Memory of the Revolution as a trauma inflicted on contemporary social conscience in Russia

in The Soviet and Post-Soviet Review
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Abstract

Many painful ideological problems existing in contemporary Russia are determined by the inadequacy of perception of the country's revolutionary past. This misperception stems from both the consequences of the decades-long mythologization of the October Revolution and its leaders and from the more recent attempts to get rid of the dependence on Bolshevik propaganda. Contemporary historic memory in Russia is beset with one major contradiction: the desire to part with the myth, and the inability to do so. Although, traditionally, images of the past are usually adapted in order to suit the needs of modernity, this task has become much easier in contemporary society with its powerful mass media fitted with visual networks. Historic memory, previously shaped by legends, folklore, rites and rituals, now comes under relentless fire from the dilettantes pretending to have discovered some "true" vision of the past, and illustrating this vision by incongruous video footage. As a result, images of the past inevitably lose their former edifying role and become a means of inculcation by propagating political and moral stereotypes advantageous to the authorities. The wave of discussions on the Russian Revolution, which rose in connection with its current anniversary, was yet another indication that today's ideologists, with their inept denunciations, are only aggravating the trauma inflicted on social conscience.

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