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Industrial in content, socialist in Form. Soviet Industrialization of Estonia

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9:00 AM, Mercredi 31 Août 2022 (20 minutes)
The Soviet regime lasted in Baltic countries from World War II until the end of the Cold War. This half-century-long period is characterized by radical changes in all spheres of society including the industrial sector, where the nationalization of private property and enterprise was followed by the introduction of command economy instruments: merging and transforming smaller companies, subordinating the management of enterprises to the central government, establishing a five-year production plan. Industrialization became a doctrine of Soviet ideology, to which many other fields of society were servant. Heavy industry was forcibly and excessively developed - in Estonia mainly the oil shale, machine and chemical industry. The strategic branches, including heavy industry were subordinated directly to the ministries of the USSR, which excluded the already illusory control over the development and management of industries at the local, ie soviet republic level. In the process the type, size and location of major industrial projects in Estonia were determined and designed in Moscow or Leningrad with little regard to local circumstances. In recent years, several historians have associated the Soviet Union's policy in the Baltics with a specific form of colonialism. According to this concept, internationalism, Soviet patriotism, and the friendship of nations were common euphemistic circulation phrases in Soviet ideology for the introduction of a colonial structure in the Baltics. This position challenges the Anglo-Franco-focused postcolonial studies contributing to emergent global postcolonial critique. According to established standard, the expansionist policies of the Western Europe have generally been considered as colonialism. Without calling this definition into question, in order to enrich the perspectives, it is necessary to study another perspective within the same concept. In addition to widening of the postcolonial studies in academic field, the acute issue of colonialism has risen to the fore of public debate in several countries in last years and is largely related to the active rethinking of historical events. Within the framework of post-colonial/post-soviet studies, however, the goals, means and mechanisms of Soviet economic colonialism in the Baltics have remained a major and important area of research which has not yet been adequately addressed. The following report analyzes the implementation of the Soviet industrial ideology in Estonia and as well the contradictory reception and attempts to revaluate the large-scale industrial heritage of this period after re-independence of Estonia.

Henry Kuningas


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