The Thanksgiving holiday in the United States has a checkered past. Its more recent origins lie largely in the government’s attempts to promote propaganda stories.
For example, Abraham Lincoln asked Americans to be grateful for “the advancing Union armies and navies” during the Civil War. George Washington instructed Americans to give thanks for the new constitution in 1789. While Andrew Jackson refused to lead his constituents with obligatory days of gratitude, many US presidents used proclamations of prayer and thanksgiving. , especially in times of crisis.
In practice, however, what is now Thanksgiving Day involves above all a celebration of domestic and family life, quite separate from any presidential imperative. Moreover, Thanksgiving celebrations take place mainly in the spheres of private and business life. Preparing a Thanksgiving meal requires the purchase of goods. Traveling to see friends and relatives often requires the purchase of various transportation-related goods and services. Enjoying the day is usually improved by consuming various forms of private sector entertainment.
These holiday activities and rituals, however, are not fundamentally different from what countless human beings enjoy on a regular basis: dining and leisure activities with friends and family in a private and domestic setting. These gatherings reinforce the status of the family as a fundamental component of human society. They remind us that private meals like a Thanksgiving meal are something precious and something separate from public activities in public places.
Historically, not everyone has been happy with such things. In the Soviet Union, for example, concerted efforts were made to abolish the very concept of domestic space and notions of “hearth and hearth” by sending citizens to common kitchens and living spaces. The goal was to abolish the “bourgeois” family so often gathered around a private kitchen.
The socialist war on private domestic life
It shouldn’t shock us to learn that communist totalitarians once sought to eliminate domestic meals as a common aspect of civilized life. The destruction of the family as a bourgeois institution was explicitly among Marx’s priorities for the implementation of the communist revolution.
After the Communists came to power in what became the Soviet Union in 1917, the new regime sought to remedy what was then a shortage of communal housing by placing Russians in state-owned communal apartments. – called kommunalki – where seven or more families had to share accommodation. individual kitchen and bathroom.
Driven by both ideology and economic necessity, the Communists viewed domestic meals and meal preparation as unnecessary activities. It was believed that men and women would be better off spending their time in factories and other places where the production of industrial goods could be maximized.
Indeed, in 1923, the Communists of Lenin published a propaganda pamphlet entitled “Down with the private kitchen”. As Anya von Bremzen recounts, the pamphlet explained how “traditional domestic cooking was characterized as ideologically reactionary” and ineffective. Soviet authorities pushed residents into government-run cafeterias called “stolovayas”. It was believed that this accelerated the process of conditioning Soviet citizens to Communist propaganda. Eating has become a political activity.
In typical Soviet fashion, however, these new restaurants were anything but a pleasant respite and they were, in fact, “horrible deals.”
But from the Soviet point of view, it was absolutely necessary.
“The most important part of the kitchen policy in the early Soviet era was that they would like to have homes without a kitchen,” says [Russian journalist Alexander] Genis. “Because cooking is something bourgeois. Each family, as long as it has a kitchen, it has a part of its privacy and private property.
Many citizens, of course, continued to eat “at home” during the harshest decades of Soviet social engineering, but this process involved its own trials and dangers.
As NPR reported in 2014:
The kitchens have become a source of tension and conflict. … “When relations between neighbors were particularly fierce, you could see locks on the cupboards.”
Families cooked in quick, staggered shifts. “They cooked in the kitchen but hardly ever ate there,” says Masha Karp, who was born in Moscow and worked as a writer of Russian feature films for the BBC World Service from 1991 to 2009. “They went with their pots on along their hallway and eat in their room.
With up to 20 families sharing a single kitchen, conflicts were certainly common, and Genis concluded that “the common kitchen was a war zone.” But using the shared kitchen with other housemates present could also be a danger to life and physical integrity. Indeed, any “disloyal” or “bourgeois” statement in an informal conversation could end up being reported to the authorities. “People related to each other,” says Russian poet Edward Sehnderovich, “you would never know who would be reporting.”
So in many cases it was best to keep your mouth shut and retire to your room as quickly as possible.
It was all part of the Leninist and Stalinist campaign for greater production and the minimization of “unnecessary” consumption in the name of the industrialization of Soviet society. The Communists sought to ensure that the Soviets were “freed from difficult dinners” so that the “new Soviet man” could be created more quickly.1
In contrast, even a 19th-century American Thanksgiving meal would appear to the Leninist ideologue as both consumerist and bourgeois in the extreme. Things are even “worse” today. Plus, most Thanksgiving meals are held in private living quarters, away from the prying eyes of police and other state officials. Rather than spending the day producing goods and services for “society”, countless millions of Americans spend the day consuming food and entertainment and enjoying their leisure time. It is difficult to imagine a more different scenario than the one imagined in “Down with the private kitchen”. This is something to be thankful for.
#people #hate #Thanksgiving #dinner #Dateway