One of the most interesting texts of the past few weeks has been a text published on the Ekho Moskvy website in early August. The activist Seroe-Fioletovoe (or Grey Violet), a former member of the art group Voina, (a group with common links to Pussy Riot) and the hanged gay in one of their radical actions. In a Moscow supermarket an immigrant, a Jew and a gay were ‘hanged’ in the middle of an aisle in front of shoppers going about their shopping. The radical alterity of this action half a decade ago is, in many ways, becoming apparent only now as a presentiment of the deeply sinister present moment. Ironically the action was cited by President Putin as an incitement to extremist hatred in the aftermath of the Pussy Riot affair. Seroe-Fioletovoe’s reaction to the recent rounding up of ‘illegal immigrants’ in Moscow (in immediate reaction to a case of resistance by Daghestani immigrants who had finally had enough of police harassment) printed below suggests that the alterity of his vision has not gone away. While liberal discourse has concentrated on the recent laws on gay propaganda, Grey Violet – a libertarian queer activist – produced this ‘scandalous’ text accusing everyone (and even political gays and lesbians, leftists, anti-fascists and anarchists) of being Nazi’s. Accusing himself too. The text is important because it lets no one off the hook and allows for no compromises saying we can’t excise the radical demands and spirit of the ideas of Voina or Pussy Riot and hope for a relative political liberalization for ourselves whilst a new scapegoat is found). Only radical ideas, radical democratic practice, only by extirpating all xenophobic tendencies can Russia avoid fascism. And this discourse is surely true for Europe, America or other parts of the world too. While Russia is symbolic of the more sinister aspects of the present moment the radicalism of some of its activists goes far beyond in word and deed the conformism of many of their European or American counterparts. Grey-Violet’s text is prescient given the growing xenophobic electoral campaign for Moscow mayor of Putin’s main rival, Alexei Navalny, of the past few days.
Today in Moscow the authorities replied to the issues posed to it, including the xenophobic issue.
In reply to the defence of Russian citizens by relatives from beatings and kidnappings by people in uniform and without, the authorities have begun ethnic cleansing and are building concentration camps for those who don’t have the fortune to possess a piece of paper with the title “passport of the Russian Federation”, for those without the fortune of having a sufficiently “Arian” appearance.
Even the opposition supports this- all the candidates for the post of Moscow mayor are going into the elections with a nationalist rhetoric and nationalist programme.
And the main rival to the candidate of the authorities (the nationalist and protest leader Alexei Navalny) as always, most of all attempts to upstage the authorities even in this sphere, continuing to play migrants off against his supporters who are, in general, well-off people, possessing the privileges of having a European appearance, a Russian passport and belonging to the ethnic and cultural majority.
Yet perhaps and this is probably closer to the truth, is it not the authorities who are trying to upstage him? And all this cleansing and concentration camps are on the conscience not only of the authorities but also on that of the protest movement.
And it, the protest movement, remains tellingly silent.
The movement is socially closer to the nationalist Navalny, for whom the Manege turns out, socially closer to Ilya Farber, the “only European” in the “backwater” village. But far from it are thousands of people living nearby who are right now being arrested throughout the city and send to tented filtration camps.
Right here and now.
And all are silent. And all sit at home.
Occasionally the liberals start to grumble in their small, little cosy Facebook worlds. The leftists say nothing. It’s as though the anarchists and anti-fascists have fallen into the water. The political gays and lesbians have tightened their lips.
Why? Because there is “nothing personal”. Or rather the “personal” is everything.
Because the chance of a national-democratic “victory” is more important.
Because they are ready to walk over the lives of other people.
The lives of those who have no voice. The lives of those who are excluded. And it means that all are Nazis.
All Moscow liberals are Nazis.
All Moscow leftists are Nazis.
All Moscow anarchists are Nazis
All Moscow anti-fascists are Nazis.
All Moscow gay activists are Nazis.
And I, too, am a Nazi.
For all that time I do nothing for those whose voice is excluded – until they have gained their voice.
Because there can be no talk of any elections nor of any democratic politics when there are those whose voice is excluded.