The study of Soviet youth has long lagged behind the comprehensive research conducted on Western European youth culture. In an era that saw the emergence of youth movements of all sorts across Europe, the Soviet Komsomol was the first state-sponsored youth organization, in the first communist country. Born out of an autonomous youth movement that emerged in 1917, the Komsomol eventually became the last link in a chain of Soviet socializing agencies which organized the young. Based on extensive archival research and building upon recent research on Soviet youth, this book broadens our understanding of the social and political dimension of Komsomol membership during the momentous period 1917–1932. It sheds light on the complicated interchange between ideology, policy and reality in the league's evolution, highlighting the important role ordinary members played. The transformation of the country shaped Komsomol members and their league's social identity, institutional structure and social psychology, and vice versa, the organization itself became a crucial force in the dramatic changes of that time. The book investigates the complex dialogue between the Communist Youth League and the regime, unravelling the intricate process that transformed the Komsomol into a mere institution for political socialization serving the regime's quest for social engineering and control.
Table of Contents
Part I - Revolution and Civil War 1. The Birth of the Russian Youth Movement 2. Revolution as Revelation: The First Red Dawn 3. Birth in the Civil War: The Struggle for an Identity Part II- The New Economic Policy 4. The Komsomol and the Policy of Class 5. Revolutionising Mind and Soul 6. A Living Organisation Part III - The Socialist Offensive 7. The Komsomol as an Object of Class War 8. The Komsomol as an Agent of Class War: The Second Red Dawn 9. Lost Identity – A Static Organisation Emerges Conclusions: Between Rebellion and Revolution – Youth as a Force of Change
Matthias Neumann is Lecturer in Modern European History at the University of East Anglia, UK.
'The work is thorough and well researched. A reader seeking an introductory comprehensive overview to the Komsomol would do well to begin here.' - William B. Husband, Oregon State University; Slavic Review, ol. 72, no. 1 (Spring 2013).
'Neumann has written a compelling work highlighting the agency of the Komsomol’s base in defeating the NEP. Paradoxically, this fine work suggests the need for greater detail in our understanding of the collapse of the NEP networks and the dynamics of the top and middle leadership. This will require scholars to go beyond the archives of the Komsomol Central Committee. For now, Matthias Neumann has written the new standard history of the early Komsomol.' – Isabel Tirado, William Paterson University; The Russian Review, vol. 72, no. 2, (April 2013), 336-337.