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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

In New Times, Old Rhetoric Fills the Gap

Among the many psychological shocks Russia has suffered over the past few years has been the end of the Cold War. The threat of conflict with a rich and powerful adversary had done much to keep the Russian people in line for 45 years, while the need to build a strong war machine justified the numerous sacrifices and privations endured by the populace.

Given today's political chaos and economic strife, it is not surprising that some Russians long for the old bellicose propaganda. Y. Vasilyev, a worker from Moscow, writes to Pravda:

"The latest masters of 'the new world order' from the United States are now darkening the skies over Iraq, tomorrow -- over Yugoslavia, and then, if they are not stopped, over our Motherland. The duty of every honest person is to raise his voice against these new 'supermen'. We will see that the policy of our great country is not that of a lackey, but a policy to serve the people and peace".

Another Pravda reader, L. Reva from the southern Russian town of Krasnodar, voices similar sentiments, with a slightly different conclusion:

"I have deep sympathy for the people of Iraq in their struggle against the latest barbaric aggression from the United States. Such actions are possible because of the 'victory' of Gorbachev's policy of 'new thinking', oriented toward so-called human values".

But not all Russians are so negative about former President Mikhail Gorbachev's contribution to the new order of things. Indignant over an article poking fun at the former president, V. N. Novikova from the Russian town of Lyskovo writes to Ogonyok:

"Only in our uncivilized country can one make fun of a man whose rating is so high in the rest of the world. You journalists have forgotten that if it weren't for Gorbachev, your magazine would be printing nothing but pfficial propaganda".

Seventy-five years of rigid Communist rule has made it difficult for many Russians to cope with the economic and cultural freedoms of the post-Soviet era. The philosophy of uravnilovka, or equality, meant that everyone had enough to live on, but conspicuous consumption was strongly discouraged. In another letter to Ogonyok, A. Mitina of Moscow appeals to her fellow countrymen to stop complaining and start acting:

"The Soviet government deprived its people of strength, of the creative force, it made us weak. Corrupted by the ideology of uravnilovka, we got used to sitting with open beaks, into which the state threw a few inedible morsels. We must gather the courage, the will and the desire to start again. We have to learn to stand on our own two feet, to learn to be strong. Otherwise we will all perish in our miserable equality".