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Friday, August 17, 2012

Pussy Riot Lights Up A Fire of Their Own

Three members of the Russian feminist punk collective Pussy Riot -- Nadezhda Tolokonnikova, 23, Yekaterina Samutsevich, 30, and Maria Alyokhina, 24 -- were convicted earlier today and sentenced to two years in prison for "hooliganism" of all things in connection with a protest in March against Russian President Vladimir Putin and the Russian Orthodox Church. Their response to this incredibly harsh sentence so far has been splendidly defiant. Members are reported to have laughed out loud as the sentencing judge referred piously to the rights of Russians to freedom of speech and religion, and supporters of the collective chanted "Shame! Shame! Shame!" as word of the sentence spread outside the courthouse. That chorus of supporters has quickly expanded as artists and political figures (even the often disappointing US State Department expressed "disappointment" about the verdict and sentence) around the world have leaped to the defense of Pussy Riot. But the voice of protest and joyful defiance that began with righteous laughter before the Eye of Power has already been amplified to reach Power's Ear, as the group has also released a new single and video, "Putin Lights Up The Fires" depicting the performance art and protest prayer that has so threatened the fragile sensitivities of the Big Bad Russian Bear.

7 comments:

Darth Imperius said...

I suspect that Pussy Riot isn’t so much a Western-inspired cultural phenomenon as a Western-sponsored political operation. The West uses popular culture as a weapon to attack all traditional societies globally, and it is very effective. But I lived in Russia for a year, and I can tell you that these are spiritually strong people who aren’t so easily broken by Western cultural machinations.

I don't know if you're aware of this, but there is a major ideological shift taking place in Russia today – a return not to Stalinism but to older imperial traditions. A key figure here is Aleksandr Dugin, proponent of mystical fascist ideas and the formation of a new Eurasian empire. Dugin is like a modern Karl Haushofer, a leading theoretician of a new anti-liberal global axis. Dugin apparently has a lot of support in powerful circles in Russia, including among the Orthodox Church, as well as in the Muslim world.

In case you haven't noticed, there is a vast movement underway globally to find alternatives to the hegemony of globalist, secular, liberal capitalism. Islamists, Russian Imperialists, European Traditionalists, Roman Catholics, Orthodox Jews, Hindus, Han nationalists and many others are desperate to protect their cultural integrity from the all-corrupting power of Westernized liberal culture.

I don’t know how much you’ve travelled outside the West, but if you have then you know how aberrant, abhorrent and disruptive Western liberal values are in much of the world. I think the main problem here is that liberalism is a direct assault on some of our most powerful psychic needs, like hierarchy, spirituality, tribalism, and masculine will to power. Attempts to replace these normal psychic functions with secular socialist ideologies have been dismal failures wherever they have been tried, which suggests that left-socialism is psychologically untenable. The only form of socialism that has any chance of succeeding is National Socialism, which clearly works and is on the rise in the Arab world, China and other places worldwide.

The larger point, which Dugin makes very well, is that the Western liberal values which Pussy Riot is championing are not some inevitable “end of history” for world civilization, but pure ideology, and the battles for the hearts and minds of men have just begun. Your “Progress” meme is merely one thoughtform, with no historical inevitability or divine power, and is under massive attack by memomancers around the world – including certain Sith Masters right here in the heartland of Pax Americana.

I hope this was more on topic today and I look forward to more substantive discussions of these issues in the future.

Dale Carrico said...

Have you ever considered writing your own blog?

Who knows what kinds of mechanisms or influences you mean to indicate with that word "sponsorship" -- I don't know exactly if I think you are making a bs claim completely minimizing PR's intervention or making a claim about how fraught cultural work is under conditions of neoliberal hegemony, with which I might be more sympathetic.

Your glib assimilation of PR to liberalism at the end seems to me worse than useless, taken baldly, and very much beside the point. Do you disapprove of their intervention, performance art interventions more generally, their response to the sentence, their belief that it is unjust? Do you think they have or are likely to sell out, do you think there is a lot of hyprocrisy in the chorus of their defenders, are you bored by their work in particular? I can easily sympathize with at least some of all these positions, but I think one should be able to walk and chew gum at the same if one wants to conjoin thought to constructive action and I certainly wouldn't approve using the latter positions to evacuate the former, since being "cool" is never being critical but also just a hyper-consumer mode.

Dale Carrico said...

You ask (and in a way that seems to presume you know the answers already) what I know about the world. Not that it's actually any of your business, asshole, pseudonymous cosplay interlocutor in the comments section of my blog, but yes I have traveled abroad, extensively but not as extensively as I would if I weren't actually a non-tenured itinerate lecturer saddled with loan debt, Russian is a language I actually learned as an undergraduate, I maintain contact with a network of activists artists and teachers in Russia among whom many have been students of mine, I have studied Russian culture and history extensively, as it happens.

What's it to you? Where does that bring us supposedly? I've also been in jail, done illegal needle exchange in empty parking lots in the depth of night, done clinic defense, risked getting shot at in Mississippi defending a women's only music space, been trained in nonviolence with MLK's widow, spent over a decade teaching socialism, democracy, nonviolence, environmentalism, and cultural theory to thousands of students.

Look, I don't want to date you. You're really starting to bug me with these snidely whiplash manifestos you post in comments. What the hell are you trying to say exactly? How am I supposed to take you seriously? Name yourself, stop hiding behind all these rapid changes of front if you want to be taken seriously. What do you think a "substantial discussion" with you would look like? What do you think you are providing here that stands as the prompt for such a discussion? What substance exactly do you think you are providing?

For example: Although I rail against the suffusion of hyperbolizing and deceptive marketing and promotional norms in the extractive-consumerist Washington Consensus sphere I don't exactly agree that "traditional" societies are ever or should be static specimens under glass -- all living societies are dynamic and take up and subvert influences in their material-semiotic commerce in the world. Any comment, Mr. Substance?

Since you seem equally devoted to insinuating that the cartoon character you seem to think I am is probably "unaware" of all sorts of socioeconomic and historical forces that are more or less radical boilerplate and then offering up gnomic quasi-manifesto noises without any concrete proposals leavened by little jokey references to Star Wars iconography the truth is I never know exactly what you really mean to say or what you really think is important or what level of abstraction you are lodging your critique in. I have no idea what you really believe. What the fuck is it with this crap about workable Nazism in the "Arab world"? Do you think that shit is cute, motherfucker? You don't get to impersonate Alistair Cooke talking about secular stress and the dismal failure of world historical forces and then belch about "your progress" like I'm a cockroach and you are the archetype of "masculine will to power." I'm not even sure you're not just some asshole who thinks its cute to yank my chain. You have a brain and you are capable of better. But you don't seem either nice or interesting enough to be my friend, and if you want a teacher you can pay for the privilege like anybody else. You don't deserve the consideration I've extended you. Behave yourself or I won't.

Darth Imperius said...

I have many blogs, but the one at sithacademy.com is the only active one at the moment. I think Pussy Riot is grotesque, a cultural infection which if allowed to spread might turn Mother Russia into another Americanized wasteland. So yes, I think it’s perfectly justifiable to lock them up.

It’s not that I think you’re unaware of various socioeconomic and historical forces, but of psychological and metaphysical forces. There seems to be a huge blind spot among leftists in these areas, who act as if the world moves by economic and political forces alone. Much of history makes absolutely no sense according to leftist ideology. For example, what is the Marxist explanation for the Mohammedan conquests and the persistence of their 1400 year-old empire? What about the Great Pyramids, the Aztec pyramids, Mormonism, the Rwandan slaughter or the rise of Adolf Hitler? These things are incomprehensible without a deeper understanding of the human psyche. I think the so-called Enlightenment has simply blinded you to many dark truths.
Nor do I understand where your ideology even comes from; if you are an atheist, what about the laws of physics has given you this idea that you have some kind of righteous missions to root out all these isms you decry? Did something happen in your life that made you this way? It’s your quasi-Christian MORALISM that I’m challenging, your refusal to recognize that your values are ARBITRARY, UNNATURAL and can only be imposed by force. Or do you admit this?

As for cosplay, think of my persona more like the Salafis who dress in traditional Muslim garb; I am trying to manifest a religious spirit, not in an attempt to return civilization to 7th century Arabia, but to move it forward to a new kind of theocratic Nietzschean Galactic Empire.

And yes I am toying with you a bit, because that’s what Sith masters do. But don’t worry, I don’t want to date you either.

Dale Carrico said...

I'm not a Marxist, you dumbass, and I'll pass on your generous offer of therapy. Good luck with your very exciting very new fascism and the stale mildewed jock-strap of its "dark truths." And by all means take your full measure of small mean ugly pleasure at the thought that these three musicians have been thrown in jail for wearing ski masks in a church and satirizing a jackhole like Putin -- plonk!

aepxc said...

@Darth Imeprius, actually being a Russian, I would appreciate it if you did not try to force your ideas onto us. Russia is not some mystical exotic place, somehow free from displaying the same dynamics that can be seen everywhere else. We have our liberals, and our conservatives, and our extreme reactionaries, and so on. The motivations for each are largely the same as anywhere else, and are organic the same way they are everywhere else. The forms taken by political thought, much as, say, paradigms in the natural sciences, reflect, if imperfectly, some underlying realities (in politics, about human preferences). Their emergence and spread depends on a lack of censorship and freedom of thought, rather than on dark conspiracies.

[To go outside of my area of academic training again...]
People who conclude that human beings are pretty good at governing themselves but pretty bad at governing others tend towards liberalism. People who observe that socio-economic structures in society have many non-obvious ways for some people to control others tend to shift further left. People who have tied their identity to some ideas that they believe to be perfect and beyond the scope of human questioning – who believe that since they feel confident about how well they govern themselves, they will be quite good at governing others – tend to lean conservative. The fearful and the impotent can even escape into a comforting fantasy world, pretend they are 'soldiers' and shift further right. It's exactly the same in Russia. And, just like everywhere else, whenever an authoritarian regime needs an intellectual rimjob, it is conservative and reactionary 'thinkers' that eagerly step up to the plate. Dugin is a brilliant example.

Chad Lott said...

I wonder how mighty the Sith Academy would be if Lucasfilm turned its IP lawyers loose.

I hear the Lucas crew has a pretty deep bench of rugged individuals.