On Oct. 23, 1958 the Nobel committee informed Soviet writer Boris Pasternak that he had been selected for the Nobel Prize in literature. Ever since Pasternak’s Doctor Zhivago had been first published the previous year (in Italy, since the writer could not publish it at home) the Communist Party and the Soviet literary establishment had their knives out for him. To the establishment, the Nobel Prize added insult to grave injury.
Within days, Pasternak was a target of a massive public vilification campaign. None of those who joined the chorus of condemnation, naturally, had read the novel—it would not be formally published in the USSR until 30 years later. But that did not stop them from mouthing the made-up charges leveled against the writer. It was during that campaign that the Soviet catchphrase “didn’t read, but disapprove” was born: Pasternak’s accusers had coined it to protect themselves against suspicions of having come in contact with the seditious material.
Twitter has been used as a platform for exercises in unanimous condemnation for as long as it has existed. But it wasn’t until the past couple of weeks that the similarity of our current culture with the Soviet practice of collective hounding presented itself to me with such stark clarity.
Anyone wants to comment on this article?