The Post-Soviet Space
By Mariam Gamdlishvili
Nationalism in the Soviet Union
Nationalism affected the world on numerous levels during the 20th century. The collapse of the Soviet Union had various reasons. Although the diplomatic mistakes and economic problems were mentioned most frequently, nationalism was among the main reasons. Emergence of the nationalist movements was caused by the historical, environmental and political reasons. These causes increased the tensions and weakened the ties between countries within the USSR and in 1991 led to its collapse.
During the period of social transformation in the Soviet Union, ethno nationalism has played two main roles. On one hand it caused the collapse of the USSR and helped to mobilize citizens demanding democratic reforms and self-governance. Generally speaking it helped to build the new states which emerged from the wreckage of the Soviet Union. On the other hand ethno nationalism has made this area an arena of constant wars, violence and ethnic cleansing. This caused thousands of deaths and millions of displaced people. Nationalism justified these widespread violations of human rights and increased the spread of xenophobia and intolerance. It became one of the main obstacles to modernization in Post-Soviet sphere. Scholars presented two models of Soviet nationalism. The first model of “fallen empire” describes nationalism as an irresistible struggle for national self-determination within the imperial system. The second model finds fault in the ethnic principles of the Soviet state policy and in the irresponsible manipulations of ethnicity following the Gorbachev’s period.
Nationalism should be understood as a series of postulates and actions initiated by activists within a social space. Thus nationalism and communism are revealed to be close political relations. The collapse of the Russian empire increased national movements among the different nationalities that lived in the country. The...