“Gone is the buttermilk, but always have vodka”


"Исчез кефир, зато всегда есть водка"

Were taken from Soviet abundance, in which the Russians believe is still

The image of the Soviet Union, existing in the mass consciousness of the Russians, is controversial. For some, it is a totalitarian state forcing its citizens to suffer and live in poverty. For the other Soviet Union — “lost Paradise”, a society of equality and abundance. Moreover, this opinion is shared by many representatives of the older generation who lived in the times of “developed socialism.” “Ribbon.ru” I tried to understand why our compatriots and contemporaries tend to romanticize the Soviet daily.

Bright past

“The Soviet Union was all! We lived in the best country in the world, we are respected by other States, and we ate only high quality products — something that now. A Soviet household appliances were the most reliable!” such rants can often be found online. Most often their authors were born after the collapse of the Soviet Union either had to spend the maximum for the first 10 years of his life.

Heavenly life in the Soviet Union devoted many pages in “Vkontakte”. They publish Soviet propaganda posters, pictures of joyful proletarians, actors, and scientists. And idealized not only the facade of “developed socialism”, but also its downside. People rejoice in the fact that Soviet children wore no diapers (but all were healthy and strong!). That leather jacket could make out a couple of dozen Boxing gloves because the leather was a large deficit. The diameter of the Soviet cigarettes was 7.62 mm, and is supposedly allowed to adapt their production for manufacture of ammunition for the front… All of this post-Soviet followers of such pages is affection and pride “betrayed” the country.

And they are not alone in your adoration of the USSR. The older generation also often tend to idealize Soviet life. Sociologist Andrew Vozmitel in an interview with “the Ribbon.ru” describes his impressions of Soviet reality:


— Previously was a justified paternalism, people could count on all. Say that we had disruptions in the supply of food, but I, first, say that these shortages were largely artificial, and secondly, were social organizations (Komsomol, party, trade unions). I went to other regions at that time, and the situation was about the same. The products were distributed through these community organizations. In spite of the scarcity in stores, the refrigerators were full, including caviar, and other delicacies. It was. I also stood in queues, but received high quality products. Now hayut Soviet products, and this is wrong. God grant that modern products are produced according to the highest standards. It was delicious, quality products, ate them with pleasure.

Vozmitel tells how wonderful the USSR was the restaurants, where every worker could eat at lunchtime; what was a highly cultured citizens — and in the merit of the houses of culture; even about how the Soviet people were taken to Czechoslovakia… lamprey! Why? Helped the brotherly country to overcome the shortage.

You can understand the speech of the elderly person, all life lived in a nice apartment on Kutuzovsky Prospekt, properly fed and well spent time (besides, he was young and full of energy). But with tears in the eyes of the USSR remember and those who often could not get not only the deficit, but the Essentials.

Diaries Dedkova

The greater part of his life in Kostroma writer Igor Dedkov kept a diary. Since 1950-ies it was recorded that as the situation worsens with the availability of products and other consumer goods in the city. In 1992, he brought his notes in the book, but did not manage to publish it, died in 1994. His sketches of Soviet life allows you to see the socialist way of life through the eyes of the beholder.

1976. Meat in town, it sells coupons, which are distributed in domoupravleniya. Labor groups get 1 kilogram per employee, but stores refuse to cut one of the employees just give carcass and say, “Cut!” Some refuse, others agree.

1977. The eve of the October socialist revolution. In the shops, no soap, and candy. Meat, sausages and bacon is not a long time — no one is surprised. You can buy on the market, but at exorbitant prices. There’s no coffee, there is a coffee drink made from barley. You can drink, but no effect. In offices collected from every 7-8 rubles for the celebration of the Revolution. I saw myself as in the acquisition Department of the regional library among the new books stop on the floor was a pile of chickens and was a thick smell. All walked and laughed. This time they all go and laugh… At the regional meeting of the physical asset they say that the local lifters can’t maintain proper diet, and hence good results from them should not wait.

1978. The city has no oil. Of are infinite orders, which employees of various institutions sent to work in collective farms. In Kostroma dumped Azerbaijanis-irrigators, they hastily build a new 60-apartment house. Those asked to provide them “sheep” and are surprised that the city has no meat. One of the Georgians, a conversation with Anna, said, “you Have no dignity. You don’t have both, and you pretend that it must be all right. You have no dignity”, he repeated and, leaving, said, “Think about it”. In Moscow before the New year, people come from all the surrounding towns for food, but in the capital felt supply disruptions. New metro station “Sviblovo” is image of the Golden ring cities. Muscovites joke that this city, which are fed from the capital.

1979. Each employee Kostroma libraries this year had at least 30 times to go for agricultural work — it never has been before. People are surprised, and no one knows when this trip will end.

1980. A bunch of radishes at the market is 50 cents, and apples — four rubles. Herring no, in the surrounding villages there are no matches, oil, starch and almost disappeared yogurt. But there’s always vodka.

1981. At the meeting of the creative intelligentsia with the city authorities, a woman asked a question: how long in Kostroma will sell milk with lower fat content? She said they always. Exceptions are made only for big cities.

1982. In Moscow sell carpets. At the store there was a truck, on which stood a man, shouting rooms, standing in line. You would think that this is a revolution or rally. So much passion and noble enthusiasm in the man on the truck!

Bread or circuses

Here lived a provincial town “developed socialism”. Material goods like the cities got in the last turn (and more often not getting).

The contradictions in the supply chain arose because of the dual position of the Soviet regime: on the one hand, she was called to deal with the petty bourgeoisie and “materialism” on the other, spoke of the need to provide citizens with all necessary.

In the Brezhnev era, these contradictions became particularly acute. Propaganda continued to harp on the “bright future”, but even the party leaders in it have not believed. Industry and import developed, the price of oil rose, but the planned economy did not allow to meet the growing demand of the population. The result is the most vital citizens had to “get it”, standing in long lines and resorting to all sorts of tricks.

To improve the situation was called the food orders, introduced in the late 1960-ies, when the company moved to self-sufficiency. Their leaders are faced with the problem of shortage of workforce and how else to attract people, not encouraging them? So encouraged by projecthome. Horizontal communication between enterprises, collective farms, shops and vegetable storage warehouses are allowed to provide employees a deficit (however, it is not always enough for all that gave rise to the so-called deficit of the second level, the struggle for the orders among the employees of a single company).

It would seem that such a system must have been perceived by the citizens as extremely humiliating. However, a study conducted by anthropologist Anna Kuskovo shows that the orders were not viewed as a handout, but as a privilege, and that, as they were received, in the memoirs of eyewitnesses doesn’t look like something shameful. They say that the system was convenient for them, and turn perceived as a matter of course, as the deficit itself. Here is what one of the informants Kuskovo:

“The government cared about its workers, that they somehow encouraged, well, really, so as not to run over a can of peas (…). Mayonnaise, peas — all were in short supply, (…) to each store someone was attached. Well, this Institute, this factory and so on. (…) All the same, then a more humane attitude to people than today.”

In the eyes of this man the government is not only nothing was taken away from him, but on the contrary, thinking about his welfare. Other study participants say that for them, members of the generation who survived the war or wzrokowego in the postwar years, the deficit was something taken for granted.


Receiving orders they have caused only positive emotions. Even when all goods are not enough and they had to play between employees. And indeed, according to one of informants, “people that lived, it was a passion, they enjoy carrying these kits home — that is, as the miners”. Thus, this practice has satisfied the request generated in Ancient Rome: bread and circuses, while the bread got not always.

The sincerity and spontaneity

Apparently, these orders with the deficit first of all recall the older generation, nostalgic for the “Soviet abundance.” They allow them to say that in those days the state “cared about people”.

Orders with a deficit, moreover, was totally depoliticized. Recalls one of the participants in the study Kuskovo, this system never occurred to me to compare “prosperous planned economy of developed socialism.” And if you compare, it never was a specific order, which was delivered yesterday. The same is true for other Soviet practices of everyday life, remaining in people’s memory since then: tailoring jackets of Boxing gloves, “healthy” childhood without diapers…

As he writes in his book, “It was forever until the end” by the anthropologist Alexei Yurchak, “a significant number of Soviet citizens in the pre-perestroika years perceived many of the realities of socialist everyday life (education, work, friendship, circle of friends, the secondary role of wealth, concern for the future, and other people, unselfishness, equality) as an important and real value of Soviet life”.

Yurchak notes that former Soviet citizens yearn not on the state system, not on ideological rituals, namely that the important meanings of human existence. He quotes one philosopher who told him that the negative side of the reality was connected with the “reality of human happiness (…), comfort and well-being of the life, which along with the fear was the cordiality, successes and order, the General arrangement of space.”

Anthropologist also quoted one of the Leningrad artist who “suddenly felt that together with the political system of his life disappeared, and something else, more personal, clean, full of hope, “the pathos of sincerity and spontaneity””.

On the other hand, people who are nostalgic for such simple things long forgotten, which represented the Communist ideology. This is not surprising, since everyday life was a parallel state propaganda. The posters and the photos on the viewer you’ll see strong work, smiling milkmaids and rosy children, now serve only de-ideologized artifacts of the time, proof that it was in him like all was well.


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