Rootless cosmopolitan (Russian: безродный космополит, romanized: bezrodnyi kosmopolit) was a pejorative Soviet epithet which referred mostly to Jewish intellectuals, as an accusation of their lack of patriotism, i.e., lack of full allegiance to the Soviet Union, especially during the anti-cosmopolitan campaign of 1948–1953. The anti-cosmopolitan campaign began in 1946, when Joseph Stalin in his speech in Moscow attacked writers who were ethnic Jews, and culminated in the exposure of the non-existent Doctors' Plot in 1953.
The expression was coined in the 19th century by Russian literary critic Vissarion Belinsky to describe writers who lacked Russian national character. The idea also comes from German Romantic criticism of Bodenlosigkeit (absence of roots, ground).
According to the journalist Masha Gessen, a concise definition of rootless cosmopolitan appeared in an issue of Voprosy istorii (The Issues of History) in 1949: "The rootless cosmopolitan ... falsifies and misrepresents the worldwide historical role of the Russian people in the construction of socialist society and the victory over the enemies of humanity, over German fascism in the Great Patriotic War." Gessen states that the term used for "Russian" is an exclusive term that means ethnic Russians only, and so she concludes that "any historian who neglected to sing the praises of the heroic ethnic Russians ... was a likely traitor".
According to Cathy S. Gelbin:
- From 1946 onwards, then, when Andrei Zhdanov became director of Soviet cultural policy, Soviet rhetoric increasingly highlighted the goal of a pure Soviet culture freed from Western degeneration. This became apparent, for example, in a piece in the Soviet weekly Literaturnya gazeta in 1947, which denounced the claimed expressions of rootless cosmopolitanism as inimical to Soviet culture. From 1949 onwards, then, a new series of openly antisemitic purges and executions began across the Soviet Union and its satellite countries, when Jews were charged explicitly with harbouring an international Zionist cosmopolitanist conspiracy.
According to Margarita Levantovskaya:
- The campaign against cosmopolitanism of the 1940s and 1950s....defined rootless cosmopolitans as citizens who lacked patriotism and disseminated foreign influence within the USSR, including theater critics, Yiddish-speaking poets and doctors. They were accused of disseminating Western European philosophies of aesthetics, pro-American attitudes, Zionism, or inappropriate levels of concern for Jewry and its destruction during World War II. The phrase "rootless cosmopolitan" was synonymous with "persons without identity" and "passportless wanderers" when applied to Jews, thus emphasizing their status as strangers and outsiders.
See also [ edit ]
References [ edit ]
- Figes, Orlando (2007). The Whisperers: Private Life in Stalin's Russia. New York City: Metropolitan Books. p. 494. ISBN 978-0-8050-7461-1.
- Jeff Greenfield (3 August 2017). "The Ugly History of Stephen Miller's 'Cosmopolitan' Epithet: Surprise, surprise—the insult has its roots in Soviet anti-Semitism". Politico.
- Azadovskii K, Egorov B (2002). "From Anti-Westernism to Anti-Semitism". Journal of Cold War Studies. 4 (1): 66–80. doi:10.1162/152039702753344834. CS1 maint: uses authors parameter (link)
- Orlando FigesThe Whisperers: Private Life in Stalin's Russia, 2007, ISBN 0805074619, page 494.
- Gessen, Masha (2005). Two Babushkas. Bloomsbury. p. 205. ISBN 978-0-7475-7080-6.
- Cathy S. Gelbin, "Rootless cosmopolitans: German-Jewish writers confront the Stalinist and National Socialist atrocities." European Review of History: Revue européenne d'histoire 23.5-6 (2016): 863-879 at p. 865.
- Margarita Levantovskaya, "Rootless Cosmopolitans:: Literature of the Soviet-Jewish Diaspora" (PhD. Diss. UC San Diego, 2013) online. p. 1
Further reading [ edit ]
- Levantovskaya, Margarita. "Rootless Cosmopolitans:: Literature of the Soviet-Jewish Diaspora" (PhD. Diss. UC San Diego, 2013) online.
- Miller, Michael L.; Ury, Scott (2010). "Cosmopolitanism: the end of Jewishness?". European Review of History: Revue europeenne d'histoire. 17 (3): 337–359. doi:10.1080/13507486.2010.481923.
- Miller, Michael L. and Scott Ury, eds., Cosmopolitanism, Nationalism and the Jews of East Central Europe. ISBN 978-1138018525
- Pinkus, Benjamin. The Soviet Government and the Jews 1948-1967: A Documented Study (1984) pp 147–192.
- "The Rootless Cosmopolitan Who Mocked Totalitarian Consciousness". Tablet Magazine. 18 March 2019. Retrieved 19 March 2020.
- Spector, Hannah (10 March 2016). "The cosmopolitan subject and the question of cultural identity: The case of". Crime, Media, Culture: An International Journal. 13 (1): 21–40. doi:10.1177/1741659016634813.
(North and South)