« A Pox on Your House | Gene Expression Front Page | Through the Looking Glass »
February 01, 2004

More than bare shelves

Another scary article on what it's like to be a non-white in Russia. Of course, with the social chaos that is gripping much of the country, it's probably somewhat scary to be a human being there, no matter the color. I would like to add that a friend of mine who visits Israel frequently (he has dual citizenship) says that the "Russians" (this being mostly Russian Jews) have reputation for being racist there as well.

This is not to smear Russians as a whole, my parents encounter recent Russian immigrants every day in the Seattle area, and they are good decent folk. But, this is perhaps a testament to the havoc that Communism can wreak on a culture. We know that Communism was a failure economically, but perhaps more attention needs to be focused on what it does to cultural traditions, slicing away thousands of years of continuity, leaving an amoral vacuum that allows society to regress torwards its most atavistic and atomistic manifestations. I believe in a fashion that the same process has destroyed Chinese culture. The traditions of Confucianism, for all their problems, no longer exist in a robust nuanced fashion to buffer the nation against the more militaristic jingoistic tendencies at the aggregate level, and the single-minded focus on glitzy material acqusition on the individual scale[1].

fn1. I don't think consumerism is bad, but when it becomes the end, I think something is wrong. I would also like to note that traditional Confucian scholars were against the rise of racialism in China in the early 20th century, rather, it was "progressive" leaders and intellectuals who pushed forward the conflation of is and ought.

Posted by razib at 02:44 PM