“Anti-Sovietism” Among the Students of the Ural Polytechnic Institute after the 20th Congress of the CPSU

Yulia Rusina

Abstract


Referring to documents of the Komsomol and regional party organisations, this article considers qualitative changes in the mass political consciousness of the Soviet people caused by Stalin’s departure from the historical arena and the 20th Congress of the CPSU. The author focuses on materials of the Komsomol Conference of the Kirov Ural Polytechnic Institute held in the autumn of 1956, which had a deep resonance because of a “slanderous anti-Soviet and anti-party” speech delivered by Arthur Nemilkov, a fourth-year student of the Faculty of Physics and Technology. This event was one of a few similar incidents that took place in other universities, research institutions, schools, and industrial enterprises of the USSR. The archival documents, mostly consisting of party protocols and Komsomol records, testify to a contradiction in the development of public consciousness. On the one hand, it was characterised by stereotypical thinking and the use of Communist rhetoric, and, on the other, by shifts in public and political activity, especially those of Soviet youth. The ideological and mental transformations of the Thaw period are actualised as a forerunner of dissident discourse in the intellectual environment of Soviet society. Additionally, the article raises questions about the values of the Soviet citizen and the devaluation of traditional rituals introduced by the authorities with the aim of involving citizens in the official ideology and turning them into homo soveticus.


Keywords


20th Congress of the CPSU; Thaw; Soviet person; mass social and political consciousness; Ural Polytechnic Institute; Soviet students; Arthur Nemelkov

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DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.15826/qr.2018.3.329

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