Daily Bread for 4.25.22: ‘Ruscism’

Good morning.

Monday in Whitewater will be partly cloudy with a high of 45.  Sunrise is 5:56 AM and sunset 7:49 PM for 13h 53m 16s of daytime.  The moon is a waning crescent with 28.2% of its visible disk illuminated.

The Whitewater Unified School Board meets in open session at 5:45 PM, then enters closed session, resuming open session at 7 PM.

On this day in 1960,  the United States Navy submarine USS Triton completes the first submerged circumnavigation of the globe.

Timothy Snyder writes that Ukrainians have coined a new word to describe the ideology behind Russia’s invasion of their country: ruscism. Snyder explains The War in Ukraine Has Unleashed a New Word (In a creative play on three different languages, Ukrainians identify an enemy: ‘ruscism’):

The origins of the word “” give us a sense of how Ukrainians differ from both Russians and Americans. A bilingual nation like Ukraine is not just a collection of bilingual individuals; it is an unending set of encounters in which people habitually adjust the language they use to other people and new settings, manipulating language in ways that are foreign to monolingual nations. I have gone on Ukrainian television and radio, taken questions in Russian and answered them in Ukrainian, without anyone for a moment finding that switch worthy of mention. Once, while speaking Ukrainian on television, I stopped for a moment to quote a few words of poetry in Russian, a switch that was an effort for me. But Ukrainians change languages effortlessly — not just as situations change, but also to make situations change, sometimes in the middle of a sentence, or even in the middle of a word.


The new word “” is a useful conceptualization of Putin’s worldview. Far more than Western analysts, Ukrainians have noticed the Russian tilt toward fascism in the last decade. Undistracted by Putin’s operational deployment of genocide talk, they have seen fascist practices in Russia: the cults of the leader and of the dead, the corporatist state, the mythical past, the censorship, the conspiracy theories, the centralized propaganda and now the war of destruction. Even as we rightly debate how applicable the term is to Western figures and parties, we have tended to overlook the central example of fascism’s revival, which is the Putin regime in the Russian Federation.


Few beyond Ukraine seem to know that millions of Ukrainians, exercising freedom of speech in a country that allows it, have invented and are deploying a new word. “Ruscism” will sound strange at first. So did “genocide” and “ethnic cleansing,” other words that emerged from (Eastern) European wars. The concepts that clarify our world today were once strange and new. But when they point to something, they can take hold.

In response to invasion and war crimes against their nation, Ukrainians have crafted a new word. They and the world would have been better if there had been no need for linguistic creativity. Yet there is such a need, and so they have plainly defined the ideology tormenting them.

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