Editorial: Pussy Riot and the Media Bandwagon

by George Bialek

“For every complex problem there is an answer that is clear, simple, and wrong.”
— H. L. Mencken

As an American living in Moscow I have often been a witness to concrete examples of how the Western press, in particular that of the U.S. and U.K., grossly distort the narrative of major events in Russia. One of the most glaring examples occurred during the explosion of opposition protests which followed the rigged Duma elections of last December.

Within Russia, anyone who bothers to pay attention to politics knows that the largest opposition is the Communist Party of the Russian Federation (KPRF), which has been the case for quite some time. The KPRF has been holding anti-Putin and anti-United Russia demonstrations for years, with little attention from the Western press. I had attended several of their sanctioned demonstrations long before the more broad-based opposition rallies of last December, and during the two December demonstrations I attended they made a strong, if less dominant showing. These initial opposition rallies were specifically in response to the obviously suspicious results of the Duma election held on December 4th, 2011, and it is by no means a stretch to say that had these elections been fair, KPRF’s gains would have been far larger, if not enough to secure a majority of seats in the Duma. The claim is of course debatable, but it is far more credible than the narrative the U.S. and U.K. press was telling at the time.

As I compared news coverage in Russia as well as my own personal observations to Western reporting, I noticed a widening gap between reality on the ground and the story that was being told to observers outside of Russia. From outside of Russia, it seemed that the political conflict was one between Putin on one hand, and Western-inspired liberals on the other. I could find very few mentions of KPRF or its presidential candidate, Gennady Zyuganov. Liberal organizations which are still obscure even to Muscovites today were readily quoted or mentioned at length. Worse still, the darker side of the opposition movement, which was in large part the reason why I abandoned the movement, was ignored. Specifically I am referring to the growing presence of nationalists and even neo-Nazis in the opposition’s ranks.

“Anti-corruption” blogger Alexei Navalny, an individual whose nationalist and xenophobic ideology as well as his connection to far-right nationalist groups are well known to anyone in Russia, was presented to the world by the Western press as a leading figure in the “democratic” opposition. While ignoring Gennady Zyuganov, oligarch Mikhail Prokhorov, who has been publicly quoted as wanting to impose a 60-hour work week in Russia, was portrayed as the most important opposition figure running for president against Vladimir Putin.

Around the time of the presidential election, this enthusiastic but utterly distorted Western coverage played right into the hands of Putin, whose media flacks skillfully homed in on a minority of opposition activists and isolated them from the masses outside Moscow. The opposition movement was labeled as an attempted “Orange Revolution” orchestrated by the United States and other Western nations. It is not clear how many Russians actually believed these claims, but it certainly did not help that a small minority of privileged Moscow hipsters, some of the most insipid and oblivious people in the world, were elevated by both the Russian and Western press to the “leadership” of the opposition movement.

Recently, a new scandal erupted in Russia over the conviction of Maria Alyokhina, Yekaterina Samutsevich, and Nadezhda Tolokonnikova, three members of the so-called “feminist” punk rock group Pussy Riot. They were arrested back in February of this year (2012) for performing their so-called “Punk Prayer” in the Cathedral of Christ the Savior and were ultimately charged with “hooliganism motivated by religious hatred” and they have been sentenced to two years each.

As with the opposition rallies last year, the Western press royally distorted many of the facts surrounding the case. What was different this time around, however, was that the Pussy Riot case was turned in to a cause célèbre, or more accurately a liberal bandwagon, on which jumped not only journalists and writers but also major entertainment figures and musicians from Red Hot Chili Peppers to Paul McCartney. Some leftists have been so influenced by this coverage so as to believe that Pussy Riot are in fact revolutionaries of some kind, and that they deserve the utmost moral support of leftist activists around the world. It was at this point that I could no longer remain silent on the matter. Before the real left elevates these heroines to sainthood, a few facts need to be considered.

First of all, a disclaimer is in order. Some writers, many of which may never have visited Russia, have taken the government’s side in this matter for any number of reasons. I have no intention of defending the court’s decision and I can say that assuming my opinion on this even matters, I personally oppose it. While it is important to remember that those who engage in civil disobedience must accept the potential legal consequences of their actions, in this case the legal consequences should have been a fine ( fines for hooliganism run between about 1500-2500RUB, about $50 to just over $80, and at most fifteen days confinement).

I couldn’t care less that their actions were an offense to the Russian Orthodox Church, as I find the Church offensive. Atheistic Bolsheviks brought Russia kicking and screaming into the 20th century, even into space. By contrast, the Russian Orthodox Church is dragging the country back down into the mud from which it arose, poisoning the minds of the youth with hypocrisy, mysticism, superstition, and a false version of Russian history. Pussy Riot craved attention and by interfering in their case, the Russian Orthodox Church and quite possibly Putin himself ensured that they got it.

Despite all of this, however, I have no intention of venerating these “martyrs.” Aside from the fact that Pussy Riot should have known who they were dealing with and performed their actions voluntarily, thus tacitly accepting the consequences come what may, I simply do not see this group as being worthy of leftist solidarity, and many others would agree if they knew the truth surrounding the group. This is largely a distraction from far more important issues at hand, both inside and outside of Russia. Again, just to make this entirely clear, my target is not the band, but rather the bandwagon. Pussy Riot itself doesn’t matter, but the discussion and the questions their case raises do matter a lot.

Distortion of the Facts

We begin with a number of facts which, though seemingly trivial, are essential to forming a realistic opinion on the matter. From the various articles I’ve read, the members of Pussy Riot on trial supposedly charged with “blasphemy,” making statements against Putin, making statements against the church, and the like. In fact there is no such crime as “blasphemy” in the Russia.

The group’s statement was obviously anti-Putin, but they have on several occasions tried to claim that they meant no disrespect to the church, and their own explanation of the “prayer,” which we shall examine in detail later, seems to imply that they claim not to oppose Orthodox Christianity but rather the alleged co-opting of the church by Putin. Most annoying is the media’s constant use of the word “feminist” to describe the band. It is when we examine Pussy Riot’s version of feminism that we first start to see grave problems with the idea that leftists, much less revolutionaries, should support them.

You Call That Feminism?

Drowned out by the cacophony of support for Pussy Riot are the real feminists, some of whom have dared to question the feminist credentials of the punk group. Noting that the mainstream media generally treats feminism as a dirty word, some radical feminists have expressed very justified suspicion at the Western media’s sudden enthusiasm for identifying Pussy Riot as feminists. I cannot say that I have conducted deep investigation into the writings of the group members; I can at the moment only judge their feminist credentials by their past actions.

However, from what I have seen so far, the best evidence for those credentials consists of them apparently calling themselves feminists and occasionally singing lyrics such as “Virgin Mary become a feminist,” a line from their now famous “Punk Prayer.” But as always, actions speak louder than words, and the actions of some of Pussy Riot’s members easily drown out their claims of being feminists.

In 2008, Nadezhda Tolokonnikova, her husband, and several other members of the “artist” collective known as “Voina” (War) engaged in group sex in the Timeryazev State museum of biology. Their claim was that this was a work of performance art against Dmitriy Medvedev, who became president of the Russian Federation that year. To those more versed in feminist politics, this orgy appeared more as a group of men using their female partners’ bodies as a prop in a disgusting display of male dominance. The photos of this performance, which are quite widespread throughout the Russian-speaking internet, could have easily been mistaken for run-of-the-mill internet porn. It’s a bit of a stretch to imagine feminists engaged in the manufacture of hardcore pornography. It’s also difficult to imagine that the women came up with this idea on their own; it’s far more likely their male partners had a hand in convincing them that this would be a work of art and a political statement.

Is this the goal of Russian feminism? To get more women to humiliate themselves publicly, after Russian women have already suffered more than twenty years of public humiliation and hyper-sexualization in their own society and abroad? Does this advance the dignity of Russian women or detract from it? Only someone totally disconnected from reality could agree with the former.

In an interview with Spiegel magazine dated 3 September, Nadezhda Tolokonnikova defended her actions in the museum.

SPIEGEL: Some see you as heroes, taking a creative approach to challenging Putin’s rigid political system. Others consider your actions tasteless. While pregnant, you took part completely naked in a group sex event at Moscow’s Biological Museum to mock the Kremlin’s desire to increase Russia’s birth rate.
Tolokonnikova: Everyone has his or her own taste. Our performances are modern art and only experts can assess whether what we do is tasteless. Anything else is simply the expression of subjective opinions.

The attitude of superiority, total disregard for others, and postmodernism is a matter which will be analyzed in depth later, as with many of the claims made in this same interview by Tolokonnikova. What is pertinent here is the total absence of juxtaposition between feminism and the actions of Voina. It should also be noted that this is by no means the only example demeaning, misogynistic “art” from Voina. In an infamous video an unidentified female member of Voina accompanied by her husband and young child shoplifted a frozen chicken from a St. Petersburg market by stuffing it into her own vagina. Outside the shop, Voina supporters cheered the performance. The name of this work of “art?” How To Snatch A Chicken: The Tale Of How One Cunt Fed The Whole Group. Feminism!

As if that weren’t enough, Voina initiated another “work” in 2011 entitled “Kiss Garbage,” garbage being the slang term for cops in Russian. However, this wasn’t directed against all cops, but rather specifically against policewomen. Female members of the group assaulted policewomen in metro stations and trains, kissing them unexpectedly. The incident was largely looked at as an innocent prank, but real life examples are rather disturbing to watch. See for yourself: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6T-Bcgkmo0M&amp.

Once again, it is important to notice two features of this “protest.” Women were specifically targeted, and women were the ones carrying out the actions, risking arrest. For the men of Voina, women are clearly props to use in their “art” performances. They bear all the risk and consequences while the men brag about their courageous stunts.

All this may be confusing to radical feminists in the West, who may be understandably shocked and outraged at the idea of people promoting humiliation and violence against women calling themselves feminists. As someone living in Russia, it’s disturbing, but not exactly surprising. Since the fall of the U.S.S.R., Russia has experienced a large growth of movements inspired by the outside world, some positive, but many negative. Many of these movements appear somewhat like the cheap knockoff products one finds in the markets of China or many other parts of the world. The label says “feminism,” but the product contains male domination, humiliation of women, and misogynistic violence. In Russia it is common to see people who admire something in the west, appropriate the superficial trappings, and wear a label which doesn’t reflect the contents.

There is another aspect to all the talk of Pussy Riot’s feminism, which despite being overshadowed by the actions of the related Voina movement and their common members, is still worth mentioning. Pussy Riot’s claims about the ‘Punk Prayer’ still largely cast it as an action against Vladimir Putin. Nobody in their right mind would claim that Putin is a figure in the struggle for women’s rights, but on the other hand he and his regime haven’t really shown themselves to be crusaders against feminism. Tolokonnikova claims otherwise, in her interview with Spiegel.

‘Russian women are caught somewhere between Western and Slavic stereotypes. Unfortunately, Russia is still dominated by the centuries-old image of the woman as keeper of the hearth, and of women raising children alone and without help from men. That image continues to be cultivated by the Russian Orthodox Church, which turns women into slaves, and Putin’s ideology of “sovereign democracy” aspires in the same direction. Both reject everything Western, including feminism. But Russia, too, had a tradition of a Western-style women’s liberation movement, which Stalin smothered. I hope it rises again — and that we can help that happen.

Like many of her statements to Spiegel, this needs to be picked apart in detail. First off, while there is a stereotypical image of women in Russia, both inside and outside of the country, most Russian women do not aspire to be housewives. I can’t claim to be an expert on Russian media in the last twenty years, but I highly doubt that Russia has an equivalent to the decades of anti-feminist, pro-housewife propaganda carried out by the American media and well-documented by Susan Faludi in her book Backlash: The Undeclared War Against American Women.

There is no doubt that the traditional image of Russian women that the Russian Orthodox Church promotes is patriarchal and negative, but what is the image that Pussy Riot and Voina give as an alternative? A woman, encouraged by her husband, shoves a chicken into her vagina while he records the whole thing on video? This is no alternative; in fact it is quite similar in every way to the other stereotype about Russian women, one held commonly outside of Russia, that they are amoral nymphomaniacs happy to play the role of a sex doll for any foreign man who comes along. What has Pussy Riot done to fight that image, I wonder?

On the question of Putin making women slaves, there is little evidence that he has “enslaved” women any more than men. The claim that Putin rejects everything “Western,” besides exposing a belief in the supremacy of the West, is patently false, and it is ridiculous to pretend that feminism somehow belongs to the West. Men of the West, bolstered by higher incomes, have provided an insatiable customer base for prostitution, both in their own countries and abroad. Many of these prostituted women come from Russia and the former U.S.S.R., which means prostitution and women trafficking ought to be a number one priority for any Russian citizen claiming to be a feminist or supporter of feminism.

In addition to the “enlightened” Western men who come to Russia and former Soviet countries on sex tours, thousands of these women have been imported to work in the brothels and massage parlors of those progressive Western nations which are so admired by Pussy Riot and their supporters. Germany, the Netherlands, and the Czech Republic are three countries which have legalized the sex trade. Many other nations are considering legalization or simply turn a blind eye.

And what of the state of feminism in the enlightened West? If we look to the United States, in particular, we can see over thirty years of repeated salvos against feminism in the media. The various controversies over birth control and abortion in the United States right now tell you how firmly entrenched feminism is in the West. One can go on the most lighthearted English-speaking forums frequented by young males and watch massive eruptions of misogynistic hatred when the word feminism or sexism is mentioned. As if that weren’t enough, a so-called “Men’s Rights” movement has arisen, preposterously portraying men as being oppressed.

Some Russians may be confused, noting that the motivation of many men who come to Russia or Ukraine seeking brides come with idiotic claims of abuse at the hands of American or Western women who are supposedly all feminists. The fact that so many Western men carry these ridiculous ideas ought to disprove the idea that feminism is a dominant idea in the West; if it were, more Western men would be embracing the term feminism, rather than running to Russia claiming that they are trying to escape the crushing dominance of women. In the United States at least, the media and political groups from all over the mainstream spectrum worked tirelessly to keep women subjugated and make them feel ashamed for having ever demanded equal rights. It has largely succeeded.

The claim that Stalin “smothered” Russia’s supposedly “Western-style” women’s movement is simply and ignorant lie, so that leaves us with the comment about the Russian Orthodox Church and its influence on women. While it is common for nearly every Russian one meets to claim the Orthodox faith, for most people it seems this means simply wearing a cross around one’s neck. Go into any Orthodox Church and the women you are most likely to see there (and it is mostly women from my experience) are elderly. This does not mean that the Russian Orthodox Church is harmless. It is certainly responsible for spreading all kinds of myths about Russian history which either apologize for or support the current regime. The Russian Orthodox Church definitely deserves criticism, but there’s just one problem with that. Pussy Riot’s jailed members can’t seem to decide whether or not they are criticizing the church.

Standing up to the Russian Orthodox Church…or Not?

Pussy Riot’s alleged opposition to the Russian Orthodox Church is rather ambiguous, possibly intentionally so. It seems that the group is happy to have some supporters think that they were criticizing the Church, while on the other hand letting other people believe that the “Punk Prayer” wasn’t an attack on the Church but rather a purely political protest against Putin. To examine the question of whether they deserve credit for standing up to this unbelievably corrupt institution, I shall first present some points made by Pussy Riot member and defendant Yekaterina Samutsevich in her closing statement to the court, and then compare them to some of Tolokonnikova’s subsequent statements in her Spiegel interview.

‘The fact that Christ the Savior Cathedral had become a significant symbol in the political strategy of our powers that be was already clear to many thinking people when Vladimir Putin’s former [KGB] colleague Kirill Gundyaev took over as head of the Russian Orthodox Church. After this happened, Christ the Savior Cathedral began to be used openly as a flashy setting for the politics of the security services, which are the main source of power [in Russia].’

Here we see the clear manifestation of Pussy Riot’s on-again-off-again claim that the “Punk Prayer” wasn’t directed against the Church per se, but rather against the Russian Orthodox Church’s relationship with Putin’s regime. Here we have a bit of a problem, and once again we have to look to Russia political culture not often understood or even known in the West to understand what’s wrong with this statement.

The Russian Orthodox Church did not become corrupt with the rise of Putin, and certainly not with the rise of Patriarch Kirill. It has always been corrupt, since its resurgence in the early 1990’s. The reason for the association with Putin can be explained by a readily observable technique used by Russian liberals and Putin supporters alike. Put briefly so as not to digress to far, this technique involves severing Putin from the legacy of Boris Yeltsin, his predecessor. Putin supporters compare his regime with that of Yeltsin, while anti-Putin liberals frequently pretend as though problems which cropped up on Putin’s watch didn’t exist before 2000. The cozy relationship between the Russian Orthodox Church and the state began with Yeltsin, not Putin.

In any case, Vladimir Putin was chosen by Yeltsin himself to be prime minister and thus succeed him as president, on the advice of gangster turned “Kremlin-opponent” Boris Berezovsky. Both sides in many debates would like to pretend this whole connection doesn’t exist, but the fact is that with no Yeltsin, there is no Putin. In any case, permission to rebuild the Cathedral of Christ the Savior was obtained by the Russian Orthodox Church in 1990 from the Soviet government, with much of the construction occurring in the Yeltsin era. Thus the idea of Putin using the cathedral as some kind of symbol to bolster his power, or anything for that matter, is simply ridiculous. Moving on with Samutsevich’s statement:

‘Why did Putin feel the need to exploit the Orthodox religion and its aesthetics?’

Again, one can reasonably infer that Orthodoxy is just the victim of the exploiter, Putin. Now we move on to a few key statements on this topic from Tolokonnikova’s interview:

SPIEGEL: Can you understand that many Russians feel their religious feelings have been hurt, when you perform a wild dance in front of a church altar?
Tolokonnikova: The video clip and the accompanying text, which describes the political motivations behind our performance, were hardly the kind of thing to hurt religious feelings. It’s the distorted picture presented in the state-run media that changed the situation, accusing us of religious hate. I’m sorry it has come to that. Ultimately, both we and our critics have become victims of Putin’s propaganda machine.

Here she clearly denies that this action was aimed against religion, and claims it was a politically motivated performance. In fact, since they were on trial for “hooliganism motivated by religious hatred” it’s a little difficult for supporters who claims they are not guilty to simultaneously claim that they were actually criticizing the church and religion. Samutsevich also said in her statement:

In our performance we dared, without the Patriarch’s blessing, to unite the visual imagery of Orthodox culture with that of protest culture, thus suggesting that Orthodox culture belongs not only to the Russian Orthodox Church, the Patriarch, and Putin, but that it could also ally itself with civic rebellion and the spirit of protest in Russia.

So the “Punk Prayer” was aimed at uniting Orthodox believers with the “spirit of protest.” Not only does this call into question the idea that they were criticizing religion in Russia, but it also raises the question of how their actions affected the feelings of Orthodox believers. Lastly, let us turn back to Tolokonnikova’s interview for one more important point on this matter.

SPIEGEL: Do you welcome the fact that people in Russia are now toppling crosses, supposedly in a show of support for you?

Tolokonnikova: Definitely not. That’s not something we’re happy about. Pussy Riot has never acted against religion. It’s Putin’s ideologues who have stuck the label of religious hate on us. Our motivation was purely political.

Well there you have it, folks. They’ve never acted against religion. So please stop telling me how they’re standing up to the Russian Orthodox Church and its interference in the state; at best they’re making it seem as if the real crime is the state interfering in the church. Also, while I’m definitely not a supporter of cutting down crosses, I have to ask why not support it? Remember, as long as you claim something had a subversive political message, it can be revolutionary “art!” If having a public orgy in a museum can be a valid political statement that only “experts” are allowed to judge, what is wrong with chopping down crosses?

Contempt for Workers, Self-Righteousness, and Nihilism – the Antithesis of Capitalist Russian Society, or its Product?

Of the many passengers riding the crowded Pussy Riot bandwagon, many are self-identified leftists, including anarchists and self-proclaimed Marxists. Some express solidarity simply out of opposition to Putin’s regime, a position which is principled and respectable. Self-proclaimed Communists have lauded these three women despite their fawning references to the reactionary Alexander Solzhenitsyn and other anti-communist figures in their court statements. Indeed, the members of Pussy Riot themselves would like us to think they are revolutionaries. Again from the Spiegel interview:

SPIEGEL: What does Pussy Riot hope to achieve?

Tolokonnikova: A revolution in Russia.

What sort of revolution could they possibly hope to accomplish with random publicity stunts? Perhaps we will never know. From a worker’s perspective though, groups like Pussy Riot and Voina are hardly the types to lead a revolution of any sort. Again we must look to the actions of Voina, who on 1 May 2007, showed their solidarity with Russian workers by throwing live cats over the counter of a McDonalds restaurant. Many of my American readers have no doubt done their stint in fast food, if not McDonalds. I did myself, when I was in high school. As a fast food worker you have more than enough hassles without someone throwing live animals at you.

Incidentally, many of Voina’s members either don’t work, or are students. Some of them voluntarily choose to live a vagrant lifestyle, but nobody forced this upon them. Voina’s actions show not only contempt for women, but ordinary workers as well, and it is this same elitist, contemptuous attitude which is palpable in the statements of the members of Pussy Riot.

In reading the statements of the three defendants, one gets a very clear sense of their contempt for ordinary Russians as well as the liberal basis of their beliefs. There is a constant derision of “conformity” just as they are sure they are not conformist. In America we have seen what several decades of trying to escape “conformity” has led to. The struggle against this ill-defined conformity, far from being a subversive threat to the capitalist system, turned out to be a major boon to the market. These days it seems like everyone is a nonconformist, and each and every individual who proclaims themselves thus is sure that everyone else is a conformist sheep. Alyokhina lets her attitude slip in her final statement to the court.

“These people . . . this is yet another confirmation that people in our country have lost the sense that this country belongs to us, its citizens. They no longer have a sense of themselves as citizens. They have a sense of themselves simply as the automated masses. They don’t feel that the forest belongs to them, even the forest located right next to their houses. I doubt they even feel a sense of ownership over their own houses. Because if someone were to drive up to their porch with a bulldozer and tell them that they need to evacuate, that, “Excuse us, we’re going raze your house to make room for a bureaucrat’s residence,” these people would obediently collect their belongings, collect their bags, and go out on the street. And then stay there precisely until the regime tells them what they should do next. They are completely shapeless, it is very sad.”

Of course, it’s all the other Russians who are automatons.

And what of the “nonconformists” who see the actions of people like Pussy Riot or Voina as disgusting and worthless? Well let’s remember what Tolokonnikova had to say about that.

‘Everyone has his or her own taste. Our performances are modern art and only experts can assess whether what we do is tasteless. Anything else is simply the expression of subjective opinions.’

Only “experts” get to judge!

Is it true that shocking acts of performance art can be used to grab attention and direct it toward political goals, as some leftists have claimed? Well let’s look to the words of one Voina member. “People watch us and are simply shocked.” Well, that sure gets people to think about politics doesn’t it? The fact is that propaganda is a two way street; there’s the message you are trying to send and the message the audience will infer. The most profound message, conveyed by seemingly irrational and ambiguous means, can turn out utterly worthless as it is lost on the audience.

If I were going to include in this article every quote from the defendants or their comrades in Voina which could serve as evidence that they are elitists, not revolutionary, and in some cases not even “leftist”, this text would go on for pages. To split the difference, I’ve included the sources of their statements to let the reader judge for his or herself. There remains, however, a point which must be made about the activities of these “revolutionaries,” and it is a point which requires the first-hand observation of post-Soviet Russian culture.

There are many different ideologies fighting for attention within modern Russia, but even casual observation of society and particularly young people reveals a very strong sense of nihilism. So many of Russia’s problems on nearly every level stem from a general condition of simply not giving a damn about anyone else. Both Voina and Pussy Riot represent not a form of resistance against that nihilism, but rather nihilism itself. They aren’t subverting the system because they are in fact nothing more than a by-product of that system. What right do such people have then to complain about corruption in Russia? If someone thinks it’s perfectly fine to have public sex in a public museum or throw cats at low-paid workers because they are a nonconformist, why get angry about another individual whose “tastes” and subjective opinions lead him or her to solicit and collect bribes and steal government property? If the “tastes” of Voina include humiliating women in public, who is to complain about the pimp and trafficker who do the same under the guise of a business? Put simply, Pussy Riot, Voina, and their ilk do not expose and condemn the extremely atomized, anti-social attitude that 20 years of post-Soviet kleptocracy have created, but rather they celebrate it. Who’s to say that a new regime run by people with similar thinking would be any better?

Conclusion

I began writing this article when the Pussy Riot verdict was still fresh in the news. It was late because, as a person living in Russia and wanting to give the reader the benefit of my experience, I deliberately held back my opinions until I could sufficiently observe the case. By the time you read this, the bandwagon will have gone over the hill and it is unlikely that Pussy Riot will be heard of anywhere outside of Russia barring some kind of new development in their case. Personally I hope they are freed or at least have their sentences drastically reduced so that life can return to what passes for normal. I hope that the lesson we as leftists take away from this whole episode is that we need to choose our struggles more carefully.

All this energy which was expended on Pussy Riot might have been better put to use for the sake of specialist Bradley Manning, who remains in confinement without having been brought to trial. This holds especially true for American activists. It’s easy to get caught up in the furor when the media starts banging their anti-Putin drum, but the reality is that Putin is and always has been a willing collaborator with capital. Also, we need to be careful with labels like “revolutionary,” “feminist,” and “resistance,” less we apply them to those who don’t deserve them. Next time the media bandwagon crests the hill, take a breath and try to get all the facts before going for a ride.

Sources

http://www.reuters.com/article/2008/07/23/us-russia-art-idUSL1650947620080723

http://www.artnet.com/magazineus/reviews/brown/voina4-29-11.asp

http://blogs.telegraph.co.uk/news/brendanoneill2/100177322/like-all-punks-pussy-riot-are-insufferable-snobs-but-that-shouldnt-be-a-crime/

http://nplusonemag.com/pussy-riot-closing-statements

http://www.spiegel.de/international/world/spiegel-interview-with-pussy-riot-activist-nadezhda-tolokonnikova-a-853546.html



Categories: Czechoslovakia, Editorials, Germany, International, Internet, Media & Culture, Netherlands, Reactionary Watch, Russia, Soviet Union (USSR), TV, U.S. News, Ukraine, Uncategorized, United Kingdom, Women's Rights, Workers Struggle

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