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From the center of the empire to the national capital

русская версия

Опубликовано на портале: 25-04-2011
Мир России. 1994.  Т. 3. № 1. С. 66-83. 
Тематический раздел:
The article is based on the following main ideas. All these years the Soviet society was neither capitalist nor socialist one but it was etacratic system (statocracy). The domination of stale property, a person's total dependence on the state, militarism were the basic features of this system. The nomenclatura, which included party and state officialdom of high ranks, generals, KGB officers was a ruling stratum both in economy and in policy. This system was founded on the ideological predominance over common sense and people's interests. A person was considered to be not a personality, but a functioner in production and a loyal subject in the state. The stale, as Lenin planned, really was turned into the huge factory, and towns — into sleeping-cars close to military enterprises.In the first years after the October revolt of 1917 a number of architects and some cities* authorities hoped to create prosperous model-cities, cities-gardens, so called "blue cities". These were romantic projects which are still of interest. Unfortunately, some basic principles of those noble projects turned out to be erroneous; abolition of private property on land and real estate was the key fallacy among them. In the 20-s the other line in town planning gained the victory. This line was supported by those people who joined the communist party already after the victory in 1917 and came into force in the twenties. A national-bolshevik approach and striving for the creating of a powerful militant Empire were characteristic for them. Their goals had a clearly political character. It was necessary to create a city as a symbol of victories of socialism, which would be Mecca of the faithful communists, an exhibition of prosperity. These ideas have entailed a striving for the construction of majestic buildings, huge avenues, sparkling metro stations etc. However all this was absolutely unsuited for an ordinary resident.The abovementioned ideas are illustrated by cases of healthcare and organization of leisure in Moscow. As for the former, the Soviet regime has demonstrated its achievements here by the number of medical personnel and hospital beds. Indeed, the USSR took the leading positions by these indices in the world, but it was far from the top while taking into account the level of public health. Among almost 100 large cities in the world, chosen for consideration in comparative analysis, Moscow has a higher death-rate than in 53 other cities; a natural increase of the population in Moscow is lower than that in 66 cities. At times the situation in Moscow has aggravated: from 1972 to 1985 an average duration of life in Russia decreased by 2 years, and Moscow was not an exclusion. The Moscow region is today in an extremely unfavorable ecological situation and more than 12 million of people live in the zones of stable air and water pollution.The poor choice for interesting free-time activities has become one of the most urgent problems of Moscow. The number of theatres, museums, libraries has practically not increased since the 30-s whereas the population increased by 4 times. Only one new museum was built in Moscow for all the years of communist regime and the total number of museums' visitors dropped. Only 61 percent of young Muscovites polled in 1986 said they had a real access to spiritual values. All this was preconditioned by discrepancies between the amount of investments in production and in the development of a human-being and social infrastructure.For decades the social and cultural reproduction has been an extensive one. A huge share of workers of non-qualified labor was deliberately preserved; there were no premises for adequate reproduction of highly-qualified workers and engineers, engaged in spheres connected with high technologies. While accumulating the best intellectuals from the whole country, the capital was not able to provide the necessary conditions for their life and reproduction. One of the most important aims of using Moscow for the interests of the elite groups was to turn the capital into a centre of the military-industrial complex. As a direct consequence of such a policy a super-concentration of the intellectual forces of the nation took place in Moscow. That was done to embrace scientists with reliable political control.One of the main purposes of the Soviet leaders was to provide themselves with especially stable sociopolitical situation, to have only loyal citizens in the capital. Therefore the role of industrial production for the city's development was artificially exaggerated and the share of working class left disproportionally high (in 1986 the total number of the employed was 4.9 million, among them — 2.5 million of working class, including 600 thousand of unskilled workers). From the other side the elite had the second mass and very influential support in Moscow — the officialdom, ramified apparatus. To carry out adequate to the nomenclatura' goals management Moscow has been divided into districts in accordance with equal amount of the Communist Party members who worked in production and institutes of a district.As a result of such a politically-oriented ruling, for many decades the development of Moscow has been unnatural. Moscow has become a sick city, with abnormal social and industrial proportions, with broken balance between the development of social infrastructure and the social and cultural reproduction of the population.The author points that the first large-scale clash between the supporters of totalitarian regime and its opponents, which concerned the destiny of Moscow, occurred in 1985-1986, when the discussion of the General Plan of the city. In the Plan the Party leaders of Moscow intended to "freeze" the city according to the education of inhabitants, their occupational structure, the organization of all vital activity on the level of industrial epoch. On the contrary the scholars proposed the plan of conversion Moscow into the city with informational economy and civil relations.The real rebirth of Russia and Moscow began in August, 1991. Unfortunately, the new authorities had not got an integral program of Moscow development that could get them to combine their efforts.The article also deals with contemporary problems and perspectives of the city. First of all the author argues that Moscow should be the capital of Russia only. Secondly, the considerable part of industry is obsolete and therefore must be moved out of Moscow. Thirdly, there are no doubts that in Moscow and around it a ventured industry based on Moscow venture capital will be widely developed. Fourthly, overcoming functional illiteracy of millions of workers still leaves a very acute problem.At last, the author supposes that the number of the population will be considerably reduced from almost 10 million inhabitants to 6-7 million by 2000 mainly due to migration from Moscow of unskilled and semi-skilled workers.The essence of events which have occurred after August of 1991 in Moscow as well as all over the country lies in a bitter struggle in the sphere of economy and politics; it is the struggle for power and for possession of property. Privatization, or, to be exact, the ways of its, became the key question. The establishment of the Moscow metropolitan region, meaning the formation of a common system of government by a really existed giant agglomeration was one of the fields of struggle between old nomenclatura and new authorities of Moscow. A choice of the way of dwelling construction is a serious problem too.The author argues that the Renaissance of Moscow as well as of other Russian cities is only possible in a democratic society of real owners who consider a city to be an environment that is being constructed by themselves as a field of self-reproduction and self-development