Now the heavy lifting of this volume is done, let us hope Smolkin takes a breath and describes the desolation wrought by the institutions she has researched in such detail. There's a warning here that we, deep in our own contemporary disenchantment, should heed.
As Victoria Smolkin argues in her engaging and informative book, the failure of Soviet atheism to engage meaningfully with its target public was consistent, from propaganda in favour of “militant godlessness” in the early days of Soviet power to the “scientific atheism” of the post-Stalin era. But if its non-success was an abiding factor, the state atheism campaign had a diverse and at times haphazard history. It is these different orientations in propaganda and changes of institutional emphasis that Smolkin sets out to explore... In lively and often entertaining prose, Smolkin ranges from the educational efforts of the “Knowledge” society and the use of space exploration as a propaganda tool...to the agitational literature of the 1960s and 70s...Smolkin’s case carries conviction... But by moving from the population’s unwillingness to embrace atheism to its refusal to embrace the “socialist way of life”, Smolkin advances a more contentious thesis... It is perhaps the final insult for the fiery utopians of state atheism that their lasting achievements should have been not just so limited, but so banal.