Staunton, Oct. 28 – In Soviet times, the communist leadership sought to have Russians focus on the future rather than the present or past; now, the Putin regime presses them to focus on the past rather than the present or future. But what is critically important, Yegor Gran says, is that they begin to focus first and foremost on the present.
In an extensive interview with RFI’s Russian Service, the son of Soviet-era dissident Andrey Sinyavsky and the author of numerous books since he moved to France in 1973, says that a focus on the present is one of the many advantages that most countries have over Russia (rfi.fr/ru/общество/20231027-егор-гран-для-„меня-великая-русская-культура-это-гулаг).
According to the Franco-Russian writer, “the colossal difference between the mentalities of the West and of Russia today is that Western civilization draws its strength from the present. People improve that present in small steps: the door doesn’t close; I’ll fix it. An elderly woman cannot get across the road, I’ll help her.”
“In Russia, however, it’s the other way around: The door doesn’t close but we have Peter the Great and compared to him, a door that doesn’t close is irrelevant,” just as in Soviet times, the communist regime insisted that an ill-fitting door was irrelevant given what the regime was building for the future.
“Of course,” Gran says, “knowing the truth about Stalin’s rimes is very important; but that is still far removed from daily life. Because in response to words about Stalin’s crimes, people will be told that this isn’t true or it’s an exaggeration or ‘that how it must be’ because while Stalin was a criminal, he was a great criminal.”
“All this happens because people aren’t interested in the peeling paint on the door of their own toilets,” he continues. “When they begin to take an interest in that” rather than to obsess about the past or the future alone, then and only then “will life in the country begin to improve significantly.”