Revanchism and propaganda from the Russian community in Paris

Last week a conference was held at the Russian House of Science and Culture in Paris to mark the 80th anniversary of the Battle of Stalingrad.

Russia will use its last resource – propaganda. Today, the unwillingness to face reality, the rejection of the truth, the attempt to hide in your little world in the hope that nothing will touch you, that the authorities know better – this is a very broad phenomenon.

The fact that propaganda efforts drew a direct parallel between the events of the Second World War and what is happening now when everything is called “denazification”, is almost a farcical attempt to present this as a second crusade, an attempt to “repeat” it.

Russian revanchism and justifications for aggression

When people start to identify what is happening today with what they are told about history – because both attitudes to Ukraine and justification of this war are very much linked to the poisonous ideology associated with the Second World War – this will be a very important step.

Photo from conference. Nikolai Chuikov

From here, a new Russian attitude to victory began to take shape, one that became not so much triumphalist or humanist as revanchist.

After 24 February, the motives of the Russian government in shaping public attitudes to the so-called Great Patriotic War became clearer. It used to seem that eternal remembrance of the war and its victims were necessary in order to avoid its recurrence. But now this methodical work of the state to constantly remind about the War looks like preparation for a new confrontation.

All these military-patriotic rituals and commemorative practices, it turns out, were ways of maintaining a fighting spirit. They were a reminder that the “war on Nazism was not yet over, the time would come when this war had to be continued and finished”. And that time has come.

One need only look at the propaganda memes now actively circulating on social media as agitation by the population to support the military action in Ukraine. The essence of this agitation is for the most part borrowed from the state policy of remembrance of the war. All of these memes are based on parallels or mirroring of that war and this “special operation”.

Photo from conference

The parallel between the past and present is presented in such a straightforward way that it seems that the past is the present while the war is still going on. The Russian war memory policy is nothing but a time bomb, where the explosive past detonates in the present according to a strictly planned mechanism.

The task for Russian society, on the contrary, should be to rethink these events. The collective memory of the people about the war must become Russian universal conscience, which can stop the hostilities in Ukraine. This can be facilitated by reviving and reactivating the earliest, post-war experience – even before the parades, the glorification, and the militaristic pathos.

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