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Unfiled August 24, 2003
By Edward Limonov Browse author

Recently it was a lot of noise in Russian medias about change of literature program for Russian schools. Some prominent writers even have wrote an open letter ot the government, urging, "Do not touch a programmed books." Liberals pretended that Pasternak's Doctor Zhivago going to be replaced by Nikolai Ostrovsky's How the Steel Was Tempered, the Soviet novel of education of young Communist party cadre. The novel's hero -- Pavel Korchagin, in fact was educated, tempered by Revolution and Civil War. In the Soviet Union, How the Steel Was Tempered was obligatory taught to few generations of Russian pupils, was one of a few foundation stones of Soviet man's formation.

As to Doctor Zhivago, Boris Pasternak also placed his hero amongst Civil War events, but Civil War was regarded from a point of view of intelligentsia. Doctor Zhivago -- a clumsy work of professional poet -- was immediately encouraged by the West. Pasternak was awarded a Nobel Prize. Doctor Zhivago symbolized a turning point of Russian Soviet history, the end of Stalin's frozen era and beginning of era of "thaw." The thaw was set in by Khrushchev. That bloody thaw finally developed to a flood, and by 1991 inundated the Soviet Union to the point of disintegration of a Soviet system. For the liberals, Doctor Zhivago is adorable liberal novel of Great Importance, whereas How the Steel Was Tempered is dear to the heart of communist orthodoxes.

Am I standing for Doctor Zhivago or for How the Steel Was Tempered? If judged by literary qualities, both novels are mediocre productions. If judged by its political and social impact on education of contemporary Russian youth, both novels will have no impact whatsoever, because they deal with lost forever reality. Russian youngster will be unable to imagine inserting himself into those historical circumstances, they are too far away from him. It is almost century ago Pavel Korchagin maybe passed Dr. Zhivago somewhere on the street of Kiev, and probably have arrested him on the suspicion of being an enemy of people. So, it is no importance, will be a school program requiring from a youngster to read "Doctor..." or a "...Steel Tempered..."

However, here is visible an obvious desire of Putin's government to resurrect a Russian collective patriotism, and to put down individualism of Doctors Zhivagos. For a purpose of a war in Chechnya Pavel Korchagin is preferable type of man, while individualist Zhivago is no good at all. For the very same utilitarian end Putin's administration pompously glorifying the Great Patriotic War of 1941-1945. I remember when in 1991, 1992, 1993, we radicals and and communists were lonely celebrating the Day of Victory -- the May 9th. In those years Russian government was absent from celebration.

Nowadays government is first to howl about veterans, Great Patriotic War, the victims...The users play on the feelings of people. Our Patriotic War as a matter of fact is blasphemed by present government. Driving foreign cars, visiting foreign countries, wearing foreign clothes, having foreign bank accounts, those well-fed swines shamelessly asking school children to follow example of idealist Korchagin -- the alter ego of his creator-writer-communist Nikolai Ostrovsky, sick from tuberculosis, blind because of old wounds. "Go, Pavel, go to Grozny, to Gudermes, to Chechen mountains, where fighting you gonna lost your limbs, would be wounded, very probably killed..."

But isn't it a duty, moral obligation of patriotic youth to die for its Patrie? For Russia? Yes, sure. But behind Pavel Korchagin was a different country than Russia of Putin. Behind Korchagin he has a masses of people living a socialism-system of equality, having the same wages, wearing the same clothes, sharing the same destiny, sharing the war also. That was no Abramovich, no Deripaska, no Mamuts and Potanins behind Korchagin. He has no behind him a Moscow of shiny offices and Mercedeses, no casinos and no restaurants, where one meal cost as much as Korchagin might gain in three months of hard work at the factory. So Korchagin was lightheartedly doing his heroical deeds because lost limbs and terrible wounds are nothing in comparison with a Great Deed o defending people, defending Socialist State.

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