Staunton, June 12 – The division of Russian society into rich and poor has occurred over a single generation, Inna Karpova points out. Older people who can remember before that occurred still have some ties across that divide; but the children of each group do not and are more deeply split than many imagine.
The commentator for the Matrony portal says that if one ignores the extremes, the oligarchs on the one hand and the homeless on the other, adults with various incomes often continue to interact, remembering their common experiences of youthful poverty in Soviet times (matrony.ru/bogatyie-i-bednyie-za-odnoy-partoy/).
But the children of these two groups are a different matter altogether, Karpova says. They don’t have that common background, and when they are thrown together in schools or elsewhere, they quickly compare what some of them have and what others do not and draw conclusions.
Children of the new rich often become snobs, with negative attitudes to those less fortunate than themselves, attitudes that are only reinforced as they acquire elite educations and better-paying jobs. And children of the new poor feel left out, envying others and increasingly focusing on only the material side of life.
Parents of both groups need to talk about these things and to give their children experiences which show that the amount of money someone has is not the only measure of success, especially as so many media messages are directed at reinforcing exactly that idea, Karpova continues.
The Matrony commentator does not address the political consequences of this growing divide, but the collapse in ties between the children of the new rich and children of the new poor may create a situation where members of the latter will become ever more radical and willing to take by force what they have not been able to get out of life in other ways.