communist/ post-communist societygreenspun.com : LUSENET : Utopia : One Thread
Fellow seekers of utopia,
I just returned from a trip to Vienna, and I spent some time in Brno, Czech Republic and Bratislava, Slovakia. These cities and their cultures are fascinating to me not just because of they are foreign, but also because they offer a glimpse into a communist society. Granted, both countries are now democratic, but the social mentality of a people changes much more slowly than a political system.
My observations raised questions in my mind that I wanted to place before a larger audience: The people in these post-communist countries seem less motivated, more apathetic about their role in society, and less proactive than their counterparts in Western Europe. At the same time, they spend more time together (drinking, eating, socializing) and may be more willing to help one another. I admit that these notions are generalizations, but they work at some level. My question is whether communism necessarily degrades the work ethic and dehumanizes communities? Or are these results just products of the Soviet regime? Why do poorer or struggling societies tend to "pull-together" more noticeably than wealthy ones?
I don't know how many people read this board anymore, but I would enjoy reading your responses. This last trip took me through many small towns in Germany, Austria, and Czech, and I wondered at each stop how the people I met would imagine a Utopia. My only complaint about the class was that the group was not diverse enough. I think that in that case, greater diversity would clearly have lead to different and unique perspectives on perfection.
Oh well, have an interesting summer/ beginning of your career,
-- Anonymous, June 03, 2000
I think your last question kind of hit on the true issue here. I don't think your observations have as much to do with the political regime than with the wealth (or lack thereof) of the nations. (Though both factors are important.)
When people are poor, especially at such a subsistence level, they need to band together. It's the only chance they've got to move up in society or, in some cases, to live. If there are rich enemies to unite against, this works even better.
On the other hand, wealth polarizes. Here in America, we as a nation are richer than we have ever been. And yet we are a nation of lonely individuals. No one HAS TO band together, so people tend to be more alone. Nearly every one of our utopias called for more community, a sure sign that there's something wrong. It might be our wealth and materialism.
Then again, as I read what I just wrote above it sounds like BS. Maybe it is all because of the social emphasis of socialism vs. the individualistic emphasis of capitalism. I've pretty much failed to find an answer.
-- Anonymous, June 04, 2000