No country can develop without science–it will be destroyed by its neighbors. Without arts and general culture, the country loses its capacity for self-criticism, begins to encourage faulty tendencies, starts to constantly span hypocrites and scum, develops consumerism and conceit in it citizens, and eventually again becomes victim of its more sensible neighbors…And no matter how much the gray people in power despise knowledge, they can't do anything about historical objectivity; they can slow it down, but they can't stop it. Despising and fearing knowledge, they will nonetheless inevitably decide to promote it in order to survive.–Arkady & Boris Strugatsky, Hard to be a God, 1964, as translated by Oleno Bormashenko
For some reason, this is the first time I've ever read Soviet Cold War Sci Fi. It's a little hard going at times, but the exploration of what it means to translate from an animal to a "human" seems apt to my current concerns. Our hero doesn't think it's language or capitalism that does it, something more like a capacity for reflection and cultural creativity. Aside from constantly putting shopkeepers in the same category as thieves, drunks and storm troopers, there's not much to show it isn't Western European.