The Decembrists and Dissidence: Myth and Anti-Myth from the 1960s–1980s

  • Ludmilla A. Trigos


During the Stalin era Decembrist studies became an industry in Soviet scholarship. Scholars continued to propound the official line, as Nechkina, the first among equals of Decembrist historians, affirmed. However, after Khrushchev’s revelations at the 1956 Twentieth Party Congress about Stalin’s crimes against the Soviet people, chinks began to appear in the edifice of Stalinist culture. Repressed citizens returning from the gulag brought information about what was really happening during the Stalin terror to society at large. As a result, Andrei Sinyavsky suggests that dissidence began in 1956:

not because the Twentieth Congress opened their eyes, but because it didn’tprovide a single serious explanation for Stalinism or any serious guarantee that this would not happen again. People were supposed to listen to this news and then go quietly home without giving it any thought, trusting in the Party as before. But many people could no longer blindly believe and not think. Dissidence is thus an intellectual movement first, a process of independent and courageous reflection on the mysteries of the history and system of the Soviet State.2


Russian Woman Official Line Russian Culture Soviet Society Canonical Treatment 
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© Ludmilla A. Trigos 2009

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