Trifonov understood cultural marxism

Yury Trifonov was a famous (Nobel-caliber) Soviet writer. Consider this post our third installment in the series on Russian classics uncannily anticipating various aspects of modern American culture.

Now you might retort, Of course Trifonov understood Marxism, he lived in it! But let’s give the man his due. In his masterpiece The House on the Embankment, Trifonov describes, among other things, an academic couple. The man teaches something akin to literary criticism and the woman teaches German, and happens to be a native speaker. These people don’t have a subversive or dissident bone in their body. They are true believers, who in full earnestness chide each other over vestigial petite bourgeoisie — over dinner, in the privacy of their home. [I imagine this is exactly how high-brow SJW couples urge each other, even in private, to come clean on their implicit racism.]

Trifonov’s couple’s only transgression is that, with time, they have inevitably transitioned from the vanguard to the rear guard. Playing out the quintessential leftist self-cannibalism paradigm, the fogeys are being hounded out of their academic positions to make room for the newer, more progressive generation. The German teacher tried to protest that her German proficiency is and forever will be far above that of the other teacher — regardless of how many margin notes the latter might scribble in the writings of Engels. To which the powers-that-be respond, “surely you can’t be denying the fact that language is a class phenomenon”! Just change that to “language is a social construct” and the sentiment will not be out of place in any respectable –studies course.

[Logic, however, would be out of place. If both race and gender are social
constructs, and we take a person’s feelings on the latter at face value,
why not on the former? Because shut up, they explained — that’s why.]

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2 thoughts on “Trifonov understood cultural marxism

  1. Calling Trifonov a Nobel Prize-caliber writer is an uncertain compliment, the quality of Nobelists in literature varies greatly.
    The elderly couple in the novel in question were actual revolutionaries in their youth. They still speak the language and espouse the values of that period. But the times have changed, new cynical generation has grown up and is pushing the old true believers aside. The student who spearheads the attack on the old professor would not worry about anyone’s petit bourgeois manners or mores, and is very much a petit bourgeois himself. This is about the death of the revolutionary impulse, this is why the veterans’ talk sounds quaint to the new generation.
    The situation with our SJWs is different, I believe. The impulse has not weakened, the professors and the students are at one, they speak the same language and seriously discuss implicit racism.

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  2. I agree that in general Nobel isn’t saying much, but for a straight white Russian dude it usually means something.

    As for the couple being revolutionaries — I think the revolutionary temperament is quite distinct from the dissident one. In particular, one can be a conformist revolutionary (weren’t most?) — but a conformist dissident seems like a contradiction in terms.

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