Today is the 100th anniversary of the October Revolution. Regardless of your political predilections, there’s no arguing about the significance of this event for Russian and world history alike. The striking disparity between its importance and the status of the anniversary in Russia is obvious: just an exhibition here, a procession there – and that’s it. An explanation of this quietness by the-authorities-want-to-suppress-the-celebration-of-muh-revolyutsiya is too lazy to debunk. If the memory and ideas of bolsheviks had any real popular support, no ‘cosmonauts’ (i.e. police in riot gear) would stop the masses from expressing their love for free commie stuff. Once there was a revolution… but there’s none now.
Yet, there are foreigners buying ‘Soviet’ badges, mugs and T-shirts along with matryoshkas and ushankas, and taking photos with a Lenin cosplayer for money.
Lenin is more alive than all the living! Lenin is a mushroombrand!
You can find the Russian version of this posthere.
The phenomenon of Soviet nostalgia is effectively used in Western media and popular culture to position the Russians in a certain manner. This nostalgia mixed with self-orientalization by Russia’s useful idiots serves as a ferment for an easily digestible ‘analysis’. Obviously, Soviet nostalgia has little to do with the real historical Soviet Union and its society. It’s an idealized, ‘celestial’ version of it. Moreover, in order to be a part of this ostalgia one doesn’t have to be a socialist or communist. Continue reading “Post-ironic Neostalgia”→
Pt. VII: The Retrospective Foresight Saga (The Eternal Return of Russia Analysis)
A simple study of names and dates will prove that between the policy of Ivan III and that of modern Russia there exists not similarity, but sameness. […] At length Peter the Great coupled the political craft of the Mongol slave with the proud aspiration of the Mongol master to whom Genghis Khan had, by will, bequeathed his conquest of the earth.
When I first went to Russia it was in 1991, I caught the last couple of months of the Soviet Union before it came crumbling down, and I was in Moscow during the coup against Mikhail Gorbachev, or the coup attempts, I should say, when there was this great optimism right after, that Russia would soon join the international community and would be sharing in Western prosperity, and so on and so forth. And it became quickly evident, in fact, it was evident already before then that the Soviet Union didn’t entirely crumble and leave a ruin on which to build a new shining capitalist democratic society but it still had many structures in place and many behaviors that continued. Nevertheless, I think it could have fundamentally changed, it was fundamentally changing in some ways in the 1990s, that is, I don’t believe Russia’s faded to remain a corrupt authoritarian country.
Of course, confrontation can’t last forever. When Russia emerges from its current course in the coming years or decades, it will be nearly as shell-shocked as after the Soviet collapse in 1991. The people will be confronted with the same massive task of reforming not merely the economy and government but also some of their cherished attitudes and thoughts. For now, however, they will no doubt dismiss the suspicion that will naturally fall on Russian Olympic medals in Rio, failing to see just what the Russian revelations have exposed about their country’s real place in the world.
The concept of Russia’s eternal sameness appears in a plethora of Western Russia narratives. By this ‘sameness’ I mean the continuity of Russia’s identical essence during all (or at least several) historical periods and forms of Russian statehood.