the shackles of socialist realism

The civil strife and chaos that had torn Russia limb from limb in the early 20th Century, although brutally devastating, did not hail the end of the stability and power that had characterized the massive country for so much of history.The continuing strength of what was now the Soviet Union lay in the newly formed support structure provided by Socialist Realism, a force that directed the awareness of, and the arts produced by, the Soviet people.The ideals of Socialist Realism deified Lenin and Marx, attributed the Bolshevik ranks with heroism undaunted by overwhelming opposition, and directed the proletariat towards a better future through reconstruction and industrialization of the state.Socialist Realism was essentially a Party tool that, combined with the Bolshevik ideals of collectivization and unity, would transform the people into a formidable, indestructible mass force.
Socialist Realism’s central code of conduct was, in Stalin’s words, to “above all portray life truthfully.”Any form of art that depicted Bolshevik life was to do so in a realistic and accurate manner, “on its way to socialism”; “that will be socialist art, that will be Socialist Realism.” (Lincoln 333)This was the paradigm that all Soviet art was to be modeled after; implemented in 1934, the formula of Socialist Realism would heavily influence artistic life in the Soviet Union until the 1960s.
The rise of Socialist Realism was rapid and dramatic.It dampened Europe’s excitement over Russia’s post-schism, secular art by redirecting art inward towards the Soviet people and forcing form and function upon it rather than abiding by the ideal of “art for art’s sake.”Once again, the ancient religious ideals of Orthodox Russia were shunned, and the Party replaced God at the forefront of Soviet life.The Party mimicked Socialist Realism as a model for the people, who were expected to take the example of their heroic yet humble forefathers and arise fro…


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