"Brighter Tomorrows" or Small-Town Prosperity? The Communist Development Project and Its Impact from the Perspective of the Construction Boom in Slovak Rural Areas during Late Socialism

"Svetlé zajtrajšky" alebo malomestský blahobyt? Komunistický rozvojový projekt a jeho dôsledky v perspektíve stavebného boomu na slovenskom vidieku v období neskorého socializmu

The paper aims to contribute to the debate about the nature of late socialism and the society formed during the period as a result of the communist development project, by means of an analysis of the way of life and everyday culture in the period. The basis for the author's reasoning is the ethnographic data obtained by long-term field research of building culture and the way of living in three model rural settlements during the second half of the 1980s. Based on the literature the author raises the question how the residents of the socialist collectivized countryside formulated their ideas about modernity and the courseof progress in the conditions created by the communist development/modernization projects.
Based on an analysis of both socio-cultural phenomena the author states that for the Slovak rural residents in the second half of the 20th century the construction of modernity represented in their daily lives to imitate the bourgeois salon of the 19th and early 20th centuries; the "bright tomorrows" became the real socialist today embodied in small-town prosperity. Instead of a new, progressive socialist lifestyle to the liking of the leftist intellectual and artistic avant-garde, the proletarized Slovak farmers, tradesmen and commuting workers used the economic and social conditions, created by the new political power after violent suppressionn of the resistance of peasants and subsequent stabilization of the situation in the country, to individual self-fulfillment through massive housing construction according to their ideas concerning life-style of the (small) bourgeois classes repressed by the totalitarian regime. The political propaganda has concurred with this objective; the Slovak countryside built in the 1970s and 1980s which in fact meant elimination of the countryside as a specific socio-cultural phenomenon, became the regime's showcase.
It was an uncontrolled process accompanied by cultural and value disorientation and helplessness, expressed by architectural chaos and opulent consumption of space in the area of housing , which were stabilized in the Slovak rural area stabilized as the symbols of late socialism.