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Soviet Youth and the Politics of Popular Culture during NEP Author(s): Anne E.

Gorsuch Reviewed work(s): Source: Social History, Vol. 17, No. 2 (May, 1992), pp. 189-201 Published by: Taylor & Francis, Ltd. Stable URL: . Accessed: 07/03/2013 06:22
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My project includes working-class youth cultures. a successful ruling class is one that has established its moral and cultural hegemony before actually obtaining power. One of the most vital areas in this struggle for social transformation was Soviet youth. 57-8. Ronald G. ' See Antonio Gramsci. They were seen as the guarantorof future social hegemony. Gorsuch Soviet youth and the politics NEP of popular culture during According to Italian communist theorist Antonio Gramsci. The dictatorial. The younger generation held out great promise as that element of the population which could grow up free from the cultural corruption of pre-revolutionary Russia. and delinquent and criminal youth cultures. I would like to thank William effort to turn away from the military construction of a socialist state towards the educational creation of a new communist society. My research examines a wide variety of youth cultures in Soviet Russia. Selections from the Prison Notebooks. This essay is part of a larger project which looks at the challenges of cultural construction in post-revolutionary Russia.Anne E. culturally and politically. the biggest task still lay ahead. Suny and Judy Wyman for their suggestions and assistance. in so far as they would be able. some of which supported the Bolsheviks. there were tremendous challenges in trying rapidly to construct new cultural norms and social relations after the political revolution rather than before. class warfare policies of War Communism were followed by the introduction of the New Economic Policy . rebellion and rupture with the dominant Bolshevik culture.that of transformingpre-revolutionary'bourgeois' culture and social relations into new socialist forms of behaviour and belief. The Bolsheviks recognized the vital importance of this task. This content downloaded on Thu. As Gramsci's observations suggest.1 The Bolshevik party did not fulfil this requirement: the political revolution in October 19I7 took place in a country deeply at odds with itself socially. 7 Mar 2013 06:22:11 AM All use subject to JSTOR Terms and Conditions . Youth had the potential to challenge as well as champion the desired consensus of the Bolsheviks and there remained a deep division between the persistent non-communist customs and behaviour of Soviet youth and the new socialist culture envisioned by the party. but many of which displayed various degrees of resistance. I97I). Soviet flapper and foxtrotter cultures. Rosenberg. I also explore gender * Research support for this article was provided by the International Research and Exchanges Board and the Social Science Research Council. eds Quintin Hoare and Geoffrey Nowell Smith (New York. Although the Civil War solidified the Bolsheviks' political control over the country. urban and rural communist youth cultures. Geoff Eley. however. or willing. to replicate and even advance the ideology and culture of the Bolshevik party. particularly as they relate to problems of everyday life among the first generation of Soviet youth.

(I969). Partiia i Komsomol. An understanding of the important connections between Soviet social transformation and youth requires a reconceptualization of the problem of party-youth relations during NEP. I7: NO. 1921-1929 This is not meant to de-emphasize the vital importance of the many recent works of social history by historiansof the Soviet Union. I921-1 925 gg. Stephen Humphries. 1889-/ 939 (Oxford. for example. Iggo). 1917 g. Allen Komsomol. Bukharin and the Bolshevik Revolution (New York. especially The Prophet (Oxford. See Sheila Fitzpatrick. Prophet Unarmed. r879-1921 (Oxford. Ralph Fisher. I Stuart Hall and Tony Jefferson (eds). by examining the everyday activities of Soviet youth.R. I would like to focus on just two areas of popular culture among the urban and non-criminal youth of Soviet Russia . Common Culture. Russia in the Era of NEP. Resistance through Rituals: Youth Subcultures in Post-War Britain (1976). for example. Hooligans orRebels?An OralHistory of WorkingClass Childhood and Youth. Rabochaia molodezh' Leningrada. and second at Bolshevik conceptions of ideal youth culture. Pod Bol'shevitskoe znamia: soizy rabochei molodezhi v Petrograde v. I See. Symbolic Work at Play in the Everyday Cultures of the (Lenin- 3 N. Thudi sotsial'nyi oblik.. Atsarkin. This content downloaded on Thu. but is limited by Lebina's focus on the working class and on the Komsomol.2 The only exception is a book by the Soviet historian N. Historians of the New Economic Policy have traditionallyfocused on the political and economic struggles of the I92os. however. I969). i965). I92 I-1925. 2 relations and sexual behaviour among members of the younger generation. 1959). 7 Mar 2013 06:22:11 AM All use subject to JSTOR Terms and Conditions . only to emphasize the relative lack of attention paid to issues of cultural hegemony. '979)1 91 8-1945 I98I). Stanislav A. Trud i sotsial'nyi oblik. I seek not only to readdress the problem of party-youth relations. 1979). which makes a valiant effort to portraythe complexities of youth culture and everyday life in the 1920S. but also to contribute to the emerging field of cultural history. Young (Buckingham. Patternfor Soviet Youth:A Study of the Congresses of the (New York. Rabochaia molodezh' Leningrada. VLKSM (Leningrad. Alec Nove.3 There is nothing in the historiography of the Soviet Union which resembles the more theoretically creative work done on western European youth cultures by authors such as Stuart Hall. The classic works by American and Soviet historians on the Soviet Union's younger generation are essentially political histories which describe this generation primarily in institutional terms.5 Soviet 2 See. Mass.i198-1945 Kassof. The Soviet YouthProgram(Cambridge. An EconomicHistory of the U. Tony Jefferson and Dick Hebdige. Explorations in Soviet Society and Culture (Bloomington. (Leningrad. I would like to put these questions into a larger context by looking briefly at questions of historiography. However. Ocherchi istorii Leningradskoi organizatsii. What did young people like to do with their free time? What kind of movies did they like to watch? What kinds of clothes did they wear? And what does this tell us about the difficulty of creating cultural hegemony? First. Cohen.which reveal different if related aspects of the cultural conflict between youth and the Bolsheviks. N. Paul Willis.S. and Isaac Deutscher's trilogy on Trotsky. In this essay. 1927). Alec Nove and Isaac Deutscher have made invaluable contributions to our understanding of the struggles for power and volatile debates over economic policy in this period. I958). B. Scholars such as Stephen Cohen. Lebina.S. Pedan. Alexander Rabinowitch and Richard Stites (eds). Dick Hebdige. grad.movies and dress . B. I959). One exception to this rule is a recently published collection of articles on NEP culture and society. 199I). A. I982). I954) and The Armed.9go Social History VOL. (Leningrad. however.4 Their work provides a compelling frameworkfor looking at youth cultures and the problems of juvenile delinquency in the largercontext of the struggle for social power and hegemony. Subculture: The Meaning of Style (London and New York. Stephen F. Lebina.

but also he who is able to live correctly. Dmitriev and B. 1991). areas of everyday experience which in other societies might be largely ignored and/or assigned to the private sphere. As Komsomol moralists Dmitriev and Galin wrote. I927).that of establishing social and cultural hegemony after the revolution. Entire areas of youths' everyday behaviour. which modern-day scholars or psychologists might attribute to adolescent efforts to establish their self-identity. was interpreted by the Bolsheviks as a sign of political 'deviance' or 'hooliganism'. 'We no longer consider only the Komsomol member who works and studies well as a good Komsomolets. As they tried to destroy all forms of 'residual'meaning and value (to use Raymond Williams'sterminology) and to extend their penetration of popular culture.'6The Bolsheviks' preoccupation with every aspect of individual behaviour and belief left little ideological room for alternative forms of expression. behaviour and belief contributes to a deeper understanding of the transitionalnatureof NEP and suggests additional reasons for its ultimate demise. Although there were great debates over what exactly was meant by 'socialist'forms of everyday life. Rather than trying to establish the party's moral dominance through force. the Komsomol agitated against 'hooliganish'-type activities such as drinking. This content downloaded on Thu. when a communist was largely defined by his attitude towards work. in the I920S what was essential was one's everyday behaviour. In this examination of youth cultures I hope to show how the use of cultural history and the study of problems of everyday life. Unlike the period of the Civil War. excessive focus on political and economic problems threatens to ignore what may be an even more important and challenging problem . language. smoking. the Bolsheviks largely relied on their ability to create consent through Marxist education and the redirection of leisure activities. manners. In place of 'popular' activities associated with the proletariat.May 1992 Soviet youth and popular culture historians are still occupied with these questions as they examine new archival materials and for the first time openly discuss some of the major political debates of the I920S. However. An essential attribute of Bolshevik ideology in the 192OS was the degree to which they tried to secure and incorporate every aspect of human practice and experience. Through its organizations in factories and schools. the Komsomol tried to introduce 'rational' activities. Much youthful behaviour. Na putyakh k novomu bytu (Moscow. 68. family or even biological issues was particularlyobvious in the Bolsheviks'treatment of the younger generation. 7 Raymond Williams. 'Base and superstructure in Marxist cultural theory' in Rethinking Popular Culture. while these questions are vital for our understanding of NEP. 7 Mar 2013 06:22:11 AM All use subject to JSTOR Terms and Conditions . 412-17. including political cells. dancing and religious observance. ContemporaryPerspectives in Cultural Studies (eds) Chandra Mukerji and Michael Schudson (Berkeley and Los Angeles. political cells and agitprop dramagroups which were intended to contribute to the improvement of society rather than the simple 'unhealthy' entertainment of the 6 V. or the I930S. it was generally agreed that this did not mean the unenlightened and frivolous 'low' culture associatedwith the working class in the minds of many Bolshevik intellectuals. dress and sexual relations were taken out of the private realm and became a part of public political discourse. Galin.7 The politicization of personal. Komsomol clubs. drama groups and sports groups were to be the majormethod of erasing all vestiges of a bourgeois lifestyle and values. such as museum excursions. were in Soviet society seen as signs of deviance and opposition. or 'socialist' morality. when a good communist was defined by his revolutionary enthusiasm.

. everything happened before our eyes. dress. Hollywood movies and pre-revolutionary romance novels were available throughout the 1920S and at times even sponsored by the government's own agencies who needed the revenue generated by these popular forms to support their own nascent efforts. of Soviet youth did not fully embrace communism and its ideals. 17: NO. reading books about Lenin and watching movies about the revolution and the Civil War. Novyimir. but those who did experienced the revolution and the struggle of Civil War with a great sense of personal involvement and commitment. 23. the same economic necessities which forced the adoption of the NEP allowed 'bourgeois'capitalists and 'bourgeois'culture to continue to function within the Soviet Union. the Komsomol.). 'Zdravstvui. 58. . Voprosii istorii. close to half of all proletarian youth nationwide had joined the party's youth organization. gender and politics. Western movies and flapper fashions were the focus of alternativepopular youth cultures which challenged Bolshevik notions of an organized and disciplined community of youth. perhaps the majority.d. Over 50 per cent of working-class youth surveyed in Kharkovwent to the movies at least once every two weeks. 7 Mar 2013 06:22:11 AM All use subject to JSTOR Terms and Conditions . Kuckerenko. As one young woman wrote: 'The Soviet republic . In I923. As in western Europe and the United States. but had not yet started work or an apprenticeship at a factory school. M. I4. Whatever new dangers threatened us. In this environment. . On the other hand. complete adherence to Bolshevik models of appropriate communist behaviour and recreation required an extraordinary degree of internal motivation and discipline. x (October I985). but victorious. This content downloaded on Thu. movie theatres became the new pleasure palaces of the urban population after the First World War. and dreams of a new communist future influenced what kind of life they imagined for themselves. Some of these elements of youths' everyday behaviour were a legacy of the pre-revolutionary period. while others reflectedthe impact of post-war commercialculture from western Europe and the United States. N.9 Many.. 0 Vera Ketlinskaia. there were many young people who resisted the serious and sometimes puritanical images of Bolshevik ideology and culture and flocked instead to forms of entertainment and recreation which were opposed to Bolshevik ideals. there were one million urban youth between the ages of fourteen and seventeen who were without work. educators and propagandiststold young men and women that a good communist should spend his or her time in the Komsomol club. their attitudes towards entertainment. we felt our power.192 SocialHistory VOL. I' vsesoiuznoi konferentsii 9 Biulleten RLKSM. 'Podgotovka kvalifitsirovannoi rabochei sily v SSSR (2o-e-pervaia polovina 3o-kh godov)'.begging. By mid-decade. On the one hand. 2 individual. 56. hungry. These efforts were aimed in particular at the large number of unemployed working-class youth who had finished primary school. n."0? However. the power of our revolutionarycountry. and were largely abandoned to the entertainment and adventures of the street. Movies were one of the most popular forms of entertainment among urban youth. We felt like victors .. over 8o 8 M. The problem was made more complicated by the mixed messages conveyed by the introduction of NEP. filling our childhood and youth. I-5 (Moscow. what kinds of jobs they wanted. and not in school. molodost'!'.8 How successful were these efforts to transform Russian youth culture and create new forms of everyday life? It is clear that many eager and ambitious young men and women enthusiastically committed themselves to the optimistic programmes of the Communist party. In Moscow. xi (November 1975).

Keilina.14 After the revolution. and my father was taken in the October revolution and was killed . As a fifteen-year-old candidate member of the Komsomol complained. film and materials largely limited early Soviet film-makers to short agitation films of thirty minutes or less. They understood the potential power of using popular forms to convey socialist messages. I. The Port of Murmansk. Stanichinskaia-Rozenberg. V. preferring it. One young schoolgirl described her. however. . Ironically. Op. Ford and Fordism). I985). I. '" Richard Taylor. Vainshtok and Dm. 9. 192. fascination with the movies: 'Olga doesn't have a father or a mother. by the late I92os. 5. 20. Schools and clubs also showed films on problems of everyday life (Abortion)and scientific topics (Electrification. 'decadent' movies including adventures. party and Komsomol leaders admitted that 'for the masses. only contributed to this situation. 22. Films on the Pioneer and Komsomol organizations. the most popular films had been romances and 'salon dramas'.. to meeting friends or listening to the radio. Experiment and Order in the Russian Revolution (Bloomington.'"6Some working-class girls were so inspired by the gracious and easy life of their favourite film stars that they dreamt of becoming the next Mary Pickford. They complained that films that described their own lives were too dull. film means entertainment and nothing more'. The Russian Review. . 1926). I'm sick of it. detective stories. Yakobson. ii ( 1927).1I Bolshevik leaders were eager to create revolutionary films which would take advantage of youthful enthusiasm for the movies. d. The self-financing requirements of NEP forced the Soviet film studios to rely on the income generated by the more popular foreign imports to help develop the domestic film industry. the state film organization. 'Vliiania kino na shol'nika'. IO. 'I like films about the lives of workers and agitational films least of all. hunger and juvenile unemployment made life challenging for many young people after the revolution and some were drawn therefore to the escapist qualities of western films.May 1992 Soviet youth and popular culture I93 per cent of the younger generation went to the movies regularly. 13 Tsentral'nyi Arkhiv VLKSM (Komsomol). '5 Denise J. 'The birth of the Soviet cinema' in Abbott Gleason. Deti i kino (Moscow. 7 Mar 2013 06:22:11 AM All use subject to JSTOR Terms and Conditions . 7-8. Buster Keaton and Mary Pickford. and her friend Olga's. The favourite films of both working-class and white collar youth were heroic adventure films. E. 44-50. 'The fate of Soviet cinema during the Stalin revolution'. Vestnik prosveshcheniia. This seems to have been true without regard to class. they told interviewers. We see all of that in our own lives. especially foreign films with the great silent film stars of that period: Douglas Fairbanks. longer feature films were being produced. homeless youth and the Civil War were thought to be especially appropriatefor youth. S These movies were popular in part because they described a life so different from the everyday experiences of most Soviet youth. Bolshevik Culture. Latsis and L. dramas and comedies continued to be more popular than even the best Soviet agitprop or avant-garde films. 16 E.13 Before the revolution. A shortage of money. ii (April i99i). 1928). Goskino. Youngblood. he was a worker and thus my life " A. Harold Lloyd. This content downloaded on Thu. Kino i molodezh' (Moscow and Leningrad. Difficult living conditions. 12 ibid. Of all the new films shown in 1926. Charlie Chaplin. despite efforts to use film as an educational tool. and at the movies I want to take a break from my everyday life. 153. 26-4T. including special films for children. f. 128 were foreign imports and 105 Soviet productions. 12 However. Peter Kenez and Richard Stites (eds).

and crime stories like The Case of the ThreeMillion.. . becomefilm stars. adventure and sex not only failed to teach young people about socialist values.. and instead frequented small inexpensive theatres like the 'Yar'in Leningrad. A few Soviet commercial studios produced entertaining films for the mass marketsuch as the adventure series. I5. The conflict was particularlyacute for club leaders who were loath to provide the kinds of light entertainment and popular films that many working-classyouth wanted. This content downloaded on Thu. Miss Mend. 3rd edn (Princeton. They saw their primarytask as educational.194 Social History VOL. a new building celebrates the glory of Douglas Fairbanks in electric letters three feet high. larger-than-life quality of successful Hollywood films. 18 19 20.violence. inundate. and preferredto show serious Soviet films rather than western ones. and those Soviet films which sought to imitate the popular features of these films . . 7 Mar 2013 06:22:11 AM All use subject to JSTOR Terms and Conditions . forced film-makers to repackage Soviet history and politics in more acceptable and interesting ways. Of particularinterest. Emphasis in ibid."9 Some of the fanciest theatres attracted patrons by their well-stocked buffets. a revolutionary adventure film about the Civil War with adolescent heroes. 17: NO. commercial success and some degree of ideological correctness. . Paxton Hibben. as cited in Jay Leyda. These adventure films and melodramas shared the heroic. glut. Youthful moviegoing behaviour presented the Bolsheviks with a dilemma . In the Arbat. I983). but actively encouraged young people to imitate the inappropriateand even hooliganish behaviour of their favourite film stars. op. The Nation. combining popular interest. To their minds Hollywood to produce movies which were both interesting to youth and ideologically appropriate. Not everyone agreed that building socialism and watching Hollywood movies were incompatible. most Komsomol and party representatives remained uncomfortable with what they saw as the contrast between the decadent values advertised in these films and socialist ideology.'8 'American films dominate. 2 was difficult. however. i i November 1925. which did not even have a foyer but made patrons wait out on the street for the next showing. and orchestras which serenaded moviegoers with the latest foxtrots and tangos. Many working-class young people could not afford to go to such theatres. 'Clara Kimball Young has a theatre devoted solely to her in Moscow. centre of the workers' quarters of the Russian capital. They are an example of the ways in which popular culture influenced 'official culture' during the The younger generations' persistent interest in their own forms of entertainment 1920S.'l 7 Adolescents who could afford it were more likely to go to a commercial movie theatre than to see a movie in the neighbourhood factory club as commercialtheatres responded to the demand for first-run foreign films in ways that Komsomol clubs often did not. where tickets cost as much as one-and-a-halfrubles. [Olga and I] study very hard. My mother makes i8 rubles a month. However. overwhelm the Russian motion picture houses today. Cit. because we have in our heads only one thought. It is a bit depressing.' wrote a troubled American observer. were efforts to combine popular forms with political messages in Soviet movies such as the costume drama The Decembrists or the movie The Red Imps. 'The movies in Russia'. i85. In a period when definitions of socialism and socialist behaviour were still " Latsis and Keilina. K1ino:A History of the Russian and Soviet Film. In some areas they just gave way to popular demand.

2-3 (Summer-Fall I986).24In contrast to the rough-and-ready young working-class revolutionary who wore a leather jacket. 'The politics of mass cow and Leningrad. Mil'chakov. communists and proletkul't in the development of workers'clubs. 1927).May1992 Soviet youth and popular culture hotly contested and openly debated. Young men wore ties and tight double-breasted jackets. 1921-1925'. Dmitriev and B.23 Komsomol enthusiasts took a different approach. Galin. 24)A.22 Almost as important to worried Bolshevik moralists as youths' choice of leisure activities were their dress and appearance. 'to contemplate a semi-deserted club' or to bring youth into the club by giving them the same 'civil rights' to jolly and cheerful activities in the club as they have outside. or attend meetings. 1927). and imitate the sophisticated dress and dance of the American movie star. According to Soviet Commissar of Health. 'Young women waste their salaries first of all on movies. there were a minority of educators and club leaders who argued the impracticality and even undesirability of insisting that ideology and genuine popularity were mutually exclusive.' said Mil'chakov. cit. such as a necktie or clean blouse. elegant and western. 'It is better to let youth have fun in the club under our direction and with our help. during the 1920S many clubs were often forced to show popular movies in order to draw youth in to hear lectures on political or industrial topics. see John Hatch. Semashko. shock boots and a worker's cap.. as unrevolutionary. bobbed their hair and shortened their skirts. op. 41. They accused working-class leaders who wore ties of 'careerism'and argued that girls who had long hair were 'undemocratic'. and secondly on silk stockings. Women wore bright red lipstick and narrow-toed high-heeled shoes. which he saw as too extravagant.. the flurryof fashionable western images from Hollywood movie productions encouraged some young people to forgo the advice of Bolshevik moralists and Komsomol enthusiasts. advocating a kind of severe cultural asceticism which criticized even the most minimal adherence to traditionalstandardsof cleanliness and neatness. laughter and clapping. For a discussion of the conflict in workers' 23 N. Bobryshev. Appearance was used as a quick indicator of character and political affiliation. Semashko. fashion conscious young women and men in Moscow and Leningrad imitated their western counterparts. 21 V. hygienic dress of the revolutionaryshould be functional (allowing for the proper regulation of body temperature). 3. but will show up only in time for the movie. 24 Ivan T. Mil'chakov. N. This content downloaded on Thu. 7 Mar 2013 06:22:11 AM All use subject to JSTOR Terms and Conditions . IO5. grad. Melkoburzhuaznye culture: workers. Iskusstvo odevat'sia (Mosclubs between light entertainment and political goals. 1928). neat and clean. cutting back on everything else. 'Which is better'. so that they can "look like their screen heroes". the simple. As one young factory woman noted: 'At our club it is very difficult to put together a meeting if there won't be a movie shown afterwards. fashionable skirts. He condemned any interest in 'bourgeois'fashion. Sometimes they won't even come to the meeting. ' Mil'chakov. vliiania sredi molodezhi (Moscow and LeninRussian History.' wrote Bolshevik moralist Ivan Bobryshev. 30. However. wrote Komsomol activist A. z5. cit. Komsomol v bor'be za 119-48.'20Indeed. kul'turnyi byt (Moscow and Leningrad.'21In some cases the young people were so anxious for a lecture to end and the movie to begin that they would interrupt the speaker with loud noise. whether they liked it or not. op. 'There is only one answer. In this period of transition and great cultural confusion. the symbolic language of attire and appearance helped define who was a communist and who was not.

In summer I928. 17 NO. while young people in Paris or London could shop in the latest grand magasin. there was little to differentiate these magazines from equivalent fashion magazines in the west. Williams. 22. The magazines and the consumer products described within them appealed to the fantasies of the new Soviet consumer. Mody sezona was even more popular. had a circulation of close to I4. The modern young flappers shown in Mody sezona wore short dresses that fell just below the knee and close-fitting cloches trimmed with ribbons or rhinestones. That the Bolsheviks criticized much western fashion but permitted Russian fashion magazines to be published is a vivid example of the kinds of cultural conflict which flourished during NEP. What kinds of youth were drawn to imitate these 'decadent' western fashions? Some were the wealthy children of private entrepreneurs who were drawn to shop and trade feverishly. op. Soviet youths were limited to small privately run stores. for which she needed a leather aviator'scap and goggles like the ones shown in the spring issue of Mody sezona. is how to understand and interpret the persistence of such desires in the post-revolutionary environment in the Soviet Union. 4. many of the choicest shops in post-revolutionary Russia were to be found in private apartments. where the new magazines. 7 Mar 2013 06:22:11 AM All use subject to JSTOR Terms and Conditions . Mody sezona described 'the kind of dresses that Parisianwomen take with them when they go to their summer houses'. As one observer described: To reach the millinery we left our sleigh one evening in the courtyard of an immense white house which was once the residency of a nobleman. and pushed open a door. and picked s Mody sezona. 'The dream world of mass consumption' in Rethinking Popular Culture. cit. of course. As pictured in these pages. Two popular examples were Fashions (Mody) and Fashions of the Season (Mody sezona). The daring young flapper of the modern era might even take an aeroplane flight.. My guide led me up the two dark flights of stairs.000.26The question here.i96 Social History VOL. ibid. the adventurous and independent young woman of the post-war years had a busy social life. (I928). 203. Visible here are the same phenomena which Rosalind Williams describes for turn-of-the-century Europe.000 copies in 1928. This content downloaded on Thu. knowing that the right to do so was temporary and subject to increasing restrictions. which was published between I924 and 1929. However. Mody. both of which were published monthly in Moscow..25 These magazines evoked dreams of an adventurous and carefree life far removed from the daily burdens of revolutionary Russia. as well as the proper outfits for a game of tennis or a drive in the car. movies and clothing stores forged a link between 'imaginative desires and material ones'. circulation figures reached 2S. 5-6 " Rosalind H.Mody cost one ruble fifty kopeks an issue. 2 Much of the urban population's information on the latest styles did not come directly from western Europe but from Russian fashion magazines which provided European images for the Russian reader. These numbers are impressive as the magazines were quite expensive . between 'dreams and commerce'. We skirted the corner of the house and at the rearturned into a tiny door. We literally fell into a lighted corridor. and needed the right kind of clothing for every occasion. 3-4 (1928). While department stores in Europe were flamboyantpublic spaces. Other than the quality of paper and printing.

a sign of youth and up-to-dateness. 320. sophisticated qualities of this kind of clothing. Rosalind H. 51. One historian of modern fashion notes that the typical chemise dress of the flapper was easier to reproduce at home than earlier fashions had been because it used so little fabric and was so shapeless. however. This content downloaded on Thu. and a pile of old hats. 12. see Elizabeth Ewing. the housewife. 1925). but working-class and even peasant youth who were drawn to the lively. Excessive make-up was previously considered a sign of loose morals. still considered a 'bourgeois vice'. 30 ibid. they envied the clothing of western visitors.28 Unable to afford expensive imported items. stroke the silk. Thompson. 96. 7 (1925). but so popular that it was now produced by a government monopoly. frock. While the wealthy children of NEPmen shopped in privately run Moscow stores like 'Paris Fashions'. 50. hat. I928). many of the young people who were attractedto the western fashions pictured in these magazines and in Hollywood films were not the children of wealthy businessmen. 32 M. silk stockings. In Europe and the United States.made by the Chinese'. see Martin Pumphrey. 'The flapper. 255. like the likes of us. cit. Although its popularity also grew rapidly in the Soviet Union. By the end of the 1920S cosmetics 'had become the norm ratherthan the exception. but spent two-thirds of it on 'manicures. 1928). for a description of young women making their clothing at home. Red Virtue (I933). Rafail. I have had them feel feverishly my foreign clothes. 7 Mar 2013 06:22:11 AM All use subject to JSTOR Terms and Conditions . 1927). Komsomolskiibyt (Moscow and Leningrad. The Reforging of Russia (New York. On the growth of mass commercial culture in Europe and the United States see. poorer youth used Russian fashion magazines to reproduce the styles of New York and Paris at home with whatever hard-won materialsthey could find in public marketsor Soviet stores. The New Russia (New York. 'Pis'mo o novom byte' in Izrail M. Some have developed an almost pathological desire for the good-quality clothes they have so long been deprived of. 3 Vladimir Kuzmin. and striving not to wear boots. . Williams. many women had only just started to wear cosmetics before the First World War. ii (May }987). but little half boots with very high heels. a bicycle. Za novogo cheloveka (Leningrad. Journals like Home Dressmaker printed clothing patterns 'necessary for every family and every woman'. they bought 'imitation silk stockings. a gauge of modern woman's independence'. sample the material. cosmetics. draping different bows and scarfs around their necks. and the making of modernity'. 46 and Alexander Wicksteed. 1981). See Dorothy Thompson. 48. Cultural Studies. The milliner herself answered our knock on one of the doors at the end of the passageway. and dance parties'. . I89. op.'3' A Russian author described a young Komsomol woman who made sixty-five rubles a month working in a factory. Razin.32 Another complained: 'Some Komsomol girls try and make their bodies more beautiful. The Ron Marche: Bourgeois Culture and the Department Store (Princeton.. 46. for example. History of Twentieth Century Fashion (1974).29By the late I920S.'33 Komsomol activists in the Krasnaia Treugol'nika factory argued that there were many 27 Edwin Hare Hullinger.27 To the Bolsheviks' consternation.30 Hungry for the fancy goods denied them. Bolshevik moralists continued to oppose it. Dream Worlds:Mass Consumptionin Late Nineteenth Century France (Berkeley. associating it with bourgeois behaviour. 1982) and Michael Miller. 31 Ella Winter. 30.. almost pull my underwear from under my blouse in their frenzied hunger. 2" Advertisement from the back page of Mody. . an old mattress.May 1992 Soviet youth and popular culture I97 our way down between a few broken chairs. girls were able to buy Russian lipstick. Life under the Soviets (I 928). As one visitor described it: 'Girls especially feel the lack of goods intensely. lipstick and Soviet substitutes for Coty products .

34 It seems likely that by imitating the clothing and manners of wealthy western Europeans. and manicures' while Komsomolskaia Pravda reported that young women in the Vysovskii factory wore 'fashionable'low-cut dresses and 'scanty shoes that pinched their toes'. refused to go out with working-class boys. op. but more communist. This content downloaded on Thu. Shkotov. NEPmen and so on. . 27. This 'vice' was not limited to young women. Komsomol women. The Bolsheviks saw the Soviet flapper's open identification with 34Rafail. 1927). Cit. young bourgeois dandy by night. op. cit. 'In the evening after work this Komsomolets can no longer be considered your colleague. imitation of upper-classclothing can be seen not only as a search for sophistication. . 39 ibid. Contemporaryobservers noted that many young people did not just try and dress in the latest styles.37 The interplay between fashion and the drive for upward mobility was also evident in the field of gender relations.936 It seems that fashion conscious factory youth had internalized the message implicit in some commercial culture which suggested that their own forms of dress. Komsomol newspapers also complained about Komsomol men who preferredto go out with 'the made-up daughters of NEPmen'. young men and women hoped to appropriatesome of the modern independence. 68. but for those who watched it being worn. with the children of specialists . 68. 7 Mar 2013 06:22:11 AM All use subject to JSTOR Terms and Conditions . fashion had meaning not only for those who wore it. 35 37 G. . Much like the movies.. 36 T. Socially mobile young workers tried to separate themselves from 'proletarian culture' by wearing bourgeois fashions. . but as a devaluation of 'traditional'forms of working-classculture.39 Of course. Clothing was also used by the up-and-coming young Komsomol member to segregate him or herself from the 'masses'. They moved about in "high society". make-up. however. Bobryshev. I7: NO. cit. rather than the supposedly less attractive.honest Komsomol member by day. .. 27. "IBobryshev. chic and sophistication associated with flapper fashions. op.i98 Social History VOL. cit. Za novogocheloveka.. You can't call him Boris. silk stockings and red lipstick can be understood as a manifestationof the desire of some young people for easy and enjoyable forms of everyday life. but imitating a nasal French accent you must call him "Bob".' wrote one Bolshevik moralist. byt (Moscow. Grigorov and S. Kostrov. Stari i novvi 107-8. . 'Kul'tura i meshchantsvo'.. even as they toiled in the heat and dust of the factory floor. he will cautiously glance back at the "madam" and without fail change the conversation. Some of the factory girls who wore sexy dresses and skimpy shoes modelled after film stars. 5o-1.35The newspaper KomsomolskaiaPravda described a young Komsomol member named Boris Kliuev who tried to escape the world of workers by leading a double life . but made 'an obvious effort to reproduce "aristocratic manners" in everything they did'. If you meet him somewhere in the park with a "well-known"lady . 3-4 (1927). 'The young baronesses looked condescendingly at their comrades at work. and start to talk to him about something related to the factory. behaviour and language were not as good as those of the middle and upper classes. Some Komsomol university students even wore the same peaked cap and jacket as the pre-revolutionary intelligentsia in order to distinguish themselves from the mass of 'uncultured' and uneducated youth. 2 cases of 'female workers [who] literally starved because they spent all of their wages on silk stockings. ..38Some young women still dreamt of marrying young naval officers. Revoliutsiia ikul'tura. op. On a deeper level. 68. Kostrov.

72. Style became as much a part of the political landscape as other forms of everyday behaviour. The American 1920s (New York. 'real' communist youth were not excessively interested in clothing or cosmetics. Bolshevik moralists had much in common with their European and American counterparts who also worried about the decadent.'40In this sphere. but for an altogether artificial effect . To do otherwise suggested that communist youth were themselves interested in fashion and external appearance. . Dreams for Sale: Popular Culture in the 20th Century (I989). . Flapper fashions and wild dancing often appeared immoral and erotic to the older generation. 7 Mar 2013 06:22:11 AM All use subject to JSTOR Terms and Conditions . caused illegitimacy and all manner of unspeakablecrimes'. Babbitts and Bohemians. This content downloaded on Thu. An article in the American magazine The New Republic entitled 'Flapper Jane' from 1925 might as well have had the title 'Flapper Zhenia': 'She is frankly. sober behaviour. A decade after 1917 it was evident that the massive cultural transformation the Bolsheviks had hoped for had yet to take place. heavily made-up. 'This youth has created a cult of external splendour. poisonously scarlet lips. challenging their standards of civilized.the latter looking not so much debauched (which is the intention) as diabetic . immoral and erotic behaviour of their youth. 42 i967). If they were.). Their frustration with what they saw as persistently rebellious youth cultures had larger implications for the fate of the New Economic Policy. and in this way not so different from the very youth and youth culture that they were expected to oppose.' wrote one worried Komsomol member. American and Bolshevik critics described the decadent behaviour and dress of the flapper in terms that were strikingly similar. richly ringed eyes . Bruce Bliven.May 1992 Soviet youth and popular culture I99 bourgeois culture as a threat to the successful socialization of youth. the 'private' behaviour of the individual became a part of 'public' political discourse. alleging that it 'polluted children. it was assumed that they had been diverted from their 'normal' path and influenced by the bourgeoisie. the Bolsheviks helped create the image of decadent 'other' against which the creation of communist 'self' could be developed and defended. concern about youth centred on the menace of a dangerously polluted 'alien' culture. not to imitate nature. NEP and NEPmen were considered particularly at fault for the problems that beset Soviet youth. the Bolsheviks attributed much of youths' 'decadent' behaviour to the unhealthy impact of the bourgeoisie. as cited by Elizabeth Stevenson. from 9 September I925.42Similarly. The Bolsheviks were concerned not just with the political aspects of youths' behaviour.pallor mortis. By labelling flapper fashions as petit bourgeois. Although NEP and the legalization of private business ibid.'4' I would argue that popular forms of youth culture which diverted from the standards laid down by adults (be they from socialism or capitalism) threatened the established moral as well as cultural hegemony. The individualistic qualities of this clothing challenged Bolshevik dreams of communist consensus. as in many others. American and European moralists worried about the 'barbarian'influences of a black jazz culture. In both Europe and the Soviet Union. According to Bolshevik moralists and Komsomol leaders. 'For some youth the culture of clothing has become more important than any other question. 14I. In this respect. They worried that young people were becoming so consumed with the private arena of clothing that they had abandoned all interest in public affairs. 41 40 Richard Maltby (ed.

after I928 the Bolsheviks increasingly responded to fears of decadence and anti-social behaviour by limiting the cultural and recreationaloptions open to young people. E. disillusionment. Voronsky. 157- This content downloaded on Thu. however.200 Social History VOL. 3-4 (IS February-i March 1922). but was now depressed by the turn to NEP which seemed to them a return to the pre-revolutionaryera. genuinely popular leisure alternativesfor youth. Others insisted that the rebellious and hedonistic behaviour of young people could be attributed to the alienation and confusion of a younger generation which had enthusiastically participated in the revolution and Civil War. but for them. 45 Youngblood. with its prosaic aspects'. " Iunyi kommunist. bloody. including Stalin's struggle for power. but more serious forms of 'anti-social' behaviour such as depression and suicide.. by the end of the decade party leaders and Komsomol enthusiasts were increasingly worried about the cultural implications of NEP for a younger generation constantly exposed to 'bourgeois' attractions. 'then some people began to waver and doubt. 17 :. Although most young people who went to an occasional Douglas Fairbanksmovie or wore silk stockings probably saw their activities as a simple relief from the difficult realities of life and home rather than as an explicit rejection of Bolshevik culture. rather than attributing it to familial or biological issues associated with adolescent development and identity. slow affair. many moralists could not tolerate even this degree of deviation from their images of a purposeful youth culture solely devoted to socialist construction. and dispirited moods. wealthy NEPmen and other manifestations of the mixed economic policies of NEP. 35. foreign films were no longer being shown in the USSR. Instead of taking popular interests more into account and allowing for greater diversity.'43It is significant that both of these explanations interpret youths' everyday behaviour in highly political terms. uncomfortable with this alternative approach to youth culture which seemed to promise less cultural conformity rather than more. 237-8. K. but growing concern about the lack of cultural hegemony. 2 were introduced by the Bolsheviks in order to rescue a floundering Soviet economy. including not merely flappers and foxtrotters. there were a few Bolshevik and Komsomol leaders who insisted that the solution to problems of 'decadent'behaviour was not to root out bourgeois evils.'" These activists argued that the Komsomol should use popular forms of recreationto strengthen work among the masses. and the " As cited in Gordon McVay. By 1932. wrote A. This is very similar to the American and European notion of the 'lost generation'. By I926-7.NO.45 Historians have attributed the end of NEP to many factors. Many educators and moralists were. 1976). but to provide more attractive. 'We haven't worked with youth. As we have seen. such as drinking. only it attributes youths"rebellious' behaviour to the disillusionment following the introduction of NEP rather than to the confusion and sense of loss following the First World War. downright decadence appeared. op. 'The Komsomol organization doesn't understand young-plep1e+-cemplained one Komsomol correspondent. Some argued that the primary cause was city streets which teemed with traders. political debates among the elite. and economic problems.senin.A Life (Ann Arbor. Cit. sociologists and educators were describing an apparent increase in every kind of non-communist behaviour. 7 Mar 2013 06:22:11 AM All use subject to JSTOR Terms and Conditions . in this way attracting more youth and keeping them away from greater evils. and American jazz bands no longer toured the country playing the latest dance tunes. 'When it became clear that the revolution is a difficult. beggars.

47 While the Bolsheviks clearly remained politically dominant. op. Impatience with the apparent failure of NEP's gradualist approach to problems of cultural transformationencouraged some people to support the authoritarian policies of the cultural revolution which promised to take a firm hand against non-communist transgressions. In the 1920S Komsomol youth remained a small percentage of the total number of available Komsomol-aged youth. 8. VII. their constant inability to establish their cultural hegemony over the younger generation demonstrates the difficulties of rapid cultural transformation and the limits of the Bolsheviks' social control. The search for socialist transformationand communist hegemony would be a long and difficult one .46 None the less.750. 7 Mar 2013 06:22:11 AM All use subject to JSTOR Terms and Conditions . Lebina. cit. I9z8). This is not to suggest that the Bolsheviks' gradualist approach during NEP completely failed to penetrate and influence youth culture. ii2. University of Michigan 46Fisher.May 1992 Soviet youth and popular culture 2oi persistence of non-communist kinds of behaviour among Soviet youth. only about 6 per cent belonged to the Communist Youth League. they were confronted by a multiplicity of youth cultures which presented different degrees of rupture. 1O9. many of which challenged the dominant ideology. resistance and rebellion. homeless youth and hooligans described elsewhere in my research. but the more aggressively rebellious activities of young working-class toughs. op. Of the approximately 29 million people between the ages of fourteen and twenty-two in the Soviet Union in 1926. there were young people in the Komsomol. Many militant young communists supported Bolshevik ideals of appropriatebehaviour and were as outraged as adults by the dancing. This content downloaded on Thu. instead of the uniform youth culture the Bolsheviks desired. 47 Vozrast' i gramotnost' naseleniia SSSR. Vsesoiuznaia perepis' naseleniia 17 dekabria 1926 g. Vyp.not something that could be achieved in the single revolutionary moment of October I917. must also be taken into account. By March 1926. including 6z per cent of approximately I. Kratkie svodki (Moscow.. or even in the revolutionarydecade following it. This included not only the flappers and moviegoers described here.000 working-classyouth in Leningrad and 55 per cent in Moscow. moviegoing behaviour of their compatriots. cit..