This Is So Stupid, Part I

Apparently, Putin wants to create a 100-title Russian Literary Canon– that every schoolchild would be required to read as a form of “subtle cultural therapy.”

At the same time, everyone outside of Russia will freak out and quote 1984 at each other.

But seriously, this is totally stupid:

Putin’s suggestion came in an essay of several thousand words long, one that is but a single brick in his campaign to reclaim a third term as Russia’s president in all-but-decided elections that will take place on March 4. He has said and written many other terrifying things; he routinely threatens, mocks and curses those whom he does not like or understand. But his cultural-unity-through-literature proposal is most chilling of all. For it is a rule of history that only tyrants are interested in what their subjects read.

Most of the tediously long essay, called “Russia: The Ethnicity Issue,” is shamelessly borrowed from the demagogue’s playbook, positing a confused West (“the melting pot of assimilation is highly volatile”) against a Russia that was almost destroyed not by communism, but the Soviet Union’s eventual downfall (“Russia did not vanish, even when the state as an institution was critically weakened.”).

What has allowed the nation to persevere through such cataclysmic change? Putin’s answer: “The Russian people and Russian culture are the linchpin, the glue that binds together this unique civilization.” His advice for all those Armenians and Tajiks who live in his country is to become more Russian, for “this kind of civilizational identity is based on preserving the dominance of Russian culture.” [. . .]

And now, Putin want to preserve “the dominance of Russian culture” with a reading list.

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.

“Let us take a survey of our most influential cultural figures and compile a 100-book canon that every Russian school leaver will be required to read,” he writes.

“[Students] would be asked to write an essay on one of them in their final exams. Or at least let us give young Russians a chance to demonstrate their knowledge and world outlook in various student competitions. State policy with regard to culture must provide appropriate guidelines.”

If this sounds like it might be a literary canon mandated by the Kremlin, Putin wants to assure you that there will not be censorship of any kind. His goal is only “subtle cultural therapy.”

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