Was the soviet union totalitarian? The view of soviet dissidents and the reformers of the gorbachev era

Studies in East European Thought 50 (4):247-281 (1998)
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The article explains why Soviet dissidents and the reformers of the Gorbachev era chose to characterize the Soviet system as totalitarian. The dissidents and the reformers strongly disagreed among themselves about the origins of Soviet totalitarianism. But both groups stressed the effects of totalitarianism on the individual personality; in doing so, they revealed themselves to be the heirs of the tsarist intelligentsia. Although the concept of totalitarianism probably obscures more than it clarifies when it is applied to regimes like the Nazi and the Soviet, the decision of the dissidents and the reformers to use the term enabled them to clarify their own values and the reasons they felt compelled to criticize the Soviet Union and to call for its radical reform.



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