A 1960 Soviet-era vision of the U.S.S.R. in 2017


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In 1960, V. Strukova and V. Shevchenko wrote a story, illustrated by L. Smekhov, about the Soviet Union in 2017. The date was not fortuitously chosen– it marked the 100th anniversary of the October Revolution that brought the Communists to power. The authors believed that people in 2017 would be fortunate to live in a world liberated by Soviet science, where the climate could be controlled, the flow of the northern rivers could be controlled, and Alpha Centauri was a flight destination. The Moscow-based newspaper The Moscow Times described as follows Strukova and Shevchenkos’s story: “A hundred years ago, the men and women who brought Communism to the Tsarist Empire had big plans. Decades into that experiment, the U.S.S.R. was leading the world’s ‘Space Race’ and it seemed there was nothing the country couldn’t do. In 1960, the Soviet movie studio ‘Diafilm’ released a filmstrip titled ‘In the Year 2017,’ by V. Strukova and V. Shevchenko, depicting a vision of the U.S.S.R. set 57 years in the future.

While the story, with illustrations, is essentially a pro-Soviet science fiction tale written for school children, it still expresses the boundless hope for the future that filled the cultures of both the Soviet Union and the United States at that time. All dreams were possible, and given time all would come true.

This historical piece however does illustrate again the tragic but consistent failure of communism and socialist thought, wherever it has been tried. The Soviet culture of Russia dreamed big, and did accomplish much, but they were crippled by a political and economic system that guaranteed bankruptcy, leading to the collapse of that system well before its 100th anniversary.

It is a continuing tragedy that so many people today continue to believe in that system, even after so many failures.

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14 comments

  • Joe

    Always looking for that utopia in the far future, so sure that science will be able to control the climate!

  • wodun

    Do any of our scientific class that think they should direct policy realize the roots of their ideology lie in technocratic socialism?

  • wayne

    wodun-
    Excellent thought.
    -Sadly, “yes they do and they approve wholeheartedly.”
    Fellow-traveler’s and useful-idiots, have no clue. They are just along for ride.

  • Edward

    So the Soviet scientists and engineers were going to build underground cities and atomic trains, dam up oceans, and control the weather. Families were going to be separated to men on land and wives and their little kindergarteners on boats.

    Meanwhile, the western scientists and engineers predicted flying cars, which will never happen, of course.
    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=VRZNLBL7Px4 (5 minutes, “4 Real Flying Cars That Actually Fly”)

  • wayne

    Edward-
    Interesting flying-car video.

    Commies have been doing their scientific-socialist, new-man-utopia, mumbo-jumbo, stuff, since the 1930’s. It is however, a good insight into their bizzaro-world view.

    Personally, I like our own homegrown, science-fiction-y, brand of Futurism, as represented in this wonderful piece of what Upton Sinclair would call “Boosterism.”

    To New Horizons
    1940
    Jam Handy- General Motors
    https://archive.org/details/ToNewHor1940
    (22:59)

    –watch the whole thing, it morphs to full-color at about the 8:00 mark.
    The optimism is amazing and the “wonder world of 1960,” is not all that bad! (designed by Norman Bel Geddes.)

    “Definitive document of pre-World War II futuristic utopian thinking, as envisioned by General Motors. Documents the “Futurama” exhibit in GM’s “Highways and Horizons” pavilion at the New York World’s Fair, which looks ahead to the “wonder world of 1960.””

  • Edward

    wayne,
    It seems that they correctly predicted a lot of 1960, back in 1940. They even predicted rooftop helipads and Disneyland, though they did not mention that 1960 amusement parks would be themed. They even correctly predicted that the world would be in living color from 1960 onward. ;-)

    The future used to look so good. What happened once we got here?

    Oh, that’s right. Obama, and his vision of central control and individual and national mediocrity.

    No wonder Trump was able to win with his slogan “Making America Great Again!”

  • wayne

    Edward–
    The Archive has good stuff– highly recommend.

    Interesting short commentary which illustrates the difference between “projecting the present, into the future,” and “predicting the future.”

    Joseph Barbera on “The Jetsons”
    https://youtu.be/TX2-kS0EccI
    (2:58)

  • Joe

    Edward and Wayne, here is video of a flying car from the late 1950’s
    https://m.youtube.com/watch?v=scKQ-c5iy8Q
    At 3.53 seconds it’s airborne, the trouble with flying cars is that they do neither very well, they don’t fly so nice and they don’t drive so nice. Flying cars will remain the domain of the very well to do.

  • wayne

    Joe–
    Thanks.
    This also reminds me of the car-boat–The Amphicar.
    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Amphicar

  • Cotour

    There are modern versions of this auto / plane vehicle, IMO they are for the most part are totally useless and exercises in non functional fantasy. There are however newer versions of personal air transportation vehicles that by using new technology and materials are actual viable candidates for real functional VTOL machines.

    https://youtu.be/VRZNLBL7Px4

    The Moller air car was the first serious attempt at achieving the goal IMO but will now be surpassed by these new more achievable design concepts that will actual be on the market sooner rather than later. https://youtu.be/rgjug_0OAF0

  • wayne

    Does anyone remember, all the phony-baloney genetics stuff the commies bought into?

    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Trofim_Lysenko

  • Cotour

    He seems to reject the concept of adaptation of an organism to its environment. What must it have been like to go from a star to become disfavored by Stalin?

    “The organism and the conditions required for its life are an inseparable unity. Different living bodies require different environmental conditions for their development. By studying these requirements we come to know the qualitative features of the nature of organisms, the qualitative features of heredity. Heredity is the property of a living body to require definite conditions for its life and development and to respond in a definite way to various conditions.[7]”

  • wayne

    Cotour–
    to clarify slightly– Stalin loved Lysenko. Nobody challenged Lysenko (and lived) until after Stalin died.

    Totally off the wall;

    For my entry in the “All-time Ever, Bizzaro-World, Commie Pseudo-Science propaganda” Stuff:
    [This is Extremely Disturbing. It’s all fake, but it’s disturbing. Pure commie lies with a veneer of “science.” They even sucked-in a noted (real) scientist, J.B.S. Haldane, to make it sound even better.]

    “Experiments in the Revival of Organisms”
    1940
    “Techfilm Studio, Moscow”
    (19:32 B&W)

    https://archive.org/details/Experime1940

  • Edward

    wayne,
    I forgot to mention that Obama also wanted to control the weather/climate, just as the film strip said that the Soviet’s did.

    Lysenko is an interesting topic, and I have a friend who uses his name as a verb, especially when talking about global warming.

    Norman Borlaug is a better example of scientific agricultural advancement. Not only was he not a government stooge with pseudo-science, as Lysenko was, but he actually (not politically) advanced agriculture in ways that now feed billions more people than could have been imagined, back in those days. That is the advantage of genetically modifying food. Today, many people pretend to be frightened of such foods, perhaps not realizing that they have eaten nothing but genetically modified foods their entire lives.

    Joe,
    Nice video. I think I saw a video of that car being transformed at the Reno Air Show, where he mentioned he was going next. The trouble that I usually talk about with flying cars is not performance or cost, as the pickup truck also leaves much to be desired as a car or as a truck, though it is popular because it is still useful as both at a low cost. I usually talk about safety.

    A car with maintenance problems only has to pull over to the side of the road, a quick, relatively safe action, but a flying car has to descend for a few precious minutes before it can land anywhere, minutes during which a problem can turn disastrous, and there are areas without a lot of good places to set down, such as mountains and forests. Thus, owners of flying cars will have to keep them maintained like an airplane, not like most of us keep our cars maintained. After all, did you take your car in for its latest routine 15,000-mile servicing? Me neither.

    Thus a flying car will still cost about as much as an airplane, but as you mentioned, it won’t have the nice performance as either an airplane or a car.

    The reality of having a flying car does not live up to the fantasy.

    I think you are right, Joe. For quite some time, it will only be the well to do who own flying cars. For many products, the well to do are the early adopters, and the rest of us get them as the price decreases. This didn’t happen with flying cars over the past half century, and I don’t foresee it happening in the next half century, either.

    However, we are still better off with our ground cars than our ancestors were with their horses and buggies, if they could afford them.

    Now, if only we can figure out how influence the weather …

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