Staunton, November 27 – Many analysts in both Russia and the West have operated on the assumption that the further into the past the Soviet system recedes, the less likely its restoration becomes; but Konstantin Krylov says that the reverse is true: the danger of re-Sovietization will increase as those who actually lived under it pass from the scene.
That is because the past will become mythologized, the Russian commentator says; and there will not be anyone left to challenge these myths on the basis of personal experience, something that could prove fatal if institutions are not put in place to ensure that no one will accept the new mythology and act on it (https://www.apn.ru/index.php?newsid=37617).
Krylov begins with the observation that “there is nothing more vital than ideas, and harmful ideas in particular. They are like weeds: however often they are pulled out, they grow back in the human mind again and again, especially among those who connect their life with this or that idea – or even lived in the era of its dominance.”
The same thing is true with political ideas: “Even disappointment in a political idea does not necessarily lead to a state of being free from its influence. For example, the author of this essay regularly encounters people who consider themselves anti-Soviets but who think exclusively in the framework of Soviet Marxism.”
Many assumed that such people are older and will soon die out, replaced by younger ones who are not so trapped, Krylov continues. But that unfortunately is not the case. Indeed, he argues – and the emphasis here is his own – “if Sovietism is fated to be reborn, it will be reborn precisely in the new generations, not in those who lived in the USSR.”
There are compelling reasons for that conclusion, he suggests. “Soviet power was totally false,” it described reality in ways that did not have “any relationship to reality but presented itself as a description of that reality.” Those who lived under it knew and know that; those who didn’t are prepared to accept its description as perhaps distorted but nonetheless true.
Another major reason for their doing so is the extent to which many younger people accept the idea promoted by many of their elders that the Russian Empire before 1917 was so evil that regardless of what the Soviets did, they and their system were ultimately necessary and an improvement.
And still a third reason is the widespread belief promoted by many that all that has happened is somehow the direct result of the inherent characteristics of the Russian people, a nation which supposedly always needs a strong hand and total control. Because there are Russians, such people think, Soviet power was unavoidable.
Today, Krylov says, “one of the chief restraining barriers to a left turn in Russian politics is that not all the elder generation has passed away, a generation which still remembers the black horrors of socialism.” Even those clutches of old people who march with red flags don’t really want to go back, at least more than selectively. They remember.
But not so the younger generation. They are “innocent” of any facts about the past. Instead, they get their ideas from Soviet films and Soviet books, and they think the false picture those things project is reality, much as they accept many falsehoods offered on the Internet or in films now.
Because this is the case, the current powers that be are preparing for a left turn, “not as the only possible program, of course – there are always several possibilities – but as one of them.” And to that end, the authorities are promoting the notion that “Soviet power was somehow good or at least acceptable.”
The goal of such propaganda and such a strategy, Krylov continues, “is not the preservation of the current regime,” whose members want to live in the West when they can, “but the preservation of the colonial rule of the Russian Federation.”
Those who say this can’t happen here will point to the fact that today there are no revolutionary parties. But Krylov says, there is “a simple answer: [such parties] are no longer needed.” Instead, as the Maidan showed, it is possible to use mass communications to draw a crowd and change the situation.
That strategy can work with young people who don’t know the realities of the past far better than with pensioners who may be nostalgic about some aspect of it but at a fundamental level know just how horrific Soviet power was and, whatever they may think they are for, would never support a simple restoration of the status quo ante.
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