In this chapter I evaluate Soviet ideology, and how it was over-determined, underplayed, or misunderstood in Soviet Studies. There is a number of factors as to why Soviet Studies got Soviet Communism so wrong, and in many ways the answer is to be found in its actual origins, for from the very beginning it was always a highly politicized subject. Soviet Studies as a separate field was not established until the 1950s. There had naturally nevertheless always been a strong interest in the Russian Revolution among intellectuals, journalists, and academic specialists. The Bolshevik Revolution of 1917 clearly had its adherents among radical leftists outside the Russian Empire, and some of the early works in the West were written by those who were strong supporters of the communists’ goal of creating a socialist society, such as the book by Reed referred to in the previous chapter, or the work of Sidney and Beatrice Webb. In other words, one of the problems at the outset was that much of western analysis of the Soviet system was itself ideologically motivated. Martin Malia suggests that Soviet Studies was the ‘most impassioned field of the social sciences’ (Malia, 1994, p. x.). Someone once said that researchers in the natural sciences stand upon one another’s shoulders, whereas, proverbially speaking, political scientists tend to stand upon each other’s faces! This was perhaps more true of Soviet Studies than it was in any other area of the social sciences.
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