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What Lay Behind the Stability of the Soviet System Before 1985?

Many people were disenchanted with the Soviet system. But few were brave enough to join the dissidents or oppose it openly. They might tell anti-Soviet jokes to let off steam in private. But they were unlikely to voice opposition views openly. This political conformity lies behind the stability of the Soviet system in its final years, when few people believed actively in the revolution's goals or propaganda claims. To explain it we must look at Soviet history and consider how the memory of repression formed what people called 'genetic fear'.

EXTRACT FOR SUBSCRIBERS ONLY. Orlando Figes, The Whisperers: Private Life in Stalin's Russia (Penguin, 2007), pp. 645-7.

...Valentina's response to fear was to conform. At the age of sixteen, when she registered for her Soviet passport, she allowed herself to be persuaded by her parents to take her father's Russia nationality, on the grounds that it would make her life much easier, although, like her mother, she felt very strongly that she was a Jew... [FULL TEXT 682 WORDS]

Watch this propaganda film about Lugansk in south-east Ukraine. How many people do you think believed in this Soviet paradise? How do you reconcile the happy life it shows with the disillusionment described in the Extract from Revolutionary Russia?

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