Sham Democracy in Authoritarian Regime. Popular Discussion of the Soviet 1936 Constitution

Friday, July 14, 2017
JWS - Room J15 (J375) (University of Glasgow)
Olga Velikanova , History Department, University of North Texas
In 1936, after a state-sanctioned nationwide discussion, the USSR adopted a new constitution which announced numerous democratic liberties. This presentation focuses on the popular discussion of the liberal principles of the constitution as a unique survey of the Soviet mass political culture. Scrutinizing the commitment to democratic values as opposed to predisposition to paternalism and authoritarianism in the Soviet popular opinion, this study will help to understand the grass-root mechanism of how sham democracy functions in authoritarian regimes pertinent to a modern rise of illiberal democracies. My study is based on declassified Russian archival materials: the transcripts of the Soviet government, political police surveillance and nationwide discussion materials. The findings of this historical research will be compared with recent sociological data reflecting current political culture.