The best time of the Soviet Union happened to be in a period of time from 1953 to 1990.
The first date is obvious: this is when Stalin died, on March 5, 1953. The end of an era. An evil one. Before that, since 1917 up to this date, it was just terror and gloom: the Bolshevik revolution, the Civil war, the Red Terror, Stalin’s repressions, the Second World War. Dozens of millions of lives lost, destroyed… The cruelest time ever in the history of Russia, taking into account this country’s history has never been easy since the Mongol invasion in the 13th century.
Since Stalin died, the USSR has come to a period of relative prosperity, in its own way, sure. No revolutions, no mass killings, no big wars…
This, I think, was the best time to live in the country: the solid economic growth most of the way, the peaceful times, dreams of a normal life.
My parents were both born in 1936, mum and dad. Their childhood was filled with the horrors of the war. I remember that my dad once told me: ‘after the hunger years of the war, I was since then OK to eat any food’. Being a teenager, I didn’t get it. I was laughing at him sometimes in this respect. I was pretty sensible in terms of food: an idiot, as I see it now. Just another generation.
Then, since the 50s, they lived through a comparatively stable epoch which didn’t finish for them in 1991 with the break-up of the Soviet Union. In fact, my dad was pursuing a good career in the government. This lifted up all the family and the 90s were the best time for my parents. To me, too.
This is if we talk about the Soviet life.
What about me? I’ve had a wonderful time in the 90s, so many opportunities, so many new experiences and things to discover. This is why I think Boris Yeltsin is one of Russia’s truly greatest leaders. Ever. He was the one who created a new country and new possibilities. ‘A new sky and a new Earth’ if I’m correct in this Bible’s back translation.
But I still live through a time of changes. This is probably not too good if you want to feel comfortable all the way. Now Russia is fast approaching another period of turmoil, thanks to the current authorities, the Corrupt Ones.
When I look into the future, I’ve got doubts. The country’s future is in a very big question. The climate change, be it human-inflicted or not, is inevitable with the future influx of refugees escaping from the South into Europe/Russia. This will change the world forever, not the way we want it. The quality of life is not going to get better, too.
So, let’s stick to what we’ve got and try to hold on. The future is not like in 1955: it might be gloomy. Locally, the best time is left somewhere for the generation that emerged after WWII.
Now let’s hold on: the wind is blowing.
P.S. Such things have been happening throughout the history of humanity. The stable times are over. The luckiest generation will soon step away for more unlucky ones to come.
Is my generation the luckiest?
In the US this is absolutely not the luckiest generation. Life expectancy is falling for the first time in history. The middle class has been more or less destroyed, and suicide and alcoholism are on the rise among white, former middle-class citizens. Credit scores have fallen through the floor for most. Now, Wall Street is buying up what were middle-class homes and renting them back.
I have said several times in these pages that the rise of populism and Trump are nothing but a primal scream. These people no longer care if the US remains a country, they are simply pissed and have no idea who to lash-out at. Lucky? Is that even a question?
I would argue my Father lived in the luckiest generation. He was born shortly before World War II but was too young to be involved. He lived during a time of growth that fulled prosperity for the masses. Advances in technology, medicine, and productivity drove wages ever higher and resulted in a surge in living conditions.
Today that’s no longer true. Factory owners successfully disconnected the relationship between rising productivity and rising wages in the mid nineteen-seventies. Years ago there was a saying: “Work hard and get ahead.” Today if you work hard you simply make more money for The Man. Today, the United States no longer leads the world in the ease with which you can move from one class to a higher class. None of this is my opinion.
Looking over the above, it certainly looks gloomy, but I don’t think that is necessarily the case. It may end up that my Daughter’s generation will be the luckiest. See, I believe we will live to see the end of Capitalism in its current form. There are three, technology driven factors conspiring the bring down our current economic system:
- Space Travel
- Fusion Power
1. Think about it: we keep reading about astroids largely made of certain metals and how just one of these things will be worth hundreds of trillions of dollars. OK, common sense says that in two or three decades greed will drive someone to mine one of these things.
If metal becomes dirt cheap, what will that do to the cost of planes, trains, and automobiles? How about refrigerators and dish washers? And will we start building entire homes from metal? The cheaper material from space becomes, the more we will use and that will, in turn, will drive space mining up and prices down.
2. It seems obvious that robots are going to replace workers. In many manufacturing settings, like the automobile industry, they already have. Soon, robots will make your dinner when you go to a restaurant and your self-driving car will take you back home.
Now, if everything is automated there will be a breaking point where massive unemployment leads to a collapse of our current economic system. Like it or not, some form of socialism is in your future. The question is: How will we get from here to there?
3. What if we had nuclear power without the nuclear part? No radioactive waste and no accidents creating fallout, these electric plants will be as green as solar. Cheap, clean power that sends the price of electricity plummeting. Add in electric cars and you just went a long way towards solving the Climate Crisis. Destroying the fossil fuel industry will strain our current social order and several oil exporting nations may not survive in their current form.
If only half the above comes to pass, our grand children will have opportunities we can’t even predict. But first, this unlucky generation will continue on its slow decent. Will my daughter’s generation enjoy a soft landing or be hit with a bang that ends in revolution? I honestly want to hear your thoughts below.
My oh-so-lucky generation.
If you consider that Mrs B and I were both born in 1952, it would be easy to think that we were destined for a pretty hard life. Britain was on its knees in debt, and food rationing was still very much in evidence. Many of us older Baby Boomers entered a world recovering from WW2 with a great deal of social hardship. (I’m still convinced that I was conceived solely because my parents couldn’t afford central heating, and had to do something to keep warm.) But we missed having to survive two world wars, the National Health Service was already set up, and as children, we had so much space and time to play outside, something we were always encouraged to do as long as we were back home before dark.
By the time the sixties arrived, the standard of living had risen considerably, with jobs plentiful, and an ever-improving economy. And my, what a decade to be a teenager! We surely had the best young music scene ever with the Beatles, rock and soul music; we saw the start of Top of the Pops and Dr. Who with affordable rented televisions; we listened to pirate radio stations, walked down Carnaby Street side by side with pop and film stars; we experienced England’s footballers actually winning something, and saw the manned moon landing.
Even in the seventies, there continued to be great contemporary music, and it also remained so easy to get a job; Mrs B may have gained only two O levels, Cooking and English she proudly tells me, but she had the pick of the office jobs right through the West End of London. If you had the oomph and the right credentials for the job through your own abilities, that fiendishly expensive bit of paper saying you have survived four years of university studying that bears no resemblance to what you actually want to achieve, well, in those days it wasn’t necessary. The office desk had no bulky computer screens dominating, making plenty of space for your ashtrays.
My lot were already in our forties by the time computers came of age, and some of us are still wonder-struck with what we are able to do with technology like Wi-Fi and the internet. We are even beginning to know how to use our mobiles.
We were able to benefit from rising house prices, low education costs, strong pension schemes, with early retirement a possibility for many. If we could invest, we enjoyed the kind of profits that would seem incredibly generous compared to today. Not that is was plain sailing all the way – I remember getting pay rises of between 15 and 20 per cent some years, that didn’t even come close to the rate of inflation!
But we were the generation that could look back at the bleak pre-war years of mass unemployment and poverty, and knew most of us were blessed to live in an age where we had a lifetime of a welfare state and far more personal freedoms. And, we were all going to be better off than our parents. We used libraries to research, and we were encouraged use critical thinking, which meant we were not just dumb consumers of misinformation that seems to manipulate so many around the world today.
I do have sympathy for our latest generation; they are in a very different position. The idea that they will continue to be more fortunate than their parents simply doesn’t apply any longer; rapidly increasing house prices make home ownership more and more difficult; they now have Covid and its offshoots to contend with, all while they are working and bringing up children; and just how old are they going to be before they can afford to retire?
I have long since accepted that my generation is by far the most fortuitous. I’ve thought that ever since I retired, before my 60th birthday. Lucky boy.