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Title:'Storming the heavens': The Soviet League of the Militant Godless and Bolshevik political culture in the 1920s and 1930s
Author(s):Peris, Daniel
Doctoral Committee Chair(s):Koenker, Diane P.
Department / Program:History
Degree Granting Institution:University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign
Subject(s):Religion, History of
History, European
Abstract:Among the many social campaigns launched by the Bolsheviks in the 1920s, the effort to counter the pervasive influence of religion was among the most visible. From 1924 to 1941, the League of the Militant Godless, the quasi-governmental organization charged with disseminating atheism, maintained a nationwide network of activists, published a wide array of propaganda materials, organized lectures, and agitated against religion. Examination of the League presents an opportunity to investigate how the Bolsheviks conceived and executed their social agenda to 'modernize' Russia. My dissertation uses the League's local operations in the towns of Iaroslavl' and Pskov to argue that the evolving Bolshevik political culture itself constrained social transformation.
As an expression of this culture, the League was striking on several counts. First, it measured success more in terms of maintaining its network than by the spread of atheism. Because atheism was perceived to be flourishing only if the League prospered, this organized manifestation of widespread atheism ultimately substituted for genuine cultural change. Second, the League repeatedly failed to achieve its organizational goals. Throughout the country, local cells and councils of the Godless were founded, lapsed into desuetude, and were later recreated when the next organizational wave struck. Third, because the League's goal of an extensive network assumed the presence of large numbers of trained, competent cadres, the regime's chronic inability to meet this expectation became the defining characteristic of the League's history. Finally, these organizational pressures were reflected in League propaganda that shifted rapidly from one campaign to another. Moreover, because the League participated in every major and minor campaign of the regime, many of its ventures had little to do with religion or atheism.
Issue Date:1994
Rights Information:Copyright 1994 Peris, Daniel
Date Available in IDEALS:2011-05-07
Identifier in Online Catalog:AAI9503294
OCLC Identifier:(UMI)AAI9503294

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