Nations and Soviets: The National Question in the USSR

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By Liberation Audio. Discovered by Player FM and our community — copyright is owned by the publisher, not Player FM, and audio is streamed directly from their servers. Hit the Subscribe button to track updates in Player FM, or paste the feed URL into other podcast apps.
The past, as they say, is never truly past. In recent months, Soviet nationality policy, a topic many thought consigned to academic backwaters and communist happy hours, has been thrust into the forefront of public conversation. The war raging in Ukraine has brought to the forefront questions about the borders, languages, and ethnicities of the country. How did they get that way, who is responsible, and how do these questions impact the causes and consequences of the current crisis? The conversation, however, has been something of a battle of dueling nationalisms. In response to far-right Ukrainian nationalism, Russian President Vladimir Putin has spun his own nationalist views, blaming the Bolsheviks for setting the stage for tensions between Russia and Ukraine today. Taking the two sets of critiques, one might be led to believe that the Soviet Union was some sort of venal, brutal empire that held the just aspirations of its various nationalities and ethnicities captive, manipulating “national borders” to generate fake nations and false national consciousness. The truth is far from the stories told by both the Ukrainian nationalists and Putin. The Soviet Union was the most advanced attempt at addressing national oppression, racism and discrimination at a country-wide level. Among many other things, the USSR was the first nation to engage in widespread affirmative action at levels no country before or since has reached. The Soviets took hundreds of nationalities and brought them under one governmental authority that took on economic backwardness and cultural repression to open up a liberatory future for peoples who had spent centuries under the yoke of the Tsars’ imperial ambitions. In fact, the depth of the tragedy afflicting Eastern Europe right now can only be fully understood in light of the decades-long Soviet effort to put an end to national antagonism and forge a future based on the unity of working and poor people for their collective benefit and that of humanity. Read the full article: https://www.liberationnews.org/nations-and-soviets-the-national-question-in-the-ussr/

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