Not likely, at least not immediately. But Shuggy's cool (and short) post reminded me about something ancient: a novel Heart of a Dog by Mikhail Bulgakov, one of the very few up there at the writers' Olympus. One of the chief protagonists is a scientist and a surgeon Dr. Preobrazhensky. A quote from Wiki to set up the background:
Despite the Professor's blatant anti-communism, his frequent medical treatment of the CPSU leadership makes him untouchable. As a result, he refuses to decrease his seven room flat and treats the Bolsheviks on the housing committee, lead by Shvonder, with unveiled contempt.Now I can proceed to a rather lengthy (but one of the most enjoyable in Russian literature) quote from the book itself:
"We are the new house management committee for this block," said the black-haired fellow with controlled fury. "I am Shvonder, she is Vyazemskaya, he is Comrade Pestrukhin and that's Zharovkin. And now we..."
"It was you they settled into Fyodor Pavlovich Sablin's flat?"
"Us," replied Shvonder.
"Ah, God, how is the house of Kalabukhov fallen!" the Professor cried out, flinging wide his hands in despair.
"Are you joking, Professor?" Shvonder asked indignantly.
"It's no joking matter!" cried the Professor, then, in despair. "Whatever will happen to the central heating?"
"Are you making fun of us, Professor Preobrazhensky?"
"What is your business with me? Tell me and make it brief. I am about to go and dine."
"We, the house committee," Shvonder began with hatred, "have come to you after a general meeting of the inhabitants of our block at which the question of reallocation of living space stood..."
"Who stood on who?" Philip Philipovich raised his voice. "Be so good as to express yourself more clearly."
"The question of the reallocation of living space stood on the agenda."
"Enough! I understand! You know that according to the resolution of 12 August of this year my flat is excepted from any and every reallocation and resettlement?"
"We know that," replied Shvonder. "But the general meeting, after due consideration of the question, came to the conclusion that, by and large, you occupy too much space. Much too much. You live alone in seven rooms."
"I live alone and work in seven rooms," replied Philip Philipovich, "and I should very much like an eighth. It is quite essential to house my books."
The four were lost for words.
"An eighth room! O-ho-ho," said the blonde, stripping off his hat. "That's cool."
"That's indescribable!" exclaimed the youth who had turned out to be a woman.
"I have a reception room and note that it serves also as a library, a dining room, a study — 3. A consulting room for the examination of patients — 4. An operation theatre — 5. My bedroom — 6 and the maid's room — 7. On the whole — it's not enough. My flat is exempt and that is all there is to it. May I go and dine?"
"Excuse me," said the fourth who looked like a sturdy beetle.
"Excuse me," Shvonder interrupted him. "It is precisely about the consulting room and the dining room that we are here. Our general meeting requests you voluntarily, in the interest of labour discipline, to give up your dining room. Nobody in Moscow has a dining room."
"Not even Isadora Duncan," the woman affirmed in ringing tones.
Something came over Philip Philipovich as a result of which his face became a delicate crimson and he did not pronounce another word, waiting for further developments.
"And also that you should give up the consulting room," continued Shvonder. "Your study can double perfectly well as a consulting room."
"I see," Philip Philipovich murmured in a curious voice. "And where am I supposed to partake of food?"
"In the bedroom," all four replied in chorus.
Philip Philipovich's crimson flush took on a tinge of grey.
"To partake of food in the bedroom," he began in slightly muffled voice, "to read in the consulting room, to get dressed in the reception room, to perform operations in the maid's room and to examine people in the dining room. I can well believe that Isadora Duncan does so. Possibly she has dinner in the study and dissects rabbits in the bathroom. But I am not Isadora Duncan!" he roared suddenly, and the crimson turned yellow. "I will continue to dine in the dining room and operate in the operating theatre. Pray inform the general meeting of this and I would humbly request you to get back to your own business and leave me to go on partaking of my meals where all normal people do so, that is in the dining room and not in the hall and not in the nursery."[Skipped a part here]
The three, mouths open, gaped at the humiliated Shvonder.
"Shameful, that's what it is!" he said uncertainly.
"If there were a discussion now," said the woman, flushing hotly, "I would prove to Pyotr Alexandrovich..."
"I beg your pardon, but do you wish to open the discussion this minute?" inquired Philip Philipovich politely.
The woman's eyes sparkled.
"I understand your irony, Professor, we will go now... Only I, as the chairman of cultural department of our house..."
"Chairwoman," Philip Philipovich corrected her.
"Would like to ask you," at this point the woman pulled out of her coat-front a few brightly coloured journals, still damp from the snow, "to take a few journals sold for the benefit of German children. 50 kopecks each."
"No, thank you," replied Philip Philipovich briefly, glancing at the journals.
The four indicated total amazement and the woman went the colour of cranberry juice.
"Why do you refuse?"
"I don't want them."
"You have no sympathy for the children of Germany?"
"On the contrary."
"You grudge fifty copecks?"
"I don't want them."
There was a short silence.
"Do you know what, Professor?" said the girl, heaving a deep sigh. "If you were not a luminary known to all Europe and if you had not been interceded for in the most disgraceful manner by... (the fair man tugged at the end of her jacket but she shook him off) by people who, I am quite sure, we will eventually get to the bottom of, you should be arrested."
"And what for?" inquired Philip Philipovich with some curiosity.
"You are a proletariat-hater!" said the woman proudly.
"Yes, I do dislike the proletariat," Philip Philipovich agreed sadly and pressed a knob. A bell sounded. A door opened somewhere in the corridor.
"Zina," called Philip Philipovich, "you may serve dinner. You will permit me, gentlemen?"And another link, this one to the recent events:
Facing a wave of criticism from business leaders, President Hugo Chavez is defending his order for government officials to seize control of residential complexes. Chavez promised Sunday to crack down on construction and real estate companies that he accused of unjustly boosting prices, which he labeled "housing fraud."Granted, both Bulgakov's story and the Comical Hugos' case are not precisely what Monbiot is going on about.
But getting there in the end of the day...