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Article

The Future as Perceived by Soviet Schoolchildren of the 1930s

The Russian Review. 2020. Vol. 79. No. 2. P. 204-226.

This article reconstructs the views of Soviet schoolchildren of the 1930s about the future, which they nearly always identified with communism. The attitudes to this this perspective among the pre‐war school students are quite remarkable taking into account that they were the first generation of the Soviet citizens molded in accordance with the USSR’s ideological matrix, within the school system of the 1930s that had been remodeled to meet the communist ideological priorities. The texts created by individuals belonging that age group, provide a fairly clear picture of the hierarchy, combinations, and depth of grasping the messages of the program to form a communist consciousness. Based on the analysis of children’s essays, statements, and ego documents of high school students, the article shows group differences in how the Communist ideal was perceived. For younger adolescents, this ideal did not penetrate deeply into their consciousness. Rather, it provided an external framework for technogenic fantasies and adventurous escapades. Thus transformed, these fantasies in fact demonstrate typical reactions to problematic areas of communication with the outside world, peculiar to age‐related psychology. For older adolescents enduring hardships and loneliness, this ideal was a model for the relationships between people and between a person and society–which promised to solve their problems. Creative and socially active youngsters were inspired by a communist outbreak of discoveries, radically changing the conditions of human existence, and were looking for a way to apply their personal resources to it. One of the results of this search and hence the product of communist education was an unofficial rating of professions and professionals widely adopted by young people. At the top were the intellectual activities involving a good education, opportunities for creative achievement, and the people representing these qualities. The lowest were non‐creative mass professions without heuristic potential and those involved in them. These hierarchies of people and occupations led to the increased heterogeneity and inequality in society, in other words, they worked in the opposite direction to the building of a homogeneous communist society of equal subjects.