Sunday, September 12, 2021

In Russia, the Better Things are, The Worse the Past is Presented; and the Worse They are, the Better the Past is Portrayed, Sinelnikov-Orishek Says

Paul Goble

            Staunton, Sept. 12 – In a discussion of the history of commemorations of the Day of Moscow, Svobodnaya Pressa commentator Mikhail Sinelnikov-Orishek makes a point that explains a great deal about the relationship between how Russia’s rulers see the relationship between how well things are going and how well they went in the past.

            When things are going well or when leaders believe they are on the right course to have them only get better in the future, they typically present the past in negative terms so as to cast themselves in the best possible light, the commentator argues. But when things aren’t going as well or where there is a lack of confidence about the future, the reverse is true.

            Then, there is a tendency among Russian rulers to celebrate the past to justify themselves and distract attention from problems. And this pattern is so deeply ingrained in Russia history, it is something deeper than the nearly universal human tendency to focus on the past when there are problems in the present and ignore it when things are better now.

            It has become almost a barometer of how Russian rulers view the present and the past, and when they boost the past as Putin and his regime are doing now, they are not only trying to deflect attention from current and future failures but also showing their own lack of confidence in what is and what will be (

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