Rocking the 80’s

Paul Simonon gives Joe Strummer a lift

“Democracy is great. But it has to be learned. Some people see democracy as anarchy, and cherish their rights while ignoring their duties.”

The changing policies throughout the 1970’s and 80’s also spawned the changing of attitudes in society, especially amongst the youth. A generation who once looked at society as stagnant, and thought they “knew” everything because the norms were engraved in society now began to question the very foundations they lived on. The schools were teaching an outdated curriculum and the komsomol’s adherence to the communist party caused unease within society, laying the groundwork for a new generation to appear whose values were not shaped by the state. The decades saw a decline in authority within families, the pillars of authority in society to come under question, and the expectations for success to decline rapidly.

Out of this dynamic period the Rocker was born into society, who terrorized the cities at night on their motorcycles, brining chaos and disorder to the streets and causing newfound fear in society. These Rockers, who were fueled by the images in newspapers and television had no respect for authority or their fellow civilians, and viewed themselves as a brotherhood of natural heroes. By reading The “Rockers” you gain insight of the ruthlessness of the rockers, and the fear that they spawned. Within the article, written by a state university student, he explains his interview with taxi cab drivers and their experiences with the rockers. The drivers did not have a positive outlook on the rockers, and told stories of the rockers trying to rob the drivers, their customers, and even attempting to break the windshield of the taxi with a chain. The cab drivers weren’t the only ones with a negative attitude toward the rockers. In a letter to the chairman of the Moscow city council executive committee, a civilian writes “haven’t our Moscow law enforcement bodies fooled around long enough with those “Rockers”? They are really just nasty hoodlums rudely disturbing the citizens and should be dealt with. What have things come to? Gangs of crazy youngsters carry on in the city and we just say, ‘can you believe it’.”

images

Authorities had no answers to the questions agitating the people, and in fact ignored the problem that was tearing the cities apart, the lack of legitimacy of authority. Traffic police tried to issue tickets to the rockers for disrupting the peace, speeding down the highways, riding without exhaust, driving without a license or license plates, or riding in groups, only to find that the majority of rockers would never even stop. The rockers would simply speed off and continue their disturbances, and as a general rule, never caught.

The changing society of 80’s and 90’s created a generation whose values were being found and formed socially, not forcibly by the state. To quote a rocker “We knew what our future was to be gray and immutable. We grew up in the seventies — that was all we knew. And everyone told us that it was the best, in fact the only possible way. We simply lived the life you laughed about once you had put us to bed and firmly shut the door. No wonder you have turned out to be better prepared for the gust of fresh air which has knocked us off our feet.”

http://soviethistory.msu.edu/1985-2/1985-turbulent-youth/turbulent-youth-texts/the-rockers/

http://soviethistory.msu.edu/1985-2/1985-turbulent-youth/turbulent-youth-texts/a-turbulent-factor/

http://soviethistory.msu.edu/1985-2/1985-turbulent-youth/

 

Advertisements
Posted in Uncategorized | 5 Comments

Successes of the 60’s

The successes of the Five Year Plan were evident in Soviet society throughout the 1960’s with unemployment and poverty practically abolished. The decade displayed the economic and cultural victories of the Soviet people, and the standard of living rose steadily year after year. While the overwhelming majority of citizens worked selflessly in various sectors of socialist society, sacredly observing Soviet laws and respect for socialist society, there were still some individuals who didn’t abide by the norms of society, honor their duty of public work, and presented themselves in a “parasitic” way. So what to do with these citizens who refused to engage in socially useful labor?

The Party Central Committee and the USSR Council of Ministers presented an answer to the problem, and focused on the power that public influence could have on the violators. They noticed that the parasitic acts carried out by individuals were rarely discussed at work meetings, by collective farmers, employees, and students, and realized that if these toilers had the power to judge and sentence these individuals then the number of loafers would decrease. The answer was the creation and implementation of the Comrades’ Courts. The courts were elected public agencies that strove to uphold the communist attitude and observe the rules and respect for the socialist society. The main duty of the courts was to prevent violations of the law, and to create an intolerant attitude toward any antisocial act. The courts were made up of at least 50 people who were elected for a term of two years, and implemented into practically every sector of society, including enterprises, institutions, schools, collective farms, and housing bureaus. The courts typically heard cases involving labor discipline, including absence from work without a valid reason, arriving at work late or leaving before the end, or displaying a negative attitude toward state or public property. By implementing these courts into society, the Soviet government was successfully able to reduce the amount of loafers within the society by making the population accountable and responsible for not only their own actions, but also the actionsof their fellow citizens.

 

Comrades’ Courts

Law on People’s Public Order Detachments

Anti-Parasite Law

Law Against Parasites

Posted in Uncategorized | 3 Comments

Uncovering the Truth

 

a184a2bb25a282e25b413b6c155651ab

 

As the Soviet forces advanced and occupied the Eastern half of Poland, tens of thousands of Polish military personnel fell to the hands of the Soviet forces and were placed in prison camps inside the Soviet Union. But following the German invasion of the Soviet Union in 1941, the Polish government in exile in London and the Soviets agreed to cooperate against Germany and formed a Polish army on Soviet territory. The Polish general Wladslaw Anders began organizing his forces and requested the transfer of 15,000 Polish prisoners who were held at a camp near Smolensk to his command, but was informed that the prisoners that were once at the camp had escaped to Manchuria and could not be located.

 

The fate of the missing soldiers remained a mystery until in April, 1943, Germany announced the discovery of a mass grave in the Katyn Forest near Smolensk. A total of 4,443 corpses were recovered and confirmed to be Polish officers who and had apparently been shot from behind and then piled in stacks and buried. Soviet authorities rejected the claim that they had executed the prisoners, and said that the Pols were doing construction work west of Smolensk in 1941 and the invading German army killed them after overrunning the area.

 

After both a German and a Red Cross investigation of the Katyn corpses, undeniable evidence was produced that the massacre took place in 1940, at a time when the area was under Soviet control. Although in 1952 the United States officially recognized the Soviet Union was to blame, Stalin, and even the communist government in Poland insisted that the massacre was German’s fault. It wasn’t until the late 1980’s, when the Soviet Union allowed a non-communist party to come to power in Poland that the blame was shifted from the Germans to the Soviet secret police, the NKVD. In 1992, the Russian government released documents providing that the NKVD had been responsible for the massacre and cover up of more than 20,000 victims.

 

http://www.britannica.com/event/Katyn-Massacre

Katyn Forest Massacre

Posted in Uncategorized | 2 Comments

One Nation, Fit For All

 

50ab84790e479_742_472

‪”There is no more beautiful clothing in the world, than the bronze of muscles and freshness of skin.” Vladimir Mayakovsky. Poster by N. I. Tereshchenko …  Calvertjournal.com

 

The USSR went to great lengths to promote physical culture throughout the 1930’s, which accompanied their mold of the “New Soviet” person. The New Soviet who practices physical culture would be healthier than before, and their mind would be cleansed of filth, unlike their Western peers. The healthy body and mind would not only better themselves, and therefore the collective, but would also stand as a metaphor for the strength and success of the socialist state. The USSR undertook a fascinating campaign with the implementation of physical culture and used it to modernize and create a new soviet identity.

 

The 1930’s marked a change in the implementation of sports throughout Soviet society. The Bolsheviks shut down the YMCA, which promoted muscular Christianity, and the Hawks, which promoted a national Slavic identity and gave much of the state funding to the implementation of sports teams, clubs, and schools throughout the 30’s and used it to promote collectiveness, bonds, and other aspects that they saw suitable for the New Soviet person. Within the physical culture campaign, the state was completely in charge. The Supreme Council of Physical Culture directed the Soviet People’s Commissariat and the Trade Union Central Soviet, who were in charge or organizing and planning all sporting activities for the schools, military, and unions. The state paid for all of the expenses related to sports, including the operating expenses of sporting institutions, the training of athletes, and the construction of sporting complexes and stadiums.

 

Propaganda campaigns were launched that told the benefits of improving your physical self. Articles spoke of the rewards of feeling better, fresh, more cheerful, and the effects of improving their physical and mental well being and urged the population to join the Kruzhok, or club, where all were offered a sense of belonging to a larger whole. The state performed a fascinating campaign with the inclusion of physical culture in their nation building strategy.

Unknown

 

The Bolsheviks utilized the power of physical culture in the development and modernization of the Soviet State. By the mid 1930’s spectator sports controlled the hearts of mostly male friends who cheered on their favorite sports teams in the newly constructed stadiums. In the countryside the state did an amazing job of shaping physical culture by initially blending the dances and games of the national minorities and peasants and used them to transform a Soviet identity out of the national minorities, which became evident by the mid 1930’s. The physical culture campaign performed by the USSR in the 1930’s was a brilliant strategy of modernizing the population while establishing a national identity out of a fragmented region.

 

 

 

Physical Culture

http://harriman.columbia.edu/files/harriman/newsletter/Russian%20Movement%20Culture_0.pdf

S. Szymanski. “Handbook on the Economics of Sport.” p 37-41

 

Posted in Uncategorized | 10 Comments

Calling For Collectivization

“The ultimate goal of socialist society was to create a new person, a New Soviet Person, who’s entire consciousness was shaped by the socialist environment”kolkhoz_v_rabote

The first five year plan called for collectivization, or the transfer of Soviet agriculture from individual farms to state run collective farms. Stalin believed that the organization of collective farms would improve agricultural productivity and would produce grain reserves sufficiently large to feed the growing urban labor force. By collectivizing the land, you could therefore boost the production by using industrial techniques and mechanized equipment, thereby surpassing the production of peasant traditional strip farming.

Not all peasants were happy about this new transition. The lowest class peasants were the most excited about the transition, seeing it as an opportunity to gain equal status amongst their peers. The middle class peasants, making up the majority of the population, could be won over to collective farming for a combination of reasons including access to mechanized equipment, credits, taxes, confiscations, and threats of exile. The peasants who resisted collectivization were labeled as Kulaks, and were subjected to confiscation, and either resettlement, deportation, incarceration in labor camps, or even execution. An estimated 1 million Kulak households were deported and never heard from again.

na_kollektivnuiu

In January 1930 the Central Committee called for the collectivization of not the just the 20 percent of arable land declared by the first five year plan, but the “huge majority of peasant farms.” By July 1931 53 percent of all households were in collective farms, and by 1940 97 percent of all peasant households had been collectivized.

 

http://www.loc.gov/exhibits/archives/coll.html

Collectivization

Posted in Uncategorized | 6 Comments

Breaking the Chains of Religion

 

opium_ofpeople.jpg He who lives and works in need his entire life is taught by religion to be meek and patient in this world, offering the comfort of hope for a heavenly reward. And they who live on the labor of others are taught by religion to be charitable in this world, offering them a cheap justification for their whole exploiting existence.

 

One of the major goals of the Bolsheviks upon coming to power in 1917 was to emancipate the soviet citizens of religion. The tension started with the decree of January 20, 1918 that disestablished the Orthodox Church and consigned the clergy of all faiths to second-class citizenship (along with capitalists, merchants, former police, and criminals). This decree was not the only stab to the church, but was the start of an ongoing struggle between the church and state, which included the closing of many churches, the confiscation of church valuables, the arrest of Patriarch Tikhon, and the execution of priests suspected of aiding the counter revolutionary Whites. In 1923, the Orthodox Church took more shots when the twelfth Party Congress called for the training of anti-religious propagandists, the publication of the origins and class nature of religion, and the improvement of educational methods. The most damaging to the church was a law forcing any religious society having over 50 members to become registered by the state. In doing so, the church no longer had the right to congregate without a registration, which could be denied by the authorities, and was therefore placed in the power of the state.

 

 

bez1926sweeping away the Koran

 

“Look how the capitalists, belonging to your own faith, exploit us workmen. Big houses are built with the profits they get from our work, high walls surround their mansions, and cruel dogs watch them. They watch their property. Humility is only asked of us. Your faith is only to hide the sharp teeth of these ever hungry wolves.”

 

ttp://soviethistory.msu.edu/1924-2/antireligious-propaganda/

http://soviethistory.msu.edu/1924-2/living-church/

Religious Foolishness

Posted in Uncategorized | 4 Comments

Farm at Medvezhia Gora Station

 

Gora Station

The image above titled, “Farm at Medvezhia Gora Station” was taken in 1915 by Sergei Mikhailovich Prokudin-Gorskii. Prokudin-Gorskii, who lived from 1863-1944, was a well known photographer who famously captured pictures of landmarks throughout the Russian Empire in the early 20th century. With the support of Tsar Nicholas II, Prokudin-Gorskii was hired by the Ministry of Transportation to undergo extended trips throughout many parts of the empire to capture the beauties of the changing landscape.

The image above comes from bulk of Prokudin-Gorskii’s work as he traveled along the Murmansk Railroad, which was under construction by the Russian government from 1914-1917 to connect Petrograd to the port of Romanov-on-Murman. The log building pictured, set in a pine forest, appears to be a dormitory for the workers on the railroad. The building has multiple covered entrances, along with numerous windows and chimneys, which indicates the presence of several rooms. Since it’s founding in 1915, Medvezhia Gora, later changed to Medvezhegorsk in 1938, has been a strategic transportation center at the northwestern tip of Lake Onega in the north-west European part of Russia.

 

https://www.wdl.org/en/item/5131/

http://worldmap.harvard.edu/maps/russianempire

Posted in Uncategorized | 5 Comments