Thursday, October 11, 2018

Donald J. Raleigh: 'Soviet Baby Boomers' (2012), Part V

Donald J. Raleigh, Soviet Baby Boomers: An Oral History of Russia's Cold War Generation (New York: Oxford University Press, 2012).

The Afghanistan War (1979-1989), according to Aleksandr Konstantinov: "'an absurd stupidity.'" (page 263) Olga Martynkina: "'terrible and unnecessary.'" (ibid.)  Gennady Ivanov: '"Besides heroism, it gave us nothing but cripples and drug addicts.'" (page 265)

"Diluted state repression remained an element . . . mostly because it constrained people's choices by switching on their self-censorship. Few Baby Boomers had direct run-ins with the KGBm but all felt its presence." (page 265)

Glasnost. Aleksandr Babushkin: '"You have to understand that any cultured person, intellectual, is able to distinguish between true and false information.'" (page 286)  

Perestroika. Olga Gorelik: "'it gave freedom to several strata of the population, to the intelligenstia, for example. But, on the other hand, it created complicated economic problems. Not everyone can restructure themselves, namely our generation.'" (page 288)

"For some [Soviet] Baby Boomers glasnost meant fulfilling a life-long dream of traveling abroad . . ." (page 295) 

Collapse of Soviet Union. "[b]y 1994, 67 percent of the population had no savings or extra cash . . . murders, suicides, and divorces reached extreme levels . . . Between 1992 and 1997 life expectancy for men fell from 67 to 57 years and for women from 76 to 70 . . . (page [312])

"The emergence of fifteen independent states from the ruins of the former Soviet empire . . . complicated life for the Cold War generation." (page 317)

Religion and Philosophy. Resurgence of Orthodox Church. New Age. Osho (Rajneesh). Buddhism. Scientology. Transcendental Meditation. (page 322)

Robber Barons. Oligarchs. Crime "five times higher" (page 323). "Privatization" gave "rise to a class of rich businessmen, as well as to a cohort of entrepreneurs who had accumulated massive fortunes . . .oligarchs, who acquired enormous holdings through insider trading . . . The resulting social inequality and effrontery of the new rich fed disillusionment with market economics and the democratic political system. Retirees looked back upon the Soviet days with nostalgia." (page 327)

Yelena Kolosova on Boris Yeltsin:  "'He was a massive man who drank, and therefore could be trusted.'" (page 329)

21st century. Vladimir Putin. Chechnya. "Russian liberals and others backing a free market system believed political freedoms remained as important as a strong leader; however, Russian Communists, nationalists, and supporters of Putin's umbrella organization, Unity, stressed the need for an authoritarian order in the country." A blueprint for Donald J. Trump in the USA: "Either Russia, will be great, Putin pronounced, or it will not be at all."  However, unlike Trump among Americans, Putin enjoyed "the backing of almost 75 percent of the [Russian] population." (page 334)

Lyudmila Gorokhova on Putin: "'Although he's not handsome, he has a great deal of charm. . . His range of interests is indisputably wide, and he's intelligent.'" (page 336)

A Russian doctor: "'I believe today's youth are awful. . . the wars contribute a lot. We see many Afghan vets, and many more after the wars in Chechnya. Military action has a very negative effect on people. As a rule, they become apathetic and depressed." There is "widespread alcoholism." (page 343)

Youth are adrift and slack in the mind; what happened to intellectual curiosity?  Vladimir Kirsanov: "'In the past, we had to get hold of information on our own by reading books, and by researching something, and this always makes the brain work more actively, but now information is absorbed passively. This is the main thing that distinguishes the two generations. Today's students don't like to read.'" (pages 344-345)

Anna Lyovina: '"The future is with people who have seen the world, analyzed things, compared, and took what they liked that was good and interesting, from wherever.'" (page 348)

A summary of the Soviet dream: pages 360-361. There was in Soviet society a double-consciousness, the projection of a public persona and the development of a private person. Raleigh doesn't use this term, but it seems equivalent: "there were two truths 'one for everyone, and the other that's inside you.'" (pages 366-367). This is how life is everywhere, to varying degrees up and down the spectrum. But would you rather live in Amsterdam, or Pyongyang?  

Today's Rune: Signals

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