Zhdanov Doctrine

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USSR stamp of Andrei Zhdanov.

The Zhdanov Doctrine (also called Zhdanovism or Zhdanovshchina; Russian: доктрина Жданова, ждановизм, ждановщина) was a Soviet cultural doctrine developed by Central Committee secretary Andrei Zhdanov in 1946. It proposed that the world was divided into two camps: the "imperialistic", headed by the United States; and "democratic", headed by the Soviet Union.[1] The main principle of the Zhdanov doctrine was often summarized by the phrase "The only conflict that is possible in Soviet culture is the conflict between good and best". Zhdanovism soon became a Soviet cultural policy, meaning that Soviet artists, writers and intelligentsia in general had to conform to the party line in their creative works. Under this policy, artists who failed to comply with the government's wishes risked persecution. The policy remained in effect until the death of Joseph Stalin in 1953.[2]


The 1946 resolution of the Central Committee was directed against two literary magazines, Zvezda and Leningrad, which had published supposedly apolitical, "bourgeois", individualistic works of the satirist Mikhail Zoshchenko and the poet Anna Akhmatova.

Earlier some critics and literary historians were denounced for suggesting that Russian classics had been influenced by Jean-Jacques Rousseau, Molière, Lord Byron or Charles Dickens. Part of Zhdanovism was a campaign against "cosmopolitanism" (often with antisemitic undertones, see Rootless cosmopolitan), which meant that foreign models were not to be unthinkingly emulated, and native Russian accomplishments were emphasized.

A further decree on music was issued on 20 February 1948, "On Muradeli's Opera The Great Friendship" and marked the beginning of the so-called "anti-formalism campaign".[3] (The term "formalism" referred to art for art's sake which did not serve a larger social purpose.) Nominally aimed at Vano Muradeli's opera The Great Friendship,[4] it signaled a sustained campaign of criticism and persecution against many of the Soviet Union's foremost composers, notably Dmitri Shostakovich, Sergei Prokofiev, Aram Khachaturian and Dmitri Klebanov for allegedly writing "hermetic" music and misusing dissonance.[5] The decree was followed in April by a special congress of the Composers' Union, where many of those attacked were forced publicly to repent. The campaign was satirized in the Anti-Formalist Rayok by Shostakovich. The composers condemned were formally rehabilitated by a further decree issued on 28 May 1958.

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Green and Karolides (2005), 668.
  2. ^ Taruskin (2010), 12.
  3. ^ Morgan, Robert P. Modern Times: From World War I to the Present. The Macmillan Press Ltd. p. 289. ISBN 0-13-590159-6.
  4. ^ For the text in English see Revolutionary Democracy website, accessed 25 April 2017.
  5. ^ Braudel (1993), 565.