Back to the cherry orchard: Does Russia want to go back to the 19th century?

In Anton Chekhov’s 1903 tragic comedy of the same name, the cherry orchard is sold in order to save a dilapidated country estate. The trees are by no means productive, so the value of the plots is always more, because there are a lot of vacation homes out there. The Cherry Orchard is a history, the tale of Russian nobles, who seemed useless and teetered upon their doom. But maybe trees will bloom again in Russia soon?

“Activate the past”

In any case, the German-Russian writer Boris Gross (75 years old) is convinced in an interview with the government-critical newspaper Kommersant: Russia yearns for the nineteenth century: “Utopia has fallen, and the era of decline has begun. Again, everywhere conservative nationalists dominate the world. Ideologies on the one hand and competitive capitalism closely related to nationalism on the other We live in an age of restoration After all, what is nationalism? It is the activation of the past. When people say: We are not. The Soviets, we are Russians, what do they mean? Cherry orchard, Russia They lost it. What is this Russia? The nineteenth century. They want to go back to the nineteenth century.”

“Wars made Russian culture flourish”

In any case, this is supported by the fact that the Russian media speak almost exclusively of Pushkin, Tchaikovsky and their contemporaries when they call for the defense of culture against Western “liberal values”. “Russian literature was largely created by the Russian army. Simply put, by the Russian nobility, because the nobility served in the army,” wrote Elena Karaeva in an article published by the RIA Novosti news agency. For example, she cites Mikhail Lermontov (1814-1841), Afanasy Fet (1820-1892), Vladimir Dahl (1801-1872) and Leo Tolstoy (1828-1910), all 19th century authors. Alexander Wertinsky (1889 – 1957) is the “youngest” in the list of great Russian thinkers mentioned here. Moderns are completely absent.

Karaghiwa goes so far as to believe that only wars really revealed the creative forces of Russia: “All wars and warlike upheavals gave Russian culture – unlike Western culture, by the way – a powerful impetus to further development and progress. The ability of the Russians to “not spare their lives” and making sacrifices to the incredible climax of literature.”

An invitation to “sacrifice and self-conquest”

In contrast to the “petty bourgeoisie” culture of the West, the Russian variant is the “aristocrat”, which, of course, refers directly to the nineteenth century. More important than “minority rights” are “duty, conscience, self-sacrifice and restraint” – all the virtues mobilized in the “subjects” of the German Empire.

Alexander Dugin, who is claimed to be Putin’s “favorite philosopher”, also sympathizes with the intellectual world around 1900, especially with the nationalism of the time, but also with decadence and a yearning for the “end of time”. After all, Christianity is an “end of the world” belief.

Boris Gross argues that a revolutionary utopia was still in demand in the eighteenth century, since the Enlightenment culminated in the French Revolution with all its promises of happiness and optimism for the future. The twentieth century was once again based on this: “It is now over.”

Gross predicts that progress will “probably stop on its own.” The New York subway seems very old to him, as if it came from the time of the Egyptian pyramids. The roads, previously built for cars, left a similar archaic impression of the infrastructure.

“All people are museum exhibits”

At the end of the story, the story does not disappear, and instead begins to “reproduce”: “Instead of one story, many stories appear. The story of the women, the story of the children, the story of the Alaskan Indians, the story of the city, the neighborhood, the community. A personal history. This” The museum” is a living museum, and all people today are museum exhibits. They are individual holdings of collective projects in the past. This is evident in Russian art.”

Gruys sees the future as dangerous, not only because he sees museums going away (“expensive”), but also because the rise of capitalism has revitalized the global competitive spirit of the colonial era: “The entry into capitalism led to two world wars. Now we see that countries—including That’s Russia and China – they left socialism behind and entered capitalism.”

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