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"Fundamentals of State Policy" and the Arts in Russia


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#1 Helene

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Posted 29 May 2014 - 08:14 PM

Ismene Brown posted a new blog entry and translation of an Izvestia article on how Putin's "Fundamentals of State Policy" could impact the arts, and the conflicts between three major tenets -- ban against swearing, anything offensive to religion, and justifications of fascism -- and the arts, including creative freedom and copyright.  A decision on how to apply the over-arcing policy to the arts is expected in September:

 

http://www.ismeneb.c...censorship.html

 

 



#2 pherank

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Posted 29 May 2014 - 09:12 PM

“We have a law on the responsibility for justification of fascism, but I do not know a single person in the country - apart from a few dopes and adolescents - who would say fascism’s great. It means that the title is one thing, and the aim is another.

Huh??? Sure, the law says one thing, but it's not worth worrying about that because "the aim is another" (thing). That approach hardly ever goes wrong.

Interesting how the great enemy of Russia, Fascism, becomes the motivator for the new, "civilized" Russia.*

* In general, it is proposed to develop the cultural policy based on “civilization” principle, which the authors believe to be the opposite of the “liberal pro-Western” approach which supposedly idealizes Western path of development.
http://queerussia.in...014/04/07/4877/
 



#3 California

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Posted 30 May 2014 - 03:17 AM

I think we are also dealing with some complex translation issues here, rooted in the history with the Nazis. E.g., in recent books about how many Nazis escaped justice, with the help of Catholic priests and the U.S. government (The Real Odessa, Uki Goni; Nazis on the Run, Gerald Steinacher), they saw the choice as one between godless communism and fascism and thought fascism the lesser of two evils. They don't today seem to equate fascism with Nazism, as we do in the U.S., but more as a rejection of communism. Without a tradition in Russia of genuine democracy (which nations in eastern Europe experienced between the two world wars), they don't have a clear sense of what other alternatives might be. In eastern Europe, I discovered that well-educated people still equate "socialism" with "Nazism." Hitler actually crushed the socialist party in Germany and appropriated the name, yet he was no socialist as we understand it in the west. My point: these are very slippery terms and might not always be used in Russia and Europe in the way we use them in the U.S.

 

As for censorship, it's interesting that the constitutions of countries in both western and eastern Europe (as well as the EU) include general principles of free speech. Yet they all have strong laws censoring anything having to do with the Nazis. E.g., it's illegal to publicly display a swastika, to deny the Holocaust, or to sell Mein Kampf, and recent news reports show that those laws are taken seriously and enforced.  They seem to think that this censorship is the best way to deal with their underground neo-Nazi movements (which are widespread throughout Europe today). In the U.S., we also have neo-Nazis, but we think encouraging as much free speech as possible is the way to deal with that. ("Sunlight is the best disinfectant," etc.) Both approaches have failed to squelch neo-Nazism, of course.

 

Free speech is not absolute, even in the U.S. Think of our never-ending battles over obscenity (not protected by the First Amendment) and the current religious freedom issues being fought in the context of the arts, health care, etc.  In the Andres Serrano controversy ("P*** Christ"), the censorship many in Congress wanted had to do with religious insults, not the "obscenity" alleged of the work by Mapplethorpe.



#4 pherank

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Posted 30 May 2014 - 11:50 AM

It is certainly true that just about any word can have its meanings changed all about as needed - history is written by both the victors, and the survivors. I think the Russian policymakers probably have this George Orwell statement in mind:

http://www.orwell.ru...e/english/efasc

But there never was a Nazi-ism creed to my knowledge - that was the abbreviated name of the political party and not an ideology. Mussolini and Hitler were avowed fascists. I'm not surprised that there is disagreement over the definition of Fascism - ideologies can be too broad to pin down well. But we do have this -
 

 

In 1932 Mussolini wrote (with the help of Giovanni Gentile) and entry for the Italian Encyclopedia on the definition of fascism.
Fascism, the more it considers and observes the future and the development of humanity quite apart from political considerations of the moment, believes neither in the possibility nor the utility of perpetual peace. It thus repudiates the doctrine of Pacifism -- born of a renunciation of the struggle and an act of cowardice in the face of sacrifice. War alone brings up to its highest tension all human energy and puts the stamp of nobility upon the peoples who have courage to meet it. All other trials are substitutes, which never really put men into the position where they have to make the great decision -- the alternative of life or death....

And there's lot's more from Mr. M on the subject, some of it quoted here:

http://www.fordham.e...ini-fascism.asp



#5 California

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Posted 30 May 2014 - 12:58 PM

But in the original quotes Helene posted, I'm trying to understand what the Russians might mean by supporting Fascism. My guess is that many primarily see it as anti-communism and are not focusing primarily on Hitler/Mussolini fascism/Nazism. Younger generations are trying to reject both communism and what they understand as fascism, in favor of some vague notion of what "democracy" is. Those who say they support fascism are the dopes/adolescents in that quote. But, as I noted, Russia has never had any experience with a genuine democracy -- which is much more than merely having elections from time to time. (The soviets had elections...) It's a broader cultural structure that includes non-governmental interest groups, educational organizations that debate the varying options available, perhaps labor unions, etc.

 

Between 1918 and 1939, some Warsaw pact nations did have the experience of parliamentary democracies, enough time for that cultural infrastructure to emerge and be remembered. After the fall of the Berlin Wall in 1989, those nations were able to make the shift to genuine democracies much more effectively than the former Soviet Union has been able to. (I'm not suggesting, of course, that the transition has been easy or without stumbles in any of those countries.)



#6 pherank

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Posted 30 May 2014 - 02:46 PM

Between 1918 and 1939, some Warsaw pact nations did have the experience of parliamentary democracies, enough time for that cultural infrastructure to emerge and be remembered. After the fall of the Berlin Wall in 1989, those nations were able to make the shift to genuine democracies much more effectively than the former Soviet Union has been able to. (I'm not suggesting, of course, that the transition has been easy or without stumbles in any of those countries.)

 

Yes, and those countries never displayed the great fear of 'parlimentary democracy' that the Russian power elite generally has. It is interesting that there was a USSR proposal to join NATO (though not with the best intentions as per the West), and this led to the Warsaw Pact treaty. The endless game of political chess continues.



#7 ismeneb

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Posted 31 May 2014 - 04:54 AM

California hits the nail on the head! Translation is indeed complex, not only verbally but conceptually. If I may address Pherank's point in particular, the query over the aim of the 'responsibility for justification of fascism' law - this is a different use of 'responsibility', it means answerability, being held to account. As I read Gusman's statement, he is worried that as there is (in his view) almost no one who seriously stands up for 'fascism', a law about it must be intended for another, perhaps wider purpose. Reading the extreme anti-'other' views of Culture Minister Vladimir Medinsky in the interview I linked to (translation here) makes it clearer what these senior figures are meaning. Gusman's wife is (according to his Wiki entry) a lecturer at Georgetown University, Washington, so a rise in state xenophobia would hit home.

 

It's also worth bearing in mind that Izvestia is a government newspaper - it polls views from extremely opposed people, but gives no indication of the proportionate public weight of each opinion. It tends to be the individual's background and career that makes their view more or less of a talking point. 

 

Ismene




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