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The sacralization of violence: Bolshevik justifications for violence and terror during the Civil War

Ryan, James ORCID: 2015. The sacralization of violence: Bolshevik justifications for violence and terror during the Civil War. Slavic Review 74 (4) , pp. 808-831. 10.5612/slavicreview.74.4.808

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This article explores some of the principal themes in the intellectual history of early Soviet state violence. I argue that political religions theory, as applied principally to understanding fascism, is especially useful for understanding Leninism and Bolshevik justifications of violence during the civil war. In addition to its principal focus on the relationship between violence and the Bolshevik conception of the sacred, the article examines the significance of Bolshevik punitive discourse more generally and the alternative currents in the approaches to violence and repression. In comparing the approaches of the Chekas and the Soviet Justice Commissariat to repression, it becomes apparent that distinctly more reformatory and more repressive strands of thought coexisted in the early Soviet state. Yet these distinctions were fluid, and the overtly medicalized nature of Bolshevik punitive discourse ensured a certain harmonization of these strands.

Item Type: Article
Date Type: Publication
Status: Published
Schools: History, Archaeology and Religion
Subjects: D History General and Old World > DK Russia. Soviet Union. Former Soviet Republics
H Social Sciences > HX Socialism. Communism. Anarchism
J Political Science > JN Political institutions (Europe)
Publisher: Association for Slavic, East European, and Eurasian Studies (ASEEES)
ISSN: 0037-6779
Funders: Irish Research Council
Date of First Compliant Deposit: 30 March 2016
Last Modified: 06 Nov 2023 22:21

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