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History, to the modern mind, has a goal and follows the path of progress, so that new becomes identified with better. It was on this basis that, a century ago in Russia, communist belief seized the moment. Typically for the progressive tradition, the word “new” acquired a magical influence. Novy began appearing in the names of institutions and publications, and entered into the telling of history. Everything related to the prerevolutionary past was cursed. Left-leaning poets proposed tossing Russian classics from the ship of modernity.

Worship of the new was most consistently expressed in the idea of the bright future that ­victorious Bolshevism now advanced. Indeed, the future negated the present as well as the past. At no stage during the existence of Soviet power did the present offer humane living conditions to the country’s citizens. The rough life of the Soviet people was justified as a sacrifice in the name of the bright future.

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