It’s been 20 years since the disintegration of the Soviet Union on December 25, 1991. Most Millennials, including myself, were either not born yet or just beginning to become conscious of the fact that there was a world out there other than themselves. We weren’t around to witness the Cold War and the events that led up to it. Yet we witness the effects everyday through the global media, especially in a recent Pew survey in Ukraine, Lithuania, and Russia that asked the question, “Is democracy and capitalism all it’s cracked up to be?”
Most of the Europeans polled have changed their mind since that fateful day in 1991. Polls from all three nations reflect citizens disenchanted with free market economies and multiparty systems. Compared to a 72 percent approval of a political system switch ’91, Lithuanians have lost faith in democracy as only 35 percent of those polled approved of such a switch. As the Pew survey states, there “is a widespread perception that political and business elites have enjoyed the spoils of the last two decades, while average citizens have been left behind.”
Due to the decline in living conditions and evident corruption within many European governments, many so-called “survivors” of the Soviet era have begun to take on a more negative view as their imaginations of the past become a not so polished reality. Young people, along with urban dwellers and the well-educated, are far more supportive than the common man as they are in a better position to take advantage of a society that supports free speech, honest elections and fair judiciary.
As the Pew survey also demonstrates, the “belief that ability and ambition determine success in life is consistently more common among young people in these three former Soviet republics.” Millennials appear to cross borders with their more progressive ideas as this belief is prevalent across the globe, especially in the United States.
So what do we do with this information? Perhaps the people on the other side of the world see democracy and capitalism through a jaded point of view. But as the majority of all three ex-Soviet countries maintain a positive opinion of the United States, it seems that the upcoming generation has an opportunity to eliminate the previous misconceptions about multiparty systems and their effects on the people. The Pew poll also mentioned that Ukraine, Lithuania, and Russia agreed that a flourishing economy means much more than political stability. On the road to a strong economic system must come a group of dedicated, well-educated citizens prepared to make tough decisions about both the political and economic course of the country.
Millennials across the globe must recognize that the time is now for this generation to begin making cohesive, positive change. We’re all human. We’re all capable of changing our ways due to circumstance. The former USSR is now in a unique position of have the capability of improving the circumstances for themselves and for years to come. The children of the USSR and the children of Russia, Lithuania, and Ukraine can either take advantage of the opportunity or ignore their last chance. It’s now left to the citizens what path their respective countries shall choose.
Haley Samsel is a Featured Blogger for Mobilize.org’s The Millennial Report. She is a high school freshman in Plano, Texas where she is involved with Partner’s PE, a program that allows students to help special needs kids to earn their PE credit while making friends and gaining confidence in themselves.
Haley Samsel is a Featured Blogger for Mobilize.org’s The Millennial Report. She is a high school sophomore who lives in Plano, Texas, which gives her a pretty unique view (in her opinion) on politics and Millennial issues. Outside of the Millennial Report, Haley enjoys playing basketball, reading biographies and watching cooking competition shows, among other things.