Tuesday, October 22, 2019

Love me some goose-steppin'

What's life without a little complexity?

If you've got a moment, have a look at these super-cute kids, one more adorable than the next, goose-stepping around the stage to what we in the West consider the hokiest of music forms, the polka.

From Putin country. Trump's best friend and possibly boss.

Moves suggesting militarism of the most loathsome sort, the kind we associate with the Nazis, but actually has been maintained by modern-day authoritarian states from North Korea to the former East Germany to Latin America to China. (For a quick history of the goose step, check out this guy.)

So what's with this kiddie goose step? Innocence? Naiveté?

What it draws attention to, I think, is how well some places manage to show a respect for discipline. 

And how closely this discipline is associated with both authoritarianism and high-quality performance.

The first two Russian commenters on this YouTube page with the polka-dancing kids declare:

1. How great it would be to be a child again [no irony intended, I suspect; no apparent awareness of the association between the goose-step and the dangers of militarism]; and

2. How we miss Soviet education and life under the Soviets, the clean and good relations (sic). Thanks for the memories, for the wonderful dance number!

Walking around in Berkeley the other day I found myself focusing on how absolutely sloppy everybody looks. Like before going out they all deliberately avoided putting on clothes from their closets but pulled things out of the dirty laundry basket instead. Disciplined is definitely not the Berkeley look.

I guess that's why I find anything that smacks of discipline strangely attractive these days. It mirrors the constant struggle within me, the feelings I work with now that I'm living in retirement. Part of me still respects discipline, knows what you get with it - talented music and dance performances, for example, high quality art work, high quality work of all sorts. And part of me says, "I'm retired. Peel me a goddam grape. And don't expect me to do a damn thing I don't want to do anymore."

Like a kid raised in a non-churched home who becomes curious about religion, or a kid denied information about sex who becomes obsessed with pornography, I'm drawn to cute little tykes from the former Soviet bloc who goose step.

If you have medication for this, please let me know, will you?

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