39).