Coming up: Socialist...(er) Russian RealismPutin's new Russia seems more and more an offspring of Tsarist and Soviet cultures. The next step could well be officially approved versions of literature, music, and film. (BTW: I have my own worker award pin with Lenin's profile on it. It probably came out of one of those jars-full when I bought it in the eastern sector of Berlin in 1990.)
Putin Restores Worker Award of Soviet Era
When secretaries, financial analysts and the like spilled onto the streets of Moscow in antigovernment protests last winter, Vladimir V. Putin took one look and dismissed them as a crowd of “office plankton.”
And then he set about burnishing his credentials as a champion of real, working-class Russians, a project that continued on Monday with his decision to dust off a relic of Soviet heraldry: the set of lapel pins called the Hero of Socialist Labor award, now conspicuously shortened in these capitalistic times to the Hero of Labor.
Hero of Socialist Labor
Mr. Putin, who was elected this year to his third term as president, has brought back the Soviet anthem, military parades and political repression. But until now he had not set about restoring the grandeur of the Soviet lapel pin collection for civilians — awards marked by the heads of Lenin and ribbons that once caused jackets to sag…
As wages level off, medals and awards that raise status without costing hard currency might substitute as compensation, as practiced in the Soviet period, beginning principally in the 1930s, when such status symbols, rather than salaries, measured accomplishment.
By the 1980s, medal inflation had rendered such awards all but meaningless, as nearly everybody had some, and they became the objects of near universal derision — eventually sold by the hundreds in canning jars on the sidewalks of East bloc countries…
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