The Concept of the “New Soviet Man” and Its Short History

In: Canadian-American Slavic Studies
Maja Soboleva University of Marburg

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The concept of the New Soviet Man remains a topic of on-going scholarly interest for a number of reasons: it reflects a vital part of Russian history, it remains associated with positive and negative connotations that still need to be explored, and it functions as a crossroads for different scholarly perspectives. It remains a topic of interest also because there are still a number of unexplored questions about the concept from the perspective of the history of ideas and philosophy. This article focuses on the reconstruction of the ethical concept of a New Soviet Man over time. It argues that there were three periods in the history of this concept: The first period – between the 1900s and 1930s – can be called the period of theoretical reflection on the nature of a New Man. The second period – from the 1930s to the 1950s – can be characterized as the period of the development of norms of Soviet morality. The third period – since the 1960s – is marked by the transition of ethical thought from the ideology propagating socialist morality to moral theory and Marxist scientific ethics. This article argues that the process of forming a new type of man was not a continuous and unilineal process of change throughout the entire period of socialism. On the contrary, this dramatic process can be successfully analyzed with the help of the ethical concept of the New Soviet Man.

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