#10: How do politics begin? Part I
Кронштадский дневник *
Граффити на дамбе – «Мятежный Кронштадт!»,
Рядом – «Свобода! Равенство! Братство!»
«Движение сопротивления имени Петра Алексеева» провело выездную сессию
пробуждения сознания жителей острова, где время остановилось.
Пустые улицы, без припаркованных машин выглядят как выцветшие открытки 60-ых.
Вонючие магазины, где старые холодильники не справляются с жарой
Неужели кто-то готовит эту пищу?
Ночной мат на улицах, где нет шума транспорта поражает как афоризм
«Лен, жизнь всегда так – то до хуя, то ни хера…»
But in another respect, the solution of an intellectual problem arises not much differently than when a dog who carries a stick in its mouth wants to go through a small door; he turns his head left and right as long as necessary to make the stick slip through. We do it just like this, with the difference that we do not go act haphazardly but know from experience more or less how we should go about it.”
Robert Musil, The Man without Qualities
Robert Musil’s description of the cognitive process seems especially relevant to the Left’s struggle for a better society. But is the quote’s last half-sentence really true? Do we “know from experience more or less how we should go about” changing society for the better? This question is particularly relevant in reflecting the historical experience of the Soviet Union, a history that leads from triumph to defeat. This process of reflection has been encumbered by party-loyalty: those who dared to place their fingers into the open wounds of Communist history often risked being denounced as traitors by their comrades. To make matters worse, the special emphasis that Soviet Marxists placed on (re)writing the narrative of the Soviet Union’s becoming paradoxically interferes with any attempt to explore and evaluate its actual history.
1. I don’t know the answer. Perhaps we can change the world without taking power. Perhaps we can not. The starting-point – for all of us, I think – is uncertainty, not knowing, a common search for a way forward.
2. We are searching for a way forward, because it becomes more and more clear that capitalism is a catastrophe for humanity. A radical change in the organisation of society, that is, revolution, is more urgent than ever. And this revolution can only be world revolution if it is to be effective.
Alexei: Then politics is a kind of ecstatic frenzy. In kitchen quarrels, people will provoke one another to the point of being beside themselves. This is actually we mean when we talk about kitchen politicians.
Artem: Sure. Politics is ec-stasis, literally. It can start in the kitchen, leading from the frying pan to the class struggle. This is what happens when the infinite intervenes, making the parties forget themselves and see what they are fighting for.
Oxana: But in politics, people are always divided into two camps. Look at our Left: they are often beside themselves over the pathetic little details of doctrine!
Any discussion on Kronstadt today, as 70 years ago, is a historical discussion in the full sense of the word. Neither details nor these or those interpretation of concrete facts are at stake. Instead, the discussion’s central issue is revolution and revolutionary war as such, the significance and the logic of October. The supression of the Kronstadt Uprising has taken a lasting position in the “top ten” moral indictments of Bolshevism, along with the “philosophical steamboat” and the “money of the German general staff”.
Both anarchists and liberals find themselves agreeing over this point of accusatory indictment in their critique from both right and left, forming what Trotsky aptly called a “people’s front” of sorts, and calling the validity of the October Revolution into question. For the right, this episode is important because it confirms that the establishing of the “commissars’” totalitarianism had reached its final stage of becoming, stepping into conflict with its recent mainstay, the revolutionary sailors. To anarchists, Kronstadt is a timeless continent drowned in non-being, an “Atlantis” of the democratic socialism of the masses, the revolution’s turning point, after which its fate was already completely pre-determined. The question is whether there was really any possibility of a historical turn and whether Kronstadt really did offer any political or social alternatives?