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"We lived poorly but honestly!" How the USSR promoted the normality of total poverty

Yulia PoteriankoNews
Soviet culture glorified poverty and humiliated success. Source: Created with the help of AI

The Soviet Union, despite its huge reserves of natural resources, was a very poor state, and this is a historical fact. But today's young people do not even realize that widespread poverty was part of the state ideology and was propagated to citizens.

Maksym Mirovych, a blogger and researcher of everyday life in the USSR, tells us more about this. He has studied how Soviet books and films programmed people not to succeed and strive for prosperity, but to glorify poverty. In particular, by promoting such postulates as "money is not the main thing!" or "we lived poorly but honestly!". Such attitudes still hinder the people of the countries that have freed themselves from Soviet rule. Moreover, many still feed them through the consumption of the culture of that time.

The good poor and the bad rich

If you look closely at the images of the rich in Soviet cinema and literature, you will notice that they always portray the rich as a nasty bourgeois who is unable to think about anything but enrichment. While the poor are presented as kinder and more moral. Mirovych calls this attitude harmful and destructive.

In particular, in the real world, people who have satisfied their material needs often think about how to help those who have not succeeded, and how to create something not only for themselves. "According to the so-called Maslow's pyramid of needs, this is the highest degree of human fulfillment – having solved the issue of material survival, a person tries to answer the question of who I am and give something to the world – because there is no point in receiving anymore, he has everything," the blogger explains.

Instead, poor people often think only about where to get a piece of bread to survive. This leaves them no time or energy to think about the moral component. In the end, over the 80 years of the "scoop," this approach has led to people forgetting how to be hardworking and proactive.

Promoting poverty through mass culture

The method of promoting such dangerous attitudes was mass culture, such as cinema and popular literature. Even visually, Soviet films showed the poor as young, slim, and beautiful, while the rich were often portrayed as fat, old, unpleasant people with rough features.

"A typical soviet plot of a soviet movie, book, or play looks like this: there is a vile and evil rich man who does nothing but eat and indulge in all kinds of carnal pleasures, and has a nasty temper, yelling at the servants and beating children. And around him live good poor people with kind calf's eyes, all slim, beautiful, and at the same time kind and cordial. The poor people start dancing and singing songs, after which the rich people run away somewhere, and the general happiness of Communism sets in," is how Mirovych describes works of art in the USSR. He invites everyone to think of something that fits these criteria.

"This culture did not teach people that wealth can be the result of painstaking years of work. And money is a resource that can be used for good. Instead, people were taught that it is better to be poor but good and right.

According to the blogger, in this way, in the USSR, the state did not raise rich and self-sufficient people who could decide for themselves and take initiative. It produced convenient and obedient citizens who were easy to manipulate. Who would believe in the fables about "free apartments" and that the state cares about people.

How this policy affects the present

According to Mirowicz, such state propaganda has led to the fact that rich people in the former Soviet Union have turned into those caricatured rich people from the movies. They strive to accumulate wealth at any cost, consume goods without any restrictions, and treat people badly.

Whereas in the Western world, the wealthiest people consider it their duty to invest their money in public goods, such as the development of science, medicine, technology, etc. As an example, the blogger quotes Apple founder Steve Jobs: "I don't care if I'm the richest man in the cemetery. To fall asleep with the feeling that I have done something amazing during the day – that's what interests me."

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