No 2303 (2014)

Profiles in Exhaustion and Pomposity: The Everyday Life of Komsomol Cadres in the 1920s

This essay examines the daily lives of Young Communist League (Komsomol) cadres in the 1920s and argues that their ability to establish local authority through consent was often undermined by their everyday conditions. The article addresses the emergence of the Komsomol’s nomenklatura and cadre appointment system after the Russian civil war, cadre workload, working conditions, health, attitudes, and the Komsomol leadership’s efforts to subordinate cadre malfeasance and corruption through public scandal. The article demonstrates that without a sturdy material base upon which to generate consent, local Komsomol cadres often relied on domination to exert their authority over their rank-and-file members and to some extent the local population. This reliance ultimately perpetuated itself. The more cadres employed coercion, the more the means of consent atrophied, which led them to turn time and again to domination. The use of domination over consent had grave implications on the nature of Bolshevik rule. Often Komsomol cadres were the only representative of the Soviet state in rural localities, and their methods of garnering authority were representative of prevailing trends of Bolshevik governance throughout the 1920s.

Table of Contents

Sean Guillory