Russian səmizˈdat – in the former Soviet Union)n
(Journalism & 1. (Journalism and publishing).
- a system of clandestine printing & distribution of banned or dissident literature
- (as modifier): a samizdat publication.
Welcome to Project Samizdat. This blog looks at the world of ideas in the 21st Century – which presents us with intellectual struggle and controversy. Using insights from earlier writers, such as George Orwell or Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn, I want to examine the emerging hierarchy of ideas that presents itself as above any criticism or examination, especially in the areas of religious belief, community life and culture.
You ask why Sozhenitsyn and other things Russian?
My grandfather was a socialist and travelled to Moscow during the Breshnev era. He was involved in working peoples’ issues and the Labour movement as well as being a Sunday School Teacher. A combination that may be somewhat unexpected for some readers. This gave me an interest in things Russian. Sozhenitsyn’s “Day in the Life of Ivan Denisovitch” was my favourite book in High School English and I sometimes wore the Lenin badge grandfather brought back from the Soviet Union, to indicate my sympathies with another world to the one I was living in. I even developed a taste for Balalaika music.
And why George Orwell?
I am a Psychologist and am extremely interested in the way power affects human behavior (so I was extremely pleased about the release of the 2015 movie ‘The Stanford Experiment’ – it is a striking real life morality tale). George Orwell is, among other things, one of the most perceptive writers to examine the relationship between people and the exercise of power. I did my graduate research on religious experience and adolescents, although I was (and continue to be) really interested in researching cults and their ability to shape the minds and behavior of their adherents. At University I also studied history, sociology and political science. In all of this I was fascinated, as I believe Orwell was, with the ideology and symptomology of the practice of power.
Even religious beliefs?
I myself believe in formulations of belief such as the Apostle’s Creed and the Nicene Creed. I grew up in a traditional liturgical church that leaned towards the liberal: during confirmation class I learnt about a vague mixture of Buddhism and Christianity. Our priest translated his thoughts for us from Sanskrit texts while we sat in his study. This helped me to become a convinced socialist and atheist for a while. I then turned towards Christian Orthodoxy later.
And how about culture.
After finishing College I traveled through a few different countries, the highlight being the Afghan Borderlands when Russia was running the Kabul government. It is there that I saw ideologies of all kinds at their bleakest and at their best. Later I lived in a non-western country teaching for some years, where my children were born. These experiences have given me a lasting interest in the power of culture in shaping people’s thinking.
Leave a comment if you wish, but nothing nasty. Remember to play nice as we are about light not heat.
If you don’t agree with anything give us a good counter-argument and we will love you!