Originating from the era of Leonid Brezhnev the book Soviet Youth and Socialism examines the role of young people in Soviet society before the collapse of the USSR. Written while the state was still the ruling power the author(s) delve deep into historical archives to expound upon the history of the Komsomol (Leninist Communist Youth League) and its revolutionary role.
Beginning with an explanation of what youth is in relation to the working class and how youth can be defined, this initial point is one of great interest that the writers; taking into account the social conditions in which the younger generation is raised, the period of national society, and the period of international development, the authors wish to truly emphasize the social conditions of the child. This approach not only serves the author(s) well but deserves some extra attention as far as its possible evaluation for modern use.
Establishing the conception of youth and how they relate to the working class, deciding on a multi-faceted association where there is not a “youth” sub-culture but rather extensions of existing classes. the book moves on to lengthy explanations of the function of the Komsomol organization. During this period in the book the reader hears much of the heroic sacrifices and insidious oppression of young workers as well as their role during the Great October Socialist Revolution.
The final stretch of the book deals partially with the rejection of bourgeois historians claims that the youth organizations prior to the October Revolution were forcefully taken over by the Bolsheviks and that under Bolshevik guidance they had no free will to do as they wanted.
Finishing with a propaganda frenzy of the functional power of the mass-character of the Komsomol (as well as some obligatory sectarian attacks against Trotskyists and Maoists) the book does have its faults. These faults are more intentional than unintentional, however. So in this sense I simply found the author(s) stress on repetition, which truly takes on a character of its own during the final chapter, to be truly monotonous.
This being said the subject matter-the role of Soviet Youth-is dealt with fine (albeit in a too fabricated pristine manner). While some of the claims one obviously has to take with a grain of salt, the book does cite many resources concerning youth congresses within the Soviet Union as well as Lenin’s speeches. So any amateur intellectual interested in finding such documents will at least have a heading after reading this book.
Everything considered I enjoyed this book. It is propagandistic, slow at times, and even tedious yet from a historical perspective it was immensely helpful in acting as a general introduction to the basics of youth organizations within the former Soviet Union. It is a wealth of knowledge that I will be sure to be coming back to time and time again in the near future.