March 1, 2023 Special Dispatch No. 10511

Senior Russian Columnist Kamakin: Force-Feeding Patriotic Education To Adults Can Provoke 'Indigestion'

March 1, 2023
Russia | Special Dispatch No. 10511

Since the invasion of Ukraine, Russian legislators have aggressively pushed proposals to shore up patriotism in Russia. Currently, both houses of the Duma are floating the idea of having parents of school children summoned to attend "conversations about things that matter." Moskovskiy Komsomolets political correspondent Andrei Kamakin believes that this idea smacks of discredited Soviet practices and will boomerang because forcing-feeding patriotism to adults will provoke the opposite effect.

Kamakin's column, titled "The Science of Hatred: Patriotic Education Overfeeding Is Coming," follows below:[i]

"Conversations about things that matter" should be conducted not only with schoolchildren, but also with their parents, according to Olga Kazakova, Chairperson of the State Duma Committee on Education. Kazakova promised to send a proposal to the Ministry of Education to hold thematic parent-teacher meetings in "conversation" format.

The initiative, as is customary in our country, is based on requests from the working-class masses. I mean the parents themselves, or to be more precise the National Parents Association (NPA).

The idea was expressed by representatives of the NPA at a recent enlarged meeting of the Duma Committee on Education. And it received full support. "It's a good idea," approved Kazakova, "Then maybe they'll be more willing to attend parent-teacher conferences."

On closer inspection, however, the working-class masses turned out to be not so working-class. Well, I mean they are employed, and, of course, all labor is honorable in our country. However, these people are quite distant from the workbench and the ploughshare. The NRA leadership is entirely composed of people of substance, government officials with lofty titles and positions of responsibility.

Suffice it to say that Kazakova's Senate colleague, Lilia Gumerova, Head of the Federation Council Committee on Science, Education, and Culture, is co-chairing the association.

Lilia Gumerova, Head of the Federation Council Committee on Science, Education, and Culture (Source:

In short, the idea seems far from accidental, and not all that spontaneous. Objectively speaking, such a decision was indeed called for. After all, how can that be that we inculcate good and important things in children, while their parents are abandoned to the whims of fate? Well, they are not entirely abandoned to such whims – in our country, television provides patriotic education for adults 24 hours a day. But TV can be a) turned off, b) thrown out, or switched to another, less high-minded channel.

Do you remember that old joke about a man who sits at home in front of the television set. He turns on Channel One: [Communist Party First Secretary Leonid] Brezhnev is speaking at the Party Congress. The man switches to the Channel Two: Brezhnev appears again. The same thing on Channel Three. The man turns the dial again... a plain-clothed comrade, sternly shaking his finger, tells him: "I'll show you how to switch channels!"

Technology, as they say, has already reached such advances where plain-clothed comrades can actually track what a citizen is watching and, if he is distracted from "things that matter," return him to the right path. However, first, the implementation of this know-how is time consuming. And second, any technology could fail.

"Conversations about things that matter" is a much more reliable technology in this regard. This "program" cannot be switched off and you cannot just leave either (unless you ask for permission to go to the restroom).

It is true that Olga Mikhailovna [Kazakova's] assertion that parents will attend "important" meetings "more willingly" than regular [parent-teacher] meetings is, to put it mildly, arguable. There is reason to suspect that they will, on the contrary, run like the devil from such "lessons." But this, in principle, can be easily remedied. It's enough to make the children's grades dependent on parental participation in "conversations" and they will run in the right direction.

This, alas, does not completely solve the problem of adult patriotic education coverage. There are still many citizens whose children have either finished school or have not yet started. There are also people without children, what's to be done with them? Will the matter be left to chance? You shouldn't imagine that the supply of creative ideas on this topic at the NRA and among its parliamentary friends will ever be exhausted.

One's imagination draws pictures of "five minutes of patriotism" breaks held at factories, institutions, fields, and farms, courses to eliminate political illiteracy for grandmas and grandpas, express political education on public transport... The idea, rightly, deserves to be developed to the point of absurdity... Err, I meant to say to perfection.

There is, however, one troubling thought. The thought, admittedly, is so trifling compared to the grandeur of our plans and accomplishments that perhaps it is not worth talking about, but it is like a pebble stuck in one's shoe: a trifle, but unpleasant, unsettling. So, every venture has a boundary, let's call it the bounds of rationality, beyond which the venture morphs into its exact opposite.

Let's say that if you feed a person some tasty and healthy food, at first the body will feel good and pleased. But if you don't stop in time, no matter how beneficial the food is, indigestion is bound to happen, or even a gastric spasm. It's the same thing with patriotic education: it is good in moderation.

An overdose will result not in the nurture of love but, in the best case, indifference towards the very "thing that matters." And at worst, it may lead to fierce hatred. Actually, even the children's version of "conversations about things that matter" raises certain doubts of whether the boundary of rationality has been crossed. As for the idea of putting adults behind school desks and teaching them to love their homeland, there is no doubt at all. It is certainly over the line.

Andrei Kamakin (Source:


[1] М, February 10, 2023.

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