What was Russia called between 1922 and 1991?

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pohnpei397 eNotes educator| Certified Educator

The most likely answer to this question is that Russia was called the USSR (Union of Soviet Socialist Republics) during the time period from 1922 until 1991.  However, this is not quite accurate as the USSR (also called the Soviet Union) encompassed more territory than is currently part of Russia.

In 1922, the USSR was officially created when the Bolsheviks won the Russian Civil War.  Before that, Russia had been an empire ruled by a monarch.  In 1917, the last monarch was overthrown and a new government came to power.  Later that year, communists overthrew that government and a civil war ensued.  The communists held the upper hand throughout the war and won it in 1922.  At that point, they officially created the USSR.

Russia was the most important part of the USSR for all of its existence.  Russia was the biggest and the most economically advanced part of the country.  For this reason, we often use the terms “Russia” and “Soviet Union” interchangeably. 

Technically, Russia was only one part of the Soviet Union.  The USSR was made up a number of so-called republics.  There was one called the Russian Soviet Federative Republic.  Its territory was almost identical to the territory that is now part of Russia.  Therefore, it would be more accurate to say that Russia was called the Russian Soviet Federative Republic between 1922 and 1991.  However, most people have never heard of this entity and I imagine that your teacher is probably looking for “USSR” or “Soviet Union” as the answer to this question.

jkanderson | Student

Russia was known as the Soviet Union during that time. After the Revolution in 1917, soviets (workers' councils) were to be the basis for a post-capitalist Russia. As many critical intellectuals (e.g. Noam Chomsky, Murray Bookchin, Hannah Arendt before in her book, "On Revolution") have pointed out, the Bolsheviks, who assumed the role of vanguard during the revolution, soon stripped the soviets of power, consolidating it in the Bolshevik Party and the state.

Under popular pressure, the Soviet Union dissolved in 1991.

Although the Soviet Union had supposedly been socialist/communist, it really functioned like a state capitalist society with centralized planning instead of using market distribution of goods and services common in capitalist societies. After 1991, there was a mad rush to introduce markets into the former Soviet society and to privatize goods and services (converting them from public or state property into commodities that could be bought and sold on the market). This empowered an oligarchic class similar to the way the previous so-called socialist/communist arrangements of the Soviet Union had empowered Party leaders and bureaucrats over workers and the rest of the population.

For a philosophically-oriented critique of the Soviet Union from a Marxian perspective equally critical of capitalism, see:

Marcuse, Herbert. (1958). Soviet Marxism: A Critical Analysis. New York: Random House.