|The book is a study of the role of “cultural politics” in the evolution of Soviet ideological policies during the post-Stalinist period. The author analyzes the emergence and development of Russian nationalist discourse among intellectuals under communism after 1953 in the USSR, and the manner in which this phenomenon impacted upon Russian post-communist politics and public opinion. According to Brudny, the shock of the Twentieth Party Congress determined a part of the Russian cultural intelligentsia to search for alternative identitarian discourses. This led to a “reinvention of Russian national identity” rooted in populism, Slavophilism and Tsarist or Stalinist triumphalism. The CPSU under Brezhnev chose to support these intellectuals in order to replenish its legitimization pool under circumstances of the decreasing mobilizational appeal of Marxism-Leninism and of the increasing challenge against the center from local nationalist movements.
The originators of the initiative were the 1950s-1960s village prose writers. However, the group behind instrumentalizing the process of reinvention of identity was heterogeneous, beigin composed of liberal nationalists, conservatives and radicals. The former favored widespread reform of the party-state, becoming strong supports of the perestroika. The latter two categories had significant success between 1964 and 1985, but ran counter to the section of party leadership that still maintained a consistent Marxist-Leninist vision of social transformation, while after 1992 becoming a household sector of the Russian political scene. One significant consequence of this pluralism of political affinities and affiliations of the cultural intelligentsia was that of its atomization, its division against itself.
The volume is an important material for understanding the existence of clustered cultural and ideological continuities under communism (in the USSR). First, there is the perpetuation of reinvented nationalistic topoi from communism into post-communism. Second, the cultural transfer from pre-revolutionary times into communism. Third, there is the positioning toward Stalinism into post-Stalinism, as with varying degrees all sections of this cultural intelligentsia adopted stances of the identitarian discourse crystallized in the process of the creation of the Soviet polity and off the Soviet all-union culture.