Teaching Comparative Government and Politics

Friday, December 14, 2012

Coming up: Socialist...(er) Russian Realism

Putin's new Russia seems more and more an offspring of Tsarist and Soviet cultures. The next step could well be officially approved versions of literature, music, and film. (BTW: I have my own worker award pin with Lenin's profile on it. It probably came out of one of those jars-full when I bought it in the eastern sector of Berlin in 1990.)

Putin Restores Worker Award of Soviet Era
When secretaries, financial analysts and the like spilled onto the streets of Moscow in antigovernment protests last winter, Vladimir V. Putin took one look and dismissed them as a crowd of “office plankton.”

Hero of Socialist Labor
And then he set about burnishing his credentials as a champion of real, working-class Russians, a project that continued on Monday with his decision to dust off a relic of Soviet heraldry: the set of lapel pins called the Hero of Socialist Labor award, now conspicuously shortened in these capitalistic times to the Hero of Labor.

Mr. Putin, who was elected this year to his third term as president, has brought back the Soviet anthem, military parades and political repression. But until now he had not set about restoring the grandeur of the Soviet lapel pin collection for civilians — awards marked by the heads of Lenin and ribbons that once caused jackets to sag…

As wages level off, medals and awards that raise status without costing hard currency might substitute as compensation, as practiced in the Soviet period, beginning principally in the 1930s, when such status symbols, rather than salaries, measured accomplishment.

By the 1980s, medal inflation had rendered such awards all but meaningless, as nearly everybody had some, and they became the objects of near universal derision — eventually sold by the hundreds in canning jars on the sidewalks of East bloc countries…

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At 12:44 PM, Blogger Ken Wedding said...

Russian Lawmakers Aim at Foreign Cars, Films and Schooling in Patriotic Purge

"The members of Russia’s lower house of Parliament — which last year passed so many harsh new laws with so little debate that commentators compared it to a “rabid printer” — returned to work last week as the standard-bearers for President Vladimir V. Putin’s brand of patriotism.

"Having captured the world’s attention in December by banning all adoptions of Russian children by American families, members of Parliament have dreamed up a variety of further proposals to purge Russian politics and civic life of foreign influences...

" Among them:... A requirement that the children of Russian officials return directly to Russia after studying abroad, lest their parent lose his or her post. A requirement that officials’ children be barred from studying abroad altogether. A requirement that movie theaters screen Russian-made films no less than 20 percent of the time...

"One group of legislators is working on a bill that would prevent anyone with foreign citizenship, including Russians, from criticizing the government on television. One proposal would ban the use of foreign driver’s licenses, another would require officials to drive Russian-made cars. One deputy has recommended strictly limiting marriages between Russian officials and foreigners, at least those from states that were not formerly Soviet...

"Mr. Putin has made patriotism a central theme of his third presidential term, and Yevgeny A. Fyodorov, a United Russia deputy, said strengthening Russia’s sovereignty is now the Duma’s 'most important direction.'

"Mr. Fyodorov said he would like to see the Constitution amended to allow for a national ideology, something that is now explicitly excluded in the text, but concedes that this will take time. He said the adoption ban — or, as he called it, 'the ban on the export of children' — signaled the beginning of a major effort to 'strengthen Russia’s sovereignty' by purging foreign influences on civic life...

"This mission is complicated by the fact that Moscow’s ruling class is, in fact, already deeply integrated into Western Europe... Nevertheless, the Kremlin has determined that officials’ foreign holdings must be brought under control, because they are alienating the public...

"'The population considers the elite to be half-foreign,' Sergei A. Markov, a political analyst, said. 'Their property is abroad, their houses are abroad, their wives are abroad, their children are abroad. Even Russian industrialists work through offshore companies. Why do these people run Russia, they say.'...


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