THE CANCELLATION OF RUSSIAN CULTURE. By Gary Saul Morson
In the medieval era, when a thinker successfully claimed divine revelation, he placed his words beyond dispute. Only the hopelessly benighted or demonically inspired could doubt him. In recent decades, the claim of “science” achieves a similar result. Politicians maintain they “just follow the science” while supportive mass media platforms banish questioners as enemies of science. Pseudoscience never had it so good.
There is another way to silence opponents today: Claim an issue is one of “moral clarity,” a phrase that signals the question is “settled” and allows for no further discussion. In such cases, facts don’t give rise to a narrative, the narrative determines the facts. When an issue is declared “morally clear” in this way, the implication is that only the immoral could entertain the slightest doubt. The world divides neatly into good and evil. There can be no conscientious skeptics. And when people are unqualifiedly evil, anything one says about them or does to them becomes justified.
As a specialist in Russian literature and thought, I am more than familiar with this way of thinking. It is how the Soviet Union operated. Once the Party ruled on a topic, gray areas vanished. That is why every vote of the Soviet parliament was unanimous and elections offered only one candidate. The very idea of disputable questions was a bourgeois mystification, designed to keep the working class from acting decisively in its interest. By the same token, all issues became zero-sum games. In first-year economics, one learns that in any unforced transaction both sides benefit or they would not make the exchange, but in Marxist-Leninist thinking, one side’s gain is necessarily the other side’s loss.
I was therefore less than happy to discover an op-ed in the Wall Street Journal expressing relief that the present situation in Ukraine offered “moral clarity.”
Sergei Loznitsa, the Ukrainian film-maker who refuses to be cancelled
P.B. Mehta: Ukraine invasion has revealed a new world disorder
JUAN COLE: The US would be on firmer ground declaring Putin a War Criminal if George W. Bush had been Tried / Aditya Chakrabortty: Western values? They enthroned the monster who is shelling Ukrainians today
Javed Anand: What is at stake in the hijab issue
Javed Anand - Ms Wadud, we are ashamed
Nobel laureate Orhan Pamuk charged again with ‘insulting Turkishness’ / Complaint filed against Indian comedian Vir Das for his allegedly anti-India show
Gauri Lankesh: ‘Abnormality is becoming the new normal in Karnataka’ // ‘Murder of democracy, climate of hate, intolerance complicit’
A mighty heart - The death and life of Gauri Lankesh // Virago, not martyr
Over 10,000 at protest rally in Bengaluru, declare: I am Gauri // BJP Sends Legal Notice To Ramachandra Guha
“How dare they celebrate, this is our India, we will not allow this to happen.” People of Bengaluru defend Indian democracy
Anna Politkovskaya Award shared by Pakistani Activist and Gauri Lankesh
RAGHU KARNAD: Indian Liberals Must Die. Gauri Lankesh and the vernacular Indian left
The eloquence of silence - The choice is between speaking up and keeping quiet. By Samantak Das
Journalist gets threat for criticising a Modi Govt scheme. Is reminded of Gauri Lankesh's fate
Gauri Lankesh’s Kannada news website banned by Facebook?
Edward Snowden - Everything Going Great: Bad Faith, Worse News and Julian Assange
Anushka Baruah - What Ramjas teaches // MSU Baroda Cancels Workshop on Caste citing Ramjas incident: Protest by Indian Cultural Forum Collective
The essay by AK Ramanujan censored by DU's Academic Council
A K Ramanujan works dropped from new DU syllabus
Sambhaji Brigade vandalised the Bhandarkar Institute in Pune in 2004
Javed Anand: On RSS reassurances to Muslim, deeds matter more than words
Suspension of academic in Kerala because he talked about fascism and Sangh Parivar