Or perhaps you have returned to your old idea that the proletarians or the slaves will arise and overthrow us. Put it out of your mind. They are helpless, like animals.
The bulk of his analysis rests on the diaries of four individuals in various social positions who struggled to align themselves with socialist ideology, enjoying differing degrees of success, and who recorded their difficult and complex journey in great detail.
In the Shadow of Revolution: Life Stories of Russian Women from to the Second World War (Princeton, ); as well as writing on diaries: Jochen Hellbeck, Revolution on My Mind: Writing a Diary under Stalin (Cambridge, Mass., ). Revolution on My Mind: Writing a Diary Under Stalin. by Jochen Hellbeck but Jochen Hellbeck's searches in private collections and his personal inquiries have yielded a rich harvest of Stalin-era diaries which give important new insights into the ways in which Soviet citizens struggled to rationalize the monstrous irrationality of Stalinism. Jochen Hellbeck, Revolution on My Mind: Writing a Diary under Stalin, Cambridge, Mass. ; V ronique Garros, Thomas Lahusen, Natalia Korenevskaya (eds.), Das wahre Leben. Tageb cher aus der Stalin-Zeit, Berlin
Researchers have, therefore, assumed that the diary under the Soviet regime functioned the same as it did under capitalist systems and have not engaged in a proper study of its actual purpose under Stalin.
The advent of purges in the s strengthened this purpose, because they promulgated the message that regime enemies hid behind external displays of commitment to socialism and that true communists would be able to demonstrate their commitment on an internal level. Heroes were celebrated in Soviet culture, but it was always emphasized that communism, rather than innate traits, were what brought out the best in them, since the only correct plane of existence was in the public sphere as a member of the collective and a participant in a great phase of history.
Oppositional diaries were therefore scarce, because writing oneself out of revolution was equivalent to self-marginalization. The bulk of the book is devoted to the study of four particularly insightful diaries. Stepan Podlubny was a kulak who fled to the city and pretended to be from the working class, but his diary depicts a determination to become a genuine part of the new Soviet society.
Finally, Alexander Afinogenov was a playwright who earned connections to Stalin, but then came into conflict with socialist realism because his plays began to portray psychological realism.
His writings explore questions concerning his potential to become a true Bolshevik and his failure to develop his character. Hellbeck concludes by claiming that many Soviets accepted the call to live within the collective flow of history and travel down a path towards self-transformation into socially valuable roles that ignored obsessions with the self and the private sphere.
His work is valuable not only for the perspective that it offers, but for raising critical questions about the field of Soviet studies and restoring agency to those who internalized the socialist and Stalinist ideology.
He also does an excellent job of extricating his personal voice from the narratives of the diarists and inserting himself only where necessary to fill in contextual gaps. His writing style is somewhat stilted, however, which can be off-putting, and his work probably would not be accessible, or at least interesting, to a non-academic audience.
While he is limited by the sources that he can acquire, and much of the value of his work is in the questions he raises and the perspective he provides, the issue of broad applicability remains ambiguous. Nonetheless, regardless of whether one agrees with its framework and conclusions, Revolution on My Mind is essential reading for anyone engaged in the study of the Stalinist era of the Soviet Union.
In this book, Hellbeck is challenging the "Western notions of totalitarian societies" that view individuals under totalitarian regimes as keeping two sets of books - one public and one private, with very little overlap.
Through the use of diaries written by Soviet citizens in the s, Hellbeck shows that they strove to "write themselves into their social and political order," attempting to bridge the gap between "public" and "private. Hellbeck traces the genealogy of self-reflection back to pre-revolutionary intelligentsia, but the quest for consciousness was re-defined by the Bolsheviks as applicable to the entire Soviet population.
Hellbeck sees himself as a member of the post-totalitarian and post-revisionist school I don't think it has a name yetwhich on one hand does not view Soviet citizens as only the victims of Stalinism, but also does not ignore the power of ideology, viewing Soviet citizens are "ideological agents on par with the leaders of party and state.
I found the latter the most interesting, especially his view of the NKVD as a moral authority and of himself as a tool of Stalin's genius and the belief that his possible death in the purges will serve a higher purpose. I also found it interesting that the kulak's son, who in the s believed that his relatives who did not survive the famine in Ukraine did not deserve to live under the Soviet system, in the s re-interpreted his diary as one of a victim of Stalinism.
Hellbeck addresses the question of diaries as a source, refuting the suggestion that intensely private documents written for several years on end could be produced only to deceive the regime.
He concludes that "much of the ideological tension in the early Soviet system did not exist between the state on the one hand and its citizens In his review, Suny points out that Hellbeck describes a successful creation of new Soviet subject, although he does not address the question of how "typical" his chosen diarists were - power is not total, and its self-contradictions open a space for variation in subjectivities.
Sometimes I felt that Hellbeck was writing not about Soviet citizens, but about Martians - in essence, he is treating them as a completely alien population with which he has discovered some surprising commonalities.
I guess it's a consequence of the earlier predominance of the "totalitarian school," the representatives of which proposed that an individual under totalitarianism is of a different species than they would be in a democratic society.
Also, although the book was a fascinating read, I felt that its content could have been perfectly summarized in an article. But i enjoy this book, it has a dry realism that makes the people it discusses feel real, and its explanations for the private psychology of the time seem believable.
Its one of the books i keep in my studio to read to fall asleep when i am there too late to make it home. Apr 11, Marks54 rated it really liked it This is a history of the early USSR told from looking at entries in private diaries that were kept by Soviet citizens from the time of the revolution.
This is a new data source and one of the few efforts that I am aware of that attempt to write history this way. The book most likely emphasizes on a relatively small number of thoughtful and well done diaries, but that is OK - I suspect most of the diaries were not as memorable.
Two takeaways that I got from the book were the variety of reasons an This is a history of the early USSR told from looking at entries in private diaries that were kept by Soviet citizens from the time of the revolution.
Two takeaways that I got from the book were the variety of reasons and benefits that people saw from the revolution and the honesty that some showed in chronicling how they dealt with such a strange situation. Another point is how the writing changes and closes up when the terror under Stalin begins and people become very private.With attitudes towards National Bolshevism having thawed under Stalin, Ustryalov was able to return to the Soviet Union in Ustryalov's past as a White counted against him, however, and he struggled to find employment or even acceptance as a Soviet citizen in Moscow.
Eventually he was sent to a gulag. Jochen Hellbeck, Revolution on My Mind: Writing a Diary under Stalin, Cambridge, Mass. ; V ronique Garros, Thomas Lahusen, Natalia Korenevskaya (eds.), Das wahre Leben.
Tageb cher aus der Stalin-Zeit, Berlin Abstract. Arvosteltu teos: Jochen Hellbeck: Revolution on my mind: writing a diary under Stalin & Igal Halfin: Terror in my soul: communist autobiographies on trial.
Jochen Hellbeck - Revolution on my Mind: Writing a diary under Stalin () Conclusion. Bibliografie. Introduction. We control life, Winston, at all its levels. [ ].
Or perhaps you have returned to your old idea that the proletarians or the slaves will arise and overthrow us. Put it out of your mind.
They are helpless, like animals. History of the Soviet Union: New trends and subfields in the s Halfin, Igal and Jochen Hellbeck, “Rethinking the Stalinist subject: Stephen Kotkin’s Magnetic Revolution on My Mind: Writing a Diary under Stalin.
Cambridge, Mass.: Harvard University Press, Prologue, Chapters 1 and 5.
Additional reading. Wednesday, September In-class viewing of the second half of “Burnt by the Sun” & Writing Diaries in Stalinist Russia; (Review of Hellbeck, Revolution on My Mind due in class) • Reading for September Excerpt from Through the Burning Steppe by Elena Kozhina; Stalin as .