Socialist Realism
The civil strife and chaos that had torn Russia limb from limb in the early 20th

Century, although brutally devastating, did not hail the end of the stability
and power that had characterized the massive country for so much of history. The
continuing strength of what was now the Soviet Union lay in the newly formed
support structure provided by Socialist Realism, a force that directed the
awareness of, and the arts produced by, the Soviet people. The ideals of

Socialist Realism deified Lenin and Marx, attributed the Bolshevik ranks with
heroism undaunted by overwhelming opposition, and directed the proletariat
towards a better future through reconstruction and industrialization of the
state. Socialist Realism was essentially a Party tool that, combined with the

Bolshevik ideals of collectivization and unity, would transform the people into
a formidable, indestructible mass force. Socialist Realism\'s central code of
conduct was, in Stalin\'s words, to "above all portray life
truthfully." Any form of art that depicted Bolshevik life was to do so in a
realistic and accurate manner, "on its way to socialism"; "that
will be socialist art, that will be Socialist Realism." (Lincoln 333) This
was the paradigm that all Soviet art was to be modeled after; implemented in

1934, the formula of Socialist Realism would heavily influence artistic life in
the Soviet Union until the 1960s. The rise of Socialist Realism was rapid and
dramatic. It dampened Europe\'s excitement over Russia\'s post-schism, secular art
by redirecting art inward towards the Soviet people and forcing form and
function upon it rather than abiding by the ideal of "art for art\'s
sake." Once again, the ancient religious ideals of Orthodox Russia were
shunned, and the Party replaced God at the forefront of Soviet life. The Party
mimicked Socialist Realism as a model for the people, who were expected to take
the example of their heroic yet humble forefathers and arise from the masses to
submit themselves to the principles of Lenin, then confidently lead their
comrades forward to a bright Bolshevik future where both nature and human
opposition would bow to the power of the Soviets. Although the Soviet Union was
markedly secular, it adopted Orthodox Russia\'s replacement of the individual
with the collective. Many artists collaborated on gigantic pieces that depicted
the immense size and grandeur of their unified country. Overwhelming all other
artistic principles, Socialist Realism became synonymous with the state. It
modified the past and the future by making both conform to reality and to

Lenin\'s timeless ideals. Most importantly, it portrayed the Soviet Union\'s
future as being filled with an unequaled prosperity that would forever shame
capitalism and its proponents. However, much of the "reality" that

Socialist Realism depicted existed solely in the minds of the Soviet people.

Socialist Realism portrayed life only as the Bolsheviks wanted it seen, and in
many ways created an idealistic world of fantasy that "overlooked massive
failures" (Lincoln 335) such as the death and suffering that continued to
prosper in labor camps throughout the country. Socialist Realism was Stalin\'s
aesthetic cover-up of the horrid, truly real Soviet reality, and if an artist
intentionally or accidentally ventured too far "behind the scenes" in
his work, official confession and apology to the state did not always prevent
him from being sent to one of many labor camps. Socialist Realism was largely
effective in indoctrinating simple-minded men and women with Bolshevik ideals.

Nowhere else was this practice more effective than in Soviet literature, which
was directed towards the unsophisticated, newly literate masses rather than the
intellectual elite. Much of this literature focused on the Russian Civil War and
the immortalized heroes that were crucial to socialism\'s victory. It was meant
to instill the proletariat with a nationalistic pride that would direct its
minds and hearts towards the interests of the state. Because of their
overwhelming prominence, the influences of Socialist Realism were nearly
impossible to escape. One of the most paradigmatic, and also one of the first

Soviet heroes was Vasilii Chapaev, a Red soldier killed in the Civil War and
elevated to the status of legend through the efforts of Socialist Realism. The
author Dmitrii Furmanov wrote a novel depicting Chapaev\'s exploits, which was
made into a screenplay in 1934 and became one of the most effective products of

Socialist Realism. The book, entitled Chapaev, glorified the efforts and
persistence of Chapaev\'s comrades even in the face of overpowering opposition
and thereby turned the Bolshevik cause into a heroic mission. The message of the
novel was preserved even through the hero\'s death, which occurred during a
moment of personal weakness and