Rocketing into a New Culture

The early years of Stalin’s reign provided a multitude of revolutionary systems. The main goal focused on expanding and modernizing the economy and culture, pushing for a futuristic country. Along with the surge of industry, the technology and scientific realm saw a massive growth. The upbringing of the radio was one huge innovation with the new regime, which was heavily used to deliver soviet propaganda. Stalin used the radio to encourage farmers to cooperate with consolidation during the five year plan. Others broadcasted news, as well as small speeches on holidays.

Konstantin E. Tsiolkovsky was a leading Russian scientist in the new Soviet Russia. Tsiolkovsky was a pioneer for aviation and science in Russia. Before the turn of the century, Tsiolkovsky designed and built multiple machines that were years ahead of the rest of Russia. Sadly, the scientific push did not come until the soviets took power. Tsiolkovsky managed to make many accomplishments in his field before he died. He began to focus on space travel and rockets, a field that was not mastered until the 1960’s.

On the May Day of 1935, also known as International Workers Day, Tsiolkovsky took to the radio to give one last speech. He was then 77 and would pass away that September two days after his birthday. This day was filled with celebration of what the workers had done in the past year, offering rest and relaxation. (Ironically, one of the first countries to celebrate it was America. It then became a very socialist holiday.) Tsiolkovsky begins his speech with admiring the workers across Russia and some advancements in Russian aviation. He looks up to see airships flying and describes them as “cigar-like” and “a dream of my youth.”

He then moves on to inflate Russia’s aviation, foreseeing that “there will be less room for the birds in the air.” This is only possible due to “our party, and out government… our laboring people… every worker of our Soviet homeland.” Tsiolkovsky states that these advancements and the future of the program are only due to the people joining together to move Russia forward as a country for the good of the people.

Tsiolkovsky knows his final days are coming. He takes advantage of this May Day experience to put forth a “mission” for the people. He gives his newest theory to the people as “a May Day gift.” This new “gift” is the proven theory of space travel, and yes it will be possible and yes, it will be soon. The advancements have helped this goal of his become a reality that can soon be reached. But it needs the “active participation of millions” to be met. He knows he will not see this come to life, so he proceeds to “rest my most daring hopes on them,” them being the millions, the young fliers, the future of Russia. Tsiolkovsky wants them to carry on his vision for the sake of Russia and to remain the greatest above all other countries.

Tsiolkovsk’s last push for his dram is simply a rally call for Russia to continue his work, to create a better, more advanced culture. Overall, this is a great example of the new Stalinism. The greatness of Russia is an effort pulled by everyone equally.


Mass Culture p. 258-259

Long live our happy socialist motherland! Long live our beloved, the great Stalin! Poster by Gustav Klutsis. Image from
Long live our happy socialist motherland! Long live our beloved, the great Stalin! Poster by Gustav Klutsis. Image from

5 thoughts on “Rocketing into a New Culture”

  1. It’s interesting how Tsiolkovsk was decades ahead of the rest of the world in terms of his ideas about space travel. I think the fact that the Russians were able to dream of improved aviation and space travel also is an example of how much more hopeful the 1930s seemed, compared to the 1920s. Great post!


  2. I never realized that space travel was even on the radar for the soviet union this early. I loved the research that must have gone into this, you did a great job telling the story. The fact that the soviets had such lofty dreams is actually pretty motivational and everything they accomplished is equally impressive. Very thought provoking post!


  3. This was a great post! We are all brought up on the idea of American exceptionalism and do not realize that in many way the USSR was technologically more advanced than we were at that time. I had not idea that their space program can (loosely) trace its roots all the way back to the thirties. I would definitely say Tsiolkovsk’s final dream was realized as the USSR put the first satellite and man into space. This post does a good job of capturing the optimism that generally surrounds the early and mid 1930s in the USSR. It demonstrates the growing power both industrial and intellectual of the USSR.


  4. I love the fact that the Stalinist regime has taken the aspirations and dreams of Tsiolkovsk and added them to the veneer of Utopian propaganda they used to cover over the harsh reality of life in Russia in the 30’s, they draw attention to dreams of tomorrow to detract attention from the struggles of today.


  5. It is interesting to imagine a man could predict the likelihood of space travel and yet, sure enough only about 20 years later they were able to launch Sputnik I. It is also interesting the high ambitions the Soviets had before the war. One can only imagine had WWII not happened, could the USSR have grown scientifically and industrially as a society to a point where planes filling the sky could have been a possibility?


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