Because the Soviet Union loudly proclaimed to be an ideological state, its scholars have rarely scrutinized ideology as a concept. Instead, they have treated it as a self-evident fact and proceeded to deliberate the importance of the Marxist-Leninist creed in social life or political decision-making. In the context of the Cold War, such theoretical neglect was exacerbated by political investments that often outweighed—and deformed—intellectual priorities. This has left us today with a notion that is both worn out and opaque, over-used but under-thought. In What Was Soviet Ideology? Petre Petrov stakes a new theoretical ground beyond prevalent misconceptions, ready-made definitions, and popular stereotypes. Drawing on continental philosophy and critical theory, this book presents ideology as a dynamic form with its own inner dialectic, in which the Soviet ideological regime figures as an original moment, a sui generis phenomenon. Petrov argues that Soviet ideology should be seen not as a member of an existing species but as a qualitative transformation of the species, ideology, and itself.
Petre Petrov has taught at Princeton University, the University of Texas at Austin, and the University of Pittsburgh. He is the author of Automatic for the Masses: The Death of the Author
and the Birth of Socialist Realism (University of Toronto Press, 2015).
Chapter 1: What Makes Ideology Ideological?
Chapter 2: The Three Logics of Ideology
Chapter 3: The Ontological Truth of Ideology
Chapter 4: The Production of Ideology
Chapter 5: The Show of Civilization
Chapter 6: The Economy of Tokens
About the Author