The Development demon VS the Angel of regression: what caused the general enthusiasm for the environment

The Development demon VS the Angel of regression: what caused the general enthusiasm for the environment
The Development demon VS the Angel of regression: what caused the general enthusiasm for the environment
19 November 2020, 12:52
Today, as in the 1960s, the heroic aesthetics of the conquest and transformation of nature has been replaced by a lyrical one - admiration and care for nature

Political scientist Abbas Gallyamov analyzes the nature of the general enthusiasm for ecology and the prospects for heavy industry:

"Nature and tourism instead of factories". Judging by the discussion unfolding in Bashkiria, it was this idea that captured the minds of the republic's residents. People are sure that there are enough people in the world who want to admire the local beauty and they are able to fill the regional budget no worse than the industrial giants have done so far. Heavy industry in the region is clearly not held in high esteem - the number of protest initiatives against it will soon go to dozens.

To the reader familiar with Russian history, these sentiments will remind the populism of the 19th century and the "village writers" of the second half of the 20th century. Remember Rasputin's "Farewell to Matyora?" There, too, closeness to nature, simplicity and "unspoiledness" of rural life were praised; the big city with its consumerism, cynicism and large-scale industrial projects was a source of evil.

The main reason for the activation of such a frame of mind has always been the disillusionment of the intelligentsia and its alienation from the political system. It was at such moments that she set off in search of "true values" somewhere far away from megacities and civilization in general - to the outback, to the conservative peasant masses. There are analogues to this in the West, where interest in the countryside also grows from time to time. In the mid-60s, for example, the English-speaking scientific community gave rise to a whole complex of so-called peasant studies. The reasons are similar to ours - the growth of protest sentiments, the strengthening of the left, anti-capitalist tendencies, the thirst for the revival of eternal moral values, environmental concerns, support for the decolonization of "peasant peoples" and so on.

The forerunner of all these cultural phenomena was the era of romanticism. It was the beginning of the 19th century, the Europeans were then terribly tired of the rationalism of the Enlightenment and the global projects generated by it for a radical reorganization of the world. Deafened by the rumble of drums, crazed by wars and revolutions, people rejected the idea of progress and sang the elements, folklore, as well as the "noble savage" endowed with natural wisdom. At Rousseau's call, the man "got on all fours and crawled back to nature." Remember the hero of "Straw Hat" performed by Mikhail Kozakov - the enthusiasm with which he recounted the romance he had composed: "Imagine - a meadow, cows, cows graze, and everyone rakes up hay, and a bull, you know, a bull... And on the lawn there is a young shepherd, such, you know, a young, young ...shepherd! Very modern!"

Pay attention to the fact that Kozakov's hero spoke about the cows and the shepherd boy not in a roadside tavern, but in a luxurious palace, surrounded by the noble French aristocracy. Such was the fashion in Europe then - picnics, tourism, folk tales, discussions about the "roots" and the unity of man with nature. After that, over the past two hundred years, any more or less long period of political disappointment is inevitably accompanied by a surge of interest in the problems of nature conservation and the cultural heritage of ancestors disappearing as a result of the ruthless pressure of modernity. Ancestral deeds and untouched landscapes go hand in hand in romantic discourse. These are two different sides of the same coin. A way to resist the pressures of modernity in time and space.

Disappointment, however, will sooner or later be replaced by new dreams. Such is the man, dum spiro spero. At these very moments, the glorification of nature and history is replaced by the glorification of the creator man and dreams of a bright future. People again begin to dream of ideas of rebuilding the world.

As an example, the author suggests recalling Italy at the end of the 19th century. History has preserved a very good description of the mood of that era. Here is a fragment of the memoirs of a journalist and philosopher Vladimir Zhabotinsky who lived then in the Apennines: “Among my fellow students, I already knew several who with bitterness and anger protested against a foreign tourist who persisted in his perception of Italy as a “museum”, a repository of the remains of the past splendor to the new Italian as if he were only an element of the landscape: an element that is superfluous and interfering if he is trying to build factories that spoil the impression of the picturesque appearance of ancient ruins”.

And here are the plans of the same students, outlined by Zhabotinsky: “The day will come, and we will send these tourists to hell. New life, factory pipes - this is true Italy; it might be better to burn all the paintings from Botticelli to Leonardo, smash all the sculptures, and build a sausage factory on the site of the Colosseum. " In general, everything is exactly the opposite of what we are seeing now in Bashkiria: “Airplanes are more beautiful than the trills of a Neapolitan romance, the future is better than the past; Italy is a country of factories, a country of cars and electricity, it does not in any way graze the world idleness for walks, which seeks aesthetic fun in it".

In the early USSR, this kind of mood was also in vogue - until about the 60s. As in Italy at the turn of the 19th and 20th centuries, building the future in the early Soviet Union was in clear priority over the preservation of the past. "Let's fire a bullet into Holy Russia", remember? It is the same with nature. In contrast to the now dominant desire to keep it intact, then the logic was exactly the opposite - then the virgin nature was not particularly valuable; that was the time when it was being transformed. Suffice it to recall films like The Legend of the Siberian Land, whose heroes, looking over the magnificent Siberian forests, admire the chimneys of the future pulp and paper mill rising on the horizon: “Just six months ago there was a taiga, an animal lived, and rarely a hunter looked here, but then people came, blew up the taiga and soon there will be a white kingdom of paper here”. Or this is what the proletarian poet Kirillov wrote in 1917:

"Tears have dried up in our eyes, tenderness is killed,

We have forgotten the smell of herbs and spring flowers.

We loved the power of vapor and the power of dynamite,

The singing of sirens and the movement of wheels and shafts..."

Italy at the end of the 19th century and the USSR in the first half of the 20th century are united by one thing - they were countries looking into the future. They believed in him, they built a new sociality and said goodbye to the past. Also, from the same Kirillov:

"We are at the mercy of a rebellious, passionate hop;

Let them shout to us: "You are the executioners of beauty"

In the name of our Tomorrow - we will burn Raphael,

Let us destroy museums, trample the flowers of art".

There is nothing even remotely reminiscent of such moods now. Not only in Bashkiria, throughout Russia. People do not see any prospects for reorganizing society into a more honest and just one, the sense of a common goal has long disappeared and it is not clear why to transform nature or remake the past. Now we are like the 60s again - when the heroic character of a man walking through the taiga with his master's steps in order to cut it down and build something in its place was replaced by the aesthetics of lyrics singing about this taiga at night by the fire with a guitar.

History is cyclical. First, its winds blow towards the factories; then - towards the sacred mountains. There are no absolute values - for all times. A generation will change, new ideas will appear, and aesthetics will also change. A man will hang a guitar on the wall, pick up a chainsaw and again set off to conquer nature.

"There is a time to gather the stones and a time to scatter the stones".

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