3 October 2022
by Aleksandr Podrabinek
“Children are our future.” That’s what the posters in the Soviet Union said. The Communists were counting on a long reign and wanted to make sure the rising generation was as nasty as they were themselves. As we see, the present-day Kremlin leadership is also counting on many years in power.
THE KREMLIN’S PLANS
Today, the Kremlin has two problems with children. First, there need to be more of them. After all, according to the Russian authorities’ calculations, these are our future soldiers and overseers, stooges and propagandists, submissive servants and cannon fodder for future wars. The regime predicts inevitable losses. Some will perish in battles or become invalids; others will flee abroad or desert from the army. This means even now Russian woman should be trying harder for the sake of the triumph of the Kremlin’s aggressive plans. A few days ago, Health Ministry chief Mikhail Murashko said that midwives and gynecologists should come up with guidelines for women and girls of reproductive age that encourage them to give birth and create families with multiple children.
The regime’s second concern is for the children to be stupid and obedient. This problem is resolved through collective upbringing (due to the first problem, that upbringing itself is at present powerless). The children’s collective should be guided by authorized ideologues. For this, children’s and young people’s organizations like the Pioneer detachments of the socialist era are being created in Russia. In addition to this, a new subject has been introduced in schools: “Conversations About What’s Important.” First-graders are told what’s most important: Putin loves all children and it’s important to him that they study well. Schoolchildren should also learn that the goal of the present war against Ukraine is “the defence of the people of the Donbass.”
In society, especially among teachers and parents, there have been many arguments about whether these lessons have to be attended. Far from all teachers want their pupils to grow up to be dolts. To say nothing of many parents. Unfortunately, though, the question is nearly decided. The majority are again submitting to ideological violence because they lack a firm will to resist and because looming behind the ideologues is the shadow of law enforcement.
MURDERERS, THIEVES, AND RAPISTS
Matters are worse in the occupied territories, where Kremlin-friendly Russian teachers are going to teach Ukrainian schoolchildren for a monthly salary of nearly 200,000 roubles. It’s worse because behind these teachers’ backs looms the shadow of the Russian soldiers who so clearly recommended themselves in Bucha, Irpen, Izyum, and other Ukrainian towns. In addition, among them now are also murderers, thieves, and rapists who have not completed their sentences. They, by the way, have been promised payment of about 100,000 a month. That is, teachers are valued double. After all, they’re looking after the future!
People in Ukraine understand the import of school propaganda full well. It’s no accident, after all, that reports appeared about the arrest of Russian teachers abandoned by the army upon its retreat from Ukrainian territory. Ukrainian Vice Prime Minister Iryna Vereshchuk said at the time that the teachers would be tried for violating the rules and customs of war. This accusation is over the top, of course, but the fact that Ukrainians understand the danger of Russian ideological education is beyond a doubt.
A SEA OF FEAR AND JUSTIFICATIONS
It’s amazing that this danger is not as clearly recognized in Russia. What can be sacrificed to the dictatorship’s insatiable devil? Sanctioned foodstuffs, foreign travel, imported medicines, Western automobiles and digital technology, books and movies, scientific exchange and modern education, space research, athletic competitions, theatrical tours—there’s no end to the list.
But children? Can you give your own sons and daughters so easily into the hands of professional propagandists who are transforming children into stupid and embittered people to carry out the will of the ruling scoundrels? Surely you have to draw the line in submitting to force at some point. But there has been some resistance, of course, among both teachers and parents. I fear, though, that resistance will drown in the sea of general fear and universal justifications: “What can we do?” “They have the power,” “We aren’t heroes,” and “We’ll get through this somehow, we’ve seen worse.”
Yes, we’ve seen all sorts of things. Parents reared their children in the party-military spirit, and those children later disavowed their own parents when those parents were overtaken by the onslaught of repressions. What Russian society has never had enough of is loyalty and persistance, dignity and fearlessness. That is, something that is laid down in people from the earliest age.
Translated by Marian Schwartz
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