top of page
Socialist Realism

Modern History (Year 12) - Stalin's Cultural Revolution

Ben Whitten

Socialist Realism

In 1931, Stalin declared the end of the Cultural Revolution. In April 1932, a decree was issued stating that all proletarian artistic and literary organisations were to be abolished and that all artists had to come together under a single union. Socialist realism was proclaimed as the definitive Soviet artistic method in 1934 by the Union of Writers. Stalin liked this style as it was easily understood by many. The main subjects were men and women inspired by the ideals of socialism.

Socialist Realism: Art

There was strong state control over writers as Socialist Realism proclaimed to be the basic principle of literary creation. Many writers were sent out to construction sites and factories to gain material for their books which were mass produced in order to make literature accessible. Art needed to reflect socialist values and needed to be realistic in a traditional sense; in painting, realism meant that works of art should look photogenic, whereas in literature, it meant stories that described the lives of working people.

Socialist Realism: Education

Stalin was outraged at the state of the schools; the Komsomol had done damage to local education authorities and wreaked havoc in schools. The Central Committee ordered a shift in educational policy, and education saw the reappearance of timetables, exams, textbooks, rote learning and homework. Discipline was now being emphasised and the authority of parents and teachers was supported. History was banished from education as it was viewed as irrelevant to contemporary life.

Socialist Realism: New Soviet Man

Socialist construction was also about creating the right type of citizen to live in it. The New Soviet Man was described as being “altruist in spirit, communal in outlook, sacrificial in his labour for the common good, boundless in his fight for world revolution”. The New Soviet Man would be extremely different from the peasant that had cursed the USSR in the past; the man would be a proletarian with a sense of social responsibility and moral virtue.

bottom of page