“To the World of the Future”: Mexican Visitors to the USSR, 1920-1940

William Richardson


During the 1920s and 1930s the Soviet Union was a place of pilgrimage for foreigners hoping to see a new world in the process of creation.

When faced with Soviet reality, most found that their idealized images were far too optimistic, however, and many of them left the country in moods of dejection and disappointment. Some were appalled at the revived bourgeois way of life that seemed to be encouraged by the New Economic Policy of the 1920s, while others were concerned by the growth of bureaucracy and the apparent eagerness of the government to involve itself actively in the intellectual and aesthetic life of the nation, for example. Communist party politics, which became increasingly bitter and caustic, and indeed more public during the second half of the 1920s, caused many other foreigners to question their ideological allegiance to the new Soviet state. The enthusiasm associated with the Five Year plans revived their spirits, however. Here at last, under the leadership of Joseph Stalin and his associates, the peoples of the Soviet Union were beginning to build a new society. Russia was being transformed from a backward agrarian country into a modem industrial state, new towns were being built in virgin territories, and older cities were being reconstructed at a time when the West was sinking ever more deeply into economic depression. Individualism and privatism were being replaced by collectivism, it appeared, and a new egalitarian, proletarian society would provide a model for the world to emulate.



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DOI: https://doi.org/10.5195/cbp.1993.53


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