chapter  3
23 Pages

The Creation of an Ideal Young Citizen

After the civil war and the introduction of the NEP, many young people experienced political and ideological disillusionment which was often heightened by immense social dislocation, poor living standards, serious health problems, and unemployment. This chapter examines how the ideology of physical culture was to be applied to help alleviate the various social problems of illness, depression, and even suicide. It shows how exercise and hygiene were directed at informing and educating young people, with the ideology of physical culture formulated to provide them with a clearly defi ned programme for assuming the role of new socialist person. The objective of physical culture education and propaganda was to mould young people into healthy, physically strong citizens, and this was frequently accompanied by a moralizing element that sought to infl uence the sexual and behavioural desires and actions of young people. This was all part of an ever-expanding literature on health, hygiene, and youth behaviour, trying to deal with the “sexual revolution”.1 In the state eff ort to reach young people, physical culture propaganda campaigns found formal expression in schools and clubs. Schools were to be of particular signifi cance and here physical culture teachers and instructors were to play an important role in educating students in the ways of socialist physical culture. As this chapter shows, implementing the ideology of physical culture was not an easy task, however, and the reaction and attitude to any programmes for acculturation by many young people-such a diverse and disparate group-were not necessarily positive or predictable.