|This is a groundbreaking volume that applies Benedict Anderson’s theory of nationalism to the Soviet Union, focusing on print culture and on the patterns of historical-cultural representation under Stalinism. It takes into account the official visions of the body politic, the education system, public display and debates, personal accounts, and the academic production. Brandenberger’s main idea is that during the process of creating a Soviet socialist state and society, a specific collective Russo-Soviet hybrid identity was shaped out of the concoct of nations and nationalities. His notion of “national-bolshevism” contains two ambivalent meanings: bolshevism was localized by generating and fostering national elites, cultures, and establishments; but it also, especially with the coming into power of Stalin, superimposed Russian culture, elites, language, and history as a linkage between localism and internationalism. It was not Russification. It rather was the means by which a core was generated for the new polity originating in pre-revolutionary patters of historical, cultural, political, and economic dominance.
One interesting issue emphasized by this book is the problem of continuity between the Tsarist Empire and the Soviet Union. The author, through his research and conclusions upon it, points to the capacity of Marxist-Leninism to adjust to varying national contexts. Accordingly, he signals out two phases in the identitarian politics of Stalinism which were determined by the outcome of the Second World War. The latter granted to the Soviet polity a founding myth without any possibility of challenge to its legitimacy, as it was the case with the multiple interpretations of the 1917 Revolution within the CPSU(b). Thus, the USSR became not only an ideologically ‘righteous’ entity, but also a proven state arguably reflective of all its claimed cultural historical heritage.