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George Counts (1949):

During the past two and one-half years the Central Committee has issued a series of "ideological resolutions" ... These resolutions not only reject "art for art's sake" and "science for science's sake," but also "laughter for laughter's sake."

Which Soviet resolution rejected "laughter for laughter's sake"?

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  • Most likely, it is a garbled version of the 1946 resolution of the Central Committee of the Communist Party, regarding journals "Zvezda" and "Leningrad" (the part of the resolution regarding Zoshchenko). The full text can be found here. While garbled, the quote correctly reflects the essence of the document. Jan 10, 2023 at 7:45
  • @MoisheKohan: Where in that resolution is there anything about rejecting "laughter for laughter's sake"?
    – user54367
    Jan 12, 2023 at 4:22
  • I said "garbled." Are you familiar with Zoshchenko's works? Jan 12, 2023 at 4:28
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    @MoisheKohan: "Garbled" would be if the resolution said for example, "We reject gratuitous humor," and Counts then "garbled" it by claiming that the resolution rejected "laughter for laughter's sake". The resolution says absolutely nothing close to rejecting "laughter for laughter's sake". But I suppose since you are an expert on and thoroughly "familiar with Zoshchenko's works" (which no I am not), that qualifies you to claim otherwise.
    – user54367
    Jan 12, 2023 at 4:53
  • Quite possibly he's indulging in hyperbole.
    – Mary
    May 2 at 0:09

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There are several earlier references, but given the timeline this appears to be regarding this Orgburo resolution about the magazine Krokodil (rather than the 1946 one about Zvezda).

The resolution accuses Krokodil's writers of (among other things) insufficiently political humor, that does not radicalize against capitalist excesses, anti-social behavior, etc.

This is happening in the context of what would later be called conflictlessness, more popularly known today as "the good vs the best" - the hesitation among writers and artists to depict any part of Soviet society down to its citizens as problematic, leading to literature being full of well-meaning young communists being shown the right way by larger-than-life heroes.

As called out by Stalin himself, this did not make for especially good writing. Part of the resolution against Krokodil - which Counts misses - is that it's just not very funny. The majority of the resolution concerns itself with improving the quality of the magazine; not exactly "banning laughter."

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