The Bolsheviks and Cultural Life during the Civil War

  • Christopher Read


The ambiguous pluralism that characterised the life of the intelligentsia during the first three or four years of the revolution can also be found among those of its members in and close to the party at this time. In part, the root of the ambiguity and complexity is the same in that the desperate conditions of civil war deflected the attention of the powerful into more pressing questions of survival. This left something of a vacuum in which those who took cultural questions seriously were able to try out their schemes. As a result, the Bolshevik approach to questions of education and culture also showed a degree of pluralism which, like that of the wider intellectual society, was steadily and ineluctably eroded from a very early stage as battles for control within and between cultural policy-making institutions were fought, won and lost by protagonists. Thus, although cultural questions had a very low priority in the party in these years, developments were taking place that played a major role in moulding the shape of party policy towards cultural issues in later years. These developments were focused on three institutions: The Proletarian Cultural-Educational Association (Proletkul’t), the Ministry of Education (Narkompros) and the Central Committee of the Communist Party, in particular its Agitation and Propaganda Department (Agitpropotdel) and its predecessors.


Cultural Revolution Central Committee Party Leadership Cultural Life Intellectual Life 
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Copyright information

© C. J. Read 1990

Authors and Affiliations

  • Christopher Read
    • 1
  1. 1.University of WarwickUK

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