Honest Jacobins: High Stalinism and the Socialist Subjectivity of Mikhail Lifshitz and Andrei Platonov
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Abstract: The first part of this article argues that Lifshitz’s 1930s polemic against pseudo-Marxist “vulgarizers” in Soviet letters, as well as his life-long championing of ideologically problematic, sometimes explicitly anti-progressivist authors, whom he called the “great conservatives of humanity,” should be understood as a subjective intellectual practice of “free spiritual production” through which the philosopher-critic hoped to further the Russian Revolution’s emancipatory ideals while working within the strictures of Stalinism. The next part describes Platonov’s intellectual transformation in the wake of his 1931 crisis, when an onslaught from the highest echelons of the Soviet literary and political establishment almost destroyed his career. Platonov’s early-1930s articles and the notes leading up to his unpublished novel Happy Moscow reveal how, like Lifshitz, he creatively responded to the political strictures of the High Stalinist era by developing a mature understanding of socialist subjectivity. It is argued that, ironically, totalitarian Stalinist discourse actually allowed Platonov to reconfigure his utopianism in a productive way that resolved some intractable quandaries of his younger writings. Finally, there is a close reading of the text of Happy Moscow, a compositionally incomplete but conceptually finished text that presents a surprisingly utopian vision of an ontologically socialist subjectivity for the High Stalinist era.
Key words: Lifshidz; Platonov; Stalinist era; socialistic subjectivity; novel “Happy Moscow”.
Khazanov, P. (2021). Honest Jacobins: High Stalinism and the Socialist Subjectivity of Mikhail Lifshitz and Andrei Platonov. In Philological Class. 2021. Vol. 26 ⋅ №1. P. 67–86. DOI 10.51762/1FK-2021-26-01-05.