Date of Degree

5-2019

Document Type

Thesis

Degree Name

M.A.

Program

Liberal Studies

Advisor

Karen Miller

Subject Categories

International Relations | Politics and Social Change | Soviet and Post-Soviet Studies

Keywords

intellectuals, dissidence, Soviet intelligentsia, new thinking, political culture, westernization

Abstract

A lot of scholars wrote about the causes of the collapse of the Soviet Union, paying close attention to economic, social, political, institutional, and external forces, which are undoubtedly important. Yet, almost none of them sufficiently addresses the essential cultural and ideological aspects, which gave rise to the new thinking embraced by Gorbachev and ultimately influenced his policies of glasnost and perestroika. This thesis argues that the revival of a particular social stratum known as the Soviet intelligentsia developed new critical ways of thinking about the country’s present, future, and its domestic problems. The main claim is that the process of cultural thaw allowed for the spread of new ideas, liberalization of thought and subsequent development of the new thinking that eventually influenced transformation of the Soviet political, social, economic, and cultural paths. This research focuses on the nature of this new thinking shared among the writers and scientists, historians and economists, cinematographers and political activists, who disdained the Leninist-Stalinist ideology of a world built on a set of binaries and isolationism and preferred liberal priorities over socialist ideals. The author closely examines the social position of the intelligentsia within the communist societal structure and provides an explanation of why the Soviet intellectuals are considered as a stratum rather than a class, an intermediary between the complex superstructures of the society.

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