The Fundamental Incompatibility of the European and Soviet Identities

  • Abstract:

    In Soviet-occupied states, including Lithuania, attempts were made to create a new civilizational system and a new consciousness. This consciousness had to resist any Western model of the world which valued personalities, democracy, individuality, and freedom. It was being created through repressions and attempts to remove self-reflection from peoples’ thinking. Individuality was reduced to the life of a peasant or equated to the crowd, while doubts, inquiries, and critical thinking were completely repressed to instill complacency. The Soviet identity existed as a generalized entirety of all Soviet socialist republics. This identity had some aspects of each nation, but their similarity and homogeneousness were strongly emphasized. Lithuanians attempted to define themselves in these conditions. They turned to the supposedly great history of Lithuania and attempted to create a Lithuanian identity which would need protection and defense from everyone and everything. This position is contradictory to the European identity, which constantly re-creates itself, values diversity, fragmentation, and constant change. Is it possible to reconcile these identities? Did a universal identity, i.e. a similar one to the European identity, exist in Soviet times? How could it emerge in Lithuanian poetry in the second part of the 20th century? In my presentation, I will briefly talk about the identity model which emerged in the creative works of Eduardas Mieželaitis and Sigitas Geda. Miezelaitis was the founder of Soviet modern poetry and presented the form of free poetic language within the context of the Soviet within the context of the Soviet internationalism regime. He expressed an identity which is characterized by defensiveness, overprotectiveness, and a nomenclatural position – to criticize the bourgeois life and culture and promote the friendship of the global proletariat. The creative works Geda, at first glance, could be considered as less ideological and based on cosmopolitanism of modernism, and an expression of a universal European identity. His works are characterized by an innovative relation to tradition, distance from the reader, and a complex poetic language.