“new scientific laboratories arose – speaking in modern terms, ‘startups’;” this contributed to the development of a sense of collectivism, or in today’s language – ‘team-building.’” In some places, the authors recall that the textbook is meant for young people, who need to be met halfway, and their categoricalness suddenly softens: “In communicating with each other, they used a lot of anglicisms, were fond of rock and roll, which was then popular in Europe and the US. Despite the negative reaction from the conservative-minded society, among the youth, stilyagi
(as they began to be called) aroused a definite interest.” Whose voice is this all of a sudden? Why was stilyagi allowed to walk around unguarded by quotation marks?
In general, quotation marks, designed to show whose speech is recognized as legitimate and whose is not, are placed in this textbook in a rather bizarre way. For example:
“Mikhail Suslov... was considered a gray cardinal under L. Brezhnev... His conservative perspective... made his name one of the symbols of ‘stagnation’ in the USSR.” So, there was no stagnation, and the Brezhnev ideologist Suslov really was a cardinal? Another example: “the level of well-being… the provision of high-quality and ‘fashionable’ goods... lagged the growing demands of the population.” So, the desired goods were actually unfashionable? When the authors are nervous, the number of quotation marks rapidly increases: “among the creative intelligentsia, there was a growing desire to express their ‘oppositional position’ by means of ‘contemporary art.’ At the same time, the main measure of ‘success’ was their coverage in the Western media.”
The authors of the textbook more than once undermine their own pathos with an ironic slip: “This would have meant acknowledging the inability of the authorities (as they used to say, ‘the party and government’) to ensure the implementation of the ‘principles of socialism.” For this rhetorical estrangement we will forgive them even the factual error that the phrase “party and government” went out of official use in the 1970s amid the rise of Brezhnev and the weakening of Kosygin. But what do such trifles matter?
And then, without any warning and for no reason at all, a secret liberal snuck into the ranks of the compilers of the textbook and stealthily wrote something completely unthinkable.
“Intellectual gatherings’ in the kitchen became commonplace among the urban intelligentsia. Here without worrying about censorship, one could talk about politics, about reading ‘forbidden’ books or broadcasts from foreign radio stations.”
Only the quotation marks next to “forbidden” books (apparently they were actually allowed?) indicate that we are still reading the Medinsky-Torkunov textbook. But where does this touching intonation come from? Did these gatherings not undermine the moral and political unity of society? These “gatherings” destroy the entire monumental framework of the textbook. Totalitarianism is mighty as long as it is total.