Interpersonal Communications in the Soviet Union

Reader el suggested we discuss how the Soviet regime influenced interpersonal communications. I think this is a very fruitful discussion topic and a subject where I have a lot to say. (And what a surprise, eh?)

If you have any familiarity with the theory of communism, you have to realize that a communist society cannot be created until the very nature of the human beings undergoes a profound transformation. This is why from the very beginning of the USSR´s existence consistent efforts were made to transform people in a way that would make them more amenable to the gradual introduction of the communist elements into their daily lives.

Here is a short list of such measures:

1. Communal living. Families were brought to share one big apartment. This allowed to address the housing shortage, of course, but that was not the most important goal of creating these “communal apartments.” In a communal apartment, between 3 and a dozen families shared the kitchen, the toilet, the hallway and had to take turns using and cleaning these facilities. Such form of co-existence weakened the bonds between members of biological families, destroyed privacy and the contingent individualism. Also, it eroded the sense of personal shame.

2. Only collective forms of spending one´s free time were encouraged. People went on outings, hiking trips, excursions, museum visits in large groups. Again, this eroded family ties, which is something that the regime needed in order to ensure that one´s visceral loyalty to one´s family members would be substituted with the loyalty to the regime that provided all this fun.

3. Housing shortage and the absence of rental apartments ensured that members of several generations would share one small living space. I will let you figure out on your own how one starts feeling about one´s relatives when one has to sleep (and, obviously, have sex) in the same room with one´s parents, children, and often grandparents, too.

So what are the results of such policies?

For one, people tend to have the kind of relationships with their family members where everybody is very close in a really unhealthy way, yet everybody hates each other´s guts. Nobody has the slightest idea of what it means to respect anybody else´s privacy. People tend to be quite shameless and very rude. The respect for private property between family members is non-existent.

As you might well imagine, it will take more than one generation to get rid of these side effects of our social experiment.


By Reader Request: Closure

A reader asked the following question:

Is closure an American phenomenon? Do other cultures just say “piss off” and go on their merry ways?

I think it is, indeed, very American. There is no equivalent to the word in Russian and Ukrainian. I also have never come across either the term or the reality it is supposed to denote in the Spanish-speaking cultures I’m familiar with.

As I see it, the English-speaking culture sees any kinds of relationships between people as hugely problematic. English-speakers find it a lot harder than people from many other cultures to establish any sort of contact with each other. This is probably why I’m considered to be super-sociable here in North America. A foreign autistic finds it much easier to connect to people than a North American neurotypical – this has got to tell you something.

English-speakers try to obviate the difficulties they experience in interpersonal communication by creating a series of rules that are supposed to regulate any human contact. The concept of closure is one of those rules. I can see how it might be useful in a culture that views any form of human communication as inherently dangerous. For me, however, it has no use. When I left my ex-husband, for instance, I just packed and moved out. Then I sent him the divorce papers. We met a couple of times after that but there were no closure-related conversations. I had decided it was over, so it was.

So to answer the reader’s question, I do just say “piss off” and move on.

Search Terms

The time has come for a fresh round of curious search terms that bring people to this blog.

respectful objectification technique – Can’t people avoid using stupid terminology in their online searches?

the reason behind guilt tripping – People who guilt-trip you want to control and manipulate you

why everybody around said usa is the hooker country? – Around what?

childfree brains different – No. But the brains of people who make such searches are definitely problematic.

bored househusband – Well, what do you expect? People tend to get bored when they don’t have a life of their own.

teaching without powerpoint – Is eminently doable.

who has it worse men or women – People of both genders who have to read texts where the pronoun “it” is overused.

botox at 27? – A stupid idea.

naked clarissa – Again? Seriously? Some people are so pathetic that it’s sad.

ukrainian women for marriage – If you like your balls being handed to your for breakfast, then sure.

russian mistress – If you like your balls being handed to your for breakfast, lunch, dinner and snacks, then sure.

why did people like putin – What do you men “did”? They still do.

pink big trucks – I understand why somebody might want a big pink truck. But I don’t understand why that

what pronoun to use in an academic paper – I use the first person. The fear of the first person and the clunky equivalents people use instead are incomprehensible to me.

why are fundamentalist so rabid – It’s in the job description.

why ukrainian food makes me feel better – Because you are a person with sophisticated tastes and great powers of discernment. And, of course, because Ukrainian food is comfort food par excellence.

anti-natalist forcing people into existence – Yet another miserable creature who confuses a miserable personal life with a political stance.

republicans are smarter than democrats – Seriously? They elected Bush, cheered Palin, and are now supporting Romney. Need I say anything else?

nice guy equivalent in a woman – Exists everywhere. “Men are bad and mean and don’t appreciate my amazingness” is a very wide-spread attitude of immature women. I used to be one of them but I got over it.

alternative to sephoraUlta.

st. denis street montreal – An amazing place everybody needs to visit.