West European Studies


WestEuropean Studies

WestEuropean Studies

ThreeQuestions for Further Discussion

Howdifferent was the old Soviet intelligentsia from the new Russianintelligentsia?

HaveRussians really forgotten the Stalinist dogmas to become freethinkers capable of forming a democratic free society?

Whatprocesses and procedures were used in the humiliating andself-debasing process of criticism and self-criticism based on theStalinist blueprint of the 1930s and 1940s (Zubok, 2009, p. 217)?

Quoteand Comment

“Agreat number of them, perhaps a majority, had no clear understandingof Western notions of freedom, democracy, and the rule of law”(Zubok, 2009, p. 162).

Thedeath of Yuri Zhivago brought together both the old and newproponents of Russian intelligentsia during the leader’s funeral.The young people felt the need to create a new moral, ethical, andcivic outlook that would alienate them from the ideologicallycontrolled generation of their parents. Therefore, the new generationfound role models among the older people who approved the ideologiesof Stalin’s era. The old intelligentsia was quite appealing to theyouth and they used the revolutionary speech’s quotes to create anew Soviet anthem (Zubok, 2009, p. 167). Young people lacked exposureto western principles of democracy and sought for direction in theSoviet socialism as an answer to deal with the developinganticommunist pessimism. Stalin had censored the media and closedRussia from the rest of the world by using propaganda. Moreover, theStalinism ideology destroyed the social morality by controlling theideas of prose, poetry, and cultural movements. On the contrary, thenew intelligentsia was led by mass media informants and critics ofpropaganda ideology taught the youth that the human soul remained theultimate source of salvation in the absence of God (Zubok, 2009, p.169). Semiotics and other social teachings that were banned byStalin were reintroduced to help the youth recover the oldintelligentsia. Seemingly, the new generation was interested inregaining the traditional Russian culture that was abandoned duringthe Stalin era. Therefore, there is a slim reality that separates thenew and the traditional Russian intelligentsia.

Themodern Russia is experiencing constant calls for social reforms toreturn back the traditional freedom of the individual away from thecontrol of the state. Youth have formed non-governmental organizationlike the Citizen Movement to counter the oppressive control of theKremlin. The past human rights groups have today been transformed toa big citizen movement that seeks to emancipate the individual fromthe authoritarian control of the government. Citizen Movement remainsneutral on politics, but proactive in advocating for social reformsthat would help unlock economic progress and ensure the protection ofrights.


Zubok,V. (2009). Zhivago’schildren: The last Russian intelligentsia.Cambridge, MA: The Belknap Press of Harvard UP.