Jokes as the Truth about Soviet Socialism Cover Image

Jokes as the Truth about Soviet Socialism
Jokes as the Truth about Soviet Socialism

Author(s): Christie Davies
Subject(s): Customs / Folklore
Published by: Eesti Kirjandusmuuseum
Keywords: Bulgaria; Estonia; hegemony; jokes; lies; Lithuania; Shtromas; socialism; Soviet Union

Summary/Abstract: The political jokes told in Estonia and other parts of the Soviet Empire were very important to those who told them. They were tiny areas of freedom, a brief escape from socialist hegemony. Those scholars such as Alexander Shtromas who took the jokes seriously were alone in predicting the rapid collapse and demise of the Soviet Union. Shtromas’ thesis was rooted in a hardheaded analysis of power and politics but he knew that the jokes were a good indication of the failure of socialism and of the alienation from the entire system of both the broad masses and the intellectuals. Most Western ‘Sovietologists’, some of them malign sympathisers with the socialist ethos, were foolish enough to think that the Soviet socialist order was a legitimate and enduring type of society. A knowledge of the jokes of socialism was a better guide to Soviet reality than the official Soviet versions and data or the theories of those Western scholars, particularly the revisionists, who tried to be ‘fair’ to the Soviet Union; fairness to evil is the father of lies. Jokes are not serious statements but when viewed within a comparative framework they can reveal a great deal about what a particular society is like. Jokes have no consequences whatsoever but they are a good indicator of where the tensions in a society lie. The political jokes of the Soviet Union and its empire revealed that social order to be riddled with contradictions and ripe for collapse as soon as those controlling the means of force began to falter. Force alone had kept the system in being.

  • Issue Year: 2010
  • Issue No: 46
  • Page Range: 9-32
  • Page Count: 24
  • Language: English