Concept of Nationality After Bolshevik Revolution


Before examining the policies about nationality question after Bolshevik Revolution, the concepts that we have should be well established. As a newly graduated sociologist, I try to explain having identity, nation, national identity in briefly. The reason behind my explanations is providing comprehensive understanding about social inclusion and exclusion. Having understood these terms under nationality, we can easily grasp Soviet Russian policies with hidden ideology while performing their plans. Although there are lots of academicians and theorist that engage in developing concepts of nationality, as a general term ; it is about sense of belonging in peoples’ life. Especially after WWI, the general atmosphere about the need of belonging to one large group in determined territory with their shared values and norms was getting more and more importance. It is like a way for unity of differences in administration at macro level. Nation is also basic social tool to humans for giving meaning to their social world. It is crucial to understand how people theorized their environment, social organization and how they perceived the existing differences among them as well as the other groups. As I said before, the way of realizing differences in one large group can cause social exclusion while they includes ones who share the same historical background, language ,culture etc. In that sense, The Bolsheviks had lived difficulties for getting social solidarity, unity because of its multicultural nature. In addition to its multicultural nature, there were also huge differences between ethnic groups and amongst them in terms of their religion, educational level, life styles etc in daily life that entails more attentions rather than condition of being multicultural in theoretical sense. In this context, Lenin’s idea over non-Russian people is so critical. The promotion of the right of nations to self determination is initially enough to non-Russian to come together and convince them to gather under big umbrella. As a continuation of this, unlike imperial state’s discriminations on nationalities, Lenin’s attitude directed equal opportunities in politics. With providing this, the disparities in social life can also be overcome. Equality among all ethnic groups secure each cultural, language features preservation without coercion but via logic. It means getting rid of social exclusion that threat to continuation of Soviet regime.

Designed to rise the proportion of the representatives of the native nationality in the local party and state management, the Soviet authorities followed the policy of indigenization, called as “korenizatsiia”. The Soviet regard indigenization as a method of “fighting backwardness” by constructing and associating these new Soviet folks with the hands of natives or to be called as the native elites. These elites were obliged to enlist as Communist party workers and were supposed to rise and develop the new lifestyle, particularly the recently approved national borders. Korenizatsiia, indigenization, led to the Soviet Union’s recent crisis of government among the non-Russians. The application of this policy in the time of displacing processed by industrialization increased the notability of non-Russian languages and cultures and established the essential social fundamentals for multiculturalism. The long term of permanent linguistic division was ensured by the foundation of multiple formal languages and establishment of social fundamentals of support for the languages. Although these policies were aimed to rise the role of non-Russian natives in socializing their nation, the direct source of stress between the local people and the Soviets was the assignment given to the citizens of Central Asia. By the mid-1930s, the liberal language policies and the indigenization drive lasted which helped to enlist the reinforcement of vast regions of non-Russian people for the party and the Communist regime. One of the direct conclusions of the hardships assimilating the native people, The Central Asia Bureau shifted dramatically the indigenization policies in 1927. The emphasis was changed from working with and recruiting the ethnic people to hiring individuals who were able to speak the official language. Ethnic Russians and Europeans now a competition about native people, supplying that they had sufficient linguistic skill. This change altered the purpose of the whole indigenization process from establishing a self-sustaining native Soviet government to simply creating a government which is a practical and well-functioning entity. From 1933 to 1938, the indigenization, korenizatsiia, was not exactly abolished. Its requirements were not enforced anymore. Evacuation of leaderships of the national republics and territories began, as well. The non- Russians had provoked the national strife and suppressed the Russians and the other minorities in the republics. The local elites were the recruited agents and their aim was to dismember the Soviet Union. When the indigenization failed obviously to the Central Asian republics, the resentment of the Soviet regime spread widely. It was declared by Stalin that native nationalism was an even more hazardous threat than “Russian chauvinism”, against which the indigenization policies were aimed to fight at the beginning. All over the Soviet Union, the attempts to indigenize non-Russians community were withdrawn and changed with policies supporting Russian Soviet applications. All the other languages taught in schools were replaced with Russian, the local language, and the concentrated point altered from Republic welfare to Union welfare. The stress was turned backward and the local nationalism was regarded as a larger threat. The needs for international alliance of proletarians were changed by the new incorporating ideology of soviet patriotism and by the leader’s belief. Parelel to these explanations, we can easily say that Connor criticizes the hegemony of being Russian in ethnic group, politics and language as a communication medium. Although nationalities policies were changing over time, these inequalities cannot be eliminated totally. Changing strategies cannot be considered as curative.

Finally, I give effort to understand Slezkine’s analogy about Soviet Union. The writer describes Soviet Union as a communal apartment. If we want to understand this depiction, we should aware of the right of self determination. In this communal apartment, all national groups have their own room. In their room , they have rights to determine their internal affairs. With their separated room, they can maintain their cultural characteristics. I give meaning this analogy from daily life that is micro perspective. Now imagine a big apartment and inside it people from different backgrounds. They design their own rooms according to their taste. These preferences called tastes refer to their historical background, their lifestyles, educational level etc but the owner of this building is not one of these. Now think all of micro understanding in macro perspective that I said before. The tastes can be thought as cultural maintainers in their determined area. Nonetheless, I lived difficulties to understand this analogy in its theoretical roots.