Second Crimean War # 253

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The Doodler
25th May 2013, 10:57 PM

(Classless society my ... left elbow.)

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AmeliaP
8th Oct 2017, 1:24 PM

It's interesting to see how each culture manages the class things.

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The Doodler
10th Oct 2017, 7:55 AM

When I'm less hideously busy, I'm gonna have to teach myself more about how class looks in different places. To its credit, the USSR had a reputation of being kind of a meritocracy, but I'm sure that wasn't an ironclad thing.

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AmeliaP
10th Oct 2017, 3:17 PM

Meritocracy? Don't they have that thing about "peasants" and high status families because of the oligarchies? (I'm asking because I really know nothing about it ^^.)

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The Doodler
11th Oct 2017, 10:03 PM

I apologize in advance because this is gonna be stupid long. In my defense, it's a pretty involved topic and could go on for shelves, potentially. Disclaimer: I ain't no academic.

It definitely changed over the course of the USSR, then really dramatically when it collapsed. There's a study by a Moscow academic (no idea what her politics, etc., are, fyi), Larisa Kosova, saying that from 1955 to 1988, the time it took for a bureaucrat to rise to the nomenklatura went from eight to twenty-three years. (However, she argues that that was partly caused by political purges opening up the job market...)

As far as broader society, The Psychology of Social Class *licks juicy academic sources* says that there was actually pretty high social mobility in the USSR, while the percentage of people in non-manual jobs didn't increase much. (My guess is that's because that's what the majority of jobs were, and in any event "manual labor" covers everything from highly skilled technician to ditch-digger, so it's not an extremely useful category in terms of class. Arguably.)

So if, say, Yana had been born a few decades earlier, it's by no means impossible for her to have been promoted up into a more cushy job. (Just before the alternate comic stuff starts, she's a tractor driver, having just hit legal adulthood and not willing to risk going to college in this suddenly chaotic new economy, no sirree.)

As far as calling her a peasant, it's probably not technically correct, but it's close enough a lot of people slide into that terminology anyway. The main (uh, pretty major difference) is that by 1950 or so collective farmers could leave the farm.

Slava's parents came from serious poverty (his mom was a collective farm worker in the Stalin-era, with all that implies...) but rode the 50s postwar boom into middle-class lives in Kiev. (Like a lot of their western counterparts.) Chekhov has no clue who his birth parents are and doesn't really care -- he grew up in a boarding school. Anyhow, the boys made it up a level to the nomenklatura by their military careers -- a probably very atypical but by no means impossible way to jump classes.

It's worth noting that while there was pretty high social mobility, the nomenklatura proper, thanks to their legal/governmental role, had certain special legal rights. Lanes reserved for them on the roads in some cities, more shopping opportunities (which Slava loved, man likes his jeans), etc., etc. (I used to know a really cool Russian guy who grew up in the USSR, and he said discreetly showing the edge of your CP card was a great way to instantly get a table in a restaurant.)

And then it all *Avatar voice* changed when the USSR collapsed. Well, maybe not everything, but...
So, the oligarchs. They're really a product of the wild cowboy capitalism that rolled in after the USSR. Let's say you, dutiful Soviet bureaucrat, run all the ironworks in Ukraine, and (less dutifully) take advantage of the privatization to basically steal it all for yourself. This is how you wind up with individuals or small family groups owning entire SECTORS of the economy, which, holy fantastically wealthy upstart class, Batman. This, natch, isn't really that great for social mobility.

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AmeliaP
12th Oct 2017, 11:28 AM

I thought oligarchies were only a form of disguise between Bratva and former KGB, having their own former KGB president *ras*Putin on the top. It was a wonderful answer about class mobility in URSS and current Russia :)
Now I'm digging more and more your comic! Your research has been amazing :D

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The Doodler
18th Oct 2017, 8:40 AM

I'd say that the oligarchy is no fake. In Russia it had a good run as the lord and master until the Putin era, and it's still not nothing. (Warning: VAST oversimplification on my part! I'm trying to keep this comment from running as long as my last reply.)
In Ukraine, which I -- slightly weirdly, I admit -- know more about, there was never really a former-KGB takeover. The current president is an oligarch (they call him The Chocolate King, which is kind of great).

And thanks! You're too kind.

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