If Tomorrow Brings Realist Socialism & Nationalism


This week’s focus being on the shift from the positive roots of constructing socialism into the dark days of the second world war, I was immediately drawn into “If Tomorrow Brings War” by Vasily Lebedev and the Pokrass brothers (1938).  Before launching into its connection to the larger aspects of socialist realism, upon reflection I instantly thought of a quote from someone I am struggling to remember the name of the man who said it, but it is “War is delightful to those who have never experienced it.” Ironically I saw the quote in a Call of Duty xbox game. (Not sure if that is a good or bad thing in the context of us millennials) This quote in connection to the lyrics represents the blind, censored, state sponsored nationalism that was a characteristic of socialist realism.  The song  is taken from the 1938 film of the same name, which is essentially a call to arms for the citizens of the state to rally around whatever cause it may be to defend their homeland. From a purely artistic standpoint it does this well, distracting the readers from the horrors and atrocities of war.

In the context of the socialist realism essay by James Von Geldern,  he phrases three aspects of socialist realism as “best characterized by the watch words accessibility (dostupnost’), the spirit of the people (narodnost’), and the spirit of the party (partiinost’)”. The lyrics apply and play to the spirit of the people for obvious reasons, inspiring them to defend their country. “The country will rise, mighty and great, and cruelly crush the foe.” The more subtle undertones in these lyrics however, lie in the murkiness of the spirit of the party aspect of the song. The entire song is essentially a mask for defending the ideologies of the party and the Russian people, without truly coming outright and saying it,  as the party and the state were so interwoven at this point in history.  The simple language reinforces the socialist realism constructed by that of Joseph Stalin,  which is exemplified in quotes such from him such as “socialist in content, national in form.” The nationalism and party undertones of this song represent the sort of vaugeness that socialist realism came to be known for as it progressed.

The poem is absolutely well written and succeeds in its goal of rallying the people and defending their country. When principles of socialist realism are connected back to this play, its overall structure and purpose becomes more clarified.  I was unable to receive full acess, but an amazing resource for more information on this topic could be found in the Oxford Scholarship Online database:



Famous for their rendition of the Soviet National Anthem, I was also able to discover their choral performance of “If Tomorrow Brings War” by the Red Army Choir.


4 Replies to “If Tomorrow Brings Realist Socialism & Nationalism”

  1. This is a super interesting post! One of my favorite things to study surprisingly is the mobilization of the USSR to get ready for WW2. I think that part of the culture there in that era is super compelling and it oozes details. Do you think that they were willingly sacrificing everything or were they brain-washed by Stalin? Do you think they were cognizant of what was going on in the world outside of the USSR?

  2. Hi Ethan — I just commented on your post, but it isn’t appearing here. There are two hyperlinks in the comment, so it might be in your spam folder. Can you check and approve it if necessary? Thanks!

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