The Power of the Past. Socio-Cultural Foundations of Retromania in Russia at the Turn of the Twentieth and the Twenty-First Centuries


This article defines and analyzes the phenomenon of retromania in the Russian cultural consciousness. The dominance of the past in the Russian collective consciousness is widely considered to have its roots in the Soviet experience of the twentieth century as part of the world historic experience of the age. In this study, its challenging, of-crisis-proportions semantic character is revealed; together with a material and spiritual-and-soulful weight that creates a strong magnetic pull, i.e. a kind of addiction for its bearers. With retromania, the ‘energy intensity’ of its substance, significance and burden, produced a deep although unconscious fatigue in the bearers of the experience – former Soviet people with a shared socio-cultural past. This is often transformed into a sense of impotence with regards to the present and the future, acting as an attribute and symptom of the fundamental anthropological crisis which is an integral outcome of the Soviet civilization. Finally, the dependence of retromania on both the nature of the Russian present and uncertainty of the future is shown.

Keywords: retromania, past, present, future, past historical experiences, its semantic, material and energy components, gravity pull of the Soviet experience and fundamental fatigue generated by it.

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