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The Power of Symbols—Communism and Beyond

  • Harald WydraEmail author
Article

Abstract

Examining the revolutionary origins of Soviet communism this paper argues that symbolic structures were crucial in the making of Soviet communism as a political force. It conceptualizes symbolizations as contingent interpretive acts that capture people in extraordinary situations of dissolutions of political order. In the first part, I identify the dramatic and imaginative sources of the Bolshevik Revolution, which created a schismogenetic system, in which symbolic structures of time, representation, and leadership would become disintegrative forces in Soviet society. In the second part, I elaborate on the creativity of political symbolism by understanding symbolizations as rites of passage, constructions of origins and ends, as well as reality-creating self-fulfilling prophecies. Rather than to know the origins of symbols, the proposition here is to understand how symbolic meanings contributed to the creation not only of the empirical-objective world of Soviet communism but also of dominant social science interpretations.

Keywords

Political symbolism Soviet communism Liminality Constitutive imagination Schismogenesis 

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© Springer Science+Business Media, LLC 2011

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.St Catharine’s CollegeUniversity of CambridgeCambridgeUK

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