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Books & art, the last stand to authoritarianism? Books & art, the last stand to authoritarianism?
by Thanos Kalamidas
2022-10-01 08:23:38
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The Greek dictators during their regime that lasted seven years (1967-1974), ban the sale and owning of over 200 books including Jaroslav Hašek's “The Good Soldier Švejk”, all  Bertolt Brecht’s and Anton Chekhov’s work. Works considered classics and monumental for human history. “The Good Soldier Švejk” was forbidden due to its anti-war message, Bertolt Brecht was socialist and Anton Chekhov Russian. Ethnicity was enough for the dictators to forbidden a book and make reading them punishable.

On 10 May 1933, the students burned upwards of 25,000 volumes of "un-German" books in the square at the State Opera, Berlin, thereby presaging an era of uncompromising state censorship. In many other university towns, nationalist students marched in torch lit parades against the "un-German" spirit. All books from authors with Marxist or Pacifist affiliations, literature with liberal, democratic tendencies and attitudes, like the works of H. G. Wells, Heinrich Mann, Thomas Mann and of course... all Jewish writers.

After the failed 2016 Turkish coup d’état, the Turkish government burned 301,878 books deemed related to the coup or its alleged leader, Fethullah Gülen, including 18 textbooks with the word "Pennsylvania" in them.

Between 213 BC, the first burning book recorded incident (in 213BC the first emperor of the Qin Dynasty, China, ordered the Burning of books and burying of scholars and in 210 BCE he supposedly ordered the live burial of 460 Confucian scholars in order to stay on his throne) till 2021 millions of books have been thrown to fire occasionally followed by their authors.

However, the point here is not the actual act but the characteristic of the ones who act. They have a common factor, or at least two common factors. They are all authoritarian, barbaric and racist regimes and the second factor is their fear to ...books or in general education and sadly this is a safe assumption.

The Call of the Wild” is a short adventure novel by Jack London, published in 1903 and set in Yukon, Canada, during the 1890s Klondike Gold Rush, when strong sled dogs were in high demand. The central character of the novel is a dog named Buck. The story opens at a ranch in Santa Clara Valley, California, when Buck is stolen from his home and sold into service as a sled dog in Alaska. He becomes progressively more primitive and wild in the harsh environment, where he is forced to fight to survive and dominate other dogs. By the end, he sheds the veneer of civilization, and relies on primordial instinct and learned experience to emerge as a leader in the wild. (From Wikipedia)

The Diary of a Young Girl”, also known as The Diary of Anne Frank, is a book of the writings from the Dutch-language diary kept by Anne Frank while she was in hiding for two years with her family during the Nazi occupation of the Netherlands. The family was apprehended in 1944, and Anne Frank died of typhus in the Bergen-Belsen concentration camp in 1945. The diary was retrieved by Miep Gies, who gave it to Anne's father, Otto Frank, the family's only known survivor, just after the Second World War was over. The diary has since been published in more than 70 languages. First published under the title Het Achterhuis. Dagboekbrieven 14 Juni 1942 – 1 Augustus 1944 (The Annex: Diary Notes 14 June 1942 – 1 August 1944) by Contact Publishing in Amsterdam in 1947, the diary received widespread critical and popular attention on the appearance of its English language translation, Anne Frank: The Diary of a Young Girl by Doubleday & Company (United States) and Vallentine Mitchell (United Kingdom) in 1952. Its popularity inspired the 1955 play The Diary of Anne Frank by the screenwriters Frances Goodrich and Albert Hackett, which they adapted for the screen for the 1959 movie version. The book is included in several lists of the top books of the 20th century. (From Wikipedia)

“To Kill a Mockingbird” is a novel by the American author Harper Lee. It was published in 1960 and was instantly successful. To Kill a Mockingbird has become a classic of modern American literature, winning the Pulitzer Prize. The plot and characters are loosely based on Lee's observations of her family, her neighbors and an event that occurred near her hometown of Monroeville, Alabama, in 1936, when she was ten. The novel involves racial injustice and the destruction of innocence. (From Wikipedia)

“The Kite Runner” is the first novel by Afghan-American author Khaled Hosseini. Published in 2003 by Riverhead Books, it tells the story of Amir, a young boy from the Wazir Akbar Khan district of Kabul. The story is set against a backdrop of tumultuous events, from the fall of Afghanistan's monarchy through the Soviet invasion, the exodus of refugees to Pakistan and the United States, and the rise of the Taliban regime. (From Wikipedia)

“The Handmaid's Tale” is a futuristic dystopian novel by Canadian author Margaret Atwood, published in 1985. It is set in a near-future New England, in a strongly patriarchal, totalitarian theonomic state, known as the Republic of Gilead, which has overthrown the United States government. The central character and narrator is a woman named Offred, one of the "handmaids"—a group of women who are forcibly assigned to produce children for the "commanders"—the ruling class of men in Gilead. (From Wikipedia)

What these five novels have in common is that they talk about democracy, equality, freedom, tolerance.

What else these five books have in common, they are read from millions all around the world, they have been translated in tens of languages, they have multi-awarded all around the world and they are considered classics, foundation boulders in human history.

What else these five books have in common, they are on the top of a list of book considered to be ban or have already been ban from libraries and schools in USA, the United States of America, the world champion of democracy, equality, tolerance ...supposedly!

So, are books our last stand for democracy and equality?


To latest from the ban books, music and art in general, world!

“In Ukraine, it is now illegal to play Russian music in public or import large numbers of books from Russia and Belarus. The new ban passed by Kyiv's parliament covers "products from artists or authors who are or were citizens of the aggressor nation."  Artists who fit that bill are also prohibited from performing in Ukraine.

Ukrainian television presenter and film producer Ihor Kondratyuk collected more than 25,000 signatures for a petition banning concerts featuring Russian artists in Ukraine even before Russia's February 24 invasion. For him, the new law seems like a logical next step to protecting the country.” (From Deutsche Welle)

So, are books & art our last stand for humanity?

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