Government in the Soviet Countryside in the Stalinist Thirties: The Case of Belyi Raion in 1937

Roberta T. Manning


The Soviet political system of the 1930s is generally regarded as a personal dictatorship par excellence,

presided over by a ruler with historically unprecedented powers to control events and shape society to suit his political ambitions and personal whims. Focusing almost exclusively upon the persona of Joseph Stalin as the prime mover in the Soviet system, mainstream Western scholarship on the thirties has tended to attribute Stalin's power to a consciously fostered personality cult and the indiscriminate use of political terror. Laws, institutions, the policymaking process, the economy, the population at large, and other political leaders, both local and national, are usually dismissed by scholars as passive tools or victims in the hands of the all-powerful Stalin. None of these factors are deemed capable of serving as independent historical forces or agencies in their own right.~ An entire epoch of Russian history has been reduced essentially to biography.

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