If asked to name colonialism’s dominant trait, I’d say it is unification. An empire is a patchwork, with each piece having its distinct cultural, political, and administrative features and mindset. A colonial repressive mechanism promotes the illusion of a homogeneous space where everything is common: the language, the cultural norms, the traditions. Every feature, once forced upon a given group of people, must be taken by that group as something primordial and familiar.
“My address is not a house or a street, my address is the Soviet Union…” Back in the day, every radio would occasionally play this cheery song. Designed by its author to “characterize an entire era,” this song was written in 1972, that is, at the peak of Brezhnev’s stagnation period.
In the popular Soviet comedy “Kidnapping, Caucasian Style,” there was this episode: comrade Saakhov, a character representing a cunning and hypocritical official from the national periphery, teaches a naive but honest student, Shurik: “Everyone knows that the Kuzbass is an all-Union smithy, Kuban is an all-Union granary, so the Caucasus is an all-Union what?”
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