Worlds Apart

Propaganda exercise or attempt at democracy? – Vyatka State University assistant professor Samantha Lomb on Stalin’s constitution

Did Joseph Stalin really seek to democratise society with the 1936 Constitution? Or was it merely a propaganda ruse? American academic Samantha Lomb from the University of Pittsburgh now works as an assistant professor in the Russian city of Kirov, and she explains her thoughts about Stalin’s constitution. 

Constitution and Stalin seemed like two things that shouldn’t go together, so I wanted to see what it was about, how serious a project this was or whether it was just a propaganda exercise as it has been described or whether there was something more substantive to it,” said Lomb, who moved to Russia to do research six years ago. 

Stalin, she says, saw the document as “a whip in the hands of the people to deal with incompetent local officials,” for Moscow lacked the infrastructure and workforce to govern and monitor every region of the country. While other drafters wanted to include more “ideological things,” Stalin took a more “practical” approach and removed such clauses. 

To find out more tune in for the full interview.