Staunton, October 13 – The Kremlin’s current obsession with controlling narratives about the past just as was the case in Soviet times, Alina Vitukhnovskaya says, is about far more than using history to legitimate itself. It is also about promoting achrony and leading those under its rule that they cannot change the direction of history and shouldn’t try.
“Achrony” is not a term widely used in most countries, but its impact on Russia is immense and must be understood if one is to grasp why the powers that be there are so obsessed with history, the Moscow commentator says (newizv.ru/article/general/13-10-2020/na-puti-k-ahronii-zachem-rossiyskaya-vlast-ozabotilas-istoriey).
The concept presupposes the submersion of the present in the past and the acceptance of the idea that the present and the future are products of the past and therefore cannot be changed just because people want them to be. Instead, they must be understood and accepted as the way things are (дословно.рф/значение/ахрония).
As the Soviet experience shows – and its rulers relied on promoting precisely this notion of historical determinism – achrony does more than provide justification for the current rulers, Vitukhnovskaya says. It provides a frame of reference for the population that leads most people to conclude that they have role in defining their present or their future.
That has stunted Russia’s development in the past and continues to stunt it to this day, she continues. But skepticism is growing; and because it is easier to impose such historical schemes on an entire people than on any one individual, ever more people are opting out, recognizing that the abuse of history is an abuse of their standing as autonomous individuals.
It is still the case that the majority of Russians are quite prepared to go along with a vision of historical development that justifies where things are now and does not require them to make any choices. But those who don’t accept this form of achrony are growing in number and will challenge it because for the regime and for them as well, history isn’t about the past.