Vodka ironic, please

June 2, 2016

Craig Brandist (“The risks of Soviet-style managerialism in UK universities”, Opinion, 5 May) highlights the striking similarity between Soviet industrial management and the current administration of UK universities. I take exception only to his translation of krugovaia poruka (not porukha) as “esprit de corps”, which surely denotes the positive honour of a group rather than the negative mutual cover-up in which the Soviet staff were engaged.

Melochnaia opeka (not opeika) – literally “meticulous guardianship” – can mean “micromanagement”, but mikromenedzhment is now more usual.

It may be that today’s UK HR staff “generally don’t do irony”, but I found that Soviet university “managers” thrived on it, especially when the vodka bottle was open.

R. E. Rawles
Honorary research fellow in psychology
University College London


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