Month: May 2016

Things Fall Apart

Screen Shot 2016-05-09 at 11.15.24 AM

Baltic Way Memorial Wall – Vilnius

Welcome to the final edition of the 20th-Century Russia Digest for Spring 2016. The collective  went out on a very strong note and the best of the final posts are featured in the top section of the site. These posts suggest the array of challenges that ultimately overwhelmed the Soviet system, including the war in Afghanistan, the effort to affect social and economic change by regulating the supply of alcohol, mounting tensions in the Caucasus, and the successful bid for independence from the Baltic republics.

The lower section of the site features posts the class selected as “Greatest Hits” from the entire semester. Your editorial team is proud of the range of interests, topics, talent, and perspectives represented here and elsewhere on the site. We’ve learned a lot together and these greatest hits offer visitors to the site an overview of how exciting that journey has been. As part of an effort to see how broader social dynamics worked over the long haul we are assigning the final “sticky post” below the slider to Sean’s wonderfully detailed and provocative examination of the importance of youth and the dynamics of generation to the success of the Soviet project. It’s a marvelous read – and you won’t want to skip the video of the pioneers proclaiming their devotion to the cause. I joked that a more apt title for the post would have been “Curiosity Killed the Communist,” but will let you all judge for yourselves.

Closing a Part of Russia’s Roots

Alcohol consumption is deeply engraved into the cultural roots of Russia. It was one of the largest ways that Russia gets its revenue. Production and distribution of alcohol to other areas lead Russia to be a front runner. “In 1979, for example, the state derived some 25.4 billion rubles in indirect taxes from the sale […]

Lost Legacies in the “Graveyard of Empires”

The Soviet Union found out first hand the difficulties in attempting to occupy and stabilize the nation of Afghanistan. The comparisons to the American conflict in Vietnam, and now our own endeavors in Afghanistan certainly hold a good deal of merit. The Soviet experience in Afghanistan has always held a personal interest for me, having … Continue reading Lost Legacies in the “Graveyard of Empires”

The End of an Era

The Soviet Union faced many changes in the twentieth century; whether it be leadership change, social growth, industrial advancement, or impacts from different wars, the Soviet Union went through a dynamic transformation that all came to a head by the early 1990’s. After months of efforts to halt the inevitable or must some kind of […]

Last, But Not Least

For my final blog post, I had decided to write about my trip to Moscow in March. Let me state that this trip was supposed to be a learning experience, not a vacation and it held true to that statement. I had known absolutely nothing about Russia previously other than what I had learned from […]

Bad Apples Don’t Fall Far from the Tree

The turbulent Russian youth of the mid-1980s defied their elders and their country by refusing to become subordinates of the Communist Party. A suppressed generation of Young Marxists, the young people sought to make dramatic cultural change that would effect how the Soviet Union would be interpreted for years to come – or so they … Continue reading Bad Apples Don’t Fall Far from the Tree

The Wolf and the Bear: The First Chechen War

Chechnya is a small region in the Caucuses that has long resented Russian rule. The Chechens had fallen victims to Stalin’s deportations and purges, and they had a long history being repressed by Moscow. Chechen also objected to Russian rule for religious reasons, as the vast majority of Chechens were Muslims.  Therefore, when the Soviet Union fell […]