Tuesday, March 13, 2012

Ivankiad and Soviet Society

The Ivankiad and Soviet Society
            In The Ivankiad, many different elements of life within Soviet Russia are articulated through the various descriptions and events that unfold in Vladmir Voinovich’s account. One essential element is the corruption that pervaded the comprehensive bureaucracy of the Soviet party and state system. In the story, Voinovich was attempting to move into a two-room apartment with his pregnant wife, but Sergei Sergeevich Ivanko who was an editor for the Writing Bureau tried to use his connections to get the apartment for himself. Now, months before this confrontation happened, Voinovich was granted the next two-room apartment that opened up by the assembly, but the next apartment that opened up happened to be next to the four-room apartment of Ivanko. Ivanko wishing to expand his apartment so that he could fit all his American goods like the “toilet” used his sway with the Chairman Turganov of the Writers’ Housing Cooperative in order to try and get the apartment. The Chairman then uses his powers to try and stop Voinovich from gaining the apartment in exchange for having one of his books published by Ivanko. After this fails, the Chariman and Ivanko continue to appeal to several different people in order to take away Voinovich’s right to the apartment. Voinovich who is not as well connected ends up moving into the apartment without the Board’s approval and is then summoned by the Public Prosecutor where he is finally allowed to stay in the apartment after another vote by the assembly. What this story goes to show is how corrupt the whole Soviet bureaucratic system was with Ivanko using his abilities to publish books as leverage and various other people abusing their positions of power for their own selfish gain.
          Another important aspect is the Soviet society and economy. In comparison to the United States, their possessions were simple, and their standard of living was low. Ivanko who was the story’s “hero” brought back several things from the United States including a very nice toilet. The description that Voinovich provides of the toilet and the other goods sheds a light on the greed of Ivanko and the materialistic culture of the West. In addition to this, Voinovich touches on the inefficacy of the laws in the Soviet Union, which Ivanko and his colleagues paid little to no attention to. They had no honestly no right to keep Voinovich from his apartment as the vote by the assembly was legitimate and correct, but they disregarded the vote saying that there was not quorum or relatives were voting in the cooperative. Soviet society consisted of written laws that were seldom obeyed and unwritten laws that everyone followed but one openly supported. Much like the economy, the Soviet system in Russia was built partly on legal principles and partly on black-market norms.

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