Tag Archives: Alexander Dugin

Nikolay Oleynikov: The Urgent Need for Struggle (Moscow)

Nikolay Oleynikov
The Urgent Need for Struggle
May 12—June 1, 2010
Paperworks Gallery (Winzavod, Moscow)

At 2:00 p.m. on May 12, concurrent with the exhibition opening, there will be a presentation of the zine “The Urgent Need for Struggle” at Paperworks Gallery. A joint publication of Chto Delat, the Free Marxist Press, the January 19 Committee, and Paperworks Verlag, the zine features texts and artwork by Artemy Magun, Oxana Timofeeva, Maxim Stepanov, Paolo Virno, Christina Kaindl, Alexander Bikbov, Ksenia Poluektova-Krimer,  Władysław Szlengel, Kirill Medvedev, Darya Atlas, Keti Chukrov, and Nikolay Oleynikov. The presentation will also include a roundtable with talks by Ksenia Poluektova-Krimer, Kirill Medvedev, Maxim Stepanov, Alexander Bikbov, and Vlad Tupikin, and a discussion with zine authors and activists.

The revanchism of ultra-rightists on our streets, in the corridors of power, on the pages of newspapers, in university lecture halls, and at art exhibitions does not allow us to consign antifascism to the archives of the past century.

We are in solidarity with the prisoners who rose against the Nazis in Sobibor and the Warsaw Ghetto, with the struggle of Soviet soldiers, the anarchists and POUM militants of Spain, the heroes of the French and Italian Resistance, the Yugoslav partisans, and the victims of Pinochet’s reign of terror.

We do not believe that their heroism should be relegated to the ghettoes of ethnic, state, party or subcultural memory. We do not believe that the historical contradictions between antifascists in the past should divide us today. Historical memory belongs to everyone who is prepared to apply it in their lives and share it with others.

We do not perceive fascism either as an abstract, supernatural evil or a manifestation of perennial human vices. Historically, fascism of all stripes has been generated by a system that has particular features and a specific name. This system is capitalism. Fascism is born when dialogue about specific social ills and contradictions is replaced by a discourse that preaches the primacy of strength, success, and manifest destiny, and the inviolability of social, ethnic and all other boundaries and hierarchies, which are alleged to be God-given or natural. We believe that there is no such thing as God-given or natural inequality.

We know of only one boundary, that between right (that is, hierarchy, whether conservative, national-socialist or market-fundamentalist) and left (that is, equality as the ultimate horizon and the concrete steps that lead us towards this horizon).

We see the urgent need for struggle, including in the realms of culture, art, and knowledge. We must ensure the continuity of antifascist theory and practice.

—The Editorial Board

____________

Here is the conclusion to the lead article in “The Urgent Need for Struggle.”

Artemy Magun: “What Is Fascism and Where Does it Come From?”

[…]

In today’s Russia, fascism is not (thank God) the dominant ideology or political force. That force is conservative liberalism. Fascism, however, is still on the political agenda in Russia. The powers that be simultaneously fear it, use it to frighten the liberal opposition, and flirt with it.

First, Russia not only has smallish ultra-rightist youth gangs, but also popular fascist intellectuals – in particular, Alexander Dugin and Geidar Djemal. These men do not label themselves fascists (although Dugin did use this word in reference to himself during the nineties). Typologically, however, their texts belong to the fascist “family.” Their rhetoric is deliberately mannered and often does not withstand rational critique. For all the eclecticism of this rhetoric, its content boils down to certain invariants: mystical/eschatological scenarios, the imperialistic propaganda of war on the part of groups and countries subjugated at present (“Eurasia” or the Islamic proletariat), etc. Both thinkers combine appeals to the downtrodden with the propaganda of authoritarian obedience. These texts remained popular among readers for a time, provoking neither moral nor political “censorship” in a country where the consequences of World War Two have not been analyzed from the viewpoint of morality, and where the social consensus is ideologically right-wing. Today, however, Dugin’s ideas are being realized in practice in the “International Eurasian Movement” he heads and within other radical right-wing groups. They are employed to justify direct violence against outsiders (moreover, not non-Russians as such, but certain groups that are incompatible with Dugin’s notion of “Eurasia”). And yet at the same time, Dugin has served as an adviser to the speaker of the State Duma, was recently (in 2008) appointed a professor in the sociology department at Moscow State University, and is frequently invited to lecture at Saint Petersburg State University.

Second, surrounding the flagrant fascism of Dugin or Djemal there is a large zone that we might call fascizoid. It generates a climate in which the texts and gestures of such writers are perceived as comme il faut. As early as the late nineties, a manipulative attitude to political texts and ideas (“political technology”) took root in society, and there emerged an especially cynical style of aggressive rhetoric that did not hide the fact that it was purely demonstrative and sought to impress its audience by virtue of its effectiveness. Vladimir Zhirinovsky was probably the first to “invent” this style. It later came to be widely employed, for example, in the “war” waged on Russian television channels in 1999 (Sergei Dorenko’s style), and is to this day typical of the extremely aggressive nationalistic rhetoric of Mikhail Leontiev (on the “However” program). Moreover, in both cases we are dealing with journalists who were previously liberal and analytical in terms of their style. The ongoing Chechen war and contradictions in Russia’s foreign relations made it possible to engage in this rhetoric of violence with a relative amount of legitimacy. At the same time, this rhetoric services the subject who is “liberated” from ideology but is fundamentally passive. This subject is unwilling to give up those little things that fuel his subjectivity (apartment, education, recognition of his class), but wants somehow to express both his own ego and his frustration with the emptiness that prevails around him.

The aestheticization of violence was also characteristic of popular culture during the nineties (as typified, for example, by such films as Brother, Brother-2, and Brigada). In addition, as early as the stagnation period, a huge interest in mystical and occult theories and practices of all kinds emerged within society, including amongst the intelligentsia. This interest boomed during perestroika, thus coinciding with the popularity of the commercialized New Age in the western media.

Whereas during the nineties the rhetoric of violence, nationalism, and occultism were mostly ludic, aestheticizing, and, at the same time, manipulative in character, in the following decade, after Vladimir Putin came to power, they came to be taken more seriously: although the degree of its violence decreased, this sort of rhetoric became more widespread amongst public figures. Putin himself has frequently exploited it by as it were “breaking loose” from officialese (e.g., “We’ll wipe out [the Chechen terrorists] in their outhouse,” “If you want to become an Islamic radical and have yourself circumcised, I invite you to come to Moscow,” etc.) and publicly humiliating his underlings. Moreover, during the past decade, aggressive nationalism has practically become Russia’s official ideology. True, this nationalism is not ethnic in character and rarely leads to outright militarism. Nevertheless, it is one of the central rhetorical genres of public life (as exemplified in stories about the intrigues of the country’s enemies and the stupidity of politically correct Americans).

In short, a certain fascizoid context exists in Russia today. Given this atmosphere, acute socioeconomic disruption and failed liberal-democratic reforms could fortify the fascist movements and their alliance with the authorities. We could describe this context as a set of popular mindsets and particular facts that the society regards as legitimate and tolerable (at very least). These include a manipulative and cynical attitude to all ideas; a desire for “myths,” which allegedly need to be deliberately produced (many liberally minded intellectuals share these first two attitudes); the aestheticization of violence and violent rhetoric; a nationalistic xenophobia triggered by a sense that the country has been humiliated; and, finally, the presence of quasi-legal paramilitary youth groups. Whereas it is the police who should combat these radical right-wing gangs (something it does not do), it is the job of all citizens, especially intellectuals in their workplaces, to struggle against the overall context. We must strive to create an atmosphere in which fascism or semi-fascism ceases to be comme il faut. But we cannot achieve this with ordinary political correctness or liberal moralism. They are part of the problem, not the solution. It is likewise counterproductive to excessively generalize the notion of fascism, apply it to all non-liberal tendencies, and demonize our opponents.

We can achieve this [de-fascisization of public discourse] by involving people in a concrete democratic discussion of our country’s future, demonstrating the limits of cynicism and egoism, criticizing capitalism, revealing the roots and hopelessness of historical fascism, and seriously enlightening the masses with the aid of philosophy and science (as opposed to positivism, which precisely generates mysticism as its necessary complement). It is only enlightenment from the left, along with the practical struggle to democratize politics and the economy, that can rob fascism of its vulgar charms.

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The Museum of Political History of Which No One Speaks (In Memory of Stas and Nastya)

The Museum of Political History of Which No One Speaks

On January 19, we opened a street-art exhibition on the outer wall of the State Museum of Political History (the former Kschenssinska mansion) in Saint Petersburg. The exhibition is dedicated to the memory of our friends the civil rights lawyer Stanislav Markelov and the journalist Anastasia Baburova.

We didn’t pick this spot by accident. Official sources have made it a habit of not talking about the key moments in the real political history of recent years. It is precisely this history that is silenced nowadays: the history of the formation of an authoritarian state with a fictitious constitution; the history of the leveling of fundamental democratic freedoms; and, of course, the history of continuous political murders.

A text on the façade of the museum explains that its mission includes the formation of political culture in contemporary Russia. It is impossible to say what this means when people in Russia have practically no way to hold public demonstrations (that is, of course, if they are not members of the officially recognized ruling party) and are deprived of freedom of speech because of the state’s total control of the mass media and increasing censorship of the Internet. The state endlessly spouts aggressively militarist and Russian Orthodox/great power rhetoric, and certain of its elected and appointed officials lend support to neo-Nazi organizations. (We should at very least recall here the cooperation between the pro-government organization Young Russia and the neo-fascist organization Russky Obraz.) And these neo-Nazis then murder and maim people on our streets almost daily.

Exactly a year ago, the well-known lawyer Stanislav Markelov and the anarchist journalist Anastasia Baburova were murdered in downtown Moscow. During the past year the authorities have allegedly succeeded in identifying the criminals who did this, leaving it for us to decide the bigger question of who besides them would profit from the murder of a lawyer who exposed the criminal policies of the state in Chechnya and defended political activists and antifascists.

Traditional political actions no longer attract people today. That is why we chose the form of political protest that, in our view, is the most effective and original — street art.

On a huge (seventeen-meter-long) print poster we have depicted the most inglorious moments and the most significant personalities in the political history of recent years: Russian army colonel Yuri Budanov, a convicted murderer and rapist; the neo-fascist philosopher and state ideologue Alexander Dugin; police major Denis Yevsyukov, who gunned down several shoppers at a Moscow supermarket last year; antifascist Alexei Olesinov, who was convicted and sentenced to prison on false charges; lawyer Stanislav Markelov, who represented the family of the victim in the Budanov case and defended Olesinov and other political activists; and the journalist Anastasia Baburova.

We dedicate our action to Stas Markelov and Nastya Baburova because we believe that their lives and their deaths are important parts of contemporary Russian political history.

— Autonomous Action-Petersburg & the Anarchist Artists of Petersburg

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An Open Letter on the 2008 Kandinsky Prize

An Open Letter on the 2008 Kandinsky Prize

121170281We admit it upfront: we don’t care much for the artist Alexei Belyaev (Guintovt), and we don’t care about him. His art is beyond the pale of criticism, and we have never had any illusions about his political views. By the mid-1990s, he had already drifted into the orbit of Eduard Limonov’s National Bolsheviks, and he would later join Alexander Dugin’s breakaway Eurasian Movement. You do not have to be a political scientist to recognize these people for what they are: part of a reactionary global trend toward ultra-right/ultra-left nationalism. Belyaev’s statements and artworks reflect this political identity. His work glorifies violence, imperial domination, blood, soil, and war. It does this in a consciously triumphal neo-Stalinist aesthetic, mixing crimson with gold leaf to confirm its redundant imperialist messages. Some members of the local bourgeoisie are taken with this aesthetic. Fascism thus enters the salon—a salon we would rather ignore.

We thus have no vested interest in criticizing the Kandinsky Prize. Founded on the cusp of the recent Russian art boom, this $50,000 award (with its longlist show of sixty artists) is a contemporary version of the salon, the institution that has defined art throughout the bourgeois age. Initiated by the glossy art magazine ArtKhronika, supported by the Solomon R. Guggenheim Foundation, and sponsored by Deutsche Bank, the Kandinsky Prize is clearly yet another neoliberal franchise, easiest to promote with a servile, aggressively populist local contingent. Its first edition eared at least some credibility by supporting the beleaguered curator Andrei Yerofeyev and giving its top award to activist-turned-formalist Anatoly Osmolovsky. But now, as the overall socio-political situation shows signs of changing for the worse, the divided jury of the Kandinsky Prize has decided to include Belyaev in the short list of its “Artist of the Year” nomination. Belyaev, however, is a crypto-fascist. The liberal press immediately picked up this scandal. Such scandals in the salon always play into the hands of the artist, his gallery, his admirers, and the critics. Most importantly, they promote the political views of these people. We do not share the rosy liberal illusion that the free market and the circulation of capital can fully convert any kind of engaged art, that artists like Belyaev tame and defuse potentially dangerous ideologies. Instead, the market makes them fashionable among the salon’s novelty-loving clientele in a mutated, glamorous form. Continue reading

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