New Country, New Me

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The amazing thing about the formation of the Soviet Union was the new possibilities it presented. The Bolsheviks promised a new society, one where the working class, not the nobility and the church, were the center of power. Such a grand political and social revolution presented an opportunity not only for new government and social relations, but also the opportunity for a new sense of self. Gregory Freeze identified that the Bolsheviks, “held that if Russia were to progress from its present condition through socialism to communism, society would have to understand is collective experience in a new way, that is, in terms of the rational application of scientific principles to human development” (Freeze 329). The Soviet government decided to give a label to this new understanding, this new Soviet concept of a person that they called the “New Soviet Man”. The Soviet Union attempted to install this new concept of the Soviet Citizen within the wider movement of the New Economic Policy (NEP). It is interesting to see how the values of the “New Soviet Man”, values of selflessness, hard work, and revolutionary fervor, to name a few, were encourage and how citizens of the Soviet Union reacted to them and how they tried to live them. One source in particular, “Thoughts, Cares, and Deeds of Workers” showed how the Soviet attempts to develop these new citizens and how the people of Russia reacted to this new mentality.

“Thoughts, Cares, and Deeds of Workers” provides incredible insight into the life of a common worker during the NEP and their reactions to the new values that came along with it. It is a portrayal of the values that the Soviet government wanted its citizens to gain. One example from the article in particular shows the values of the “New Soviet Citizen”. There is a conversation between those doing the reporting and some old women living in a barracks. An important part of the discussion here is how, through hard work and determination, the women had been been to gain the respect of their male counterparts. One of the woman stated:

“And we did it all ourselves…we created the read corner, and it began a whole revolution here. Even the male workers treat us differently. Before, whenever they found out a girl lived in this dormitory, they considered her lost, but now you see, they treat her with respect” (Thoughts, Cares, and Deeds of Workers).

The women here benefited from the social revolution and changing in mindsets about people. They could aspire to have the respect of their male counterparts. However, this source does not paint a picture of this being a time where everything was perfect. There was the sharing of a fight between two female workers working. Their fight was evidence that conflicts were still possible, that old attitudes would remain. However, after their fight there is a continued emphasis on the collective struggle that they all face. As members of a nation going through revolutionary change, especially as workers, they face many challenges. But, as long as they remember they are in this together, they will be able to over come. As the preface to the article, this piece is an amazing look into a country and a people going through a powerful, but difficult transition. The values of the “New Soviet Man” are present throughout and the people are portrayed as attempting to show them and live them while their lives continue to be hard. The NEP was not a perfect plan and its flaws are shown here. The people do not live in great conditions and just because you may tell everyone these are the values you should have, it can be difficult to make people change. “Thoughts, Cares, and Deeds of Workers” was a power look into the difficulties of personal change in a new nation.

Considering “Thoughts, Cares, and Deeds of Workers”, it’s amazing to consider how complete the revolution the Bolsheviks were attempting. Not only where they attempting to change the very social, political, and economic make up with the NEP, they were also trying to change the very core values and attitudes of its citizens. Such change was never going to be easy and the struggles in this source show them. However, “Thoughts…” was also an example of the great excitement about the possibilities that existed in this time. It captures a moment in time where the struggle felt worthwhile and that the future was bright for a nation attempting to position itself as a new city on the hill.

This post earned a Red Star award from the editorial team

Sources:

“Thoughts, Cares, and Deeds of Workers”

Russia: A History Gregory L. Freeze

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11 thoughts on “New Country, New Me

  1. I like you how concluded this post with the comment on how the Bolsheviks were trying to change everything, not just the political and economic aspects. Most political changes don’t take into account that the citizens and their attitudes have to be changed in order to make it successful and those changes have to be able to understand the societal impacts and consequences. Those impacts can make or break a revolution. Excellent post!

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  2. I really enjoyed reading your post on the “New Soviet Man” and the insights that you give us from your source the “Thoughts, Cares, and Deeds of Workers.” I also did my post on this topic but did not focus on the “Thoughts, Cares, and Deeds of Workers” source and really found the quotes you brought from the article to be very interesting. I especially liked the quote about the female talking who said that they did it all themselves and they were treated differently by male workers. I really think that women had a greater since of empowerment during this time and really wonder how the men actually felt about the women doing jobs that would be considered a “mans” job.

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  3. Great post this week! I love how you tied in the article you found and the commentary you provided on it. This was an insightful piece that shows considerable thought. It is interesting to see how far the revolutionary ideals spread and how deep they rooted.

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  4. The control the Soviets worked for over their people is interesting to study. From the religious aspects discussed elsewhere to values and hard work, as well as a new working condition and schedule, it’s clear that they wanted to really maintain a high level of control, and have it be exactly their way across the board.

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  5. Throughout history societies all over the world have tried to grow and flourish. Your post did a good job at presenting the Soviets new possibilities for society. The Soviet Union’s attempt to bring about this concept of the Soviet Citizen really impacted the larger movement of the NEP, like you said. It is always important to remember societal as was as personal outcomes of the politics behind building and reshaping a country.

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  6. I really liked how you took an outside source and focused on how, even though conditions were by no means perfect, people of the Soviet Union, including females, obviously attempted to embrace this ‘New Soviet Man’ idea. The idea of changing the values and beliefs of a country is a bold move, but it was interesting to see how they actually did make a change among the citizens.

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  7. Your discussion onthe “New Soviet” really reminded me on the third song for Lenin. The song showed so many images of new industry and new stories on “great” workers. Would you agree thins change of the Russian man would have been a vison of Lenin himself?

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  8. Cool post, I read Amanda’s post “The New Soviet Person,” which also dealt with the New Soviet citizen so I agree when you say that this social revolution at times benefitted women, but it definitely wasn’t perfect. The quote from Thoughts, Cares, and Deeds of Workers, about the women talking about how they did it themselves was a really good one to include in this post.

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  9. This is an awesome post that highlights the bigger picture here that was created in Soviet history. The creation of the New Soviet Man, shaping the attitudes and thoughts of “The Soviet Person,” was essential to the state and coupled the interests of the NEP.

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  10. I like how you describe the revolutionary movement and transformation into a new Soviet state as a “powerful but difficult transition.” I also really like how you highlight something here that often does not get discussed that much, which is the re-identification of self in this time. In order for the Soviet state and the NEP to fully develop, the average worker needed to reshape their identity and the identity of others. Only when the individuals saw themselves as a part of a collective whole, sharing a common bond and common struggle, could the Soviet state function.

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  11. You noted that the Soviet project was not one that simply settled on changing people’s economic and political fortunes, but sought to even change their thoughts and actions through education, propaganda, etc. When Stalinism came to its heights in the 30’s and 40’s, this would evolve into a very dark totalitarianism.

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