Is there a generation gap in the USSR?

Grigori Reznichenko ::: Young people in the USSR. Answers to questions

If you take society as a whole, there is no such thing as there is no breeding ground for it. But on a smaller scale, in one small part of society or anoth­er, mutual misunderstanding and conflict can some­times arise. This happens when the elder generation refuses to accept the behaviour, tastes, fashions and latest fads of the young, and the young are too insistent in defending them. A certain lack of tact on both sides, a too early desire for inde­pendence on the part of the young, not always backed by their real possibilities, can at times lead to sharp conflicts in the family.

But the arguments and debates between people of different generations concern secondary issues, not their life credo. On that main question there is con­sensus instead of conflict; the younger generation accepts and carries on the ideals of their parents, their views on the social system, their dream of the future and their purpose in life. The young take the practical deeds of their elders a step further.

History has faced the Soviet people with a number of severe tests: war, devastation, and the need to work hard to rebuild and strengthen the economy. It is significant that during the Second World War cases of political backsliding or betrayal of their country among the young were so few that they do not even deserve mentioning. On the other hand, cases of heroism were so numerous, that they, alone, are enough to show how strongly the young felt about the ideals of their fathers.

Today the close ties between the two generations are seen most clearly in the deeds and actions of the young.

Sociologists recently conducted a poll among

young people working on two Siberian proj- ects-the Ust-Ilim hydropower station and the Bai- kal-Amur railway. One of the questions asked was what had prompted them to work on a Siberian construction site. Seventy-two per cent said they wanted to be where they could make the biggest contribution to the country. Thirty-six per cent (the second largest group) referred to a wish “to test" themselves and their abilities in difficult conditions, a wish "to earn people's respect". Twenty-eight per cent gave as their reason a wish to see the world and "a sense of adventure". And only way down the list in the sixth place was money named as the main reason.

A sociological survey conducted among 1,000 young Leningraders included a question on their parents-how interesting and useful from their point of view was their parents' life and what, if anything, they wanted to learn from them. Nine hundred and thirteen said they were proud of their parents, and admired them for their conscientious attitude to work, their sincerity and the contribution they made to society.

A common outlook makes it easier to settle con­flicts and differences over minor issues and avoid a major clash and the kind of rebellion of the young that marks capitalist society.