Staunton, September 22 – Many Russians, Ukrainians and Belarusians express nostalgia for Soviet times, but their reasons for doing so may not be exactly the same as the ones Vladimir Putin might wish for. Indeed, Belarusian blogger Maksim Mirovich says, some of them are very much at odds with what their leaders would like them to focus on.
In a post yesterday, he lists what he calls five “basic arguments why people so much like the USSR and don’t like their present-day countries,” all based on the believe that they in fact “really live worse” now than in the Soviet past (maxim-nm.livejournal.com/357466.html; reposted at charter97.org/ru/news/2017/9/22/263673/).
1. “The poor quality of today’s products,” especially foodstuffs.
2. “The sad situation with work in company towns.”
3. “Bad roads.”
4. “The loss of status of [formerly] ‘honored professions’” like teaching.
5. And “hatred for the rich.”
The last is especially important. In Soviet times, the communist authorities encouraged people to have a negative view of anyone with money; and many Russians, Ukrainians and Belarusians have not adapted to the shift in values their leaders promote to the notion that gaining wealth is a positive thing.
But what is striking about Mirovich’s list is less what is on it than what is not. Based on the comments of people to his blog posts, he finds little of the nostalgia for the past based on the idea that the Soviet Union was a great power, feared if not always respected by others, while Russia and even more her two Slavic neighbors are far less so.
While the Belarusian blogger’s list is hardly conclusion, it is a useful reminder that not all nostalgia is for what Vladimir Putin or other leaders might like to see brought back and that some of what powers that positive view of the past involves values that may even threaten those in power now.