Friday, September 28, 2018

Russia Now ‘Land of Imitations,’ Even in Its Cemeteries, Khots Says

Paul Goble

            Staunton, September 27 – Russians persist in imagining themselves and presenting themselves to others as something they aren’t, Moscow journalist Aleksandr Khots says; and this pattern of deception extends to all aspects of life and even into death where it increasingly defines what Russian cemeteries are like.

            “The strength of Western culture,” he continues, is its connection with reality. The Enlightenment in Europe left a philosophical heritage which gave it immunity from mythology,” Khots continues. “This respect for reality makes life truly alive and allows forward movement without falling into falsehood” ( reposted at

            But “the weakness of ‘the Russian world,’” he says, “is in its inclination to falsehood and to its attempts to deceive life, history and even time. This total system of imitations follows us to the grave” with paper and increasingly plastic flowers that do not fade instead of real ones that do just as all life does.

            “Russian cemeteries,” Khots says, “have always elicited with me heavy feelings, chiefly because of the excess of paper and now of plastic.” Russians don’t seem to be able to accept the reality of death anymore than they accept the reality of what occurs while they are on this earth and try to act as if with paper or plastic they can overcome that.

            “Beginning with Peter, the imitation of Western forms has successfully become rooted in Russian history, including the current regime with its simulacra of ‘a parliament,’ ‘democracy,’ ‘elections,’ ‘judges’ and laws,’ the journalist writes.  “We have successfully imitated a legal state and a Western way of life.

            Moreover, “we depict ourselves as Europeans, acting as if we live in ‘a European country,’ listen to Elton John while despising his marriage and his sexuality, carrying Apple smartphones while despising Tim Cook, vacationing in Europe while despising human rights and LGBT equality, wearing clothes ‘from Versace … while despising the creator of the brand.”

            “In the era of ‘developed Putinism,’ we imitate an imperial policy and the Soviet past, all the more deeply driving ourselves into the pit of our own inadequacy. This total system of imitation long ago became the essence of the national existence” of Russia and Russians, Khots argues.

            We try to “deceive history by presenting ourselves to others and ourselves as what we in fact are not, neither an empire, nor Europeans, nor a legal state, nor a successful model of development, nor a center of strength, nor a democracy, nor a moral authority, nor a center of world culture,” he continues.

            Even Russian drunkenness is part of this: intoxication allows “an imitation psychology” because those who have had too much to drink can imagine themselves or try to present themselves to others as what they are not. And this passion for imitation has now spread to the cemeteries, where Russians try to suggest there is life where there isn’t.

            “Withering is part of life,” Khots says. Moreover, “it is a reality which it is useful to remember rather than deceiving oneself with ‘the immortality’ of cheap plastic.

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