Sunday, October 14, 2007

Remaking History in a Kiev Museum

Oh my, a tad bitter are we?

The author of this article isn't too happy with the end of soviet-style revisionist history in Ukraine:

Constructing a new national identity often requires a new vision of the past. In Ukraine, this phenomenon can be seen in several of Kiev's museums.

Exhibits at the Museum of the Army of Ukraine show the Ukrainians as European people who enjoyed monolithic unity while busily liberating themselves from the "Asiatic" Russians.

[In the Museum of Ukrainian History] Russia is still seen as a major problem, but the flavor of the museum is distinctly different. Russians often disappear from sight, and Ukraine's conflicts with everybody else are also downplayed. In fact, Ukrainians are presented as self-sustained, peaceful people who preserve their distinct lifestyles despite being incorporated into a foreign empire. It seems this image of Ukraine's past -- and implicitly, its present -- is what Ukrainian authorities have tried to develop and inculcate.

Hmmm. I see his point. Damn nasty Ukrainian authorities, how dare they cultivate a positive national identity. They should rather spend public resources celebrating foreign occupations and explaining how the occupying forces didn't really oppress Ukrainians, but were actually "liberating" them from their land, resources, and cultural identity. Right, who was it that said "Work will set you free..."?

Anyway, there's more ...

The arrangement of the displays in the Museum of Ukrainian History was markedly different from what I saw in my youth. There weren't many changes in the hall dedicated to the Stone and Bronze Ages, but later periods had gaping omissions. Events that were prominent in Soviet days disappeared or were marginalized.

Does he mean the Holodomor and other artificial famines, collectivization, the gulags, the dismal (non-existent) level of environmental protection in the Soviet era , the liquidation of churches ... and other such great historical events? Gee, what happy memories they would bring.

Full article here.

2 comments:

Anonymous said...

Well, here is another graphic proof of all this Soviet/post-Soviet mentality. This man longs for his youth: I wonder what kind of youth? As a Komsomol functionary with enough money to spend weekeneds by Young Pioneers'/Komsomol campfires, with enough food and drink to keep a Charlie Company happy for a week? Or a mediocre Soviet citizen who has to travel to work and back home by the Metro - at best by driving his obsolete Zhiguli?
This is what is keeping the so-called post-Soviet space backward. Lots of pensioners, lots of young diosoriented people; lots of muddled minds; lots of brainwashing (this mainly coming from Russia) that amounts to nothing!

Pawlina said...

You might want to take a step back and look at it more pragmatically.

This whole attitude comes from one of fear. A comfortable foundation of cultural superiority that was built on lies, deception and treachery is crumbling. Now what?

Thing of such people as pathetic, and worthy of your pity, rather than as a threat. Their bravado is mere puffery; like the Wizard of Oz experiment, it is just desperate intimidation tactic, a contrived illusion designed to protect what is left of a tattered empire...

I know it's still relatively early after throwing off the soviet and Russian imperialist yoke. But despondent modern-day Ukrainians put me in mind of captive elephants who become so used to their chains that they don't escape even when they can.

Looking at it that way, it's clear that it is not self-important, impotent buffoons who are the real threat to Ukraine's freedom and prosperity.

They can be only be a threat as long as Ukrainians cling to the comfortable familiarity of that old yoke.