Nostalgia for the Soviet Union

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Armenians celebrate the Soviet victory over Nazi Germany, 9 May 2018
The statue of Vladimir Lenin in Bishkek, the capital of Kyrgyzstan, July 2018
A bus with Stalin's portrait servicing route 187-К in Saint Petersburg in May 2010
Stamp of Azerbaijan, 2010

Nostalgia for the Soviet Union[1] (Russian: ностальгия по СССР) or Soviet nostalgia[2][3] is a social phenomenon of nostalgia for the Soviet era, whether its politics, its society, its culture, or simply its aesthetics. Such nostalgia is observed among people in Russia and the other post-Soviet states, as well as persons born in the Soviet Union but long since living abroad.

In 2004 a television channel Nostalgiya stylized with a hammer and sickle was launched in Russia.

Polling[edit]

Ever since the fall of the Soviet Union and the Socialist Bloc, annual polling by the Levada Center has shown that over 50 percent of Russia's population lamented its collapse, with the only exception to this being in the year 2012 when support for the Soviet Union dipped below 50 percent. A 2018 poll showed that 66% of Russians regretted the fall of the Soviet Union, setting a 15-year record. The majority were people older than 55.[4][5][6]

In Armenia, 12% of respondents said the USSR collapse did good, while 66% said it did harm. In Kyrgyzstan, 16% of respondents said the collapse of the USSR did good, while 61% said it did harm.[7] A 2012 survey commissioned by the Carnegie Endowment found 38% of Armenians concurring that their county "will always have need of a leader like Stalin".[8] According to July 2012 polling in Ukraine by RATING, 42% of respondents supported the formation of a unified state of Ukraine, Russia and Belarus; earlier in 2012 this support had been 48%.[9]

Reasons[edit]

According to polls, what is missed most about the former Soviet Union was its shared economic system, which provided a modicum of financial stability. Neoliberal economic reforms after the fall of the USSR and the Eastern Bloc resulted in harsh living standards for the general population. Policies associated with privatization allowed of the country's economy to fall in the hands of a newly established business oligarchy. The sense of belonging to a great superpower was a secondary reason for the nostalgia; many felt humiliated and betrayed by their experiences throughout the 1990s and blamed the upheaval on advisors from Western powers, especially as NATO moved closer into Russia's sphere of influence.[10]

According to Dr. Kristen R. Ghodsee, a researcher on post-communist nostalgia in Eastern Europe:

"Only by examining how the quotidian aspects of daily life were affected by great social, political and economic changes can we make sense of the desire for this collectively imagined, more egalitarian past. Nobody wants to revive 20th century totalitarianism. But nostalgia for communism has become a common language through which ordinary men and women express disappointment with the shortcomings of parliamentary democracy and neoliberal capitalism today."[11]

According to the Levada Center poll (November 2016), the people mainly miss the Soviet Union because of the destruction of the joint economic system of its 15 republics (53%); people lost the feeling of belonging to a great power (43%); mutual distrust and cruelty have increased (31%); the feeling that you are at home in any part of the USSR was lost (30%); and connection with friends, relatives lost (28%).[12] Levada Center sociologist Karina Pipiya says that economic factors played the most significant part in rising nostalgia for the USSR in the 2018 poll, as opposed to loss of prestige or national identity, noting that a strong majority of Russians "regret that there used to be more social justice and that the government worked for the people and that it was better in terms of care for citizens and paternalistic expectations."[13]

See also[edit]

Communist nostalgia in Europe[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ Why Russia Backs The Eurasian Union. Business Insider (from The Economist). August 22, 2014.
  2. ^ Nikitin, V. Putin is exploiting the legacy of the Soviet Union to further Russia's ends in Ukraine. The Independent. March 5, 2014.
  3. ^ Taylor, A. Calls for a return to ‘Stalingrad’ name test the limits of Putin’s Soviet nostalgia. Washington Post. June 9, 2014
  4. ^ "Ностальгия по СССР". levada.ru. 2018-12-19.
  5. ^ "Back to USSR: Record number of Russians regret collapse of Soviet Union". RT. 19 December 2018.
  6. ^ Maza, Christina (December 19, 2018). "Russia vs. Ukraine: More Russians Want the Soviet Union and Communism Back Amid Continued Tensions". Newsweek. Retrieved December 20, 2018.
  7. ^ "Former Soviet Countries See More Harm From Breakup". Gallup. Retrieved December 19, 2013.
  8. ^ "Poll Finds Stalin's Popularity High Archived 20 March 2017 at the Wayback Machine". The Moscow Times. 2 March 2013.
  9. ^ The language question, the results of recent research in 2012, RATING (25 May 2012)
  10. ^ Why do so many people miss the Soviet Union? The Washington Post. December 21, 2016.
  11. ^ "Dr. Kristen Ghodsee, Bowdoin College - Nostalgia for Communism".
  12. ^ "THE FALL OF THE SOVIET UNION". Levada.ru. 9.1.2017. Check date values in: |date= (help)
  13. ^ Balmforth, Tom (December 19, 2018). "Russian nostalgia for Soviet Union reaches 13-year high". Reuters. Retrieved December 23, 2018.

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