Sunday, December 26, 2010

The Fall Of the Iron Curtain

Magnet # 426:  The Kremlin Waterfront, Moscow

Material:  Resin

Purchased By:  Mom & Dad

This day in 1991 saw the collapse of the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics when the Supreme Soviet, its highest governing body, met and agreed to dissolve itself.  The Communist nation, which had once been a fearsome superpower, had been driven into bankruptcy and civil unrest as many of its territories declared their independence, and was on the verge of collapse.  Sensing the inevitable, its Head of State, Mikhail Gorbachev, had resigned one day earlier and declare his office extinct.  What decades earlier had seemed impossible was now a reality, much to the delight of many Russian citizens.

If Tsarist Russia hadn't been in so much trouble for so long, the Soviet Union might never have been founded on December 28th of 1922, almost 69 years to the date before the nation came to an end.  The people of the nation ended up trading in the limited freedom they had experienced for almost none at all. Life may have been at its worst during Joseph Stalin's leadership, when about a thousand people were executed every day for a year during the Great Purge of the 1930's.  And after his death in 1953, the country grew less repressive over the decades.  When Gorbachev came to power in the 1980's, the people gained even more rights including greater access to information.  But his measures were still not enough - the Soviet Union had to come to an end.  In its place, the Russian Federation, a federal semi-presidential republic, was created.  And now that communism is over, many Russians are now part of a rising middle class with disposable income.  They're able to spend money on hobbies, gourmet food, and even luxury items.  So what is one collectible that many Russians are now eagerly buying up?  Believe it or not, magnets!  Yep, I've encountered quite a few enthusiastic collectors from the nation across the web.  They actually have a pretty great community website at Live Journal where they post their gems.  I tend to spend a fair amount of time there checking them out.  The only problem is that all of their accompanying text is pretty much in Russian, so I have no idea what they're talking about.  But at least I can still enjoy the pictures.  It almost makes me with that I spoke Russian, or there was an English counterpart that I could join.  Oh, well - have a look at if you'd like to check it out for yourself.  But commercialism like this is certainly a good sign that Russia is moving away from its ties to communism - I doubt that anyone who lived through that era could have imagined they'd ever come this far.

The Soviet Union provided the rest of the world with a pretty clear example of why communism doesn't work.  Sure, the idea that everyone is equal and receives the same compensation is pretty nice, but doesn't seem to play out so well.  There are those who inevitably rise to authority positions, while others have no motivation to do their part very well, as there is no real reward for it.  The arts and creativity can take a severe blow, which in turn can lessen the entire nation's morale.  It's also been proven that when workers have some sort of extra compensation to strive for, they tend to apply themselves even more.  And that's hardly the extent of the movement's flaws, which at their worst have resulted in mass killings.  Of course, capitalism is far from perfect, yet it seems to have done a much better job for its respective nations than communism ever did for Russia.  Hopefully, both Russia and the entire world will learn from the mistakes of the Soviet Union and never again head down that same destructive path, managing instead to achieve a brighter future.

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