When we visited the historical Museum, which exhibits primarily attract us? Maps of political boundaries? The list of kings? The names of the generals? All this is certainly interesting, if really interesting story. But the first thing we look is how people lived that era. What they wore, what dishes and what exactly they ate and drank, how they looked like ornaments, their beds, their vehicle, what they listened to, what to read, as were burying each other. In any common room at the Windows with household artifacts of a past life are always more viewers than display cases with ancient manuscripts or swords and sabers.
Experts know that the history of any people is not confined to biographies of political and spiritual leaders, dates of major battles or stories about the construction of cities, roads and bridges. Archaeologists spend months, and sometimes years, studying the burial mounds, burial chambers or so-called “cultural layers”, i.e. layers of the ancient garbage. And no one comes to mind to ask them the question: what are they digging in the garbage? What the murals on the walls of tombs trying to learn about the organization of ancient feasts, or hunting, or sports? No normal person will not leave archaeologists or historians accusation, saying what they are studying fragments of ancient ceramics, looking for details of everyday life of the ancient common man, instead of focusing exclusively on biographies of some Pharaoh and a list of majestic obelisks and pyramids built by him. We understand how important for historical science is the study of the history of material culture.
“The Odyssey” and “Illiada” of Homer are the only monuments that contain nuggets of information about how lived the ancient Greeks. The tomb on the Palatine, Esquiline, and in the Roman forum are the only source of knowledge about the early Roman people. When scientists with disdain for “base themes”, it is nothing but harm to science this attitude does not.
For example, in the late nineteenth century scientists, Egyptologists were interested in only ancient temples and tombs, with disdain, referring to the nondescript “residential” areas, considering them to be unpromising. They were interested in the pharaohs and was not interested in ordinary unknown people, who “worked” the pharaohs. However, two young Oxford scholars Bernard Grenfell and Arthur hunt, were not so arrogant. In 1896 they carried out excavations near the village Behnesa, consists of a few miserable hovels. This village was located on the site of the ancient city of Oxyrhyncha, with no magnificent buildings, no evidence of monumentalne Ramesses or carved into the rocks of the tombs, in short anything that in the opinion of “real scientists” and only deserved a study in the history of Egypt.
Actually this city is interested in Grenfell and hunt more from the point of view of studying the early history of Christianity, because once upon a time there were many monasteries. After a series of works on the site of an ancient cemetery and discouraged by the almost complete absence of anything interesting, Grenfell and hunt at the end, just not to admit the failure of the expedition, decided to excavate the huge hills, which represent the millennial landfill of household waste. While “these Egyptologists,” like Professor Pacoli from the movie “the Fifth element”, studied the tombs, Grenfell and hunt began in January of 1897 the attack on the landfill of Oxyrhyncha. Their desperate attempt was crowned with sensational results and promoted papyrologie far ahead. They found in a large number of private letters, contracts, various legal documents, which in itself propel egiptologia far ahead in the study of the life of the ancient Egyptians. But the real sensation sensation found in the debris – steel fragments of the ancient text the beginning of the III century BC, later called “Nologies”. This text contains some statements of Jesus Christ are not known to any one of the Gospels.
The question of the canonicity of these texts or their eroticheski – the issue is theological. However, here’s an interesting fact, as the study of garbage – that may be a lowland? – gave new food for thought to historians and religious figures. In other words, there is nothing exceptionally vile when it comes to history. You can write a whole fascinating book, telling about how valuable information about the life of past ages was obtained by examining the seemingly unexpected objects. Sometimes even an ancient coin can tell the inquiring historian much about the life of the disappeared people.
But what archaeologists and historians have to dig in all this? The point, alas, that contemporaries often do not pay attention to the domestic side of the issue. Chroniclers interesting to describe the great biographies of kings and presidents, the names of the generals and bloody battles, the storming of towns and of a terrible epidemic. And that to the consumer side of the issue… Thought if one chronicler, describing the life and exploits of the modern king that the people of the future will be interesting not only this king, and the list of his conquests, but for example also from what material is made shoes of the chronicler, for how much and where he bought it, what I had for Breakfast and what I saw, walking through the market of the city. No, he was just an incredible idea that centuries later someone will be interested in such a “low” information. But to receive this kind of details modern historians are willing to spend great efforts.
Our time – time handheld devices that allow you to record surrounding not only statically (photo), but also dynamically (video) – they might leave to the historians of the future are simply the inexhaustible reservoir of information about the home life of the person beginning of the XXI century. Assuming of course that modern digital technology will remain the same and in a hundred years (which, truth be told, it’s hard to believe). Probably the most progressive modern iPads through the ages will cause the same smile, which makes us a “magic lantern” of the XVII century. But archaeologists – savvy children – is likely to find a way to read modern electronic media and then they will fall a tsunami of images of dwellings, clothing, food, hairstyles, small local “celebs” and ordinary people who every day clicked, clicked and clicked their electronic devices around him, capturing almost every step. Perhaps future historians will still be nagging me why they need so many images of women’s bare legs on a background of sea waves or photographs of dirty plates with leftovers. But this is our time, but of time, separated from ours only in some years forty or fifty, of information much less.
I was born in 1965. My first camera – it was called Smena-8M received as a gift about 12 years old. And since then photographed, photographed, photographed. I have just Deposit film. But here’s the strange thing – they are almost no images of simple houses, well unless they accidentally fell into the frame. Not I kept taking pictures of ordinary streets, entrances of houses, interior shops, cinemas. The overwhelming majority of photos that I did and the same Amateurs like me – this photo of the photographer himself, his family and friends, usually on the background of any monuments or nature. Studying photographs of Soviet photographers 60-80-ies of XX century, critical scholar of modern times, not knowing the realities, perhaps may conclude that the people of that era only also did that went to the demonstration, gathered around a dinner table, became at attention against the background of St. Basil’s Cathedral and other monuments, so roasted kebabs on the nature. I think if you make the assumption that the lion’s share of the materials of all Soviet Amateurs are such photos.
I wonder why photographing the people at the holiday table, no one came to mind to make detailed pictures of the dishes at this table, or even pictures of the insides of the refrigerator, from which these dishes were on the table. No one went into any grocery store or Department to take some photos of buyers and sellers – in memory. Perhaps the person who did it would look like crazy. Why take photos of the store? Yet what good and called the police. In fact – why the Soviet man can come up with the idea to photograph not kebabs in the lap of nature, and all in the sausage Department?
Even the question itself in this way today some people can seem confusing and even annoying. Emerged in the early 2000-ies light mood in the mind, wanting to remember the recent past exclusively in a joyful and pink, called “nostalgia for the Soviet era”. Nostalgia is the word, it seems, explains a lot. Lost, painted in tones of nostalgia, it always seems better and more attractive present. Because of this, any attempt to look objectively at the object of nostalgia – and an objective view, sees not only the positive – causes irritation, sometimes anger nostalgic.
No one today does not seem offensive assertion that, say, a medieval peasant lived financially much worse than a medieval feudal Lord, he ate less, slept less, was constantly busy with hard work. On the contrary, many will read with interest on how and in what rags, and rags went farmer, some rough food he ate, what he drank, to at least briefly escape from reality. But many absolutely changes the mood when the same comparison is to begin to make between, for example, the Soviet peasant and Soviet party figure.
You can naturally and practically in any audience to say: “a simple man under the tsars lived hard and could not afford a huge number civilizational benefits that were available more of the elected members of his society.” But it should say: “the ordinary people in the USSR lived hard and could not afford a huge number civilizational benefits that were available more of the elected members of the society”, as out of nowhere there is a cohort of people who frantically begin to demand: “stop denigrate our past, why to dig in dirty linen of our grandfathers”, “how to hate their country enough to say such things about her” and then in the same spirit.
But excuse me, why write the truth about the plight of the workers in tsarist times is not blackening their history, but rather is accepted as an objective study of the issue, and the exact same approach when he addresses the Soviet period of our history, not something that causes aversion and downright hatred on the part of some opponents. In my opinion the answer to this question lies on the surface.
The Soviet Union was an ideocratic state. Having seized power in January 1918 (after the dispersal of the Russian Constituent Assembly), the Bolsheviks established the country’s its power, calling it the dictatorship of the proletariat. This power in the first stage based on the strength of the bayonets of the red guard and international units like the Latvian Riflemen. Anyone who disagreed with Communist rule – were destroyed in the most unequivocal way. However, it is impossible to rule only by the methods of apparatus of violence. And the farther left the country from 1918, the more the aspect of coercion from the realm of terror was transferred into the sphere of advocacy. And while terrorist methods are not fully disappeared until the end of the Soviet Union (as will be discussed in the appropriate place), but in the 60-80 years of XX century, the main tool of retention in the obedience of the people the Communists had their propaganda machine.
No one probably can not say exactly how many people in Soviet times, worked in the Communist propaganda machine, the propaganda, as it was called. In addition to agitators of various local party committees, district committees, regional committees, territorial committees, etc., there were numerous Communist newspaper (Soviet Union almost never happened), the office of the political officers of the Soviet Army, and indeed all Soviet society was permeated with Communist influence from top to bottom. If you add up the members of the families of all these workers, then the account will go on hundreds of thousands, if not millions. What did they all do?
They do not create material values, they did not build houses and factories, not worked on the designing of new rockets, not movies and not composed music, they repaired shoes and not cooked soup in the canteens. All they do is propaganda that the Soviet system better than capitalist. Five days a week from 9 to 18 hours (and sometimes more often), these people for very good by Soviet standards salary and very good by Soviet standards, other material goods (what will also be said a lot in this book), it was my job to convince Soviet citizens that they live in the best, fairest, happiest country. Nothing else most of these promoters do not know how. And did not want.
But then came 1991. Fell the power of the Communists, and with it collapsed and Communist agitprop. The most cynical, and, perhaps, intellectual, thousands of former staff of this propaganda, changed the banner and began to call themselves Democrats, standing in the front ranks of the reformers. Former first Prime Minister of post-Soviet Russia – Yegor Gaidar – just belonged to this part. Until 1990 he was editor of the journal of the Central Committee of the CPSU “Communist”, that is, occupied one of key positions of the Communist propaganda. But then it became almost the main persecutor of the Communists. It may seem strange – how can this be, because in 1991, when Yegor Gaidar headed the anti-Communist government of Russia, he was 35 years old. It is only at this age “saw the light” and saw some flaws of the Soviet Union and the Communist ideology? Rhetorical question…
But not all former employees of many of the Communist propaganda followed in the footsteps of Yegor Gaidar. Some of them actually believed in Communist ideals, and someone could not adapt to a new life, as could only one thing – to praise the Communist party. Of course someone as they fell. What can I say, if a Communist mouthpieces facing in Soviet times to young people, such as the newspaper “Moskovsky Komsomolets” or “Komsomolskaya Pravda”, not even abandoned their Communist names, but in the new conditions began to chant a different set of values, and this is done even old employees, who extolled the values of communism. Remained in their places, and many former military Communist propagandists, political officer. They only became known as the new – Deputy of educational work. In General, Soviet propaganda fell apart, and its cogs left. Many of these screws for the soul continued to breathe for the Soviet era and habitually to insist that the Soviet Union is the best state.
What was the glorious Communist agitprop in Soviet times? Those that did not, even the most innocent criticism of Soviet reality. Was even invented a special term – “calumnies,” “slander of Soviet reality”, “anti-Soviet agitation”, etc. Not so innocent terms, among other things. Article 70 of the RSFSR criminal code of 1960 for the so-called “anti-Soviet agitation and propaganda” promised by imprisonment for a term not exceeding seven years. The mere existence of this article already suggests what state was the Soviet Union, if his criticism could be thrown in jail for a few years. But this also will be told in its place. Now we are talking about the methods of Communist propagandists. They lived happily until the age of mass proliferation of computers and cheap access to broadband Internet. And here they got like a second wind. Like back the days of their youth – they could again broadcast to a large audience through Internet forums, blogs and social networks. The skills they reproduce the old Soviet system.
From here and all these angry shouts of “blackening history” and “anti-Soviet”. For example, imagine that the public Internet would have existed already in the 50-ies of XX century, there was the Nuremberg Tribunal, and the employees of the former German Reich Ministry of public enlightenment and propaganda would be well settled in various trading brokerage firms post-war Germany. And here, in these hypothetical 50s, wrote some German in his blog: “during the reign of Hitler persecuted dissidents, Gestapo interrogations were torture, concentration camps were destroyed millions of people, and the population received food rationing”, and the answer from all sides rushes: “stop spitting in our past!”, “The third Reich is the best period in the life of the German people!” “Don’t touch the light image of the Third Reich!”. Interesting processes could occur in German mass consciousness in this case. But in reality, the Nuremberg Tribunal delivered its verdict, and employees of the former Reich Ministry of public enlightenment and propaganda prefers to keep quiet about his past career. And then there was the Internet.
History does not know the concept of “light the way”. The history knows only the concept of fact and nothing more. Was or was not a particular fact – that the interests of the story. And calls this real fact someone pain – that is the question the story does not care. If in the years of Hitler’s reign in Germany and the occupied territories existed a concentration camp of death, if all the war a special SS team had rounded up the Jewish population in these camps and there is a population destroyed, the historical Sciences reported that such a fact (or many facts) existed, while the international community establishes such facts as the crime and genocide. While definitely still alive guards of such camps, or their children and grandchildren, that such facts, however, may be considered positive or negative counting them, very unwilling to allow public debate. And yet their opinion does not care about any historical science, or jurisprudence.
Or, for example, such fact. In the history of our nation there were many dramatic pages. One of the most difficult – the siege of Leningrad during the Second world war. In the context of the above question, what’s noteworthy? It is noteworthy that in Soviet times, this blockade has often been considered not from the military, namely, from the household point of view. This was filmed, talked about this in schools, has been written about this book. Every Soviet citizen knew that the siege of Leningrad the people were given bread cards, which workers received 250 grams of bread per day, employees, dependents, and children – 125 grams. But bread and Leningrad did not received almost nothing. Described numerous cases of deaths from starvation; it became the textbook image of Leningrad – exhausted, freezing, with my last strength carrying a coffin on a sledge or the carrier reeling from the hole in the Neva river a bucket of water. All this horror does not cause a specific audience requirements to rein in the narrator and forbid him “to blacken”. But the mood changes completely if, for example, to remember the terrible famine 30-ies, struck the Volga region and Ukraine, i.e. the grain region of the then USSR.
We all know the story of Bloody Sunday, the dark spots on the appearance of Tsar Nicholas II – this is our story. But why many of us prefer to forget and not to remember about the so-called Novocherkassk massacre, when a peaceful demonstration of workers (several thousand people), requiring meat for their families, the soldiers opened fire? Is it because Communist propaganda is very sympathetic to the unveiling of the darkest facts of the king’s time and did not allow even a hint of such facts, if they related to the Soviet period? But our history is one, and is subdivided into eras it only for the convenience of study. But not to different eras come with different instrumentation and approaches. Not in the Imperial period to look for just all bad, and in Soviet – the only good things. However, the wrong and the opposite approach, that is, not to see in the Soviet period, nothing good and heroic.
However, because such an approach did not arise out of the blue. And as the antithesis of the approach of the Communist propaganda. Because in the end – Novocherkassk massacre happened in 1962, only a year after the flight of Yuri Gagarin. That’s what objectivity to see both of these events and not to pretend that they are not related to each other; not to say that Gagarin’s flight is a pattern of Communist rule, but Novocherkassk massacre – a tragic accident, and “uncharacteristic individual mistakes.”
The world is connected. Grenfell and hunt without much hope went through in centuries-old mountains of garbage and find gems of history. Look at the small and household is not as shallow as it may seem. The state and the dynasty is crumbling not because of the fact that not launched a rocket into space or build the pyramids for the chiefs. In the end, a symbol of the French revolution is not only the storming of the Bastille, but the March of women to Versailles, which happened a few months later. This March was provoked by the backwardness of French science or the poor condition of the French army. Everything was much more prosaic – reasons and slogans were purely domestic. Life when it becomes unbearable, destroys the Empire. If the woman across the state do not like her domestic life, the state begins to stagger. And sees a woman in the first place small and prosaic. But sometimes there is nothing more important to the history and preservation of the state. Who does not understand, that in vain rises in a pathetic pose of a guardian of the destinies of the nation.
In these sentiments of “nostalgia for the Soviet past” it would be possible not to pay attention, realizing that initiated such sentiments in the first place have not found themselves in the new society former employees of the Communist propaganda. But it is much harder. After all, if real gave us only examples of the exceptional quality of the organization of society, ordinary people didn’t listen to senile lamentations and sighs of the former Soviet trainers of district committees of the CPSU. But we see that the collapse of the Soviet Union brought to life the most disgusting mainstream phenomena; on the top of our companies climbed figures often with the lowest moral values, which created a comfortable environment that was offensive to any normal person. All of this ultimately gave rise to and creates moods “time to go” and – increasingly – demand to change the present into something better. And then there is the temptation to look back, to find there something very good, attractive, which ought to be restored to live well and happily.
If for a moment to mentally travel into the Soviet 70th year and try to take in the information flow that era, then of course not to mention that he was mentally comfortable, compared to today. About all the bad things the Soviet people heard only as a review abroad or, in extreme cases, as “some drawbacks”, which necessarily “will soon be finally finished.” On TV the Soviet man was seen mostly good normal person, not the antics of some mutants and degenerates. The Soviet people had no idea that the mayor could steal personal goals for the annual budget and then buy their expensive real estate on the shore of the warm ocean. Itself the luxury of calling based on the theft of the Soviet people believed a two-storey brick cottage of some warehouse Manager. Communist leaders – at least in the Brezhnev era did not cause much sympathy, however, did not cause and organic disgust. Including television, the Soviet people came under a barrage of propaganda, telling him about all the new achievements and never telling about all the mistakes and miscalculations. In this picture, the more attractive it seems, the less I recall “some shortcomings”, and if something is remembered, it seems not a noteworthy change.
But history does not know things – that truth is not a sin to repeat again and again. When on the eve of the French revolution, the hatred of ordinary people to Queen Marie-Antoinette reached its climax, the rumors (and maybe Jean-Jacques Rousseau) have attributed to her the phrase “If they have no bread, let them eat cake”. Bread, cakes – a small thing, not deserving “serious study.” However, this change has led to very dramatic consequences. Or, returning to the residents of Novocherkassk in 1962. They are so troubled by this vile question of meat, if the Soviet Union the first in the world to launch a man into space? And yet…
There is another moment. Almost everyone who fondly remembers the Soviet era and post-Soviet hatred, especially 90 years, every time takes away from the simple but very vexing question: who, in fact, destroyed the Soviet Union? Did the Soviet Union were conquered by NATO? Or maybe the country entered a “alien” from Mars, which frantically began to ruin this happy country? The reality is much more prosaic. All those with such hatred commemorate the defenders of the “bright image of the Soviet past”, who actually dismantled the Soviet Union and imposed on all of us a new agenda, born and raised in the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics. And not only that, born and raised, but have received their education, joined the pioneer and Komsomol organizations, have taken the first steps in independent living, and some have reached the heights of career in a purely Soviet Communist society. They – Gorbachev, Yakovlev, Yeltsin and Gaidar and Chubais, Sobchak, and Burbulis and Starovoitova, and Koch, and upland, hundreds and thousands of those whose names were well-known in the 90s as the names of the principal reformers, and now forgotten – it’s all “children of the land of the Soviets”, the glorious children of the Brezhnev era. And not only they. The notorious “lads” “dashing 90-x” – is a former pioneers and Komsomol members, who are the endless festivities and gatherings swore to be true builders of communism, watched the films “How the steel was tempered” or “guest from the future”, collecting scrap metal and studied moral code of the Builder of communism, a red line across which is the idea that “man is to man a friend, comrade and brother”. And yet… And yet they built the world in which most normal people to live is not very nice, to put it mildly.
The defenders of the “Soviet myth” there are timid attempts to link all this to explain why born and brought up in supposedly the best in the world people who have reached this state considerable heights, suddenly furiously destroyed this state and began to build a new world, as if taking its own propaganda cliches about the wild capitalism. The explanation for this is that acted against the USSR secret services of the Western (capitalist) States that they say could put almost the entire Soviet people, a senior Communist leaders to recruit, making them the so-called “agents of influence” who “at the behest of the West” (another stamp from the inventory of Communist agitprop) destroyed the USSR.
The explanation is naive and stupid, able to meet the only person who doesn’t want to remove the blinders of propaganda, not to destroy your comfortable virtual world. The man is even a little willing to understand, can not ask the following question, but it is not the Western service, and a former Chairman of the KGB Yuri Andropov fished from a distant Stavropol and gave a start to the leaders of the future “gravedigger of the USSR” Mikhail Gorbachev. Yes and what did the mighty KGB, if he could not resist recruitment by Western intelligence agencies the highest officials in the Soviet state. And, in the end, why the KGB was not able to answer to recruiting is not something that the President of the United States, but at least unsold Senator from Alaska?
Anyway, what kind of Soviet patriotism is one that assumes that the enemy intelligence services were able to recruit higher officials of his state? After all, it’s kind of absurd to believe that very well has been arranged by the state in which the top could massively get people about anything not dreaming, how about getting their enlisted enemy.
And if all those numerous representatives of the Communist propaganda really well read the classics of Marxism-Leninism, they would not know one of the fundamental Communist positions, which we can not agree, namely, man is a product of the environment. And if so, then those who climbed to the top of power in the USSR and then destroyed the Soviet Union was a product of the Soviet environment and nothing more. And how in that case to not want the maximum scrupulously this environment to study?
If you think about it, the Soviet Union really was a unique country. In the history it seems this is the only instance when the Supreme people of the state, suddenly and without any apparent motives, without any threats for himself and his power, suddenly said: “Yes, our government and the ideology on which it is based fail, they should completely change and even to destroy.” If you take the authoritarian and totalitarian States of the twentieth century, which is sometimes compared with the USSR and which disappeared in the twentieth century that anything similar was not with them. Adolf Hitler never recognized the fallacy of their ideas, and the Third Reich fell is not the result of collusion of the highest bosses of the Nazi party, and under the blows of the allied armies. Fascist Italy has done similarly, and Benito Mussolini, even before the execution did not renounce his ideas, not for a second did not allow that though something was wrong, Even the closest allies of the USSR. The head of the GDR, Erich Honecker did not hand over the country to the last defended the GDR. The Romanian leader Nicolau Ceausescu to the last did not surrender, and was executed as a result of rebellion. In Czechoslovakia, Hungary, Bulgaria, the new political system created new political forces that succeeded the Communists. And only in the Soviet Union capital of the country and dismantling of the system was carried out by the same people who a few years before that to convince people of the advantages of the socialist system and in their loyalty to the ideals of Lenin.
This book is addressed primarily to historians XXII and later centuries. But I hope she will be curious and the residents of today. As those who caught the Soviet Union in full bloom, and those who saw only the sad ending, if not was born after the USSR disappeared from the political map of the world. I would pledge to go to these memories as objectively as possible. This is the maximum of what I can do for the historical science of the future.
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