Tolstoyism in the Late-Socialist Cultural Underground: Soviet Youth in Search of Religion, Individual Autonomy and Nonviolence in the 1970s – 1980s

Irina Gordeeva 1
  • 1 St. Philaret’s Christian Orthodox Institute, , Moscow, Russian Federation

Abstract

The 1970s in the Soviet Russia were characterized by religious revival among the members of the Soviet counterculture milieu. The young generation often opted for religious ideas and Tolstoyism served as one such option. The article explores individual cases of coming to Tolstoyism, reading and perception of his ideas, as well as a general historical background of spiritual search of Soviet youth (hippies and others) of the period. The article demonstrates that all countercultural Tolstoyans shared two basic values - personal autonomy and nonviolence. They asserted the ideals of the free and individual search for the truth, of nonviolence, of anti-authoritarian humanism, a quest for a new, spiritual form of community, having nothing to do with obligatory Soviet-type communist, atheist, and materialistic collectivism. The spiritual alternative of the Tolstoyans was directed it not only at the individual, but at society as a whole fully anticipating that society would be improved. The research is based on the wide range of unexplored primary sources (rare samizdat texts and personal archives).

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