This has to be one of the most bizarre reports I have read in some time:

Remember the mammoths, say the clean-cut organisers at the youth camp’s mass wedding. “They became extinct because they did not have enough sex. That must not happen to Russia”.

Obediently, couples move to a special section of dormitory tents arranged in a heart-shape and called the Love Oasis, where they can start procreating for the motherland.

With its relentlessly upbeat tone, bizarre ideas and tight control, it sounds like a weird indoctrination session for a phoney religious cult.

But this organisation – known as “Nashi”, meaning “Ours” – is youth movement run by Vladimir Putin’s Kremlin that has become a central part of Russian political life.

Surreal.  It gets worse:

Attendance is monitored via compulsory electronic badges and anyone who misses three events is expelled. So are drinkers; alcohol is banned. But sex is encouraged, and condoms are nowhere on sale.

Bizarrely, young women are encouraged to hand in thongs and other skimpy underwear – supposedly a cause of sterility – and given more wholesome and substantial undergarments.

Twenty-five couples marry at the start of the camp’s first week and ten more at the start of the second. These mass weddings, the ultimate expression of devotion to the motherland, are legal and conducted by a civil official.

I’m running out of adjectives to appropriately express disgust and astonishment.  The movement is eerily reminiscent of the Nazi youth, as the author points out.  How credible is the report?  It’s outlandishness makes me initially skeptical, butit is certainly plausible.

How similar is Russia to Germany of the 1930s?  It’s not clear, but for years I have heard reports for years of the apathy and cynicism of Russia’s youth.  When combined with a lagging economy, the ground may be ripe for the rise of the sort of nationalism that paved the way for Nazi Germany.  Given the example of Nazi Germany, it seems prudent to err on the side of caution.  The question, though, is what can be done.

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Posted by Matthew Lee Anderson

Matthew Lee Anderson is the Founder and Lead Writer of Mere Orthodoxy. He is the author of Earthen Vessels: Why Our Bodies Matter to our Faith and The End of Our Exploring: A Book about Questioning and the Confidence of Faith. Follow him on Twitter or on Facebook.


  1. Matt,
    Reports have it that Russia has one of the lowest birth-rates in Europe. As other Western nations wake up to this crises I think we’re going to have a lot more frantic state driven solutions in the decades to come.


  2. Mutual friend Jesse Cone has co-authored a series of thoughtful essays on a related topic, Matt. Essentially, he argues: if you stifle the cause, you stifle the effect; permit the cause, and you implicitly permit the effect. He applies this principle to Nazi Germany’s rise to power, indicting the neo-Nietchzian belief-set as the cause, and the Third Reich, WWII, and the Holocaust as the effects. As much as we would like to presume we will never have another such insane, evil, and polluted government come to power and threaten the world, we are not safe until the worldview that is their womb and soil is itself defeated.


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