Hard Bass School and the Ukrainian War

Should we or should we not embrace Russian culture?

By: Erik Tahvanainen S7EN, EES

In its current form the State of Russia is waging war to expand its territories at the expense of an entire nation, that of Ukraine. Since February 24th 2022, Kremlin has essentially been committing genocide and conducting blatant crimes against humanist, against the civilian population, along with war crimes not seen since the Second World War or the Yugoslav wars. Not only is it a particularly evil and pointless war, but it has also shown to the world that Russia’s pan-slavic, and by some definitions colonial sentiment that has been around for a thousand years is still very much present.

Despite what the Kremlin claims, this doesn’t mean that Russia is only invading other countries to protect Russian minorities, whether they are ‘oppressed’ or ‘want to be part of Russia’, it is simply a lazy excuse fabricated by the government to brutally and illegally attack vulnerable and weaker countries. This has been going on since the creation of the Soviet Union, where the Red Army would conquer (sometimes unsuccessfully) other countries like the Baltic states, Finland, or the Moldovan region of Romania, all not in the least bit Russian, claiming that they were integral parts of the country. Even if there might have been Russian communities present, that doesn’t mean that they should have been part of Russia. There are Russians all over the world, but that doesn’t mean the whole world belongs to Russia. And the largest Ukrainian population outside of Ukraine is in Russia, but that also doesn’t mean Russia belongs to Ukraine.

The issue a lot of people have with Russia trying to extend its influence all over the world, such as their ostentatious embassy in Strasbourg, or the massive church they’ve built near the Rhine, is that this is a big sign of their volition to undermine other cultures in favor of their own. Indeed, the centuries long process of establishing Russia’s various empires has had a lot of cultural repression. In the Estonian SSR, if you were to speak the local Estonian language, you would be met with “говорить на человеческом языке”, which roughly translates into “speak a human language”. And need we remind ourselves of the Pogroms, itself a word derived from Russian, which originally took place during the Czar’s time before the first world war, yet would later be used to describe the Nazis’ atrocities against Jewish people all throughout Europe.

Despite all the terrible things that the State of Russia, in whatever form it has found itself in, has done and is doing today, we mustn’t forget that the State doesn’t ever define its people, even if, for example, a scarily large amount of the population in Russia supports their own side in the war on Ukraine. Let us look at a quote from a Ukrainian pupil in the EES, who was forced to flee his home early 2022, and who will remain anonymous: “new hard bass school [makes bad music], old-school was legend”. Hard Bass School, to be clear, is a Russian band who has been actively making electronic music since the 2010s, and has gained a lot of popularity throughout the world around 2018, especially in Eastern Europe. Some of their newer songs, made after their peak in popularity, do raise doubt in their political correctness, such as the infamous “Straight Pride”, “Russia is Great”, or “Slavic Lives Matter”, released during the major Black Lives Matter protests sparked after the murder of George Floyd by a police officer in the United States. Despite the artists being ideal homophobic, racist, pro-war Putin-poster-boys, some of their songs are still loved by many, by Russians, Ukrainians, and other Slavs all around the world.

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We shouldn’t shun, or completely discard all Russian culture because of the actions of a select few. There is, objectively speaking, a lot to take away, learn from, and appreciate about it, such as the works of Dostoevsky, the beautiful Orthodox churches, or the old city of Saint Petersburg or Moscow. A lot of students’ parents, for example Estonians or Finns, still carry melancholic nostalgia from the Soviet-Union, where they might have spent a lot of their childhood, even if they very much hate the war and Putin. Yet it is also important to start putting more weight on the Ukrainian culture as well, along with others that have historically or are even currently being undermined by Russia’s army, such as the Georgian, or Moldovan; for the Russian Federation wants to destroy these cultures, and install the Russian one instead. We shouldn’t strive for a world in which we destroy cultures because we don’t like the people who are a part of it, a logic that Putin follows, yet one in which we can all coexist harmoniously, while embracing our differences, and the beauty that it entails. Let us not shame those who want to be proud of their Russian ancestry, or whatever other nationality they choose to have, let us instead listen to Hard Bass School with our fellow Ukrainian Russian friends, but only as long as that doesn’t mean that we support the suppression of other people.

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