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Issue № 65. December 2017

Soviet Political Myth: The Causes of Death and the Symbolic Heritage

Sergey I. Belov

Ph.D., Museum of Victory, Moscow, Russian Federation.

The article is devoted to the death of the Soviet political myth and the role of its symbolic heritage in the formation of the national-state identity of Russians. The aim of the study is to determine the place and prospects of elements of Soviet political symbols and mythology as the basis for building the national-state identity of Russian citizens. The political myth is interpreted as a simplified and in many ways irrational, based on a selective approach to facts, form of perception of reality. The formation of a political myth occurs through the use of techniques of suggestion, emotional infection and imitation. The process of destruction of the political myth is determined by the influence of three factors: structural changes in the socio-political reality, the emergence of contradictions within the myth and the transformation of the target audience. The reason for the death of the Soviet myth was a combination of the transition of the agrarian society to industrial, image damage as a result of destalinization and the formation of a mass middle class in the USSR.Despite the destruction of the Soviet political myth, its symbolic heritage has remained and remains in demand in Russian society, mainly due to the fact that Russians are not offered a competitive alternative which includes an attractive image of the future. In addition, the popularity of Soviet political symbols is facilitated by the fact that historical memory naturally preserves in itself mainly events that are separated from the present moment by a period of 3 to 4 generations. As a result, the national-state identity of Russians is largely reproduced on the basis of the symbolic legacy of the already lost Soviet political myth. This resource has limitations: in 20 years one can expect the cessation of the natural reproduction of historical memory of the key achievement of the Soviet era — the victory over Nazi Germany. The latter sets before the political elites the task of ensuring that the national-state identity is filled with a new symbolic content, which, at the same time, should not contradict the elements already included in it.


Political myth, political symbol, politics of memory, Soviet symbolism, historical memory.

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