“Life’s Getting Better” Because of…Stalin?

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The 1930s were a time of great growth and advancement in the Soviet Union. The goals of the First Five Year Plan had been achieved and the Soviet Union was finally industrialized and considered a world power. The pain, suffering, and hunger that was widespread in the late 1920s was starting to go away and the USSR was entering a new era of prosperity. The industrialization of the economy meant more food and a higher standard of living for the people. Stalin’s purges of the late 1930s had yet to happen and life was looking pretty good to the majority of Soviet citizens.

In 1936, two Soviet composers, Vasily Lebedev-Kumach and Aleksandr Aleksandrov, came up with the song Life’s Getting Better which was inspired by Stalin at the 1936 Constitution signing. The song came to represent the era of the early 1930s under Stalin: an era of prosperity, modernization, and more opportunities for the Soviet people. The song touches on a wide variety of Soviet improvements, from “the happy refrain of the cities and fields: life’s getting better and happier too” to “wherever you go you’ll find you have friends”, representing the comradery of the new Soviet philosophy. The song finishes off by owing all of this success to Stalin by stating “let’s let the whole gigantic country should to Stalin: thank you, our man, live long, prosper, and never fall ill.” The propaganda Stalin was able to use to credit himself with this success only made him seem like more of a savior to the Russian people. Before the purges and reign of terror Stalin would soon adopt, he was the savior of the Russian people, bringing their country into a new era of wealth, success, and modernization.

Works Used:

http://stalinsmoustache.org/2012/06/12/the-true-picture-of-stalin/

Geldern, James. Mass Culture in Soviet Russia: Tales, Poems, Songs, Movies, Plays, and Folklore, 1917-1953. Bloomington: Indiana UP, 1995. 237-238. Print.

2 thoughts on ““Life’s Getting Better” Because of…Stalin?

  1. “Life’s Getting Better” really is something. Way to embed the audio (video) so we could hear it in all its glory! There is also a good version of it on 17 Moments (http://soviethistory.msu.edu/1936-2/year-of-the-stakhanovite/1936-year-of-the-stakanovite-music/). And it would be interesting to think about how this kind of popular song intersected with the Stakhanovite movement Matt discusses here: https://blogs.lt.vt.edu/mvalentine/2015/10/12/stakhanov-and-stalin-rapid-industrialization-and-its-role-in-stalinism/#comment-16

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  2. It seems to me that both this song and the Stakhanovite movement are designed and utilized as a smoke screen for reality, producing a veneer of happiness and progress over a reality of suffering, political strife and shortages, they are intended to keep the workers in the factory despite the fact that it is burning down all around them.

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