Medvedev, Roy Alexandrovich

Medvedev, Roy Alexandrovich
(1925– )
   Born in Tbilisi, the capital of the Soviet republic of Georgia, Medvedev has contributed to the documenting and analyzing of Stalinism, most notably in his landmark work, Let History Judge: The Origins and Consequences of Stalinism (1971). He studied philosophy and education at Leningrad University and became a member of the Institute of Professional Education at the Academy of Pedagogical Sciences. His attention turned to Soviet history and Stalinism in particular following the denunciation of Josef Stalin by Nikita Khrushchev in 1956. His first attempts to get Let History Judge published resulted in his expulsion from the communist party in 1969, and from the 1970s on he was active in the Soviet dissident movement. He has been often published in Europe and the United States, and aside from Let History Judge, his key works are A Question of Madness (1971, co-authored with his brother Zhores), On Socialist Democracy (1975), The October Revolution (1979), and Leninism and Western Socialism (1981). Medvedev approached the issue of Stalinism from a Marxist perspective, but an undogmatic one that left room for the role of subjective factors in history as well as objective ones, and allowed for the significance of the individual and of culture in shaping society and historical development. For example, Stalin’s cunning personality and the undeveloped culture of the masses leaving them open to manipulation are key factors in the development of Stalinism according to Medvedev. He was more sympathetic to Leninism, but still viewed Vladimir Ilich Lenin and the Bolsheviks’ attempts to achieve various socialist goals as premature given the existing objective social and economic conditions. He increasingly focused on the importance of democracy and the kind of democratic procedures and structures found in bourgeois countries, for example, freedom of speech, rule of law and protection of minorities. The Soviet Union desperately needed democratization in his view, and without it there was increasing intellectual, economic and cultural stagnation. Medvedev during the life of the Soviet Union also advocated the development of a universal ethics and a crucial role for intellectuals in promoting social progress.

Historical dictionary of Marxism. . 2014.

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