Stalin and the World of Culture

Book chapter


Fitzpatrick, Sheila. (2014) Stalin and the World of Culture. In Totalitarian Dictatorship: New Histories pp. 64 - 82 Routledge.
AuthorsFitzpatrick, Sheila
Abstract

[Extract] Totalitarian dictatorships are interested in high culture (so goes the conventional wisdom) both for its propaganda potential and because of their need to control every aspect of human life. But if we look more closely at the three major personifications of totalitarian dictator in mid-twentieth-century Europe—Hitler, Stalin, and Mussolini—it seems that something more needs to be said about the dictators’ relationships with the cultural world. All three of them had their own early personal involvement with the arts: Hitler as a painter, Stalin as a poet,1 Mussolini as a violinist. All three had youthful connections, albeit of varying degrees of marginality, with the cultural elites of their own societies, which they simultaneously aspired to and disdained. For all three youthful future dictators, the cultural milieu was one of the first milieus that beckoned as way to escape from humble origins into a different life—the other being, of course, radical politics. In all three cases, longstanding familiarity with some aspects of the cultural world coexisted with equally well-entrenched resentment. As political figures, all three developed a critique of decadence that was intimately connected with their own personal observations of their national cultural worlds.

Page range64 - 82
Year2014
Book titleTotalitarian Dictatorship: New Histories
PublisherRoutledge
ISBN9780415837057
Research GroupInstitute for Humanities and Social Sciences
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