It is a truism that, with only a few notable exceptions, western scholars only belatedly turned their attention to the phenomenon of minority nationalism in the USSR. In the last two decades, however, the topic has increasingly occupied the attention of specialists on the Soviet Union, not only because its depths and implications have not yet been adequately plumbed, but also because it is clearly a potentially explosive problem for the Soviet system itself. The problem that minority nationalism poses is perceived rather differently at the "top" of Soviet society than at the "bottom. " The elite views - or at least rationalize- the problem through the lens of Marxism-Leninism, which explains nationalist sentiment as a part of the "super- structure," a temporary phenomenon that will disappear in the course of building communism. That it has not done so is a primary source of concern for the Soviet leadership, who do not seem to understand it and do not wish to accept its reality. This is based on a fallacious conceptuali- zation of ethnic nationalism as determined wholly by external, or objective, factors and therefore subject to corrective measures.
In terms of origins, it is believed to be the result of past oppression and discrimination; it is thus seen as a negative attitudinal set the essence of which lies in tangible, rather than psychological, factors. Below the level of the leadership, however, ethnic nationalism reflects entrenched identifications and meanings which lend continuity and authenticity to human existence.
I. Introduction: Approach and Conceptualization.- Ukrainian Nationalism.- Western Scholarly Writings on the Soviet Nationalities Problem and the Ukraine.- An Analytical Framework.- II. Ideology and Myth: Soviet Nationalities Policy.- The Myth of Proletarian Internationalism.- The Myth of Proletarian Internationalism in Flux, 1956-1972.- Conclusions.- III. Culture and Symbolism: The Myth of National Moral Patrimony.- Socialist Realism and National Cultural Revival.- Culture and Historiographic Nationalism.- The Ambiguity of National Symbols: Establishment Intellectuals and the Crystallization of the Dissent Movement.- Symbols of the National Patrimony in Popular Culture.- Conclusions.- IV. Symbolism and Status: The Ukrainian Language.- The Language Question in Official Nationalities Policy.- Present Status of the Ukrainian Language.- Controversy over Language in the Soviet Ukraine.- Conclusions.- V. Symbolic Action: Nationalist Opposition and Regime Response.- Structural and Programmatic Characteristics of Ukrainian National Dissidence.- Demographic Breakdown of Dissidence.- Strategies and Tactics of the Dissidents.- Regime Response to Nationalist Dissidence.- Conclusions.- VI. Summary and Conclusions.