Political Uses of the Great Patriotic War in Post-Soviet Russia from Yeltsin to Putin
The chapter describes the evolution of the memory policy of Russian Federation over twenty five years focusing at development of the official historical narrative, i.e. a semantic scheme that describes the genealogy of the macro political community constituting the Russian state, and “explains” how its past “determines” its present and future. The construction of the new official narrative takes place in official speeches, but also brings into play another instruments of memory politics, such as state symbols, national holidays, official and unofficial rituals, Memory Laws ( i.e. legislation that restricts particular ways of public representation of some historical events or processes) etc. As far as since the late 1980s the national past was a matter of fierce debates, an elaboration of the official narrative is unavoidably a matter of choice between competing interpretations presented in the public discourse.
The evolution of the official memory policy in post-Soviet Russia is clearly divided into two large periods that are characterized by different conceptions of the historical official narrative – that of “the new Russia” and of “the thousand-years-long Russia”. These periods roughly coincide with the presidency of Boris Yeltsin and Vladimir Putin – Dmitry Medvedev. In spite of the fact that the vectors of the symbolic politics changed, the ruling elites in both
In the 1990s the official narrative had integrated discourse about “trauma and crime” as a part of legitimization of the post-Soviet transformation, but it could not manage to consolidate the nation. In the 2000s the choice was made for apologetic principle of work with collective past which resulted into the eclectic construction that marginalize the topic of “trauma and crime”. In the 2010s we can see some attempts to make the official narrative more consistent which brings ambivalent results. On the one hand, in the context of the current international conflict the apologetic conception of the national past is securitized as a “weapon” against the alleged foreign and domestic enemies. On the other hand, a new round of discussions about the national history opens some windows of opportunities for actors struggling for “coping with difficult past” agenda.
This article traces the reinterpretation of the Revolution(s) of 1917 in the official historical narrative of post-Soviet Russia. Its construction is an essentially political process, as its discursive hegemony depends on how it fits into the symbolic landscape created by various social actors. The task of reinterpretation of the revolution is complicated by its centrality for two conflicting patterns of memory politics – the critical “working through” the memory of a traumatic and criminal past, and consolidation of the nation/nation-building. There are different coalitions of mnemonic actors behind each of these patterns. The author reveals different strategies of dealing with dilemmas involved in employing these patterns in the 1990s and the 2000s, and argues that until now the Russian imcumbent elites have not succeeded in reframing the Russian Revolution as a great, though tragic, episode of the national past. In the context of the centenary commemorated in 2017, the incumbent elite seem to have come back to the idea of “reconciliation and accord” that was coined by Boris Yeltsin’s team in the mid-1990s. However, its integration into the apologetic narrative of “the 1000-year Russian state” totally changes its meaning, as it rejects “working through” the traumatic past.
Atomism and holism are considered as two opposite by implication but complementary approaches in the modern theory of complex self-organizing systems (theory of complexity). Atomism is connected with the consideration of nesting of complex structures in the world, their fractal organization, where we can reach elementary, further indivisible structural fragments on those basis complex scale invariant, self-similar spatio-temporal structures grow up. Besides, atomism is connected with the study of hierarchical organization of being and of elements, parts, subsystems out of which a whole structure is built. At the same time, it is shown in the article that the whole theory of complexity is penetrated by holism, and its holism is evolutionary by its character. Holism in evolution of complex self-organizing systems is coupled with the appearance of emergent properties of integral structural forms as well as with the discreteness, certain set of structures-attractors of evolution. The modern atomism can be brought into correlation with the notion of frames of perception in cognitive science. Proceeding from the system and evolutionary worldview, some arguments are put forward in favor of a hypothesis of the origins of the alphabetical writing in close connection with the studies of atoms in physical nature (Nidem, A.I. Kosyrev, V.G. Lysenko).
In Cultural and Political Imaginaries in Putin’s Russiascholars scrutinise developments in official symbolical, cultural and social policies as well as the contradictory trajectories of important cultural, social and intellectual trends in Russian society after the year 2000. Engaging experts on Russia from several academic fields, the book offers case studies on the vicissitudes of cultural policies, political ideologies and imperial visions, on memory politics on the grassroot as well as official levels, and on the links between political and national imaginaries and popular culture in fields as diverse as fashion design and pro-natalist advertising. Contributors are Niklas Bernsand, Lena Jonson, Ekaterina Kalinina, Natalija Majsova, Olga Malinova, Alena Minchenia, Elena Morenkova-Perrier, Elena Rakhimova-Sommers, Andrei Rogatchevski, Tomas Sniegon, Igor Torbakov, Barbara Törnquist-Plewa, and Yuliya Yurchuk.