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Showcasing the Great ExperimentCultural Diplomacy and Western Visitors to the Soviet Union, 1921–1941$
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Michael David-Fox

Print publication date: 2011

Print ISBN-13: 9780199794577

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: May 2012

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780199794577.001.0001

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Stalin and the Fellow-Travelers Revisited

Stalin and the Fellow-Travelers Revisited

(p.207) 6 Stalin and the Fellow-Travelers Revisited
Showcasing the Great Experiment

Michael David-Fox

Oxford University Press

This chapter gives new documentation and interpretation of the Soviet visits of the leading fellow-travelers in the 1930s, including George Bernard Shaw, Sidney and Beatrice Webb, Henri Barbusse, and Romain Rolland. Critically examining the major frameworks advanced for understanding Western intellectuals' Sovietophilia—among them alienation, national political traditions, and simple naiveté—it argues that no single master explanation proves adequate. The Western myth of the Soviet Union was so flexible that many diametrically opposed features of communism prompted them to assume the stature of “friends.” Nevertheless, the role of key Soviet intermediaries (including Ilya Ehrenburg, Aleksandr Arosev, and Ivan Maiskii) was crucial in this process, as were the conventions of Soviet “friendship.” The transcripts of Stalin's Kremlin receptions of leading Western “friends of the Soviet Union” suggest that a number of important Western sympathizers viewed him as a type of intellectual in power and harbored illusions of influence over the course of the revolution.

Keywords:   George Bernard Shaw, Sidney and Beatrice Webb, Henri Barbusse, Romain Rolland, Sovietophilia, alienation, Stalin, Aleksandr Arosev, fellow-travelers, intellectuals

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