Children of Victory: Young Specialists and the Evolution of Soviet Society

Children of Victory: Young Specialists and the Evolution of Soviet Society

Children of Victory: Young Specialists and the Evolution of Soviet Society

Children of Victory: Young Specialists and the Evolution of Soviet Society

Synopsis

Born after 1940 and finishing higher education between 1965 and 1982, a generation of Russia's best, brightest, and most privileged came of age in the Brezhnev era. Using recently declassified archival material to uncover bother personal and professional beliefs, this study explores the formative experiences of this group, who now hold key positions in all parts of the government and society. Comparison of these official documents with letters, petitions, and complaints published in the Soviet press provides new insight into the dynamic interaction between the Brezhnev regime and Soviet times.

Confined by the Brezhnev regime's parameters and stability, young Soviet specialists developed an ethos that focused personally upon humanism and individualism, and professionally upon dignity and autonomy. Censored and manipulated, they came to hold a complex system of beliefs, frustrations, and expectations that stood in stark contrast to many of the ideals of the Soviet Union. Ruffley analyzes the ethos of this generation via the prism of domination-resistance studies to offer unique insight into a generation largely ignored by conventional historical inquiry.

Excerpt

In her groundbreaking social history of the immediate aftermath of World War ii in Russia, Elena Zubkova noted, “While the political and economic structures of the ussr remained practically unchanged, a complex of hopes and expectations prompted by the sacrifices of the great victory led to major changes in Soviet society.” Her translator, Hugh Ragsdale, noted that Zubkova’s key accomplishment was that she was “able to demonstrate … a considerable interaction of government policy and public mood. It may surprise the reader how sensitive the Soviet government was to public opinion—in fact, how responsive it was.”

While Zubkova was focused primarily upon the immediate postwar years, her observation applies with equal, perhaps greater force to the Brezhnev era as well. Between 1965 and 1982, Soviet society became increasingly dynamic; it included elements that were both capable of, and willing to develop, solutions to the USSR’s problems. Huge numbers of specialists with higher education entered the Soviet workforce and came face-to-face with the country’s problems. Naturally, they sought to alleviate those problems, putting their education and optimism to work. in many cases, the petitions, suggestions, and criticisms that they submitted to Party organs or the press represented potential solutions to problems. As it had in the immediate postwar period, the regime responded to public opinion in general and to these suggestions specifically as well. As always, some aspects of the response were negative, and some were positive, and in all cases the regime attempted to closely control the process. in many cases, the Soviet state censored citizens’ petitions and stifled social initiatives in order to enhance society’s short-term stability. This censorship led to the escalation of pressures and frustrations generated by the increasingly well educated society. Within this context, young Soviet specialists developed an ethos that stressed a commitment to moral principle and action to achieve practical results in solving problems.

Search by... Author
Show... All Results Primary Sources Peer-reviewed

Oops!

An unknown error has occurred. Please click the button below to reload the page. If the problem persists, please try again in a little while.