Rebels in the CCCP: Analyzing the Soviet Youth in the 1980’s
Mentor:Michaela Reaves, Dr. Reaves, Department Chair of History, California Lutheran University
By the 1980’s the Russian economy teetered on the edge of decline and a new generation of young people believed that Soviet-style Communism was failing to have a positive impact on the minds of the young and troubled. A number of citizens in the Soviet Union no longer supported hard line Communism, and, in fact, many opposed many facets/issues of their current system. A significant portion of the Soviet Youth in the 1980’s revolted against the Soviet government and increased crime among young citizens of the Soviet Union served to undermine the country’s unity as well as the image of the hardworking communist. The United States Central Intelligence Agency monitored these changes and in the early 1980’s began to posit that this new wave might herald significant change within the Soviet Union itself. An examination of these CIA declassified documents describes the changes in the Soviet youth culture and suggests that this new wave helped bring an end to the Cold War by means of increasing petty crime, dissenting political opinions, and a resurgence of religion. Researching into how well the government controlled its people, the CIA concluded that a “sharp rise in juvenile crime [indicated] that the regime [had] fallen short of its goal to create “the new Soviet man.” The regime’s attempt to mold the new youth into individuals that would act collectively to monitor crime and uphold the law had failed.