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From Cossacks to TOR residents: who lives the Russian Far East, studies EastRussia - EastRussia | Opinions






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To be a Far Eastern!

From Cossacks to TOR residents: who lives the Russian Far East, studies EastRussia

To be a Far Eastern!

Leonid Blyakher

Professor, Head of the Department of Philosophy and Culturology of the Pacific State University, Doctor of Philosophy
Ending. Start reading here: "Who are the Far Easterners".

So, as in all of Russia, the Soviet government happened in the Far East. It happened here later, than in the rest of the country, in the first half of the 20-ies of the XX century. It began not very boldly. These places are not clear. The peasants are hurt, and the industrial people are spoiled by freemen. Until the end of the 20-ies there was a forest stock exchange in Vladivostok, which set prices for forests in the whole macroregion, until the middle of the 30-ies there was private fishing, home ownership, entrepreneurship. But all this comes to an end. Actually, it was clear from the outset that the death of all this is a matter of time. It is for this reason that not so much the capital elite fled to Harbin and further, how many tens and hundreds of thousands of peasants, craftsmen, merchants fled "beyond the river" from Soviet happiness. Their descendants still live in the northern provinces of China.

The region is again empty. In the neighborhood with Japan and the United States, which are quite interested in exploiting its natural resources, and even having a good experience in the region (American and Japanese enterprises have been working here since the end of the 19th century), this meant a gradual loss of territory. Organized mass resettlement (for example, "working Jews" at the end of the 20-ies) at that time was not possible. Therefore, the military plan for the development of the Far East was adopted. First hold, and then we'll see. As a result, a specific stream of migrants flowed into the Far East: military personnel with families and special contingents (without families). Of course, there were fishermen with sailors, peasants and hunters. Only the military, prisoners and workers of the defense plants under construction prevailed. According to the estimates of the researchers, only the military and the families were 15-18% of the able-bodied population of the Far East.

The activities that these people were engaged in, of course, are important and necessary, but did not directly affect the economy of the region. Like the work of defense workers. However, consumption here remained regional. As a result, less than a third of the population had to produce products that could feed the population of the region. Since this task did not work out, the region was dependent on supplies from outside. So there is a special situation of a "developing" region that does not go into developed. Developing it because, in fact, the regional economy and did not develop. M.b. with the exception of fishing, also referred to the strategic areas of development of the territory.

Since supplies to the region were not particularly rhythmic, the population is slowly returning to self-sufficiency practices, though often outside formal rules and ideological norms. Hunting, fishing, harvesting of wild plants, working on subsidiary plots ("cottages"), breeding of livestock and poultry becomes for a large number of residents no less significant than the official salary. The authorities, knowing the situation, had to "turn a blind eye" to these exercises, which are sometimes carried out during working hours. The most important regional quality - the ability to negotiate - is manifested here. Gradually small and shadow enterprises start to grow out of individual and side practices. Someone catches and sells fish, someone grows piglets and sells meat, fat and sausage. People live and give to others. Only in the years of the Kosygin reform (60-e - 70-ies) were attempts to develop, in fact, the regional economy. True, "ideological alienation" and soaring oil prices have led to their gradual winding-up. So people remained in the Far East themselves with their problems. So, willy-nilly or not, they acquired the main quality of the Far East - the ability to live with others, the ability to find a common language.

It is this quality that has become for the Far East, more precisely, for its residents saving in difficult post-Soviet years. For the Far East, the disintegration of the USSR meant, first of all, a sharp reduction in supplies from the outside, the lack of demand for tanks, submarines, ships and military aircraft produced here. The attempt to convert military plants was unsuccessful. Huge enterprises are curtailing. A region that is not particularly densely populated is unexpectedly labor-surplus for itself. The people ran west, beyond the Urals. Almost for the post-Soviet period, the outflow was almost a quarter of the population. But three-fourths remained.

The remaining inhabitants were forced to learn a qualitatively new world: a world where norms were absent (they needed to be created), there were no sustainable practices of economic activity (they had to be invented), there were no grounds for communication. In the shortest period of time, all this arose. The Komsomol bureaus, workers' brigades and even scientific research institutes turned into business networks, engaged in "business" of very different profiles. Moreover, this business was for the first time directly related to the region. Not tanks and airplanes, but fish, timber, ore raw materials flowed along the trade routes. Most of them were oriented not to the west, but to the east. The reason is not so much in the low patriotism of the Far Eastern countries, but in the things that are pragmatic: they paid more, the reliability of buyers was higher, and the region was extremely interested in the "opposite" flows. Machines and consumer goods, computers and food products - all this flowed into the region.

From local markets associated exclusively with the local community, a transition is made to the markets of foreign partners that cover the subject of the federation, the entire region. Since the institutional conditions for such interaction were not particularly clear, for economic, and other contacts, there are friendly networks covering the vast space of the macroregion, which insure this contacts. It is within the framework of such friendly networks that a regional identity is created. Just businessmen and officials, journalists and teachers and many other Far Eastern people from different regions personally know each other. In conditions of a rare population and dense and constant contacts, this was quite enough to "conduct business" in the Far East. The deeds were conducted. Gradually the base of the Far East again crystallized: the absence of xenophobia in any form, the ability to negotiate, get along, the ability to adapt to circumstances and adapt circumstances to oneself.

In the conditions of oil and gas abundance these qualities were "in the shade". In those years, it was enough to be "right" to have a golden shower spilled on its native land. Today, in new, not very simple conditions, they again come to the fore. On the question - how to survive in the Far East in our difficult times - there is only one answer: to be a Far East!