Born in the USSR

    Have you ever wondered why we were (and perhaps remain) the most reading nation? And why do so many scientists, mathematicians, even abroad, have painfully familiar surnames and names? Why is not one high-profile IT project from WinAmp, through Google and many others, for example, BitCoin not without the same names?

    I was the other day with a child in the pool and saw two kids talking in Russian. So somewhere nearby should be their parent. I like to try to guess compatriots by external signs. Among the parents there was a woman with a tablet, in general, no different. The only thing is that it was not an iPad or a tablet, but an electronic black and white reader. At first I did not attach any importance to this. But then, when it turned out that this was just the mother of one of the Russian-speaking boys, I thought for a moment.

    I thought: was CCCP really the most reading nation? And most importantly, why and where is such a love of books? I saw an article somewhere that according to statistics, it seems like Americans read even more, which is doubtful. I buy a lot of books, I doubt about reading. But this is not the most interesting. And I was puzzled more why in the USSR and by inheritance in Russia they read so much.

    If you look at the story, you get a strange picture. Tsarist Russia was in the bulk (excluding the idly wandering elite) a very uneducated , even illiterate, agrarian country. Then the revolution thundered and most of the literate and educated elite voluntarily left it, some were forced to leave. Cruel and not the best (often uneducated) representatives of the population came to power. That 70 years physically destroyed, putrefied, and so on the remnants of the intelligentsia. That is, if there was someone genotype especially prone to genius, then it was statistically reduced to nothing. Those who took the baton did not care much about preserving the heritage of the nation and indirectly contributed, at best, to the fast flow of the remnants from their remnants from the country.
    But the Bolsheviks and the authorized Lunacharsky did something very positive. This is a colossal literacy program and universal compulsory education. This is a very difficult and costly affair and the tsarist regime, like similar ones in other countries, did not do this not only for reasons of economy of the treasury. Dark (in the bulk) people are easier to manage. As they say now: the church has long been tapping this topic. The Bible was not specially translated into local languages ​​so that only the knowledgeable Latin, Greek and other elites could read the source (already edited dozens of times and far from the original texts). Even in India there was Sanskrit, as the language of the higher castes.

    Knowledge is power!

    The Bolsheviks had to somehow raise and educate the loyal and devoted masses. They decided to use education for propaganda and, together with education, introduce their ideology to the subcortex of the masses. Therefore, they did not skimp and unwound a huge flywheel. Education turned out to be politically one-sided, but very good and successfully implemented in all regions and graduates of rural schools could enter abstruse institutions and universities. And this is not because the level of the latter was low (it was just huge compared to what it is now), but because the education, even in rural schools, was good. So what happened in the end?

    Let's start by reading. It turned out to be a huge country with a high level of literacy and, at the same time, a closed curtain, mono politics and, to put it mildly, the meager industry of adult entertainment and leisure. Yes, the films were, of course, and good among them, orchestras, yes theaters and the famous ballet. But everything was subjected to the most severe, mostly political, but fortunately and moral censorship. Films are very filtered. The same music, or explicit propaganda “My address is neither a house nor a street”, or the less explicit “Grass by the house”, or classical. And it is not surprising that many chose, and out of habit, they still choose the classical one, as something beautiful and not touched by censorship. We will come back to classical music later.

    For children, on the contrary, there was an excellent system of leisure and development, which, for all its political nature and shortcomings, turned out to be much more moral and better than Western alternatives, or rather their absence. The children were busy (and this may be most important), they could do for free what is available only to very wealthy families in the west. Yes, of course, there was one-sidedness and flawedness of that system. But the pluses are also huge. In addition, there was not such a bad informal leisure - Yards. Yes, they fought there, offended the young and weak, tasted wine and smoke, but still spent a lot of time on their own, physically active in the fresh air and in the company of neighbors of different ages. Everyone has different memories and sediment from the yards. I also have a lot of negative things left, but in comparison with today's alternatives, even in the CIS (I’m not talking about abroad), I think most of those over 35 would agree that the courtyards were great. We were again distracted from the initial topic.

    So at the same time, the whole world around was rather gray and even boring, not only because of empty, uniform store shelves. For adults and children, a lot if it was not closed and not accessible, like traveling outside the country (and tourism in the country was very undeveloped and difficult in comparison with the west), it was very predictable and unpretentious. It is very difficult to put it in words.

    Most importantly, you realized that almost nothing depends on you and your efforts, from salary to housing. Everything is very limited. Children are especially sensitive to restrictions, they want everything at once (and cartoons not 15 minutes a day and popsicle and soda and of course toys). So, it was all this that became the prerequisites for such a massive departure to other realities. I mean, first of all, reading fiction, especially fiction. It was sometimes the only way to get a vivid impression. Of course, some left (and continue to leave) differently. Many, even intelligent people, combined books and alcohol in different proportions. For example, as a reflection of the situation, the Strugatsky (not Erofeev) in the novel could have had quite a positive protagonist, an ever-tipsy intellectual. This word is interesting: "tipsy."

    So, let's look further. Where did the inhabitants of the country prefer to direct their thoughts and time instead of zealously building a bright collective future for communism? Studies (in general, and the exact sciences to a particular degree), books, sports, classical music (music training for children), hobbies (countless circles for children). Let's see what flowed out of each of them.
    - study . Very strong and massive: mathematical, physical, chemical, engineering and programmer (as a consequence of the totality of the previous) schools. Accordingly, leading after a while to a huge number of highly qualified specialists in the relevant fields. Chess can also be attributed to this.

    - Books. Mass reading and love for him. Which was passed on to children who grew up already in a new environment. And some went so far that they ran with wooden swords through the suburban forests in search of elves from a neighboring forum ...

    - Sports . All that is needed for the country to have a strong hockey team is: a negative temperature in its larger territory for 4-5 months a year, flooded boxes in each yard, the absence of game consoles and a swan lake on all channels. (Of course, a controversial statement)

    - Classical music . She was loved because she was of high quality and without propaganda. Children were massively sent to music schools, which provided unrealistically high-quality, deep and advanced musical education in comparison with Western counterparts.

    - Hobbies . Well, this is generally the topic of individual volumes. But the most interesting thing is that in the absence of industry (or a shortage) of source materials for the realization of creativity, part of (sometimes more important) creativity was the use of ingenuity and social connections in order to make or obtain the necessary materials for creating crafts. The radio parts on the spread of the jacket in "Ivan Vasilievich" have already become classics, which are hard to believe for those who did not find it, but it was so.

    Unfortunately, few of these assets have remained to this day, but fortunately enough has remained to notice the Russians on pleasant grounds in the crowd of foreigners.

    Now think what is happening now with yours, your loved ones and childrentime and attention and goals in modern society? Where are the development vectors directed?

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