Interview with my Mother
Source of the picture: Mediamax
Student: Tamara Karapetyan
My generation had some notions about the Soviet Union and Soviet Armenia though we did not live in that period of time. Our grandparents and parents are still talking about that period in our country and we have listened to a lot of different opinions about Soviet Armenia since childhood. In this essay which is based on the interview that I had with my mother (born in 1968 in Yerevan) I will try to introduce the answers and also my personal point of view on this very controversial issue. I also would like to introduce the advantages and the disadvantages of that system that I conclude from the interview.
As I understood from my interview there were lots of positive sides living in Soviet Armenia. The most important fact is that our country had development in this period of time. Many factories, buildings and blocks of apartments were built. There were not extremely rich or extremely poor classes in the society, the average class was the biggest. And this makes us ponder that the poverty was at low rank, the fact which is vital for any country. Another important fact is that household expenses were very low. That is to say there was no single family that had a problem to pay for household expenses (which we have for example nowadays). Of course, here comes another essential side of this issue – unemployment was at low rank. The majority of people worked and liked working in Soviet Armenia. The next significantly important issue is that the education was free. For example, if now in Armenia there are a lot of young people who want to study at the university but cannot afford, in Soviet Armenia there was not such a problem. Education was not only free but also the system of education (particularly in schools) was much more effective than we have now. And the fact that the educated generations are the bright future of the country, I should state that this is another key advantage. Also, medical services were free of charge which claims that the Government was thinking about people’s health. All in all, in Soviet Armenia, people’s routine was happier and with less problems and thoughts of survival.
Talking about the disadvantages first of all I should mention the most important one – the Soviet ideology that was forced to everyone. That is to say generations grew up under the ideologies that they even did not understand. In schools children were taught to be like each other, like the same person. The Soviet ideology killed the individualism in children. For example, if a child was left-handed, at school he/she was forced to be right-handed. This is a simple example, but in my opinion it tells us many things. In the Soviet Union no one could speak against the Soviet ideology, that is to say there was no freedom of expression. If you were not a Communist party member, you could never reach certain success or have a position. My interviewee did not face such a problem but she has mentioned about some relatives that were victims of this kind of situation. Moreover, there was a blockade of information. People knew only what the Soviet Government wanted them to know. Music, books, TV and radio programs were all selected for the societies. The other big disadvantage was that goods, food and clothes were deficit and everything available was the same. People had no choice for buying something various, they had to deal with what was offered to them. And this led to speculative trade. The last fact that has caught my attention is that there was no total production centered wholly in one country, the sectors of productions were separated between different countries within the SU in order not to give them an opportunity to think about being independent. Thus, looking thoroughly into this period of time in Armenia, people did not have freedom of choice and freedom of expression.
What concerns the independence from the Soviet Union my interviewee stated, “We did not know what would happen next but we were sure that we want to be independent country.” And this thought was the strength that the Armenians had, in my opinion. I should also mention that there was no regret after the collapse of USSR (for my interviewee). She mentioned that during the Soviet years she did not noticed the big disadvantages of the system but after it she felt herself somehow deceived. She describes the Karabakh movement as the most incredible feeling of unity and brotherhood, when the whole nation was like a big family.
Summing up, taking into consideration all the answers that I have got from my very interesting interview, every phenomenon in this world has its advantages and disadvantages and the Soviet system is not an exception. In my opinion, people living in Soviet Armenia had definitely less problems in their daily life. But discussing the concept from the broader view, I should state that the Soviet Union was an evil system despite of all advantages. That was a time when no one could express his/her opinion as they were afraid of being fired or punished by law. That was a time when people could not watch or listen to various opinions or ideologies except the Soviet ideology. There was a time when nations had to forget about their own country and think about the Soviet brotherhood and unity which was unreal. In my eyes, the Soviet Union was like a jail where the inside conditions were created such a way that the majority of the population liked living there as they were satisfied only with their daily life. They even were allowed to travel only to socialist countries. By this approach, the Soviet Government tried to prevent people from seeing another side of the world, and at the same time gave them an opportunity to work and be pleased with their life without thinking more profoundly. I think these all violate the freedom of people. Moreover, every nation should have their own independent country where the people can feel themselves free, where they can read, listen, think and choose whatever they want. And nations like Armenians, which has such a country, history and culture should never be again in any kind of union where it can lose its “face”.