This is the sixth in a series of translations of the articles in BASTA!, a special Russian-only issue of Chto Delat that addresses such pressing issues as the fight against racism and facism, the new Russian labor movement, the resistance to runaway “development” in Petersburg, the prospects for student self-governance and revolt, the potential for critical practice amongst sociologists and contemporary artists, the attack on The European University in St. Petersburg, and Alain Badiou’s aborted visit to Moscow.
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From: Chto delat <firstname.lastname@example.org>
Date: Mon, 01 Feb 2008 12:50:32
Subject: Lettre des activistes russes concernant votre prochaine visite en Russie
Dear Comrade Badiou!
[. . .]
Gleb Pavlovsky is one of a number of notable intellectuals who chose the career of “political technologist” in the nineties. During the crisis in the universities and the intellectual vacuum that formed after the discrediting of Marxism, many members of the intelligentsia chose to engage in paid PR work, motivating their choice via a combination of watered-down postmodernism and social constructivism. As they would put it, all meanings are artificially produced.
In 1996, Pavlovsky—who was a dissident in Soviet times and an active liberal during perestroika—became the principal beneficiary of the Kremlin’s ideological commissions. In the early years of the new millennium, he became even more powerful when his foundation, The Foundation for Effective Politics, engaged in the propaganda and informational support of the Putin administration. It is this foundation that developed the fundamental ideologemes of the regime: “stability,” “the Putin majority,” etc. Whereas in the nineties Pavlovsky justified himself in the postmodernist spirit, as we have mentioned, in the new decade he has become a frank collaborationist and a businessman trading in propaganda, exploiting the impoverished social and economic status of Russian intellectuals and thus turning them into cynical servants of power. At present, Pavlovsky hosts the television program Real Politics, on which he propagandizes extreme anti-westernism and the Putin personality cult. He also manages the Evropa publishing imprint, which among other thing has issued a series of books exposing the idea and phenomenon of revolution. Recently, Pavlovsky organized a roundtable entitled “Putin’s Enemies”—a farce that made open reference to the Stalinist show trials.
Dear Comrade Badiou! We have no doubt that your visit will be used by Pavlovsky to legitimize the Kremlin, which aspires, mostly unsuccessfully, to intellectual hegemony. In the spring of 2007, Pavlovsky’s foundation invited Slavoj Žižek to Moscow. It is conceivable that this leftist thinker didn’t know beforehand the context in which he would be speaking. In the event, however, he participated in a seminar entitled “The Limits of Democracy” and sat at the same table with court “political scientist” Sergei Markov, who as a television commentator praises the wisdom of Putin’s decisions, and with Pavlovsky himself, who doesn’t himself believe a single word he utters. Pavlovsky and Markov spoke about the need to “limit” democracy, in the sense of Putin’s “managed democracy.” It all resembled a bad comedy and forever discredited Žižek in the eyes of Russian (leftist or liberal) intellectuals. If you do visit Russia, this context will hinder any attempt on your part to polemicize and discuss the views of those who have invited you.
We do not mean to say that Russia is lost for good, or that it is of no interest. Russian society is still lively, anarchic, critical, highly educated, and intellectual hungry. It possesses the will to transformation and a consciousness of the need for struggle. At the present moment there is a growing network of organizations and groups that, we hope, will consolidate into a new anti-liberal, communist movement. For this to happen we also need international cooperation. In particular, we take as a guide your ideas, whose universalism impresses us, dwellers of the semi-periphery. We would like to engage you in conversation. But your visit to Pavlovsky would disenchant many activists. We ask you, therefore, to weigh your decision again.
You can be sure of our admiration and respect for you.
Chto Delat/What Is To Be Done Platform
Forward Socialist Movement
Pyotr Alexeev Resistance Movement
Carine Clément (Institute for Collective Action)
Date: Mon, 04 Feb 2008 16:42:47 +0100
To: Chto delat <email@example.com>
Subject: Re: Lettre des activistes russes concernant votre prochaine visite en Russie
4 February 2008