Liberpunk can also be seen as a critique of not just the substance, but the pace of change. Burnosov’s story “Moscow, Year 22” (“Moskva, dvadtsat’ vtoroj”) does this by borrowing from the Rip Van Winkle scenario used so effectively by Edward Bellamy in his utopian Looking Backward and by H.G. Wells in his dystopian When the Sleeper Wakes (a story to which Burnosov’s protagonist directly refers).
Here the main character wakes from an eight-year-long coma to discover that the LGBT agenda has transformed Russia. For daring to express disgust at a gay pride parade (a favorite liberpunk symbol of liberal decadence) and using the slur “pidor” (“f*ggot”), he narrowly escapes arrest, only to find that his best friend, who now makes a living rewriting classics for the school curriculum as gay love stories, has divorced his wife and married a man.
Joe Haldeman used a similar scenario as an allegory for the alienation of returning Vietnam veterans in his SF classicThe Forever War, although even with the help of Einsteinian relativity effects, the rapidity of this social transformation defied credibility. But credibility is clearly not part of Burnosov’s agenda, as his story fails several basic tests of plausibility that most self-respecting science fiction stories could be expected to meet (not the least of which is the protagonist’s perfect physical health after eight years of immobility). Burnosov’s story suggests one of the reasons that a liberpunk critique could resonate in postsocialist Russia: a country that has already undergone radical transformation (from 1986-1991) might not be expected to remake itself so quickly again to meet any agenda, liberal or otherwise.
“Moscow, Year 22” also draws our attention to the conceptual slippage inherent to liberpunk: liberalism and America are presented as virtually the same thing. In Burnosov’s story, the triumph of liberal PC ideology (which legalizes zoophilia and pedophilia, proposes a ban on gendered pronouns, and links homosexuality to career advancement) is perfectly consistent with the fact that Leninsky prospekt is now known as “George Bush Avenue” (“Prospekt Dzhordhza Busha”). The conflation of political liberalism with American hegemony is realized to perfection in Mikhail Kharitonov’s “Always Coca-Cola” (“Vsedga kola-kola”). Here the United States is virtually undisputed in its mastery of the world, in part because it has made sure that no other countries can make scientific advancements and has required the teaching of American culture in schools across the globe. The allegedly freedom-loving Americans are entertained every Saturday with a beloved game show about bombing uncooperative countries across the globe (“Today we’re going to bomb….Rwanda!”)
In liberpunk, liberalism, tolerance, and American policy exist in a sphere beyond transactional politics. Rather, they form a monolithic evil ideology that must be resisted, and that is best opposed by Russia, with its traditions of “spiritual values." Indeed, in its messianism, confidence, and Russophobia, American liberalism is essentially the “anti-Russian idea,” a satanic inversion of everything that Russians hold dear.
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