What does the Soviet Union mean to Russians?



More than 50 percent of Russians are nostalgic for the Soviet era – even those born after the collapse of the USSR. The recent survey by the All-Russian Center for Public Opinion showed that 64 percent of Russians would vote for the preservation of the USSR should a referendum be held today…
similar to the one held in 1991 For many – the Soviet era is a kind of fairy tale, which disappeared without a trace. This is a relatively new trend. Because a significant number of Russians were happy to meet the collapse of the Soviet Union and accepted the promise of a new life. Any reminder of the Soviet times was met with disgust and a derogatory nickname – Sovok. Food shortages, rude staff, terrible social service, long queues and censorship – just to name a few of the Soviet staples people were eager to forget about… so eager it seems – they have succeeded. Sociologists say this positive attitude towards a totalitarian past is a reflection of today’s economic challenges and the way pop culture romanticised the USSR in fiction. But statistics speak louder than words: more than half of Russians miss Sovok. So what is it, that people miss? The main thing Russians miss from the Soviet era is the sense of security. My mother recalls how small children played outside all day without supervision. Like all the other kids she would wear a key from the apartment on her neck. Burglary and kidnapping were not an issue in those days. People enjoyed economic stability and permanent jobs with standard wages and access to social security. Mostly people miss their youth: gathering outside, Soviet dance parties, weekends at the dacha, camping trips – these activities are idealized in Soviet movies that were made to boost morale of a post-war society. Picture perfect young soviet people building a bright future in a friendly setting. These feel-good movies are also a feast for the eye – showcasing the best of the best in Soviet Design: furniture, electronics, clothes and cars. Russian social networks capture this nostalgia well with many communities and accounts dedicated to the “good old times”. There is even a TV network called "Nostalgia". It only shows Soviet films. Business is monetizing the trend: soviet style restaurants, toys, clothes and even vehicles – are in demand. Brands that survived the collapse of the Soviet Union and linger on are enjoying a rise in consumer attention. Instead of rebranding iconic chocolates, dairy products or beverages – marketers make sure to keep their design as “soviet” as possible. Giving a young brand a touch of soviet fairy dust also helps: Dva Machya launched a line of Soviet-style sneakers that quickly gained attention. Rostekh is currently marketing a modern Zenit, a Soviet single-lens reflex camera, propelling it into the luxury segment, similar to the Leica. The Soviet Union was known for its grand sport achievements. In 2014, President Vladimir Putin brought back the Soviet-era sports program GTO, a Russian acronym for “Ready for Labour and Defense.” The program has 11 categories of fitness standards for both men and women, from schoolchildren to senior citizens. Why are people nostalgic? The USSR was an Empire: its armed forces could compete with the strongest armies in the world. Soviet scientists and sportsmen were among the best, not to mention space exploration… it was a leading country. These achievements inspired Soviet people – after all, it’s a comforting feeling – a sense of being part of something great. Moreover, the Soviet Union promoted a powerful ideology that promised people to put an end to poverty, inequality and oppression worldwide. Up to a certain point, all soviet people felt like their work mattered: they were ALL building a better, more fair society. So it’s not a surprise that in our days of harsh market competition, people want to find themselves somewhere more equal, less chaotic, more predictable. And many imagine the USSR as such a place. Not everyone is convinced though. In most cases, pleasant memories blur the negative ones. But there are people, who lived most of their lives during Soviet rule, and they have no desire whatsoever to go back. To them, memories of endless lines in shops and medical facilities, party assemblies, censorship and eavesdropping, the helplessness of an individual facing society and the government, oppression and poverty – all outweigh any benefits socialism provided. The country was isolated, closed to the outside world, bands like the Beatles and Rolling Stones were banned, books were banned, jeans were impossible to get. So this pretty picture nostalgia paints about the USSR is largely a distorted view of one’s youth… or a result of poor knowledge of history… where the positive is exaggerated while the negative is either forgotten or significantly reduced. So… No matter what people miss: their personal well being, or a larger picture of a mighty nation – over 70 percent of respondents don’t believe the USSR will ever make a comeback. Are you a fan of the Soviet Union? Do you hate it? Let us know in comments below. And I’ll see you next time, bye!




Comments
  1. More funny, provocative and very informative things to watch:

    7 things foreigners shouldn't do in Russia https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1x_lWDu9Wf8

    What does the Soviet Union mean to Russians? https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Ttc4cmwbNXY

    Do you know where Native Americans come from? https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4pznh_feAE8

    Why does Malevich's Black Square cost so much? https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tmAx6umELmU

    Are Russians really obsessed with dill? https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=JBHev8TFSvw

    7 contemporary Russian superstitions you should know about https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5TPq39OwgVw

    Why is Russia a post-feminist country https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=f3DjBiiqe-A

    What makes Russian Women beautiful https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=lJkCYIdY9yY

    Nostalgic USSR childhood: How it really was… (Spoiler: It was great) https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=IOt6cOF1Hh0

    How do Russians drink vodka and survive? https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=iIclif8v8Cc

  2. I'm Russian who was born after collapse of Soviet Union. But if I was live during this time I would be for preservation of the USSR.

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  4. Claiming erosion of memories is such a weak and shitty argument against Eastern Bloc nostalgia. Do the Chileneans wish back the Pinochet era? Do the Chinese wish back the Kuomintang or the emperor? Do the French wish back the times of Napoleon or the Second Republic? Certainly not in the majority. Eastern Bloc nostalgia is unique in that life in the Soviet Union was economically, clinically, medically, and technologically better by any objective, quantifiable metric than the present life citizens of these countries live in this day.

  5. The Soviet Union was an amazing country if you look at it as a outsider it is different i get it but believe me it was amazing but say what you want the USSR is in your heart!

  6. 1. The old fairy tale about "socialism oppresses the identity of u-u-u-u-u". You speak about bad knowledge of history and you show it. In the Union there were many clubs on interests – for all, from the school student to the ordinary worker (physical or brainwork) and yes are absolutely FREE. How it is possible to oppress the personality and at the same time to develop the interests of the person? Logic where?)

    2. Nobody was forced to consist in parties, labor unions, Komsomols and other. You do not want – do not enter, your personal record, but many were there since it is good social life, people got new friends, acquaintances, darlings there.

    3. "Totalitarian censorship of u-u-u-u" – well first, censorship is In ANY STATE if you do not see it – it means well works. The Beatles and other musicians were, the French, Japanese movies showed at movie theaters, exactly as well as books and your favourite jeans.

    I tell it as the person from Russia who communicated much with the relatives and people who lived at that time. They have rather objective opinion on the USSR, was good, but was also bad. Today bad it is more.

    Minuses and pluses are in ANY country in ANY state, just the last 30 years (approximately) badly speak about communists, I think it is not necessary to explain in whose it interests.

  7. 4:28–4:42 I see Russians' nostalgia is no different to western people's nostalgia for the 80's (I also think the 90's is overrated but I think the 90's objectively actually was a good time).

  8. По поводу того ,что значительная часть населения была рада распаду советского союза А вам известно ,что на референдуме о сохранении Советского союза большинство проголосовало именно за сохранение ? Сам союз распался из-за Беловежских соглашений , документ которых был подписан незаконно

  9. Over 90% of my heart is such in love to Soviet union such that the last few years of my teenage growth I spent searching about truths and lies about this Great communist party governmental state thus in the end I've acquired my whole love to Soviet union and I would be unbelievably happy if such great and anonymous country will ever be reborn again in this world!!

  10. My wishes, thinking of history if Russia from 1991

    – Put back this iron curtain! Thanks, West, I've taken all I wanted (the Beetle's songs), now goodbye! Put that iron curtain back, please.

    Seriously, now I look at our past… What stupids idiots we were, when we dreamed of jeans… We thought that everyone in western countries was rich and happy, now we know – no. The are not. Now we have a lot of jeans in Russia. Do we need it? Now we don't have jobs, money, normal state, normal army normal social security, apartments, sometimes we don't even have f*cking meal.

    It's impossible to imagine such a shame in the USSR…

  11. I recommend an interesting book: "Wall Street and the Bolshevik Revolution" by Antony C. Sutton
    Why did the 1917 American Red Cross Mission to Russia include more financiers than medical doctors? Rather than caring for the victims of war and revolution, its members seemed more intent on negotiating contracts with the Kerensky government, and subsequently the Bolshevik regime. In a courageous investigation, Antony Sutton establishes tangible historical links between US capitalists and Russian communists. Drawing on State Department files, personal papers of key Wall Street figures, biographies and conventional histories, Sutton reveals: the role of Morgan banking executives in funneling illegal Bolshevik gold into the US; the co-option of the American Red Cross by powerful Wall Street forces; the intervention by Wall Street sources to free the Marxist revolutionary Leon Trotsky, whose aim was to topple the Russian government; the deals made by major corporations to capture the huge Russian market a decade and a half before the US recognized the Soviet regime; and, the secret sponsoring of Communism by leading businessmen, who publicly championed free enterprise. "Wall Street and the Bolshevik Revolution" traces the foundations of Western funding of the Soviet Union. Dispassionately, and with overwhelming documentation, the author details a crucial phase in the establishment of Communist Russia. This classic study – first published in 1974 and part of a key trilogy – is reproduced here in its original form. (The other volumes in the series include "Wall Street and the Rise of Hitler" and a study of Franklin D. Roosevelt's "1933 Presidential election in the United States").

  12. In the USSR, it was bad and good

    Good things: free education, free medicine, free housing, equality between nations, respect for women and mothers.

    In the USSR it was safer than in many places of the world. A woman at night could easily walk along the street. There were no drugs, they only spoke on TV about the good present and the future.

  13. Some friends are angry about "realities" on russian tv, that trash appears after the collapse of USSR

  14. IF any of you are really interested in knowing what life was like for most people in the USSR, check out the Ushanka show here on yT (It might be spelled ushankashow). This is a channel entirely devoted to the owner's experiences growing up in the Soviet Union. Sergei, who runs the channel, protrays events in a very entertaining, but brutally realistic, way.

  15. Saious Neroshimyi respoblik spabodnyk spabodnyk splotila naveki valilkya Rus! Da dras svuet soz Danny volej narodov; idinyi maguchi sovyetski saiaus!

  16. Russians should be proud of thier powerful heritage
    Even tough i hate communists but i still admire USSR

  17. I just want to put this out there: the "conclusion" part of this video is only an opinion of whoever made this video and certainly does not reflect the views of the Russian people.

  18. Its quite a difficult choice between jeans, The Rolling Stones and social equality, great opportunities. The majority of the western people just aren’t able to realize what the ussr actually is. They believe there was some totalitarian system and poverty and these things were created by some awful communists. They should realize the people built this state for people, the goal of its existence was building of communism – society where all people are equal, have same opportunities despite race, parents and so on. The ussr was created by the Russians and developed by them. Realize it. Im sorry if ive made some mistakes.

  19. Not true. USSR was not about jeans – its about boss can't fire you out because you annoying his wife.
    Likewise, all merits of "free market" are faded, when people understand the basic rule: to be succesful you must cut other people throats or they cut yours. Its not a "competition", at least ib Russian eyes – its a… how to say…break society cohesion to achieve personal gain.

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