"Turning Back the Clock" in Russian

Waaaay back, explains David Remnick:

No wonder so many cultural conservatives, from Pat Buchanan to the leaders of the Russian Orthodox Church, adore Vladimir Putin: he projects bare-chested swagger, and he is also developing a form of Russian cultural conservatism intended as a rejection of Western permissiveness. First, there was the anti-gay propaganda law. Then came the assault on N.G.O.s and on press freedoms, from the printed page to television to the Internet. Now Putin has decided to take on the Russian language—in particular, its florid and flexible lexicon of profanity, known as mat. On Monday, Putin signed legislation that has been floating around the Duma for years: as of July 1st, there will be no swearing in movies and theatrical productions or from the concert stage.

You won’t read it in your local family newspaper, but the law centers on the four pillars of mat: there is khuy (“cock”), pizda (“cunt”), ebat’ (“to fuck”), and blyad (“whore”). Sorry about that, but the English equivalents are, if anything, rather pallid and polite. And that’s just the beginning, the base ingredients for the great lexical fantasia of mat. As Victor Erofeyev describes at delicious length in his 2003 article “Dirty Words,” there are thousands of variations and elaborations on these four words, and they go back to the earliest Russian classics.

Statists always admire other statists, provided they agree overall on which liberties should have the boot stomping on their faces, forever.

Of course, this law still does nothing to solve Russia’s seemingly irreversible demographic decline, although I suppose it will allow fewer and fewer Russians to be feeling better and better about sounding nicer and nicer as their nation gets drunker and drunker.