Parasitism (social offense)
Social parasitism is a pejorative that is leveled against a group or class which is considered to be detrimental to society. The term comes from the ancient Greek παράσιτος (parásitos), a pejorative labelling the social offender. (The English language borrowed the word/concept "parasite" as a social label in the 1530s; the later use of "parasite" as a biological metaphor developed from the early 17th century.)
For example, the Russian poet Joseph Brodsky was charged with social parasitism by the Soviet authorities in a trial in 1964, who found that his series of odd jobs and role as a poet were not a sufficient contribution to society.
Depending on point of view, a social parasite may be one of several classes:
In the Soviet Union, which declared itself a workers' state, every adult able-bodied person was expected to work until official retirement. Thus unemployment was officially and theoretically eliminated. Those who refused to work, study or serve in another way risked being criminally charged with social parasitism (Russian: тунея́дство).
In 1961, 130,000 people were identified as leading the "anti-social, parasitic way of life" in the Russian Soviet Federative Socialist Republic. Charges of parasitism were frequently applied to dissidents and refuseniks, many of whom were intellectuals. Since their writings were considered against the regime, the state prevented them from obtaining employment. To avoid trials for parasitism, many of them took unskilled (but not especially time-consuming) jobs (street sweepers, firekeepers, etc.), which allowed them to continue their other pursuits.
- Harper, Douglas. "parasite". Online Etymology Dictionary. Retrieved 2015-07-07.
- Remnick, David (December 20, 2010). "Gulag Lite". The New Yorker. Retrieved 11 October 2011.
- For example, the Russian text reads: Only we, the workers of the all-world Great army of labor, Have the right to own the land, But parasites — never!, see http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Internationale#Russian_lyrics
- nazism.net, Nazi Ideological Theory. See Adolf Hitler, Mein Kampf, vol. 1 chapter 9 for prominent examples of the use of the word.
- Questions of criminal responsibility for the parasitic way of life (Russian), by B.G. Pavlov, Jurisprudence, Leningrad University
- Yevgenii Zhirnov, Внушить полезный страх (To inflict helpful fear), (Russian), Kommersant, 2011-04-25(retrieved December 26, 2001)