Staunton, October 26 – Under Gorbachev, Russians lost their belief that the bright future the communists promised would ever be achieved and focused increasingly on their personal lives rather than those of the country, Aleksey Levinson says. Under Putin, they have further lost any sense that the future can be different than the present, exactly the attitude his regime wants.
In a lengthy article for NG-Stsenarii, the head of socio-cultural research at the Levada Center says that this condition has left Russians in a traumatic state, one unlikely to be overcome anytime soon but that will likely pass away when an entirely new generation replaces the older ones (ng.ru/stsenarii/2020-10-26/9_7999_future.html
“The new post-Soviet powers freed themselves” from the paternalistic responsibilities of the Soviet one by continuing to talk about liberalism in the economy, but they returned to the rhetoric of paternalism and reinforced that revival by promoting the idea that Russians could “repeat” their victory in World War II.
Between the mid-1990s and the beginning of the 2000s, reforms were largely frozen, but then the powers that be “began the demolishing of these institutes,” something that was paralleled by the second destruction of the future as far as Russians were concerned. They simply had any future taken from them by the propaganda of the regime.
Levada Center head Lev Gudkov has spoken of this as “the abortion of the future,” but Levinson says he prefers to use the term trauma because “people have not noticed the absence of a future,” even though “this trauma influences on other areas of consciousness.”
The future as a set of goals has disappeared for most Russians because they have accepted the vision of the regime that any future different from the present would be disastrous, a major war abroad or a civil war at home. And thus they do not feel they can hope for anything better than what they have now.
Russians can talk about the short-term future when things are more or less likely to be what they are now, but they simply refuse to talk about 30 or 50 years out, when the current ruling group will have died and been replaced by something else. They are clearly afraid to think about that prospect.
Fortunately, Levinson concludes, there are indications that younger Russians are beginning to break out of that traumatic loss of a future. After all, they will still be alive 30 to 50 years hence and thus have good reason to think about what conditions will be like even if their elders will then be beyond caring.