| Russia makes you,
as a Westerner, feel guilty (primary fact).
|Because these are
people who are so much like you (they're European), and still, so
very many of them live very badly (in terms of wealth, health etc.).
And yet, you then understand, there are still surprisingly many who
make out all right, live full, rewarding lives, live deeply and passionately.
Even if the mortality rate is very high.
|But if pressure
increases beyond a certain point, people break apart, get warped,
and it's their mind, not their body, that warps first and fastest.
People go crazy. (This probably is implicit in the way kul'tura
works, as a world of "fantasy".) They can't stand the pressure.
This was the danger Gorbachev saw: "Look
people, things have to change, so let's do it calmly, if we don't,
you all know how it's going to be. So let's pretend we're calm,
maintaining the status quo. We've all been hurt by this. We're
in it together."
|A traveller through
Soviet Russia was impressed by a basic uniformity, a sameness of material
conditions. This, which was often experienced as monotony, also implied
a fairness, an a-national tolerance and a standard of living where
excessive personal luxury was frowned on, hidden away, nobody really
knew who governed them, government was hidden and impersonal, almost
magical, because such an unpredictable force. Under Stalin
the pressure of this configuration was too much for most people. There
was a big change, and people rushed loyally into it, and many were
crushed by it. But after Stalin, things were more or less calm. People
were hurting. And things were getting worse, materially speaking,
but slowly. As far as the vlasti were concerned, things were
basically quiet, and slowly (with many reverses) getting better, more
liberal. But then the economy caught up with them again.