During the decline of the Soviet Union, in the late 1980s and early 1990s, the theme of dissident and rebellious youth continued. As you can read about in my last blog post, the “stilyagi” emerged in the 1950s as a counter-culture, Western-style movement of rebellious youths. The older generations despised this new movement; they were not explicitly going against party or Socialist ideals, but their emulation of Western culture showed the government did not have total control over the lives of their people. This idea continued through the end of the Soviet Union, with a unique case study in the Lyubers.
Lyubers were a group of young, white bodybuilders form the oblast of Moscow called Lyuburtsy. They were known to despise anyone who emulated Western culture, or showed any non-Russian individuality at all. They would “beat up punks, hippies, and metallists, and break dancers too,” in order to “defend Moscow.” Their idea was that Moscow was the capital, and they needed to “clean out” the people from this area who were going against the party—even if it was just in the form of dress or cultural preferences.
This idea of restless youth shows how the government and party was not effective in controlling the lives and ideals of their people. They tried to created other “acceptable outlets” for youths to “channel their energy,” such as sports clubs and discotheques. However, the rebellious youth continued on. The idea that total control was not possible was mirrored in an interview with the police, in which they denied that the Lyubers were even a problem. They didn’t want to admit that the Lyubers were causing issues, because they knew they couldn’t stop them and didn’t want to show that they didn’t have total control. The Lyubers show the urgency that Soviet society was feeling as the oppressive controls on society were not having the control over society that they had hoped.
This post earned a red star from the editorial team.