Thursday, June 02, 2005
If English has steadily become the international language of business, is Russian becoming the international counterlanguage of piracy? Yesterday's Journal had a report about Operation Firewall, a by and large successful attempt by authorities to shut down websites that were auctioning off personal information and credit-card numbers. The problem, however, was that they only shut down the ones operating in English, while the one operating in "local languages" continue to flourish, particularly the ones in Russian. Bred during the Cold War with a contempt for their bourgeois targets in capitalist countries, especially America, the Journal suggests, Russian criminal syndicates can regard their activities, which might be extended to include the burgeoning movie and music piracy sites launched from Russia, as a kind of guerilla war against capitalism, which makes their language the code of anticapitalism. Cyrillic is slowly becoming the symbology of subversion. If language encodes the hegemony, if we are trapped into the dominant ideology by the prison-house of the language speak, if capitalist prerogatives are enmeshed in the very vocabulary and syntax of English, then perhaps there's a kind of liberation waiting in the vocatives and diphthongs of Russian. Theoretically, as global capitalism spreads and entrenches itself, its official language will become more dogmatic, more univocal, more like Orwellian Newspeak. And the marginalized languages will become protests in their very form. рабочие мира объединяются!
Posted by Rob Horning at 10:38 AM