Searching for the Soviet Dream: Prosperity and Disillusionment on the Soviet Seattle Agricultural Commune, 1922-1927
In 1922 a group of Americans moved from the Pacific Northwest to Soviet Russia to settle an agricultural commune they called Seattle. The Seattle Commune was one among many enterprises founded by foreign sympathizers in the new Soviet republic. All these communes faced obstacles and most collapsed by the end of the decade. In contrast, Seattle persisted as a commune, lasting from 1939 to 1991 as a collective farm. Scholars have argued that the success of foreign communes hinged on their members' ideological commitment to the Soviet cause. Using correspondence, archival documents, and journalistic accounts from the United States and Russia, this case study of the Seattle Commune's early years argues that material factors mattered as much as ideology for the survival of Soviet agricultural communes. Commune members wanted to build a communist future but also envisioned prosperity for themselves and their communities as an element of this future.