The State-Society Paradigm in Russian and Soviet History: How the Modern State Taxed Its Population and in the Process Co-opted It
Presented by Yannis Kotsonis, New York University, at the Center for Historical Research, Department of History at The Ohio State University on September 19, 2014. Associate Professor Kotsonis explores the theoretical problem of modern state formations and the duality of the state in one classic situation: late imperial and Soviet Russia. Nicholas Poulantzas called attention to this "Janus-faced" quality of the state: it is both narrow and integral, coercive and inclusive, a separate power and a locus of mass inclusion. Here I suggest how this duality played out in the late Empire and the early Soviet period, using fiscal policy and practice in particular. States could insist that they existed in relation to their societies, and at the same time were coterminous with society. How this ambiguity played out relates to historical settings, and in Russia and the USSR it allowed for states with seemingly unlimited capacities to create and coerce.