Culture and Historical Memory as strategic Resource
Culture is the main competitive resource of Russia, able to play the role of "protestant ethic" for it.
To a greater degree culture is activated heritage, inverted into the future. It creates in the society broad feeling of belonging, feeling of own historic dignity, it helps to overcome "ghetto psychology". (The latter, as it is known, is born as the means of protection of minorities but very soon it turns into the means of their suppression)
Our celebrating of the 1150th anniversary of the Russian statesmanship origin may become a remarkable step in development of inner consciousness of the society and determination of its image and place in the external world. Mythologem about Ryurik, being the cause of so many disputes, is becoming the sign of quiet acknowledgment of the external factor role in our historic mental outlook. Acknowledgement of such type, acknowledgement of historic paradigm rather than fact is demonstration of the feeling of own historic dignity about which I had the honor to speak in Velikiy Novgorod. The great nation is not confused with the Norman issue. I would like to remind that the Hermitage was and still remains one of the centers of scientific and cultural reclamation of the subject "the Varangians and Rus" (Gedeonov, Kunik, Old Ladoga). A scientific dispute does not humiliate national dignity. And in this we show an example to a great many others.
Our statesmanship today is the successor of all 1150 years of development. It has lived a long life and has changed a lot. Looking back we can evaluate its successes and failures. There are both of them as there are different evaluations. We all remember that the prototype for us has become celebrating of the 1000th anniversary of Russia and its embodiment - the monument in Velikiy Novgorod. And we all know that among the key persons of Russian history there is no Ivan the Terrible there. It was the court of history of that time, just passing but still instructive.
Another story is from the nearest past. Celebrating of the 1000the anniversary of Kazan. St Petersburg would like to give the monument to Peter the Great as a present. Citizens of Kazan declined categorically. Catherine the Great - yes, Peter the Great - never. In the result, at the beginning of St Petersburg Street the monument to Lev Gumilyev was put. It is instructive triumph of scientific poetry again. (To tell the truth, a monument to Peter but a smaller one, was put in the Hermitage-Kazan Center.) In terms of millennial history we can and should talk about everything that there was in it with calm, not being afraid of bad images and characteristics with understanding that they are metamorphic. In culture evaluations can change and not once. In science there should be fewer evaluations than facts.
Another story, we speak a lot about perversion of history and even fight with it. But it should be understood that "mythology" in culture is inevitable. A brilliant example is Sergey Eisenstein. His October with assault of the winter Palace is deliberately far from real events. Battleship Potemkin, Ivan the Terrible and Alexander Nevsky are more mythologems than the history textbook. But this should be treated with a feeling of historic dignity. This refers not to arithmetic where "plus" and 'minus' are clear and 2x2=4 but about more complicated mathematics.
Correct understanding of diversity of historic characters and their complexity will create essential nutrient medium for uniting different people around common history within the country and for understanding own civil identity when looking around. It is a crucial task on which the future of our statesmanship depends. We are a great nation. The same is referred to understanding of historic unity of the nations having divided today. It is both useful and pleasant to remember about common sources.
In this connection it is important to remember that culture should be taught, overcoming Pseudo-education prevailing over education now. It is necessary to teach to facts and diversity of their interpretations and even to their relativity. I think we need a television channel and an Internet portal "History". We need a program of establishment of centers of cognitive science, historic parks for children and youth but not for touristic exoticism. It is a great area for application of the most advanced virtual technologies, in particular 3D reconstructions. We need not only preserve the monuments but inculcate the understanding of the fact that they are our pride, our moral and economic resource, notably - a unique one. For this purpose, in particular the Union of Russian Museums suggests discussing of a special program of preservation and museumification of archeological complexes, related to the origin of the Russian statesmanship - Old Ladoga, Velikiy Novgorod, Pskov, Kazan, Derbent … A great deal has already been done (Izborsk). It should be very important to assign or order to Skolkovo and the Academy of Sciences work on the newest techniques of virtual reconstructions and new materials for monuments' preservation and restoration.
It is also necessary to teach that culture has its own rights and they differ from the property rights, human rights, copyrights … (Roerich, Likhachev). It is an extremely acute issue, as through it, it is necessary to look at a constitutional law of general availability of culture. It is also necessary to teach that culture has its economics the role of which is constantly growing. It is not just tourism. It is revival of deserted and deceased territories. And the question is not in direct receipts for small business. Successful implementation of Project New Holland in St Petersburg can turn our city into a unique center of contemporary arts. Combining with its traditional character an original innovative breakthrough may happen. Lessons of Venice are not useless.
It also should be understood that culture possesses a property or principle of complementarily. It can intensify the advantages and neutralize disadvantages of many parallel social events and reforms. A democratic reform of education evens people. Deficiency of opportunities for gifted people who need unique knowledge and skills appears. It is covered by creative institutions of higher education, museum pedagogic and museum education for adults... In spite of everything we will not grow wild. A military reform is very economic but it also evens people - military man with non-military ones. In the result of this cultural component of the army: officer's honor, dignity, pride with the uniform and military history is lost. Museums refill it. Events in memory of the war 1812 should play an important role in it. Thank you for Borodino. I would like to hope that temporary defeat will help to protect reserves and right of culture in general. In the same context we see celebration of the 250th anniversary of the Hermitage, not just one of the main museums of the world but a unique monument of Russian statesmanship in this relation we also consider establishment of the Museum of Russian Guard, strengthening of ceremonial role of Palace Square and turning of the Stock Exchange in St Petersburg into the museum of national symbols.
Cultural tasks require uniting together efforts of scientists, cultural figures and protectors of heritage for the business of documents compilation, essential for preservation of historic monuments, uniting the Code and Register within the united state program. Great "engines" for cultural monuments restoration may become governmental and church programs of cultic building reconstruction. Public-private partnership may become an important cultural event.
Today we can say that "we have been heard". Culture has been remembered and it is spoken about, some new money and programs have appeared. The drafts of documents for preservation of the Museum Fund of Rossi and development of museum activity have been developed. The other days we discussed two projects of the Law on Culture. There is a law on museum-preserves. All these events were actively participated by working groups of President's Council for Arts and Humanities. There are reasons for optimism and spirit to jump at the chance.