6 votes

Don't blame Dostoyevsky - Culture, too, is a casualty of war

8 comments

  1. imperialismus
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    Have you guys read Crime and Punishment? I think it's very applicable to the war in Ukraine. The protagonist, Raskolnikov, imagines himself to be above conventional morality. He is a Great Man,...

    Have you guys read Crime and Punishment? I think it's very applicable to the war in Ukraine. The protagonist, Raskolnikov, imagines himself to be above conventional morality. He is a Great Man, and ordinary rules do not apply to men such as him, because he's so great that if he needs to commit an act of unspeakable evil in order to gain the funds to do his great deeds, the ends more than justify the means. However, once he has murdered an old woman to steal her money, he finds that he possesses a conscience after all, and is wracked by guilt.

    Raskolnikov pre-crime is a lot like Putin: someone whose grandiose self-image can be used to justify all manner of evil. However, there will not be a redemption arc for Putin, because the man either possesses no conscience at all, or has built up a psychological dam of rationalizations so strong that no measure of guilt can crack through. That is not, however, necessarily the case for rank and file soldiers. A lot of them have bought into the idea that their foul actions are necessary for the betterment of the world. Once that belief collides headfirst with the reality that they are bombing and shooting innocents to no greater purpose but to satisfy the ego of a maniac, as it has been doing these past few months, a lot of those soldiers will begin to enact the second stage of Raskolnikov's psychological arc.

    In the end, Raskolnikov confesses his crime to the police and is punished for it. That is, perhaps, unlikely to happen to the majority of Russian soldiers. But it's perfectly plausible that at least some proportion of them will confess to themselves their guilt (while others will no doubt continue to deny it until they die), and so complete the psychological journey of Raskolnikov.

    Crime and Punishment was obviously not written as a commentary on a war that would occur 150 years later. But great literature has a way of making itself relevant again and again, because it concerns basic ideas of humanity and human societies, which remain constant through the centuries.

    These ideas, being essentially human, rather than Russian, Ukrainian, or Ugandan for that matter, transcend borders. I do not begrudge Ukrainians their desire to distance themselves from Russian culture right now. But I don't think we who are not personally affected by the war--except very indirectly through its effects on global markets--should deny the essential humanity, and value of reading some of these works.

    11 votes
  2. knocklessmonster
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    I get it. Poets and writers typically stand at odds with the establishment they operate under to some degree. The US is the same, we aren't going to blame Trump on Ralph Waldo Emerson or Ernest...

    I get it. Poets and writers typically stand at odds with the establishment they operate under to some degree. The US is the same, we aren't going to blame Trump on Ralph Waldo Emerson or Ernest Hemingway.

    However, Ukraine is not trying to blame these authors, but re-assert their own repeatedly conquered culture in the place it rightfully belongs. Perhaps Ukrainian translations of these works could exist in a sort of far-reaching solution?

    I don't think they're blaming Dostoyevsky, and I don't think the author is trying to mislead anybody. I think it's about, again, re-asserting Ukrainian culture in its own country, similar to how many countries have had to.

    4 votes
  3. [2]
    petrichor
    (edited )
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    Since it appears I should have written a lead-in to this article: I thought this was an interesting article from a Russian national that shed a little light on the internal propaganda of Russia,...

    Since it appears I should have written a lead-in to this article: I thought this was an interesting article from a Russian national that shed a little light on the internal propaganda of Russia, and the broad actions that the Russian state or forms of it have taken against its "culture" during the near-constant periods of authoritarianism.

    The whole article is worth reading - it also goes over the Russian state's control and manufacturing of "culture" and its use as justification for imperialism, the entrenched system of political power and tzar-dom, lack of significant resistance against the state by the people, and internal denunciations of its literature and authors. There is one particular paragraph I'd like to share:

    Slaves give birth to a dictatorship and a dictatorship gives birth to slaves. There is only one way out of this vicious circle, and that is through culture. Literature is an antidote to the poison of the Russian imperialist way of thinking. The civilizational gap that still exists in Russia between the humanist tradition of the intelligentsiya and a Russian population stuck in a mentality from the Middle Ages can be bridged only by culture—and the regime today will do everything it can to prevent that.

    4 votes
    1. asterisk
      Link Parent
      Again other manipulation. Thereʼs no civilization gap betweeen intelligentsia and Russian population. Thereʼs only one gap: intelligentsia can write, speak better, have more knowledge. For example...

      The civilizational gap that still exists in Russia between the humanist tradition of the intelligentsiya and a Russian population stuck in a mentality from the Middle Ages can be bridged only by culture

      Again other manipulation. Thereʼs no civilization gap betweeen intelligentsia and Russian population. Thereʼs only one gap: intelligentsia can write, speak better, have more knowledge. For example you can read White intelligentsiaʼs works and you find out that theyʼre not so far from (moslty) fascism or (less) nazism ideology: one czar, Russia should be great (in any sence, especially in imperialism) etc.

      Itʼs sad that many think in this way — if one is bad then other is good:

      • Nazi Germany is bad, therefore Soviet is good.
      • Putin is bad, intelligentsia is good.

      Not, it isnʼt. Soviet was even worse then Nazi Germany. Intelligentsia isnʼt worse because only one reason: they arenʼt at power. But I already know Russian Civil War, what intelligentsia usually write and think.

  4. asterisk
    (edited )
    Link
    Youʼre wrong. Blaming Russian culture (which must be at least fully reviewed) is correct because itʼs not a casualty but a reason (among others) of war. Stop this Russian propaganda bulshit. Just...

    Youʼre wrong. Blaming Russian culture (which must be at least fully reviewed) is correct because itʼs not a casualty but a reason (among others) of war.

    Stop this Russian propaganda bulshit. Just some notes:

    It hurts to be Russian right now. What can I say when I hear that a Pushkin monument is being dismantled in Ukraine? I just keep quiet and feel penitent.

    How it could be? Read what Puškin wrote about Ukrainian and Ukraine. And find out how those monuments appeared here. I also recommend watch about other «big» author like Lermontov (English subs).

    The Putin regime has dealt Russian culture a crushing blow, just as the Russian state has done to its artists, musicians, and writers so many times before.

    Itʼs not about Putin or time when he is dictator. Itʼs about all Russian, culture too.

    2 votes
  5. asterisk
    (edited )
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    I [and not only me] recommend donʼt read any Russian even they call themselves liberals or anti-Putin, or theyʼre abroad. If any Russian wants to talk with someone about any problem in this case...

    I [and not only me] recommend donʼt read any Russian even they call themselves liberals or anti-Putin, or theyʼre abroad.

    If any Russian wants to talk with someone about any problem in this case then he must talk fist and only with his people. Because in many cases itʼs just the same to Russian propaganda but in other words.

    By the way, propaganda doesnʼt change opinion and works only when people want to believe in it. When Russian has free media most said that itʼs American propaganda, because how you dare say about Russian problem, true history etc, and when Putin made what we have now — most of them are happy, because Russian is strong and good! Think about it if you like what any Russian write something like this.

  6. [2]
    Narcissistic_Pagoda
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    I honestly thought Tildes would be a bit less hyperbolic and more tolerant of other people's opinions. Reading these comments, it seems like you guys completely want to censor any Russian...

    I honestly thought Tildes would be a bit less hyperbolic and more tolerant of other people's opinions. Reading these comments, it seems like you guys completely want to censor any Russian literature works. That's a big yikes from me.

    6 votes
    1. TheJorro
      Link Parent
      There are three other commenters here besides you as of my reading, and only one of them is saying anything like that. One person. Not even one in three people on this site. One actual person. And...

      There are three other commenters here besides you as of my reading, and only one of them is saying anything like that. One person. Not even one in three people on this site. One actual person.

      And they're not even disagreeing with anyone, they're just putting their own thoughts out there into the ether. Where's the intolerance of other people's opinions? How did you read the other comments from the other two people and get "You just want to censor Russian works!" out of it?

      And lastly, how did you figure it was a better idea to complain about everyone on this site with hyperbole and disingenuous conclusions than to simply go and confront the one person whose statement you have a problem with?

      16 votes