Wednesday, June 3, 2015

Russian literature won’t save Putin

A narrative gaining wide currency is that Vladimir Putin will survive because he is a symbol of the nation’s beloved literature.
At first glance this view shorts Russian music, ballet, et al.
Try to top “Gogol,” who in “Dead Souls” in which a businessman moves through a rural area “buying up soulds” to make foreclosures easier.
Still, whether you see in Putin legends like Raskelnikov, Tolstoy or Rachmanioff, can their reverence for art make them invulnerable.
James Stravridis thinks so. He writes in Foreign Policy: “As Russia becomes increasingly isolated from Europe and the West over everything from the annexation of Crimea to the jailing of Pussy Riot and the treatment of gays and lesbians, their society will increasingly reject the “norms” of the West and become more “the other” — a place they have been before. What does all this tell us about the current flow of events?
“Russians correctly view themselves as inheritors of something bigger than just another a huge country — they see Mother Russia as the repository of deep and powerful life philosophies through a vibrant literature. They are unbelievably tough under pressure and take a perverse pleasure in demonstrating they can outlast anyone.”
This might be true if they lived in a vacuum. That wasn’t even true during the Cold War, and is futile in a cyberworld.
The Cold War wasn’t brought down just by Reagan’s “Star Wars,” Chernobyl, Afghanistan and an economic system that failed to reward the people for the great sacrifices they made. Although the Kremlin could clamp on art, it couldn’t stop music from wafting over the Berlin Wall. The Beach Boys and Beatles played the role now assume by Pussy Riot. Don’t forget the movies.
These days, no matter how draconian his rules, Putin cannot shut down the Internet entirely. What makes him think he is smarter than the Piratebay?
In fact, organizations that made the theft of copyright movies easy, rely on servers in Moscow and China, in many cases.
And then of course several movies can be put on a flashdrive smaller than a cigarette lighter. Russian customs is unlikely to have more luck than TSA in U.S. airports.
Russis’s top 20 is overloaded with Western music.
Another thing to consider is that if anti-government screeds make a country stronger that would be the opposite of what happened from the American Revolution to apartheid South Africa.

This week Russia said it was complaining down the Pirate Bay. Don't bet on it.

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