Monday, 30 January 2012

There's good news and bad news for those of us who live in the West. The good news is that skin aging is a thing of the past. A 'mum of 57' can now 'look 27'. Such are the wonders of our civilisation.

The bad news is that foreigners (who naturally don't share our capacity for critical thought) are being encouraged to read books. Lots of them. By Vladimir Putin.

What sort of books, you might ask? Well, I dunno, Putin hasn't said. But this guy has a pretty good idea. It will almost certainly be full of the kind of thing Stalin would approve of. The bright spark also ominously notes that George Orwell will not appear in Vladmir Putin's canon of greatest Russian novels.

In fact so sagacious are his words, Te Graun links to his article and quotes:
"Social engineering through state mandated literature: Nothing else that Putin has done has been quite so nakedly Soviet in its desire to manipulate the human intellect into docility," writes Nazaryan, predicting that "the books that will benefit from Putin's new cultural policy will almost certainly be Soviet-era schlock churned out by Writers' Union foot soldiers who glorified their compatriots' miserable existence".

Somehow Te Graun's quoting the bloke's comments about Putin's 'desire to manipulate the human intellect into docility' by getting them to read (I'd guess) War and Peace and The Brothers Karamazov actually works a lot better than the original. Probably something to do with it not appearing alongside an ad on reversing skin aging. And getting thin from a 'weird diet' (vegetables?).

Similarly, his comments about Putin's naked Sovietism are also a bit more convincing for not showing an anti-Putin protest with red flags everywhere. And for omitting to mention that Putin 'has already maligned writers like Boris Akunin and Edvard Limonov for their anti-authoritarian political leanings'. Yes, but in Putin's defence maybe he mistook the 'anti-authoritarian' Eduard Limonov for the nazi bolshevik Eduard Limonov. It's an easy mistake to make.

Still, he makes an excellent comment about how scary Putin's speech is if you substitute Russki Narod for Volksdeutsche. Actually, wouldn't it just be simpler to say 'it's a lot scarier if you imagine it was written by Adolf Hitler'? Or would that just sound a bit daft? A flip it, we'll do it live:
'If you’re not frightened by this, I suggest you listen to one of Hitler’s speeches. Substitute “Russki narod” for “Volksdeutsche” and you pretty much have the same idea. What makes us unique is not any civic institution, or any body of laws, but our ineradicable identity.'

That really made the hairs on the back of my neck stand up. Any sane person knows that its a country's 'body of laws' that give it character. Only a Nazi thinks anything else. Anyway, Hitler not enough? How about the Tsar and Stalin:
'The obverse to writers’ importance in Russian society is the importance of silencing them, whether it’s Dostoyevsky on the gallows or Solzhenytsin in the Gulag'
Except neither of them were punished for being writers. Whilst there's a lot I dislike about Putin's regime, I find it sad how in the west it is hated for its patriotism and pride in its culture far more than for its authoritarianism. The western efforts to suggest moral equivalence with Nazism are ironically strangely Soviet.