Before enemy tanks enter your country, the aggressor countries “drive through” the culture – implanting their own and oppressing the dominant one in that territory. By inserting the desired narratives into the cultural field, they form favourable conditions for hybrid warfare. This is what the invaders are counting on – that through loyalty to their culture they will have carte blanche on the territories of other countries.
For years russia has been following this scenario: expropriating cultural figures, erecting monuments to their leaders and pushing their low-grade content into the infospace in every possible way.
The duality of russian culture, where russians declare themselves Europeans on the one hand and display typical Asianness on the other, has become the same “mysterious russian soul” that has attracted the Western world for centuries. This interest has not disappeared to this day, after all imperial russia had for many years a strong policy of soft power in other countries.
That is why many Europeans, even seeing the consequences of a full-scale war in 2022, still do not understand (or do not want to understand) why russian culture should be cancelled. “It’s all Putin’s war. What does art have to do with it?”, they say.
The difference between what russia broadcasts outwards and how art affects domestic audiences is huge.
For example, while Western society catches russian works as an enigmatic Eastern European fatalism, for russians they only reinforce the belief that the ‘little man’ in the big world decides nothing.
Russia’s continued occupation of countries under the russian empire, and later the Soviet Union, has elevated russian to the status of an international language, reinforcing the russians’ belief that they should be understood everywhere. In the European community, there was a belief that knowing russian was enough to understand all of Eastern Europe.
Already six months of full scale invasion of Ukraine by russia are beginning to wear the world out. Discourses about the non-involvement of russian culture in the war are increasingly appearing in European countries. And this is exactly what the aggressor country is counting on.
Cancelling russian culture is an element of self-defence for every country whose identity is encroached upon by russia, a powerful work front that also requires a lot of effort and cohesion. The disease of imperialism is trying to spread – and it is in our power to eradicate it.