Without a Place, Dreaming of a Future

Youth in the Gun Sight of Psychological Warfare (1986)

Youth in the Gun Sight of Psychological Warfare (1986)

The image above depicts a bourgeois propaganda poster. The poster was designed to weaken the revolutionary enthusiasm growing within the Soviet youth culture. It was also designed “to inoculate young people with apolitical attitudes, indifference to the historical fate of socialism, and to blunt its class consciousness” (Seventeen Moments Images). A clear example of youth’s feelings can be found in “Soviet Youth: a Turbulent Factor” when the author states, “‘We knew what our future was to be gray and immutable. We grew up in the seventies…[w]e simply lived the life you laughed about once you had put us to bed and firmly shut the door. No wonder you have turned out to be better prepared for the gust of fresh air which has knocked us off our feet'” (A Turbulent Factor). Another example of the divide between generations is seen in the Disaffected Youth (1984) video clip. This clip showcases how youth culture was divided from older generations, specifically concerning motorcycles, and a subject states “[w]hereever we go, we are in somebody’s way” (Seventeen Moments Video).

This semester, I have often looked into the role of women and family. The family unit within Soviet culture has been threatened as political tides have shifted, laws have changed, and exposure to the world has caused conflict in societal norms. The traditional Soviet youth was expected to take part in dated practices of the Komosol and antiquated school lessons (Seventeen Moments). The system wasn’t just outdated, but youth was rejecting out-of-date ways of life for more contemporary rock music and so on. With challenges to youth expectations increasing, “authorities had no answers to the questions agitating young people, and in fact ignored issues such as sexuality and the legitimacy of authority” (Seventeen Moments). With the truth coming out, youth began to question why they had to endure the same system of their parents. If there are problems, why not change them? Or at least challenge them.

Jurus Podnieks found that youth was “disenchant[ed] with Soviet mores” and they were struggling to figure out where the Soviet future would lead (Seventeen Moments). In the article “Invitation to Discussion: ‘Is It Easy to be Young?'” the author discusses how the film relates to the young and not the old. The older generations have failed the youth “[t]o all indications, because [they] failed to provide them with worthwhile pursuits, jobs and sensible entertainment, and because [they] failed to teach them how to put their free time to good use” (Invitation of Discussion). The document states the interests of youth are entertainment and materialism, not hard work and usefulness. Youth does not want to perform labor like the older generations were required to do so, therefore the transformation of youth will have negative consequences for the Soviet state (Invitation of Discussion). The document concludes with the need for music, art, film, etc. that promotes youth within Soviet ideals, rather than supporting laziness and reformĀ (Invitation of Discussion).

In short, the youth of the Soviet Union was diverting away from traditional Soviet values. They were asking questions their parents had not and looking for answers in a time when change was occurring.