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Towards a Socialist Society

The NEP entailed a reprieve for the vestiges of 'bourgeois culture' which Communism promised to eliminate but could not yet do without. It brought a halt to the war against the professional middle class, whose expertise was needed by the Soviet economy. Between 1924 and 1928 there was also a temporary relaxation in the war against religion: churches were no longer closed or the clergy persecuted at the rate they had been before (or would be afterwards). The artistic avant-garde of the pre-revolutionary years continued to flourish in the 1920s when the utopian dreams of the Revolution inspired many writers and artists.

Although the NEP allowed a breathing space for the old domestic habits and family traditions of private life, the Bolsheviks were anxious to put in place the material conditions in which they might carry on their struggle to reforge human nature in the longer term. The developed policies to weaken the 'bourgeois family', which they saw as socially harmful - a stronghold of religion, patriarchalism and 'egotistic love'. They made divorce easier. To tackle housing shortages they organized communal apartments (kommunalki), housing typically a family per room with one shared kitchen and toilet. By forcing people to live communally, the Bolsheviks believed they could make them more collective in their basic thinking and behaviour.

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