Paul Goble reports:
Standing in line, which Soviet citizens did from three to eight hours every day, formed “not only the worldview but the behavioral strategy” of Soviet citizens, and that socializing experience continues to shape the attitudes of post-Soviet Russians and thus make the emergence of a civil society there far more difficult.
In a remarkable article in this week’s New Times magazine, Vladimir Nikolayev examines an activity which he argues had such “a powerful socializing impact” on the Russian people that it continues to affect how they think and act even at a time when lines have become a less prominent feature in their lives. Lines, the Moscow sociologist says, were where people “formed their ideas about the society in which they lived.” It was in them that “an individual understood what his compatriots though about themselves and how he (or she) played a role in this system.” And lines communicated to those in them just what kind of a struggle for existence they faced. And perhaps especially important with regards to its continuing impact on the lives of Russians now, he continues, “standing in line was an activity whose outcome was unclear: the Soviet customer could not be certain than when his turn came there would be something left for him.”