Sunday, June 25, 2023

Putin’s Approach to Russian History Builds on Soviet-Era History Textbooks, Desnitsky Says

Paul Goble

            Staunton, June 22 – Many have seen Vladimir Putin’s promotion of a single stream of Russian history as something new, but in fact, it is modeled on the Soviet approach which treated the story of the past on the territory of what became the Soviet Union as a single stream that ultimately led to the creation of the USSR, Andrey Desnitsky says.

            The Russian philologist points to textbooks like one entitled The History of the USSR from Ancient Times to 1861 which he studied when growing up. Obviously the USSR did not exist in 1861: it wasn’t formed until sixty years later; but the basic matrix Putin has used was put in place (

            To be sure, Desnitsky says, present-day Russian history textbooks approach the past “even more radically: having abandoned both the Kingdom of God and communism, they put in place the highest good, the endless reproduction of the current order of things which is proclaimed to be ‘traditional.’”

            Their message is that “history does not go to some higher point but rather moves in the circle at the center of which is the leader who cannot be removed or make a mistake, whose surname in each new incarnation consists of two syllables and ends in ‘-in.’ Everything else is interest only to the extent that it glorifies and supports this circle and this epicenter.”

            Many but far from all national histories focus primarily on rulers rather than on the ruled, the philologist says; but few take as their model the Soviet approach and then extend it to this point of absurdity, eliminating society entirely and making the current leader the only one who really matters. 

No comments:

Post a Comment