Accessibility navigation

The kommuna impulse: collective mechanisms and commune-ists in the early Soviet State

Willimott, A. (2011) The kommuna impulse: collective mechanisms and commune-ists in the early Soviet State. Revolutionary Russia, 24 (1). pp. 59-78. ISSN 0954-6545

Full text not archived in this repository.

It is advisable to refer to the publisher's version if you intend to cite from this work. See Guidance on citing.

To link to this item DOI: 10.1080/09546545.2011.573918


This study examines the creation of the urban kommuna (commune) and the ideals that stimulated this social phenomenon – the kommuna impulse of the nascent Soviet state. Collective idealism affected Soviet housing, architecture and even urban planning, but little is known of social experiments in commune‐ism. As a result, these collective cells have been dismissed as utopian anomalies or the product of a housing shortage. Here it is argued that these discursive assessments are unsatisfactory and isolated from the historical narrative. While utopian ideals and domestic necessity were central to the formation of collective living, the kommuna was also involved in an active discourse with collectivism and socialist ideology. The kommuna cell was a dynamic entity that required considerable formative planning. The activists who forged these cells – the self‐identified ‘communards’ – turned their everyday domestic life into a socialist battleground, in which they struggled with the key debates of the early Soviet state. This article examines the communard as a social activist in order to better understand this phenomenon. It clarifies the coexistence of ideological and idealist trends among Soviet youth with practical contingencies for socialism. Furthermore, it reveals the process by which the kommuna impulse and these contingencies developed throughout the 1920s and early 1930s.

Item Type:Article
Divisions:Arts, Humanities and Social Science > Modern European Histories and Cultures
ID Code:48494

University Staff: Request a correction | Centaur Editors: Update this record

Page navigation