Document Type

Thesis

Date of Degree Completion

Spring 2019

Degree Name

Master of Arts (MA)

Department

History

Committee Chair

Dr. Roxanne Easley

Second Committee Member

Dr. Jason Knirck

Third Committee Member

Dr. Daniel Herman

Abstract

The themes of blood, water and Mars in Soviet science and technology show the strong utopian and even religious foundations of Soviet society, which invariably centered around forging a new environment and, in so doing, a new variety of human to inhabit it. In the minds and experiments of some of the radical men behind Russia’s Revolution, blood was to create a more advanced, biologically “equal” humanity capable of potential immortality, while water was harnessed with the millenarian aim of transforming the Soviet Union’s vast landscape into fields of bountiful fertility, as well as cities of efficient industry. Mars represents an extended, sweeping metaphor for the revolutionary dreams that long outlived October; Mars came to symbolize all that Earth could hope to achieve through communism. Authors, philosophers, politicians, and scientists all took part in explaining utopian visions of Soviet man conquering the Earth and the cosmos in their writings and experiments.

The Bolshevik Alexander Bogdanov pioneered his revolutionary blood exchange experiments in his 1905 science fiction-utopian novel, Red Star. He founded Russia’s first blood research institute in hopes of facilitating the “comradely exchange of life” through blood transfusions in hopes of curing disease, and even reversing the aging process. Water played a paramount role in the communist dream of transforming man and his environment, via massive irrigation and canal projects, and lab experiments during the Stagnation years. Soviet scientists claimed the discovery of a “new” form of water called “polywater” that stoked Cold War paranoia in the U.S. Mars represented the Soviet urge to not only transform Earth, but other planets as well. Mars was often cast as the location of the socialist humanity of the future in science fiction throughout the Soviet years, and served as evidence of the wider transcendental aims of a communist utopia. These three subsets of Soviet science gave the New Soviet Man an unprecedented level of control over areas once reserved for God alone: possible immortality, apocalyptic transformation, and creation itself.

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