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ian cause as “specialists,” intellectuals were labeled bourgeois partly because of
their predominantly nonproletarian social origins and prerevolutionary expe-
rience, but also because of what Lenin referred to as their “habits of life, con-
ditions of work, [and] abnormal separation of mental from manual labor.”10
When it came to class consciousness (as distinct from interest or location) even
workers were considered lacking, particularly when they insisted on defending

Moshe Lewin, “Concluding Remarks,” in Making Workers Soviet: Power, Class and Identity,

eds. Lewis H. Siegelbaum and Ronald Grigor Suny (Ithaca, NY: Cornell University Press, 1994),
See Daniel T. Orlovsky, “State Building in the Civil War Era: The Role of the Lower“Middle

Strata,” in Party, State, and Society in the Russian Civil War: Explorations in Social History,
eds. Diane P. Koenker, William G. Rosenberg, and Ronald Grigor Suny (Bloomington: Indiana
University Press, 1989), 180“209.
For a recent interpretation of Bolsheviks™ self“identi¬cation before and after the October Rev-

olution see Igal Hal¬n, From Darkness to Light: Class, Consciousness, and Salvation in Revo-
lutionary Russia (Pittsburgh: University of Pittsburgh Press, 2000).
These issues are discussed in Moshe Lewin, Russian Peasants and Soviet Power: A Study of

Collectivization, trans. Irene Nove and John Biggart (London: Allen & Unwin, 1968); and
Teodor Shanin, The Awkward Class: Political Sociology of Peasantry in a Developing Society:
Russia 1910“1925 (Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1972).
V. I. Lenin, “Kak organizovat™ sorevnovanie,” in Polnoe sobranie sochinenii, 5th ed., vol. 34

(Moscow: Partizdat, 1959“65), 126.
Christopher R. Browning and Lewis H. Siegelbaum

caste privileges and skills, engaged in strikes, or otherwise disappointed the
Bolsheviks by violating labor discipline.11
Nevertheless, as the mythologized heroes of the October Revolution and the
ultimate subjects of history, workers had distinct advantages over other of¬-
cially recognized groups in terms of access to material and cultural resources, as
well as entry into the Communist Party itself. Candidates for party membership
had their class pedigrees scrutinized on the assumption that proletarianness “ or
landlessness in the case of peasants “ made them more reliable cadres. The more
years “at the bench” (u stanka) the better. Service in the Red Army as a volun-
teer during the civil war also helped, not only with entry into the party but also,
for those lacking genuinely proletarian credentials, with admittance into work-
ers™ preparatory schools (rabfaky) and educational advancement beyond.12
The same preferential principle pertained to non-Russian nationality. Begin-
ning in 1923, the Bolsheviks established a vast and multifaceted system of
positive discrimination in favor of non-Russians partly to overcome the evil
of Russian “great power chauvinism,” and partly to forestall the emergence
of non-Russian nationalism. This “af¬rmative action empire,” consisting of
ethnoterritorial units from union and autonomous republics down to national
districts and village soviets, prescribed the use of indigenous languages in edu-
cation, publishing, and of¬cial correspondence; it applied national quotas for
entry into educational and government institutions and otherwise promoted
what Stalin in 1930 referred to as “the ¬‚owering of national culture, socialist
in content and national in form.”13
This meant that in the 1920s, Russians and Russian national culture were
subjected to reverse discrimination. In the Mountain and Kazakh ASSRs, Rus-
sian settlers were expelled and the lands they had occupied were returned
to indigenous peoples. Elsewhere, they were permitted, as a minority people,
to form national soviets at the district and village levels, but especially in
Ukraine republic authorities closely monitored them, and the “Russian Ques-
tion” remained a highly sensitive issue. Within the realm of the “symbolic
politics of national identity,” alphabet reform, that is, the shift to the Latin
script for over sixty languages (as of 1932), was animated by Russophobia as
well as the association of the Cyrillic alphabet with “autocratic oppression,
missionary propaganda [and] Great Russian national chauvinism.”14

See John Hatch, “Labor Con¬‚ict in Moscow, 1921“1925,” and Hiroaki Kuromiya, “Workers™

Artels and Soviet Production Relations,” both in Russia in the Era of NEP: Explorations in
Soviet Society and Culture, eds. Sheila Fitzpatrick, Alexander Rabinowitch, and Richard Stites
(Bloomington: Indiana University Press, 1991), 58“71, 72“88; and William J. Chase, Workers,
Society and the Soviet State: Labor and Life in Moscow, 1918“1929 (Urbana and Chicago:
University of Illinois Press, 1987).
Sheila Fitzpatrick, Education and Social Mobility in the Soviet Union, 1921“1934 (Cambridge:

Cambridge University Press, 1979).
Terry Martin, The Af¬rmative Action Empire: Nations and Nationalism in the Soviet Union,

1923“1939 (Ithaca, NY: Cornell University Press, 2001). Quotation on 155.
Ibid., 184, 197.
Frameworks for Social Engineering 235

Within these parameters of privilege and stigmatization, Soviet citizens could
exercise considerable latitude (or arti¬ce) in constructing desirable social iden-
tities. Offspring of nationally or socially heterogeneous couples might choose
to stress the identity of the parent that would be most advantageous; children
of lishentsy could publicly declare that they were disowning (“breaking all ties
with”) their parents; lishentsy petitioned to have their rights reinstated, either
by emphasizing a Soviet self (the performance of socially useful labor, service in
the Red Army, and so forth) or by throwing themselves on the mercy of soviet
authorities; peasants who had hired laborers or owned more than one draft
animal could hire out their own labor or animals, transforming themselves into
poor peasants; and so forth.15
The policing of social identities was therefore no easy task. Local soviets
kept electoral registers from which social aliens were to be excluded, but this
did not prevent kulaks, priests, and mullahs from voting and being elected
to rural soviets in the mid-1920s.16 As already indicated, the party was more
stringent about checking the social credentials of candidate members, and the
Komsomol was heavily involved in purging educational institutions of social
aliens via “light cavalry raids” and other techniques. But there were no precise
or universally accepted rules about how much weight to give to one™s current
occupation, prerevolutionary social position, or parents™ social status, and thus
here too it was possible to duck for cover, petition, or otherwise outwit the
Sometimes, it was not individuals™ subterfuge but genuine puzzlement about
what was politically correct that caused dif¬culty in distinguishing between
acceptable and stigmatized social identities. In Uzbekistan, the party™s con-
tradictory messages “ identifying the veil (parandzha, paranji in Uzbek) as
emblematic of nationality but also condemning it as unhygienic and a marker
of backwardness “ made it almost impossible for someone to be both “Uzbek”
and “soviet,” and still less a loyal party member.17 During the party™s “face the
countryside” campaign of the mid-1920s, Bukharin could (in)famously urge
peasants to “enrich yourselves” while other, particularly lower-ranking, party
members continued to persecute peasants who had done just that. In the case of
the Don Cossacks, the party refused to acknowledge any ethnic distinctiveness
and treated the Cossack masses as indistinguishable from non-Cossack peasant

Golfo Alexopoulos, “The Ritual Lament: A Narrative of Appeal in the 1920s and 1930s,” Rus-

sian History/Histoire Russe, 24, nos. 1“2 (1997): 117“30; Sheila Fitzpatrick, Stalin™s Peasants:
Resistance and Survival in the Russian Village after Collectivization (Oxford: Oxford University
Press, 1994), 28“33.
E. H. Carr, Socialism in One Country, 1924“1926, vol. 2. (New York: Macmillan, 1960),

Douglas Northrop, “Subaltern Dialogues: Subversion and Resistance in Soviet Uzbek Family

Law,” Slavic Review 60, no. 1 (2001): 115“39; Northrop, “Nationalizing Backwardness: Gen-
der, Empire, and Uzbek Identity,” in A State of Nations: Empire and Nation-Making in the Age
of Lenin and Stalin, eds. Ronald Grigor Suny and Terry Martin (Oxford: Oxford University
Press, 2001), 191“220.
Christopher R. Browning and Lewis H. Siegelbaum

settlers (inogorodnie). But this was precisely what Cossacks feared most and
why they overwhelmingly had opposed the Bolsheviks in the ¬rst place.
Unlike in the Soviet Union in the 1920s, social identity in Weimar Germany
was primarily a matter of individual construction, not ascription by the state.
And unlike in the “declassed” society of the Soviet Union that the Bolsheviks
attempted to comprehend and shape according to the class-based ideology of
Marxism, the Nazis emerged within a society whose all too enduring class divi-
sions and political tensions, exacerbated by a widely shared sense of national
humiliation and economic disaster, they sought to transcend through an ide-
ology of race. A myth of transcendent unity, the ideal of Volksgemeinschaft,
provided the common ground, by virtue of which many Germans ultimately
came to identify with Adolf Hitler, the Nazi Party, and the Third Reich.
In the early years of the Weimar Republic, Germans™ sense of identity
derived from nation, confession, class, political party, and milieu.18 If a sense
of national identity united Germans, the other factors divided them. In the
period of the Kaiserreich at least a relative coherence and stability (though cer-
tainly not without tensions) resulted from the rather consistent partial overlap
of confession, class, party, and milieu. Within the Catholic milieu, confession
trumped class, and Catholics of all classes tended to support the Center Party.
Most of the Protestant liberal bourgeoisie identi¬ed with the National Liberals
and Progressives, most Protestant national conservatives with the Conserva-
tive Party. A socialist milieu, composed primarily of urban industrial but not
Catholic workers, provided the core of support for the SPD. In the Weimar
period this relatively stable con¬guration collapsed. Only the Catholic milieu
and its political counterpart, the Center Party, remained intact. Within the
socialist milieu the Communists, and brie¬‚y the Independent Socialists, chal-
lenged the SPD. Diametrically opposed views toward parliamentary democracy
precluded reconciliation within the milieu, while class war rhetoric, the specter
of the Bolshevik Revolution, and the taint of insuf¬cient nationalist credentials
hindered the expansion of either party beyond. The middle-class liberal parties
(DVP and DDP) not only failed to unite but also experienced inexorable ero-
sion. Their combined vote share of 23 percent in 1919 dropped to 16.4 percent
in 1924, 13.6 percent in 1928, 8.3 percent in 1930, and 2.2 percent in 1932.19
The DNVP attempted to ¬ll the void as a party of national and bourgeois unity,
reaching a highpoint of 20.5 percent in 1924. But in¬‚exibly pursuing economic
policies tied to the interests of a wealthy minority, like the Center and socialist
parties, it too could not break out of its self-imposed ghetto walls despite its

For a pioneering study of the connection between social milieu and the rise of the Nazis, see

Adelheid von Saldern, “Sozialmilieus und der Aufstieg des Nationalsozialismus in Norddeutsch-
land (1930“1933),” Norddeutschland im Nationalsozialismus, ed. Frank Bajohjr (Hamburg:
Ergebnisse Verlag, 1993), 20“53.
For the collapse of the middle“class liberal parties, see Larry Eugene Jones, German Liberalism

and the Dissolution of the Weimar Party System, 1918“1933 (Chapel Hill: University of North
Carolina Press, 1988).
Frameworks for Social Engineering 237

nationalist rhetoric.20 Frustrated agrarian and middle-class voters turned to a
plethora of special interest and protest splinter parties, each equally ineffectual
in protecting its constituency but counterproductively contributing to the very
political instability at the national level that it was protesting. In short, by 1928
the socialist milieu was divided by internecine warfare and coherent political
representation of the agrarian and middle-class milieus had all but collapsed.
Ironically, despite the introduction of suffrage for women in the new Weimar
constitution and the fact that promised legal equality was far from realized in
practice, gender as a factor of identity proved less divisive than class, con-
fession, and milieu, as “women closed ranks with the men who shared their
political views and avoided appeals to cooperate as women across the political
spectrum.”21 Despite traditionalists™ dismay and alarm, parties on the conser-
vative end of the political spectrum bene¬ted more from the women™s vote than
did those on the left.22 And across the political spectrum, including parties on
the left, “broad segments of the Weimar population” shared a “consensus”
that by virtue of “natural difference” women should concentrate on their own
“natural” spheres of activity.23
Germany was not a “quicksand” society ruled by a one-party revolutionary
regime as in the Soviet Union.24 Rather it was a modern society governed by
a “quicksand” political system, in which one political alternative after another
either was stuck in the mud or had disappeared into it. With the onset of the
Great Depression, parliamentary governance collapsed, as no majority could
be found for any consistent economic policy or even for democracy itself. In
the parliamentary elections of September 1930, the Nazi vote jumped from
2.6 percent to 18.3 percent and in those of July 1932 its share of the vote rose
to 37.4 percent “ a signi¬cant plurality.
What were the sources of Nazi electoral success, and what does that indi-
cate about the self-perception and identity of those who joined or voted for
them? The sources of the Nazis™ electoral gains were primarily threefold. They
devoured almost entirely the former electorate of both the mainstream non-
Catholic, nonsocialist parties “ DNVP, DVP, and DDP “ as well as the suc-
cessor splinter parties of the conservative and liberal milieus. Second, they
won a disproportionate share of the new voters, both those who previously

Peter Fritzsche, Germans into Nazis (Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press, 1998), 199“

Claudia Koonz, Mothers in the Fatherland: Women, the Family, and Nazi Politics (New York:

St. Martin™s Press, 1987), 34.
Ute Frevert, Women in German History: From Bourgeois Emancipation to Sexual Liberation

(New York and Oxford: Berg, 1989), 172; Nancy Reagin, A German Women™s Movement:
Class and Gender in Hanover, 1880“1933 (Chapel Hill: University of North Carolina Press,
1995), 205, 219.
Karen Hagemann, “Men™s Demonstrations and Women™s Protest: Gender in Collective Action

in the Urban Working-Class Milieu during the Weimar Republic,” Gender & History 5, no. 1
(1993): 110“11.
For this characterization of Soviet society, see Moshe Lewin, The Making of the Soviet System:

Essays in the Social History of Interwar Russia (New York: Pantheon Books, 1985), 265.
Christopher R. Browning and Lewis H. Siegelbaum

abstained for lack of enthusiasm and those coming of age. And third, they won
considerable numbers of ex-SPD voters. Only the Center and Communist Par-
ties held their own against the Nazi appeal.25 Precisely because the hard core
of the Catholic and socialist milieus remained relatively immune to Nazism,
Catholics and the urban proletariat were “underrepresented” among Nazi vot-
ers and party members. The Nazi Party in turn was predominantly Protestant
(40 percent of whom voted Nazi as opposed to 16 percent of the Catholics)
and somewhat more middle-class than working class (60“40 percent for both
voters and party members).26 The Nazi Party members tended to come more


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