Monday, 28 November 2016

The New Soviet Man . . . And Woman

A Barren Land

The Soviet Union produced a perpetually blighted land.  The aching hurt of that once proud people remains stronger than ever.  The nefarious fruit of totalitarian Marxism continues to poison that nation. 

One of the main targets of the Communist regime was the family.  That is one particular devastation that lingers on to this day.  One of the most succinct accounts of Soviet family breakdown has been written by Angelo Codevilla.
By the 1930's the Soviet's desire to break down the family quickly gave way to more pressing ones, like industrialization.  The Party went all-out (almost) to increase births.  Like other Soviet producers mothers were awarded medals designating ever-higher ranking, depending on the numbers of children they turned out.  And parents who produced children got preferential treatment for new apartments.  But the regime did not in the least relax the  pressure on mothers to work, nor did it let fathers exercise any authority over their families.  It was Stalin, after all, who built the cult of the boy who had reported on his parents to the secret police.  The Soviet state might encourage men and women to copulate.  But men and women would prosper or hang separately according to the whims of the Party.  Men and women together might produce children  But children would belong to the state.

In short, the regime stripped the family of all sources of social support.  The Russian people's veneration of virginity, abhorrence of adultery, and reverence for life, as well s their belief in the responsibility of the strong for the weak had all come from the church.  Yet all connected with the church now was off limits.  So was literature favorable to bourgeois ways.  And so, under material and moral pressures, those ways declined.   Women, conscripted into labor, under double pressures of work and home, aborted most of their children (estimates of the average number of abortions by each Soviet woman hovers between five and ten) and put survivors in day care.  Life was not any more family friendly for the new Soviet man.  Knowing that he could gain nothing for his family by sweat, brains, or integrity and that he had nothing to say about whether his children would live or die, Homo Sovieticus became increasingly superfluous to women and children.

The accounts of Western visitors, whether reporters, feminists, or religious conservatives, contain the same judgments by Russian women on their men: They are boorish cads.  "They seem to have no sense of responsibility at all. . . . Seventy years of Soviet rule have taught men to be selfish and passive."  At work they are lazy intriguers.  At home, they practice what they learned at work: the more powerful take what they can from the less powerful.  Many live with their wives only so long as they are served and the children are not too bothersome.  Then they leave.  They do not encounter moral censure for it, for after most of a century of relativism and fraudulent male role models, moral censure is in short supply in Russia, whether on the upper end of society or low.  Some men agree to have children in order to qualify for an apartment.  Then they push them out. . . .

The condition of women in Russia is as appalling to the casual visitor today as that of American Indian women was to the pioneers.  Male janitors and street cleaners are practically unknown, as are male road construction crews.  The non-mechanized aspects of agriculture are women's work, too, as is assembly-line work.  One-half of the female workforce does heave "drudge" work.  Men, though stronger, reserve the lighter tasks for themselves.   [Angelo Codevilla, The Character of Nations: How Politics Makes and Breaks Prosperity, Family, and Civility (New York: Basic Books, 1997), p. 91f.]
As Peter Hitchens has observed, the generations of which Codevilla writes are lost.  They are unrecoverable.  But it may yet please our Lord to have mercy on their children and grandchildren, turning their hearts back to the God of their great great grandfathers.

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