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Communism and the Dilemmas of National Liberation: The CP(b)U, 1919–33

Description: CIUS Seminar Audio Part 1 and 2.

In his seminar, "Communism and the Dilemmas of National Liberation: The CP(b)U, 1919–33," James Mace, doctoral candidate in history. University of Michigan, Ann Arbor, took the position that events in Ukraine after the Soviet revolution were and still are relevant to international developments. The first attempt in the world to reconcile socialism and nationalism failed in Ukraine because of the continuing dilemma between identity and purpose, and the inherent contradictions between the goals of socialism and nationalism. The speaker provided an overview of Bolshevik theories and practices before, during, and after the revolution by focusing on Lenin's writings and on the Bolsheviks' attitude towards Ukraine. The 1915 debate between Lev Iurkevych and Lenin foreshadowed the future conflicts which would arise between Ukrainian and Russian communists. / The Bolsheviks viewed Ukraine primarily as a source of food and acted accordingly—pillaging and expropriating grain during the civil war. Bolshevik policy then changed to "socialism with a Ukrainian face" to win popular support from the peasantry. The speaker focussed on the struggles between: the Bolsheviks and the Ukrainian "kulak" peasantry; voices for change from within the RCP (b) (i.e., Mazlakh, Shakhrai, and Lapchinsky); the merger of the "Ukapisty" and "Borotbisty" with the Bolsheviks; and debates about Ukrainization reflected in the writings of Ravich-Cherkassky, Iavorsky, Popov, Khvylovy, Shumsky, Volobuiev, and Skrypnyk. / The speaker concluded that attempts at Ukrainization ended after Stalin defeated his opposition and no longer needed the support of the non-Russian Bolsheviks. After collectivization and the famine, it was no longer necessary to placate the Ukrainian countryside; full-scale Russification could begin. The attempt to guarantee Ukrainian national aspirations through communism was only a surrogate for independence; it was a relative degree of political and economic autonomy dependent on the centralist powers in Moscow. The only major Ukrainian achievement of this period was in the cultural field, but this was thwarted by the wholesale destruction of the Ukrainian intelligentsia in the 1930s. Thus the dilemma of identity and purpose was never solved. Russian communism triumphed by repudiating the promises it had made to the non-Russian nationalities.

Found in CIUS Newsletter Vol 3 Issue 1 (Winter 1978)
Author: CIUS
Publisher: CIUS
Date: October 16, 1978
Language: English, Ukrainian
Original Format: Magnetic tape, audio cassette





CIUS, “Communism and the Dilemmas of National Liberation: The CP(b)U, 1919–33,” CIUS-Archives, accessed July 21, 2024,
Unless otherwise noted, this work is subject to a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial 4.0 International license .