New Studies in Russian and Soviet Labour History
Edited By Donald Filtzer, Wendy Z. Goldman, Gijs Kessler and Simon Pirani
1. Introduction 11
8=6EI:G Introduction What Happens to a Dream Deferred? Does it dry up like a raisin in the sun? Or fester like a sore – And then run? Does it stink like rotten meat? Or crust and sugar over – like a syrupy sweet? Maybe it just sags like a heavy load. Or does it explode? Langston Hughes “What happens to a dream deferred?” Langston Hughes, the great Ameri- can poet, posed this question in a short poem he wrote more than half a century ago. Hughes was writing about African-Americans in the United States, but the grim answers he posited could be applied to people any- where who find their best hopes, both individual and collective, stymied at every turn. Hughes’s question is perhaps particularly applicable to Russia and the Soviet Union, the site of the first socialist revolution, dizzying eco- nomic plans, stagnation, implosion, and capitalist transformation. In fact, if we peruse Russian, Soviet, and now post-Soviet history, we can see that there were many different, often contending dreams – and many dreams deferred – even within one and the same event or political movement. It was part of the dialectic of Russian/Soviet history that what looked to many like triumphs of the system and the realization of certain dreams – the revolution of , the industrialization of the s, the victory over Langston Hughes, “Harlem”, in The Langston Hughes Reader (New York, ), p. . 69G:6B9:;:GG:9 fascism in the Second World War, Khrushchev’s de-Stalinization, Gorbach- ev’s perestroika, even the collapse of...
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