Russia’s vanishing villages

I had intended to post about Damian Grammaticas’ BBC article about the decline of Russian villages, but two other bloggers have beaten me to it, and done it better, too.  Basically Grammaticas is arguing that the decline of Russian villages is mainly due to the collapse of communism and introduction of capitalism

Alan Sullivan at Fresh Bilge: a salty journal disagrees, pointing out that village life is on the decline throughout the Western world too:

Deeper forces are at work. The haunted woodlands and collapsing villages of Kostroma look sadder than Buffalo Commons because a vital nation still thrives beyond the prairie horizon of America, while Russia seems doomed to desuetude.

Alexei at Russian Dilettante goes on to point out the damage that communist policy over many decades has also taken its toll:

the Russian peasantry as an ancient social group was weakened during and after the Civil War through food requisitions and repression, and destroyed during the 1930s through the Collectivization.

You may also like...

2 Responses

  1. Luthien says:

    I think that Grammaticas has often, when it comes to understanding post-communist countries, shown that he hasn’t got a clue. A western reporter, came to Russia with all of his western background, has little sensitivity about the social background and mentality of the people in Russia.
    The same thing was so obvious in the Balkans region when western reporters came here to document the war that happened. They just couldn’t figure out what and why the hell is going on.
    So, with due respect to the BBC, I think they should have their correspondents educated in historic and social background of the country they’re sending them to.

  2. Jack says:

    Having lived in Russia for three years and visiting many small towns and villages, I can say that the decline in villages is to be expected, and won’t be reversed. Forget about the “Russian mentality” or other themes, which suugest that it’s a local or natioanl phenomena: It’s life in the 21st century.
    Russia is seeing the same social trends that started in the US 30 years ago. People, especially those who are young and educated, seek a life which is to them more interesting and fulfilling. They want more free time ot enjoy cultural and social activities. Many wish to surrender to the irresistable draw of pop culture: constant stimulation, flashing lights, being “in” on the latest styles and fashions.
    Of course, there are economic reasons as well. There are simply more high paying jobs in the city. Life is a little easier and you can get around easier. And in Russia, you can find better food in the cities.
    Young people the world over realize that education for it’s own sake does nothing for you. They want money and experiences which will connect them to the greater world. A world not found in a Russian village. During my time in Russia, I was amazed at how readily people throw off, and away, anything which can associate them with the past. Anything that a westerner, or specifically, an American, would seek to keep as an association with a past (that is often seen as better) is thrown away as passe or inferior. Most of us call this nostalgia, and I see that most young Russians look askance at anything , which connects them to a quaint past, be it Communist or village.
    Simply put, this means that villages are doomed as relics to a past that most Russian would just as soon remove themslves from.