The Significance of the 1957 Moscow World Festival

In Peacock’s article, the 1957 Moscow World Fair is established as a symbol for the newly-found importance in the youth’s involvement in the Soviet Union.  Peacock begins by pointing out the World Festival’s display of this view is not only for the international community, but to the Soviet youth as well.

Peacock give some historical  context to the feeling of necessity of the government to reemphasize the importance of the youth.  In World War II, the youth of that time “suffere disproportionately at the hands of the Nazis” who were able to “understand the necessity of peace against imperialist aggression” (Peacock 517).  This resulted in the USSR feeling the need to shelter these youth from the outside world, especially capitalist/Western influences.  This imposed a sweeping restriction on all foreign art mediums.

Peacock then argues that when the 1957 World Fair was held, the significance of culture became evident, as it was just as important to be winning the cultural war along with the economic and militaristic wars.  The Soviet organizers of the fair aimed to show the inspiring and joyous lives of the youth, who were oft culturally isolated, especially during the late Stalinist period.  The organizers transformed the neighboring parts of the city to embody this idealistic youthfulness, which even some of the Soviet youth had never even seen before.

Peacock then counters the Soviet’s facade of joy with the West’s “descriptions of the festival…consistently met these apparent manifestations of happiness with skepticism” (Peacock 525).  Peacock states that the machine like nature was too prevalent, and the youth simply could not be happy while being in this robotic nature.  American youth delegates at the fair had a number of incidents with rule-breaking, which exacerbated the western media’s views of the Soviets.

Despite the West’s negative publicity, American youth were genuinely intrigued by the Soviet Union’s policies, some even changing their view altogether.   The Soviet youth showed that they were “all the same”, and were successful in casting off their stereotypes to foreign delegates.  The world fair was successful for the Soviet’s as it changed the international community’s perception of them, in addition to solidifying a collective unity of the Soviet youth.