Despite Everything

We got this reflection on reactions to the murders of Stanislav Markelov and Anastasia Baburova from Comrade A., a student, writer, and activist in Petersburg.

I usually don’t swear, and I don’t know what to think when I come across an abundance of such words—or even more ambivalently, one such word—in a text. But now I realize that all I can do is swear—in letters, blog posts, and articles.

Wise gentlemen reproach the anarchists who marched in Moscow in memory of Stas and Nastya in Moscow: “Grief is grief, but why smash shop windows?” Well, one wants to smash the fuck of out everything in Russia right now.

And it is not just a matter of grief.

Oleg and I return to the city, and Sveta informs us the news right there in the bar: “Markelov has been murdered.” Nastya Baburova, an anarchist who was accompanying him, tried to “detain” the killer and took a second bullet—in her head—and was at that moment dying in the intensive care ward.

I will write only about myself. Perhaps this is the most honest thing now, when completely predictable memorial rituals commence and threaten to obscure what happened. I really didn’t now either Markelov (aside from the fact that he was “the only leftist lawyer in the country”) or Nastya (although she was part of the Russian delegation I traveled with this past fall to the European Social Forum, in Malmö). But this doesn’t matter either, because in this mode of distanced engagement you can ponder things a bit more soberly, without “understanding the pain of the loss” one bit less. However, I would hope that our understanding would not be limited to this. While this is definitely a tragedy, we need, despite everything, to make it an occasion, a cause. A cause for what? That is what I will explain in what follows.

All the more so that the co-optation really happens instantly and “unconsciously.” It already turns out (I see this in the photos of the first memorial in Moscow) that “they perished for Russia’s freedom.” There is seemingly nothing wrong with this phrase, but in fact there is. Liberal circles are good at quickly commencing their self-satisfied ruminations. True, in this situation all that leftists can do as well is chew over their own helplessness: their numbers make them more a collection of political freaks than a movement. A situation like this is as demoralizing as ending up in a weak class or school (for anyone with half a brain).

When your city (a place where a socialist revolution took place ninety years ago) turns out a hundred people at most for an action in memory of the victims of a political murder (there is no need here to remember the horrors of Soviet times and the valiant dissidents: this time there has been sufficient information about the murders in all the media, although it was given the correct ideological spin of course), then all you can do is swear.

When you realize that even the march of the anarchists in Moscow and their window-breaking caused bewilderment in some people or (a more complicated case) provoked some others to strategically warn them against scaring off the population (but if the population is frightened by shattered shop windows and not by the fact that someone was shot in the back of the head in the middle of the capital or by the fact that the only person who tried to stop the killer was a 25-year-old anarchist . . .), then you can no longer help but smash shop windows.

But when you realize that once again nothing will come of this—that everyone walked the walk with their candles (in Petersburg) or flares (in Moscow), but that this is the extent of what they are prepared to do—then you cannot help but realize that we need to create an organization.

Despite the total passivity of the population. Despite the fact that this is not the first time this thought has occurred to you, despite the fact that some work is even being done in this direction. Despite the fact that “revolution is always impossible—you have to make it.”

 

1 Comment

Filed under activism, political repression, protests, Russian society

One response to “Despite Everything

  1. My comrades wrote this.

    Your post is strong and heartfelt.

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