Difference between revisions of "Soviet man"

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Soviet man was the personality which resulted from Soviet policies. It is markedly different from the New Soviet Man Soviet theorists were attempting to produce.

According to Wikipedia, Soviet man had these characteristics:

Homo Sovieticus, however, was a term with largely negative connotations, invented by opponents to describe what they saw as the real result of Soviet policies. In many ways it meant the opposite of the New Soviet man, someone characterized by the following:

  • Indifference to the results of his labour (as expressed in the saying "They pretend they are paying us, and we pretend we are working").
  • Lack of initiative and avoidance of taking any individual responsibility for anything. Jerzy Turowicz wrote: "it's a person enslaved, incapacitated, deprived of initiative, unable to think critically; he expects – and demands – everything to be provided by the state, he cannot and doesn't want to take his fate in his own hands".[1][2]
  • Indifference to common property and to petty theft from the workplace, either for personal use or for profit.[3] A line from a popular song, "Everything belongs to the kolkhoz, everything belongs to me" ("всё теперь колхозное, всё теперь моё" / vsyo teperь kolkhoznoe, vsyo teperь moyo), meaning that people on collective farms treasured all common property as their own, was sometimes used ironically to refer to instances of petty theft.
  • Chauvinism. The Soviet Union's restrictions on travel abroad and strict censorship of information in the media (as well as the abundance of propaganda) aimed to insulate the Soviet people from Western influence. There existed non-public "ban lists" of Western entertainers and bands, which, in addition to the usual criteria of not conforming to fundamental Soviet values, were added to the list for rather peculiar reasons; one such example being the Irish band U2, the name of which resembled that of Lockheed U-2, a high-altitude U.S. reconnaissance airplane. As a result, "exotic" Western popular culture became more interesting precisely because it was forbidden. Due to limited exposure, entertainers considered minor, B-list, or of low artistic value in the West were regarded as A-list in the Soviet sphere. Soviet officials called this fascination "Western idolatry" / "Idolatry before the West" (идолопоклонничество перед Западом / idolopoklonnichestvo pered Zapadom).
  • Obedience to or passive acceptance of everything that government imposes (see authoritarianism).
  • In the opinion of a former US ambassador to Kazakhstan, a tendency to drink heavily: "[a Kazakh defence minister] appears to enjoy loosening up in the tried and true Homo Sovieticus style – i.e., drinking oneself into a stupor".[4]

According to Leszek Kolakowski, the Short course history of the CPSU(b) played a crucial role in forming the key social and mental features of the Homo Sovieticus as a "textbook of false memory and double thinking". Over the years, Soviet people were forced to continuously repeat and accept constantly changing editions of the Short course, each containing a slightly different version of the past events. This inevitably led to forming "a new Soviet man: ideological schizophrenic, honest liar, person always ready for constant and voluntary mental self-mutilations".[5]

The "Soviet man" is characterised by his tendency to follow the authority of the state in its assessment of reality, to adopt an attitude of mistrust and anxiety towards anything foreign and unknown, and is convinced of his own powerlessness and inability to affect the surrounding reality; from here, it is only a step towards lacking any sense of responsibility for that reality. His suppressed aggression, birthed by his chronic dissatisfaction with life, his intense sense of injustice and his inability to achieve self-realisation, and his great envy, all erupt into a fascination with force and violence, as well as a tendency towards "negative identification" – in opposition to "the enemy" or "the foreigner". Such a personality suits a quasi-tribal approach to standards of morality and law (the things "our people" have a right to do are condemned in the "foreigner").
—"Conflict-dependent Russia. The domestic determinants of the Kremlin's anti-western policy", Maria Domańska
{{wiki:|Homo Sovieticus}}
  1. Turowicz, Jerzy (1993). "Pamięć i rodowód". Tygodnik Powszechny (45). 
  2. Liberi sine fano.
  3. 1917–1987: Unsuccessful and Tragic Attempt to Create a "New Man" Template:Webarchive.
  4. Greg McArthur "Vain, shady and stupendously fat: Latest WikiLeaks like a teen's diary", The Globe and Mail, 30 November 2010.
  5. Kolakowski, Leszek (2008). Main Currents of Marxism: The Founders, the Golden Age, the Breakdown. W. W. Norton & Company. .