How Many Floors Are There in the House? Formation of the Hierarchy of National Territorial Formations in the Creation of the USSR (1922—1924)

Publication type Article
Status Published
Affiliation: Institute of World History RAS
Address: Russian Federation, Moscow
Journal nameISTORIYA

The formation of the national-state structure of the USSR is considered in the article from the point of view of the hierarchy of republics, the “floors” of the USSR structure. The national-state structure of the USSR turned out to be heterogeneous — it included two federations and two unitary republics, while the RSFSR, significantly larger than all other republics combined, was an asymmetric federation, which included both autonomous republics and ordinary provinces, not united into a “Russian republic”, but subordinated to the center directly. The discussion of the form of unification of the Soviet republics did not exclude the preservation of formal independence (as later happened in Eastern Europe in the 1940s), but the model of “autonomization” came to the fore, which was not a concept suffered by I. Stalin, but arose from the need to solve an urgent practical foreign policy task. Stalin decided to put it on a more fundamental basis as a model of future relations between the republics, but after Lenin’s criticism and the proposal to create another “floor” in the form of a Union, Stalin and his supporters did not object. That is, this contradiction was situational in nature and was less fundamental than disputes with “independers” (who in practice also did not object to a unified decision-making system). However, after the adoption of the fundamental decision on the creation of the union “floor”, discussions continued about how the lower “floors” would be arranged — whether the USSR would become a federation of federations or a two-tier structure of national entities, which would lead to the creation of the Russian republic. As a result of the struggle of 1922—1923, the USSR also became an asymmetric federation, similar to the RSFSR. The illogicality of the structure that emerged was discussed in the Soviet leadership and could be corrected either by further forming federations (similar to the ZSFSR) as a union-forming structures, or by increasing the number of republics to compensate for the imbalance of the founding republics. In the future, the development of the structure of the USSR followed the second path.

KeywordsUSSR, Soviet Socialist Republic, autonomization, Stalin, Lenin, Rakovsky, Frunze, Mdivani, Ordzhonikidze
Publication date30.11.2022
Number of characters42825
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