The Affirmative Action Empire: Nations and Nationalism in the Soviet Union, 1923-1939 (The Wilder House Series in Politics, History and Culture)
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The Soviet Union was the first of Europe's multiethnic states to confront the rising tide of nationalism by systematically promoting the national consciousness of its ethnic minorities and establishing for them many of the institutional forms characteristic of the modern nation-state. In the 1920s, the Bolshevik government, seeking to defuse nationalist sentiment, created tens of thousands of national territories. It trained new national leaders, established national languages, and financed the production of national-language cultural products.This was a massive and fascinating historical experiment in governing a multiethnic state. Terry Martin provides a comprehensive survey and interpretation, based on newly available archival sources, of the Soviet management of the nationalities question. He traces the conflicts and tensions created by the geographic definition of national territories, the establishment of dozens of official national languages, and the world's first mass "affirmative action" programs. Martin examines the contradictions inherent in the Soviet nationality policy, which sought simultaneously to foster the growth of national consciousness among its minority populations while dictating the exact content of their cultures; to sponsor national liberation movements in neighboring countries, while eliminating all foreign influence on the Soviet Union's many diaspora nationalities. Martin explores the political logic of Stalin's policies as he responded to a perceived threat to Soviet unity in the 1930s by re-establishing the Russians as the state's leading nationality and deporting numerous "enemy nations."
populations against the Polish government. The transfer of large stretches of territory from the RSFSR to Belorussia in 1924, for instance, was explicitly linked to this foreign policy goal. The establishment of a Moldavian ASSR was likewise designed to advance the Soviet claim to Romanian-occupied Bessarabia.21 The Treaty ofVersailles had already established national minority policy as an international concern. In order to join the League of Nations, sixteen East European and Middle Eastern
refused." In another case, "Poles disrupted an election meeting with a demonstrative departure after a Pole was not elected to the village soviet. " 48 Sazonov was particularly disturbed by a tendency to understand national soviets extraterritorially: "For instance, in one okrug, Jews living in villages were attached to the town soviet, and Ukrainians living in town were attached to the village soviet." In another case, the assistant director of a local factory was excluded from the electoral
politically sensitive topic. As in Ukraine, Belorussia first completed a micro-raionirovanie that ignored nationality and then, in late 1924-, began a program of forming national soviets. GARF 3316/20/153 (1927): 133; ro3. RTsKhiDNI 17/II3/336 (07.!0.27): 68. Soveshchanie upolnomochennykh po rabote sredi natsional'nykh men'shinm. Stenograficheskii otchet (Moscow, 1928): !04-. 77 GARF 3316/20/153 (1927): 97. 78 On Latvian demands, see RTsKhiDNI I7 /32/roo (1927): 35. GARF 3316j16a/271 (1927): 2r.
their native language. Skrypnyk frequently noted that in the 1926 census 1.3 million individuals claimed Ukrainian nationality but Russian as their native language, whereas 2oo,ooo claimed the opposite. As he put it, the I.3 million russified Ukrainians represented "the coefficient of the old Tsarist russificatory policy," and the other 2oo,ooo represented "formerly russified Ukrainians, who are now derussif)ring. This represents the coefficient of our nationalities policy through 1926." 178
all-union filials in Ukraine finally grudgingly began to implement Ukrainization. Stalin's intervention, then, would seem to have resolved the issue. However, the proposed legislation supporting Ukraine's position stalled in Sovnarkom. When in July 1926, the Commissariat of Trade asked whether their Ukrainian filials were in fact legally required to shift to Ukrainian (as the Ukrainian government continued to insist), TsiK's presidium could not give a definitive answer. They could only appeal to