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The generation of Allende and Solidarność. Leftist dissidents, reform socialism and the intellectual elite in Moscow during the late Brezhnev era

Wilson, Natasha; (2021) The generation of Allende and Solidarność. Leftist dissidents, reform socialism and the intellectual elite in Moscow during the late Brezhnev era. Doctoral thesis (Ph.D), UCL (University College London).

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Abstract

This thesis presents a cultural history of the Young Socialists, a left-wing dissident circle that was active in Moscow at the end of the Brezhnev era. Mainly from highly placed intelligentsia and party nomenklatura families, the core of the Young Socialists first met as students in the Faculty of History of Moscow State University (MGU) in the early-1970s. At the time of their dissent (1977-1982) the circle’s leaders, Andrei Fadin and Pavel Kudiukin, were graduate students at the Institute of World Economy and International Relations (IMEMO). The wider circle, which numbered roughly fifty people, were mainly young left-wing intellectuals in Moscow linked by a mix of everyday life associations and underground conspiracy. The Young Socialists published the samizdat journal Varianty (Variants), an internally circulated theoretical almanac that was dedicated to the elaboration of a programme of reform for the Soviet Union. The circle’s undertakings were both domestic in scope and transnational through their efforts to establish connections with the Polish trade union Solidarność and the Italian Communist Party. Using oral history sources and archival materials from Russia and a number of European countries, I reconstruct how the Young Socialists’ worldviews and cultural practices formed under the influence of Soviet and transnational forces during late stagnation. Locating them at the intersection of reformist cultures in the Soviet political-intellectual establishment, the dissident movement and the social milieu of elite youth of the last Soviet generation, I view the Young Socialists as the second generation of socialist dissent. In doing so, I explore how they drew on the reformist intellectual heritage of the shestidesiatniki and used the samizdat networks and other communication channels developed by the first generation of dissidents. In particular, at a time when left-wing ideas had fallen out of fashion among wider society, I focus on the transmission of lived experience from older socialist intellectuals to these younger dissidents to explain the transfer of socialist dissent into the next generation. Against the backdrop of Soviet decline, the Young Socialists drew inspiration for their views from foreign leftist movements. Viewing the international landscape at the turn of the 1980s, they perceived the existence of a European reformist Left that was loosely linked in an internationalism that was sympathetic to Eastern Bloc dissent. While emphasising the advanced character of the Young Socialists’ understandings of the outside world relative to earlier generations of socialist dissent, my account also considers their limitations. Looking ahead to Perestroika, I consider how the experience of socialist dissent accelerated the former Young Socialists’ adoption of social democratic and new leftist identities. This thesis enhances understandings of socialist dissent. It introduces new perspectives on the reformist currents in the Soviet intellectual elite beyond Gorbachev’s network of reformers. Finally, it expands understandings of the forms of political engagement that occurred within the last Soviet generation.

Type: Thesis (Doctoral)
Qualification: Ph.D
Title: The generation of Allende and Solidarność. Leftist dissidents, reform socialism and the intellectual elite in Moscow during the late Brezhnev era
Event: UCL (University College London)
Language: English
Additional information: Copyright © The Author 2021. Original content in this thesis is licensed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial 4.0 International (CC BY-NC 4.0) Licence (https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc/4.0/). Any third-party copyright material present remains the property of its respective owner(s) and is licensed under its existing terms. Access may initially be restricted at the author’s request.
UCL classification: UCL
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > UCL SLASH
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > UCL SLASH > SSEES
URI: https://discovery.ucl.ac.uk/id/eprint/10132574
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