The repression of chaos: Legal, economic and cultural repression in the early Soviet Union
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This thesis analyses the relation between the social context of the early Soviet Union and the repressive policies that were implemented. The Central Communist government made use of legal, economic and cultural repression with the intention of controlling Soviet society. The central argument in this thesis is that the instigation and intensification of repression was often related to a perceived or present sense of chaos or disorder. The Bolshevik party did not hold a position of unchallenged authority in the early years of the Soviet Union and often acted out of suspicion and paranoia. Social disorder was therefore referred to as a new form of class war, partly because it could jeopardize the power of the communist regime. By analyzing all these aspects of repression, this thesis will provide an answer to the question: How were different forms of repressive policy connected to the social context of the Soviet Union between 1917 and 1941? After social disorder was appointed the new class war, all individuals seen as threats to social order or the socialist ideal state were attacked with repressive measures. These threats encompassed a wide variety of different groups within Soviet society. Wealthier citizens, members of the old regime, petty thieves, other socialists, ethnic groups, religious believers and political opposers all became victims of the repressive policies. By eliminating these factors from Soviet society, the government hoped to create a unified socialist state that was under their complete control. The use of visual and textual propaganda aided the implementation of such policies. Campaigns were set out to rally support for initiatives such as collectivization or state atheism. The success of these policies was varied and differed depending on region and time. Throughout the years of the early Soviet Union, it does, however, become apparent that both legal and economic repression proved more successful in fulfilling the desired effect of the government than cultural repression. By looking more closely at the social context present before the implementation of repressive policies, a connection between the two can be found. Analyzing the reactive nature of repression can help us understand the process of large-scale, top-down repression. In order to conduct this research, several sources and theoretical works of literature were consulted. Memoirs, posters, tables, letters and reports show the motives and results of the different repressive policies. This thesis will discuss three different forms of repression using similar patterns. This makes it possible to compare certain aspects of these forms of repression and highlight their similarities and differences. In all chapters the motives, ways of implementation, groups targeted and results are discussed separately. The first chapter will focus on legal repression and the use of the Gulag system as a political tool. The second chapter discusses economic repression by looking at matters such as the planned economy, rationing and collectivization. In the third chapter, cultural repression and the policies of nationalization and Russification will come forward.