According to elite and mass surveys, the late-Soviet sociopolitical and economic order was largely perceived as the only viable alternative to domestic political and economic status quo in Russia before 2022. Political elites invested significant efforts and funds into deliberative promotion of a complex of ideational legacies through different tools (including cinematography). This complex, labeled a “Good Soviet Union,” is an imagined sociopolitical and economic order, which somehow resembles that of the late-Soviet past, while lacking its inherent flaws. Elements of the Soviet legacy were selectively chosen for the sake of preservation of the politico-economic status quo. They include the hierarchical mechanism of governance, low circulation of elites and their privileged status, state control over media, and repressions toward organized dissent. Meanwhile, other elements of the late-Soviet past, such as relatively low inequality and certain state social guarantees, have been discarded. A “Good Soviet Union” model includes not only market economy and no shortages of goods and services, but also a lack of institutional constraints on rent-seeking and legalization of wealth and status of elites. In this article, we consider a “Good Soviet Union” as a socially constructed legacy of the past and focus on mechanisms of translation of this legacy into Russia’s current agenda through the use of modern Russian cinematography and analysis of policy preferences on the part of political elites. We further consider its effects on politics and policy-making, as well as its limitations and constraints. Some implications of the social construction of Soviet legacies are discussed in the conclusion.
The Invention of Legacy: Strategic Uses of a “Good Soviet Union” in Elite Policy Preferences and Filmmaking in Russia
Vladimir Gel’man, Anastassia Obydenkova; The Invention of Legacy: Strategic Uses of a “Good Soviet Union” in Elite Policy Preferences and Filmmaking in Russia. Communist and Post-Communist Studies 2023; doi: https://doi.org/10.1525/cpcs.2023.1984663
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