The Soviet Union home page begins with Stalin's communist form of authority, and follows through his death, the end of the regime, transition to another form, and consequences of this particular end. The first section presents the appeal and the terror of his authority. The experience of the "collective" by the working-class, individual identification with Stalin as Father, and use of terror to eliminate internally-identified enemies, were integral aspects of his authority.
Click on any of the six small photos and you are linked to an enlarged image. Listen to the associated music or sound by clicking on the small ear icon. Our soundscapes include the communist anthem, a news report from Stalin's WWII ally, the United States, and Russian folk songs. We also use the music of dissident composers to reinforce or clash with the images.
We selected images for their potential evocative force, knowing full well that they lend themselves to different interpretations. Stalin carefully controlled images that reached the public, employing several generations of Soviet artists to airbrush and touch up photos. Many artists who willingly removed the faces of those who had displeased Stalin or threatened his authority, later suffered this fate themselves. The composer Dmitri Shostakovich, for example, who we quote on this page, was an initial proponent of socialist realism, but later incorporated "dissonance" into his music which was frowned upon by Soviet authorities. He was then censored for this view. We frequently juxtapose our soundscapes to incongruous but complicitous images, such as the communist anthem, the Internationale, with the propaganda photo extolling collectivization. Such juxtapositions today draw attention to the paradox that Stalinist repression made a sham of the Internationale's ideals of a free and equal society.
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The caption on each enlarged image does not direct you outside the photo but rather to the image itself. What is included and excluded from view? What does this image and juxtaposed sound say about authority?
The three longer "home page" texts that accompany the images and sounds of each section attempt a succinct narration of the theme. They simply point to the story, told in more detail in the book and film.
The final section, Consequences, implies no causal relationship but alludes to key events in the construction of political authority, half a century of experience, following Stalin's death. What was the nature of the rupture in political authority following the death of the Father? Our selection of ongoing historical events merely suggests ways into further exploration of successor forms to Soviet political authority.