On the Ideological Front

The Russian Intelligentsia and the Making of the Soviet Public Sphere

Stuart Finkel

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Having emerged, exhausted but triumphant, from the bloody and divisive Russian Civil War, V. I. Lenin and his colleagues turned to eliminating perceived ideological foes from within. In On the Ideological Front, Stuart Finkel tells the story of the1922 expulsion from Soviet Russia of almost one hundred prominent intellectuals, including professors and journalists, philosophers and engineers, writers and agronomists. Finkel’s meticulously researched and persuasively argued study sets this compelling human drama within the context of the Bolsheviks’ determined efforts to impose ideological conformity, redefine the role of the intelligentsia, and establish a distinctly Soviet public sphere. The book demonstrates that the NEP period was not a time of intellectual pluralism and ideological retreat on the part of the Bolsheviks. On the contrary, from its formative years, the Soviet regime zealously policed the ideological front and laid the institutional and discursive foundations for the Stalinist state.

Stuart Finkel is assistant professor of history, University of Florida. He lives in Gainesville.

"Finkel's interpretation helps us understand the significance of the expulsions of non-party members of the intelligentsia. His impeccable research shows that the costs of Lenin's decision were ultimately very high."—Jane Burbank, New York University

"In Stuart Finkel's hands, the famous yet little-explored 1922 deportations of intellectuals from Soviet Russia on the 'philosopher's steamboat' becomes the starting point for a wide-ranging investigation ranging from the Politburo and secret police to professional societies and the lives of key thinkers. The result is a milestone in the study of the intelligentsia and the state."—Michael David-Fox, University of Maryland 

"Excellent. . . . Finkel deepens ou knowledge. The archival excavations have been thorough and fruitful, the trawl through primary and secondary printed sources has been comprehensive. The argument is expressed with clarity and conviction."—Christopher Read, Russian Review

"Finkel adds much to our knowledge of the details of the expulsions and has a sure touch in tracing the internal debates within the Communist regime. . . . Excellent."—Richard Sakwa, American Historical Review

"Finkel's work is a welcome addition to the literature on the Soviet Union immediately after the civil war and at the onset of NEP."—Charles E. Clark, Slavic Review

"On the Ideological Front represents an important, thought-provoking piece of new scholarship that every scholar who works on the early Soviet period will certainly want to own." —Emily D. Johnson, Slavic and East European Journal

‘An important study which should be read by those interested in the place and role of intellectuals in the Soviet state.’ — Vera Tolz, Modern Language Review Vol 105 Part 2, April 2010

"Stuart Finkel wrote a good, important, and extremely thoroughly researched book on this topic." —The Journal of Modern History
ISBN: 9780300122411
Publication Date: December 11, 2007
346 pages, 6 1/8 x 9 1/4