Lyndon linked me about Nashi’s “Connecting with the President” or the “President’s Liaison Officer” campaign, so I’ll return the favor by liking his lucid breakdown of Nashi’s marketing-activist tactics. As he concludes:
The idea of using Nashi partisans as electronic “go-betweens” to/from the President (the passers-by receive special SIM-cards which will also be able to receive “all essential information about the movement’s activities,” per this description of the event) is an intriguing modern take on the Soviet idea of a loyal vanguard, though it’s supposedly an exercise in “modern democracy” (“sovremennaia demokratiia”).
I agree. What strikes me is not only how media savvy this all is, but also how these methods can be found among activists on the left and the right all over the world. The question all this poses for me is how much of Nashi’s participation in Russia’s “modern democracy” is symbolic of democratic practice around the world?
You Might also like
Move over Disneyland and make room for Gulagland! That’s right Gulagland. Igor Shpektor the mayor of the town of Vorkuta, which is located 100 miles above the Artic Circle and 1,200 miles northeast of Moscow, wants to turn a former prison camp into a “reality” holiday camp for tourists looking to spice up their vacation with the experience of Soviet camp life. According to an article in the London Independent, visitors can pay $150 to $200 a day to experience snarling dogs, camp conditions, and forced labor.
Shpekor’s idea was first reported in the newspaper Novye Izvestiia. He told the newspaper visitors to the town, where over 1,000 zeks perished, have been declining with every year. “The town needs money and we have the possibility to turn Vorkuta into a tourist region.” He got the idea last year when a “whole trainload of tourists from the US, Australia, and Poland arrived wanting to see the camp.” He hopes that “Gulagland” will keep wealthy tourists coming.
When asked what he thought of the idea, human rights activist Sergei Kovalev has this to say:
I myself was in a camp in Perm. Now there is a museum Perm-36 organized there. It’s been open for 10 years and it allows residents in the region to not forget their history. Concerning the scheme of Vorkuta authorities, I am convinced that to recreate the conditions of the GULAG would hardly be successful. An authentic reproduction of life there, will most likely, fail. Although I think that it wouldn’t be a bad idea that every future prosecutors and lawmakers are held for a while in the camp. Then he would understand when they doom people.
Such is our postmodern times.Photo: Vladimir MashatinPost Views: 516
Note: In an effort to concentrate on other work, posts over the next two weeks will be short and sparse. I hope to merely point out and excerpt news and commentary instead of giving my own comment on it.
Commentary and analysis of the Belarusian elections and their aftermath continues. Aleh Novikau’s opinion, “Contract of the Third Term” on Eurasian Home caught my attention. A columnist for the Minsk paper Nasha Niva, Novikau argues that Lukashenko’s use of repression against protesters might do more to spread the opposition than the Opposition itself. Novikau writes:
By conducting mass police arrests under farfetched pretexts, refusing to give the prisoners’ relatives any information and forbidding them to bring packages, backing up special squad soldiers who beat people up in front of the cameras, the authorities involuntarily aroused the people’s sense of civil dignity. The relatives and friends of victims of the political repressions as well as those just sympathetic began display some initiative, for example to escort all of the patrol wagons coming out of prisons, in order to know where the prisoners are transported.
Gradually, the one-time actions acquired organizational format. Even a local analogue of the Argentine “Mothers of the Plaza de Mayo” – association of mothers whose children “disappeared” under the military dictatorship of the 1970s – has been created. Practically every day in Minsk the flashmober actions take place, such as flower-laying to the Polish embassy to spite the picket of the young adherents of Lukashenka. The next phase of the movement is quick politicization of the masses, which questioned the “efficiency factor” of radical leaders’ preventive arrests. Despite the fact that all of the active opposition leaders are put into prisons, thanks to neophytes, the brands of their organizations are widely represented in the opposition’s actions.
Further he writes,
Now many security officials and judges involved in the repressions clearly see: “They, their families and people close to them have nowhere to retreat”. But the opposition is in the same situation. A student, who has been expelled from a university for his political views, increases the number of oppositionists in Belarus by, at least, five people: his family, relatives and friends. An anonymous author of the leaflet “Resist!” (a new initiative of the grass-roots organizations) believes that speaking to the representatives of the state bureaucracy should be as follows: “Boycott and condemn them! Do not greet them and minimize the contacts with them!”
It is worth noting that even if those regime’s adversaries will have a change of heart towards Lukashenka’s adherents, they will do it not due to Milinkevich’s directions. As the number of civil initiatives is growing, it becomes evident that the “single” opposition and social democrats do not control the new generation of the resistance participants, and in the event of consultations between the opposition and the authorities the problem of powers will be inevitable. For the time being, a new pole of the Belarusian opposition is anonymous, but in the near future we expect declaration of a brotherhood of the camp participants. Because of a good hype in the mass media the camp “fighters” became popular and now they are able to bring into existence a semblance of the Ukrainian party “Pora”.
Repression moves from general to specific, that is, it moves from the ideological to the material when it begins to touch people’s personal lives. The crackdown on the protests to squash the “Denim Revolution” in the short term might produce a dialectic that will reproduce opposition in the long term. As Novikau’s astutely states, the repression of one has the potential to increase the opposition to Lukashenko by five. The Italian Marxist Antonio Gramsci noted in his Prison Notebooks that a balance of force and consent is the most effective way to maintain hegemony. When force trumps consent hegemony begins to slip. Could Lukashenko’s repression against the protesters be a sign of a further imbalance occurring?Post Views: 355