1. Which are the most evident and widespread contradictions that domination manifests in Russia? (for example unemployment and poverty, and how people, in this situation, face it to survive)
The difference between rich and poor is tremendous even for developed countries. There is no unemployment as such; there are low-paid and exhausting jobs. Unemployment benefits are approximately 10 – 60 euros, food prices in Russia are the same as in Europe. Approximately 80% of the employed population receive between 100 and 300 euros per month. To survive, you need to work all the time, often in two jobs. Most people (> 60%) live from paycheck to paycheck, and do not have any savings at all. The exceptions are Moscow, St. Petersburg and several other large cities in which the salaries of the majority of residents fall short of the level of some countries in Eastern Europe.Of the 70 million economically active people, half (33 million) work for the state. On the one hand, these are privileged officials and security officers, and on the other, health care and education workers. This category of workers is completely dependent on the state.The most common jobs are a driver and a salesperson. A significant number of workers are labor migrants from post-Soviet countries, in cities there is a high level of xenophobia towards them (even in the anti-fascist movement).
By the number of police, Russia is in the first place with a large margin. Despite the official figure of 5.16 police officers per thousand people, the real figure should be multiplied by 3-4 times. For example, in the structure of the penitentiary system alone there are 350 thousand jailers, and in private armies of state corporations – another 150 thousand. Moreover, a huge number of security officials work in the private security organizations, which are actually present on the streets, even in schools. The total number of security officials (without the army) can be estimated at a minimum of 3 million. Modern Russia is an ultra-police state even in comparison with Stalin’s times.Yet, Russia has one of the highest rates of crime and the highest number of prisoners (about 650 thousand people). But the vast majority of criminals are not real criminals, they are guilty of domestic crimes, most often under the influence of alcohol. After all, in terms of alcoholism, Russia is the world leader. The penitentiary system is very similar to the Gulag, mass torture of prisoners is practiced regularly.Criminal culture permeates all sectors of society, which is expressed in jargon, criminal values, and even worldview.
Officials, siloviki, crime, capitalists have formed a symbiosis, their business revolves around the state and government privileges. The middle class is very small, against the background of social contrast, it is rather closer to the lower class, and at any moment can become the prey of those in power. There are cases when the FSB administration was engaged in raider attacks and racketeering on the scale of entire regions. In fact, the Russian state is a mafia structure. The members of this structure are not subject to ordinary laws, the law enforcement practice is different for them, they resemble the nobility. Those in power openly despise the people, seeing them as slaves of the state. It has always been so, but now they do not hide it any more.
In spite of the fact that Russia is the successor of the USSR, it is difficult to call it an industrial country. After the collapse of the USSR, there was no modernization; only raw materials sectors, such as the extraction and transportation of oil, gas, and metals, developed. Military-industrial complex also developed. The rest of the industry collapsed, or it has been using up the resourse remaining from the soviet times. Not a single product of civilian consumption is produced, which would be exported to the world market, only weapons. It is difficult to call such an economy post-industrial, rather, it is raw mayerials retro-industrialism. All large business merged into corporations, in which the key share belongs to the state. during the last 20 years the country has actually been renationalized.Rapid urbanization continues, all the population of Russia is concentrated in a half dozen large agglomerations (with the country length of more than 10 thousand km). Vast territories are empty, a lot of abandoned villages and even cities. Most of the taxes from the regions go to Moscow, the province does not like Muscovites, this feeling is widespread.
Despite poverty and humiliation, in general, people in Russia do not protest. Fear of repression is only one reason. Other reasons are: (1) the rudiments of social benefits (early retirement disappeared, but free medical care remained, albeit very basic, as well as the opportunity to get higher education for free. (2) Informal economy (most people earn money unofficially, do not see anything wrong with taking and giving bribes and not pay taxes) (3) Opportunity to freely emigrate (the young and active simply leave). (4) There is a lack of social cohesion and traditions of mutual assistance. There are no even real trade unions that people prefer to keep to work at any price and put up with tyranny or to go to another company. (5) Fear and a feeling of impotence are the main companions of the common man. USSR conducted a deliberate policy on the social deprivation of people and we are still reaping the fruit of it.The protest of the poor in Russia is only that when it becomes unbearable to endure poverty (for each one individually), they simply go and begin to rob shops, passersby, etc. this continues until such a “rebel” is caught by the police and put in jail. Newspapers, books, television are almost under complete control and censored by the state. And only a couple of years ago, discontent began to take the form of mass protests, which are becoming more politisized.
It has never been a problem in Russia to find a job, after all, the need for food, housing, and family maintenance can always force a person to work for free (for food), as it was periodically in the Soviet Union. And the first decades of capitalist Russia, when workers for YEARS did not receive wages, but continued to go to their factories and worked for free, the factory directors constantly promised them that they would pay their wages next month. Therefore, the workers worked “on the side” in order to somehow feed themselves. Why they didn’t protest, didn’t organize a strike, or, after all, simply didn’t quit, is a question. Most likely they went to work “out of habit”, were afraid (and at the same time hated) the state. The reasons for this were serious, in Soviet times, the “state of the workers” for large demonstrations and strikes simply shot people right on the streets, then the KGB looked for the remaining insurgents, and the city in which the events took place was completely blocked by military units until it was completely “pacified” . The fear and powerlessness in which the Russian people find themselves seems to be the most important contradiction that has manifested itself in Russia.The level of low wages can also be associated with the use of cheap labor from the countries of the former Soviet Union. In turn, the government of the Russian Federation at certain stages in every possible way encouraged people from the countries of the former CIS to work in the territory of Russia, and entire programs were created to attract and adapt them. The so-called guest workers (modern strikebreakers) from Uzbekistan, Belarus, Ukraine, etc., came to earn “big money” in Russia. Compared to wages in their countries, wages in Russia were considered to be high for them and, therefore, they were more willing to take up work than local people. These workers were also willing to work overtime and live directly on the sites where they had to work or in crowded hostels. Local people, in turn, disliked guest workersr for this and often blame them for underemining the cost of labor. It is worth noting that the situation is different in different areas. Somewhere the situation is deplorable even without guest workers. Here we see how the Russian state deftly took advantage of an even worse situation in neighboring countries, attracting foreign workers, the authorities thus divide the workers by to their nationality and provoke conflicts between workers on this basis. One more problem is urbanization – the population is concentrated in a half dozen major cities, vast territories are deserted, there are many abandoned villages and even cities.
Inspite of poverty and humiliation people in Russia en masse do not protest. Fear of repression is just one reason. Other reasons are rudiments of social benefits (early retirement has gone, but there is still free medical care (however basic it is) and higher education; informal economy(most people have unofficial part-time jobs, not paying taxes is socially acceptable as well as giving bribes); free emigration (young and active people tend to leave the country).
Only active people suffer from political repressions. These people are mostly caught at their activity on the Internet. The entire protest is concentrated on the Internet only and is distributed through social networks and YouTube channels. People consider that their poverty is their own fault and begin to rob others out of a feeling of envy for their success, any attempts to explain to them that this is not so do not lead to anything.
Anyway, people are accustomed to the the situation and find their own ways to survive. Someone manages to combine several jobs, or work informally (there are examples when an employer offers a choice – to get a job officially with a lower salary or unofficially and receive significantly more), others use consumer loans, someone is trying to improve their qualifications and get better payed jobs. , many are helped out by relatives and ties in the villages (help with food, such as meat and vegetables). And some people become criminals, join gangs consciously or in despair, commit petty theft, etc.
2. General internal conflicts within Russia: which are the most common manifestations of social tensions?
Until 2018 in Russia there was a compromise between the government and the people, its main essence was that the people did not mind who ruled : the king, the leader, the liberals, the monarchists, the communists, the Nazis – as long as they do not touch our low retirement age. The bulk of people believed this to be very important, the achievment of the communist time. The country has always had many points of conflict at local levels: for example, non-payment of salaries, pinpoint buildings in cities and environmental protests. But these local social protests never turned into demands for universal political change in the country. The goal of the people during such unrest has always been simple: to reach out to the czar-father (Putin) in Moscow, so that he would rein in his boyars (officials). Like 200 years before the people would say “The king does not know!”. At the same time, officials and capitalists fully merged into one whole, together with the chirch they constitute a monolith of the state. The church is responsible for the “ideological” component of the regime, its role in Russia is very similar to the role of the Catholic Church during the reign of Franco in Spain. This is a kind of replacement of the Marxist idea with the ideas of the Orthodox Russian people, who are obliged to obidiently carry out all the commands of the king, while the king in return does not allow them to completely die out from starvation. Of course, this whole system is the idea of God himself, this dogma is constantly repeated by the priests in the churches, in order to keep the people calm. The only difference with the old times (before the revolution of 1917) was that a pension was added to this structure, which became part of the king’s guarantee to his people for their obedient observance of divine commandments, in a way, a reward for their observance. Putin is not perceived as a president, but as a king, and in 2018, the king broke this compromise by starting the pension reform (2018) and raising the retirement age, triggering the development of all these small protests into a single, sluggish uprising against existing power.
Starting from 2019, the ideas of direct democracy began to capture the minds of many people, not just marginals. This is due to two global processes. The first reason is censorship and control by the state of all media, as a result of which all forms of expression of freedom of speech are transferred to the Internet, social networks and YouTube. The Internet was at first subjected to the same censorship, like all other media, but, nevertheless, the power had been losing control over it every year, because it was impossible to put to prison and fine hundreds of thousands and millions of people who began to fiercely criticize the state. At first, basically, these critics only demanded some reforming of state bodies, and such people were successfully found, fined and the most radical ones even put in jail.
Ultimately, by 2018, the Internet became so popular and widespread in society that the state’s control over it was almost lost. The public battle between the FSB and the Telegram messenger is indicative, the security services failed to block it and this showed their weakness, which inspired people.
The second reason is the beginning of the widespread dissemination of atheistic ideas through YouTube channels. A large number of scholars and publicists created their channels and through them engaged in public education, because religious orthodox obscurantism with the help of the state was beginning to play an increasing role in society. Perhaps the last straw in the patience of a certain part of the scientific community was the introduction of a compulsory subject in schools – “the basis of religious culture”. In fact, it was a platform for the propaganda of Orthodoxy and obscurantism among school-age children. The answer to this was the widespread emergence of educational videos and articles on the Internet, which simultaneously with the growth of the value of the Internet captured the minds of the masses.The society has formed a complete rejection of the modern Russian state as an unnecessary, inefficient and parasitic phenomenon on the body of society. This spontaneous surge of pro-anarchic ideas superimposed on the pension reform we mentioned earlier, thus creating the perfect “social storm” atmosphere.
Due to the lack of social institutions of solidarity, the protests take on an absolutely spontaneous and unpredictable nature; social media, which have become extremely popular (social networks, Telegram, Youtube), play an enormous role. Thanks to them, resocialization became possible, the smartphone did much more than all previous socio-political movements combined. Thanks to the connection to the information field, the threshold for entry into politics has decreased, and this applies to all ages. Thanks to social media, there is a desacralization of power; ordinary people see that those in power are ordinary mediocrities and there is no greatness in them. The general hatred for the authorities is rapidly growing, the protests follow one after another, their intensity increases. At the same time, the ratings of opposition parties remain very low, the demand for democratization goes beyond the bounds of liberalism.Mainly active people who are often caught for their posts on the Internet are subjected to repression. However, it has become a common practice to condemn even passive readers for reposting.
3. Conflicts and attitudes in regards to hazardous projects of dominion (nuclear power, for example).
People are accustomed to fully trusting the government in solving complex issues and therefore dangerous projects of the government can rarely provoke conflict and rejection. This is because most ordinary people are incompetent in these matters. People are more hurt by projects that make them pay extra (Plato’n system,for example, which makes truck drivers pay per kilometer) or interfere with their interests, as in the case of pin-hole buildings or environmentally harmful enterprises and factories.
People generally do not mind the nuclear power industry as a whole, because they understand that there is not so much money (as in Europe) for green power in the country. For you to understand, the entire economy of huge Russia is equal to the economy of Spain in the financial crisis. In addition to the commodity nature of the economy itself, this is also due to the fact that capitalists and officials are withdrawing stolen capital abroad, offshore. Therefore, all environmental protests are mainly related to the construction of enterprises directly harmful to the local ecology (like, for example, an incinerator).
4. How does the current repression manifest itself against the poor (migrants, unemployed, homeless, the excluded).
The most opressed people are migrant workers mainly from Central Asia. They do most manual work in the cities but they very seldom protest because they either work illegaly or their work permission can be taken away. Also, most of them do not plan to stay in Russsia, they want to earn some money and return home.The excluded (homeless, poor, migrant) sectors of society have always been prejudiced against by the police and officials. In fact, they are not considered to be human and real society members. Migrants are constantly checked for documents and registration, the homeless are expelled to the suburbs, and the poor, unable to pay bills, get electricity and water supply turned off. The police are tough on small street vendors selling products from their garden or other goods, they can simply be beaten and their stuff taken away. The expelled experience contempt not only from by cops and the establishment, but also by the people. They are often beat up in the streets, chances are high for them to go to prisons and camps for violating orders and laws or even without violating them, they experience public contempt and isolation for incompatibility and underdevelopment from more successful people. In a word, repression of excluded people is when the government forces them to meet certain requirements depriving them of equal opportunities with the rest.
5. Anarchist presence and intervention in these and/or other questions of social malaise induced by the State.
Before the pension reform of 2018, anarchists, like any other political groups, were considered by the people either insane or spies bought by Western countries whose task was to provoke the Orange Revolution in Russia (a la in Ukraine in 2014) . Of course, this view was imposed on people through television and the church. Anarchists, to the best of their abilities, constantly and actively helped people and participated in local social protests, but this did not help to spread ideas. At best, anarchism aroused interest in a small part of the youth, but when anarchists tried to convey their ideas to older people, they would called them utopian and generally unrealizable, but thanked for their help in their protests.
If in 2012, during the mass protests, anarchists led several hundred supporters to the streets, and thousands of people sympathized with anarchists and contacted them, now anarchists are more likely lagging behind the protest agenda. Probably, we no longer look like innovators, because the protesters themselves are noticeably “anarchized”. The ideas of direct democracy, local referendums, the defectiveness of the bureaucracy, distrust of parties, the umbrella structure and power confrontation of the authorities have become popular and continue to gain strength. Also, the means of communication have changed. Previously, anarchist blocks stood out noticeably against the general background, and this in itself attracted people. It was possible to meet, take literature, subscribe to the mailing list. Now, communication has moved to the Internet publics. But in this area we are losing a lot: the anarchists do not have their own journalism, no high-quality news channels, no charismatic bloggers. Without this broad propaganda is impossible. We should not forget that since 2018, anarchists have become targets for the FSB, public methods have become extremely dangerous, people are afraid to go even to a demonstration under the black flag. Repression works, for us it is not an abstraction! As a rule, anarchists joined the protests, which were widely discussed in the media, they were looking for resonances. They did not try to independently analyze the situation and initiate a conflict. There was a group that dealt with counteracting the raider seizure of apartments and knocking out wages, and they did it successfully, but after a few years, this activity seized. There is an old problem – the oppressed view anarchists as free helpers who will solve their problems, and they don’t care about ideology.
There were also radical interventions by rebel anarchists who attacked facilities and property owned by the government and capitalists without reference to resonant events and street protests of citizens. It is difficult to say what impact it had on people’s minds. Nevertheless, anarchists, with their contributions ranging from leaflets and demonstrations to arson and explosions, were present in all problem points. Such intensity and active intervention of anarchists was characteristic of the movement until 2014, then everything abruptly subsided.
The exception is the attack of Mikhail Zhlobitsky (October 31, 2018), although it did not occur in the context of social struggle, but rather in the context of large-scale repression against the anarchist movement. It may seem strange that the security forces attacked the anarchists, you want to find a rational reason, for example, the success of the movement in the social struggle. But there was nothing of the kind, the movement was just in decline and absolutely not visible in society. The reason lies in the current situation of the Russian state. Putin is leading the country along the path of strengthening authoritarianism, and such a regime is unthinkable without external and internal enemies. Witches were needed for the fire, “extremists” were needed, and in addition to anarchists, a number of radical left-right projects were repressed, which had largely been promoted by the secret services.The repressions and the more so the attack of Mikhail Zhlobitsky became widely known, the anarchists acquired the image of radical underground activists and innocent victims of repression. However, this is perceived rather in the context of struggle against the Putin regime. It is difficult to judge how anarchists influenced society. The movement did not become popular, there was no influx of new anarchists. But literally over the months, opposition to the state and skepticism about the state system have grown to unprecedented levels, and the demand for democratization goes beyond the scope of liberal doctrines. It is possible that the basic message of anarchists has penetrated the national consciousness without being c toonnected a particular political person. This is confirmed by the fact that the popularity of the liberal parties did not increase, and in general there is no trust in the political forces. Also, very quickly, libertarians and anarcho-capitalists grew in popularity among young people. They managed to build effective communications (for example, popular video blogs), and, judging by the comments on public pages, many people came to them because of their accessibility, although in fact these new people are potential anarchists.
Today, more than ever, the impulse that anarchists produced in the period from 2009 to 2013 is missing. It is only necessary to learn how to act in the conditions of the information society and repression.
6. What are the effects of the war in Ukraine and its repercussions in Russia?
For all the time of the war, the Ukrainian and Russian propaganda has been mentally preparing their peoples to accept such measures as restrictions on the entry of Russians into Ukraine and, conversely, Ukrainians into Russia. Interrogations and filming on the borders of the departing citizens of Russia or Ukraine by the special services is one of the consequences. People silently approves of such measures because of the imposed idea that any citizen who wants to get into their country can potentially have malicious intent to destabilize the situation. The war alerted both nations and introduced new challenges to both of them, posed new questions about the relations between the once fraternal peoples, most of the people are upset by this state of affairs. War is the lot of politicians and other charlatans rushing for power and influence, the common people of Russia and Ukraine do not need this war. True, there are those who found themselves in this war, each has his own motivation: someone saw this as an opportunity to earn money ( wages payed for participation in the war), someone wanted to gain access to weapons and ammunition in order to take them out of the war zone and use them for their own purposes, someone wanted to get experience of participation in the war, and someone is fighting for the idea. The huge rise of Ukrainian patriotism is obvious, millions of people have become patriots because of the war, and we can speak of a new foundation for the formation of a renewed mythology of the Ukrainian nation.The consequences of the war manifested themselves in the breakdown of the old Soviet mentality; at the beginning of the war there was bitterness on both sides and wild hatred. On Ukrainian side – for the fact that the Russians do not want to recognize them as an independent people with their own language and culture, and on Russian side – for the fact that the Ukrainians do not want to consider themselves Russian. Gradually, with the help of the Internet and Russian bloggers on YouTube, the Russian population gradually understood that they had been wrong to force other people, though very close in everything, to abandon their cultural identity and their desire to determine their local life independently of Moscow . This awareness hit hard the basics of the Russian imperial consciousness, in which there was a king who decided everything in the center, and in places the slaves who were supposed to obey these decrees. Belief in the brotherhood of Russians and Ukrainians has collapsed, mutual aversion seems already insurmountable. Perhaps the revolution in Russia will justify the Russians in the eyes of the Ukrainians, but it is going to be a difficult process as thousands have died very recently.
The war severely slowed down the revolutionary effects in Ukrainian society, but a comedian won the presidential election, and this reflects the desire of the revolution to overcome the oligarchic regime in the direction of greater democratization. Of course, in Ukraine this idea of democratisation has pro-European character, but the main obstacle for Europeanization is Europe itself. Recently, PACE has allowed the Russian delegation to return, for pro-European Ukrainians, this is akin to treason. It is becoming more and more obvious that the EU prefers Russian gas and is ready to turn its blind eye to the declared principles. This opens up prospects for anarchists, for the “third way,” especially since the Makhnovshchina is very recognizable among the people and the traditions of rebellion are strong.
7. What are the geo-political ambitions of the Russian State and how do they manifest?
After the collapse of the Soviet Union, there was a vacuum in the ideology of Russian power. After all, the main element of expansion – the planetary communist project – had disappeared. It was replaced by the K the project of “multipolar world”, riveted by Kremlin ideologists, in which Russia is assigned the role of a defender of independent countries, a kind of “guarantor of peace and stability”. This is reflected in the support of the regimes in Syria and Venezuela, as well as the autocracies in Central Africa. The Kremlin is also applying a strategy of playing on controversies in Western countries, such as support for centrifugal political forces in Europe (right-wing parties and movements) and interference in U.S. elections. Apart from economic and political interests, Russian imperialism has proven to be an effective means of governing the people. The fact is that there are strong revanchist sentiments in society at all levels, and people are used to feeling part of a powerful empire. The government is constantly pulling the strings : “Russia remains a superpower” and “Russians – go ahead! Russian society is very similar to the 3rd Reich.
The state propaganda calls Moscow the 3rd Rome (the first was Rome in Italy, after its fall Constantinople became the second, after its fall Moscow became the third). A wild mixture of nostalgia for the USSR and imperial Russian nationalism was formed, and propaganda uses both monarchical and communist symbols. In everyday communication, this was manifested in the following way: “I will not go to the azure shores of France until there is a conversation in the only beautiful Russian language, and locals consider it their native language. In general, according to Russian imperialists and 90% of the population (until about 2016 – 2017), the whole world should speak Russian as their native language, then they (foreigners) will understand “how wonderful it is to be Russian. The annexation of Crimea was greeted with a general exultation. However, the imperial dope cannot act forever. From 2017 to 2018, the deterioration of living standards became obvious and the popularity of imperialism (along with Putin’s popularity) began to decrease, and together with the widespread influence of social media, this resulted in the “ideological” basis of Russian nationalism – ignorance – being completely ridiculed and undermined.
Watching external wars no longer has the same impact on the people as it used to, this game is over and the Kremlin is increasingly seen as an enemy after the breach of the “pension agreement”, corruption and other robbing reforms.
8. What is the role of the army in Russia?
Historically, the army has not been a political actor. Communist leaders kept it under strict control to prevent a military coup attempt. The role of the army in Russia at the moment is limited to waging foreign war and total non-interference in domestic politics. The state has no confidence that the army will defend them in case of any revolutionary events and major protests. At best, the government wants the army to keep soldiers in barracks and be neutral to the revolutionary events, at worst the army will simply switch to the side of the revolution. Service in the army is forced, which alone undermines confidence in the loyalty of soldiers.
The function of punitive units in this case will be performed by the FSB (the heir of the KGB) and some parts of the special forces, bought for a lot of money. In the event of the use of these punishers and firing on the streets, the army may intervene and reset the regime by force, which is exactly what the state fears in Russia. Moreover, the army will revolt from the bottom, from the lower officers, because all those who are colonel, major general and above in rank are fully loyal, but the lower ranks are subordinate to them only as long as there is a war with the external enemy.
9. What is the situation of the extreme right in Russia?
At the moment, there are no ultra-right movements in Russia, they have broken up and into many parts. Some of them have gone into power and are cooperating with the FSB (the former Nazis helped the FSB to catch the anarchists of the Network in Penza), or have enrolled in the FSB. Some of them became libertarian (because of the growing popularity of anarchist ideas), while others became “people’s” socialists (this is something like the realization of the idea of self-governance and socialism in a particular country without a world revolution). But all these movements have completely moved away from the position of racism and superiority of one nation over another, this is a very important feature and again, this transformation has taken place because of the Internet, in which educational ideas and scientific facts have gained popularity as a criterion of truth in recent years. Scientifically, there is no intellectual superiority of one nation over another, so racism has died in Russia. Only very insignificant groups of young people, no more than 10 people per million, are left, who imitate racist skinheads from the 90s. The war veterans in the east of Ukraine are now trying to gather together the largest “national-patriotic” association, which will include all the communist organizations existing in Russia and all kinds of state officials. This association is called the union of national-patriots and red statesmen, and it officially declares that Russia is in the same position as France in 1871 under Napoleon 3 (Putin has made a similar path to usurpation of power after receiving the post of de facto king). They believe that in Russia there will be an uprising similar to the Communards in 1871 in Paris, due to the possible increase of proanarchic ideas in society. Their goal is to prevent such a scenario in case Putin is removed from power.
10. How does the repression against dissidence and the non-anarchist opposition show itself?
All active people in Russia are under constant pressure. It is very difficult to get a permission for a rally or public gathering. All unsanctioned events are brutaly supressed. And if an event is allowed it is real humiliation. Each participant has to pass through metal detector gate, they are made to raise their arms and searched, all their belongings are inspected. Then they have to present to some plain clothes guys their placards and banners and if they do not like them, they won’t let you carry them. The police .monitors social networks and they can open a criminal case if you write something wrong. Recently they opened up a case for a comment to some government decision. The person wrote something like “they’ve gone crasy”. In big cities videocameras are everywhere and the face recognition system is working in all public transport so it is almost impossible to get to a place unnoticed. Schools and universities have special people who are responcible for “extremism prevention” and encourage students to tell. There are very few spaces where people can just gather to discuss something. There are no community centers (and no communities), libraries belong to the government and are very careful not to hold any political discussion, cafes also discourage big gatherings.
At the same time, the repression is selective, they do not even try to arrest everybody and you never know what punishment you are going to get for a particular action.Yet, there is no doubt that in case the protests increase and become more radical the government will start massive repression.
11. What are the anarchist answers and intervention in respect to the situations described in questions 6, 7, 8, 9?
The attitude of anarchists to the war in Ukraine has always been unambiguous, it is an imperialist war waged by Russia with the aim of seizing and annexing the neighboring country. Anarchists turned their agitation against both belligerents calling for weapons to be directed not against each other, but towards officials and capitalists, who unleashed this war, that is to say, to turn the imperialist war into a civil war. But this did not go further than the calls at opposition rallies, no campaigning in military units or direct action aimed at decomposing soldiers was conducted. The anarchists condemn Russia’s expansion. We are embarrassed by the behavior of some “comrades” in Europe who position themselves as anarchists, but at the same time present the confrontation between Russia and the U.S. on the world stage as a confrontation between imperialist U.S. and anti-imperialist and almost socialist Russia. In order not to waste your time, we will just give you the analogies with the First and Second World Wars. The United States and Europe as a whole are the Entente (WWI) and Allies (WWII), and Russia is the German Empire (WWI) and the 3rd Reich (WWII). If some consider the German Empire and the 3rd Reich to be fighters against imperialism of the “West”, tell them that we refuse to call these “comrades” anarchists. We are surprised by those Greek anarchists who raise the flags of the separatists and hold solidarity actions with them. Why don’t they go there in person? Maybe subconsciously they understand that instead of a beautiful picture from their newspapers they will see another Cuba, Vietnam or North Korea?
Unfortunately, a significant part of Ukrainian anarchists has succumbed to patriotic feelings and supports the war (there are even anarchist volunteers in the army). In addition, a significant number of anarchists support synthesis with national liberation concepts (similar to the Irish, Basque or Kurdish movements). In general, the Ukrainian anarchist movement is more like a leftist liberal movement and has lost itself. The only exception is the internationalist anarchists who continue struggling.
We cannot come to a concensus on the attitude to nationalists, the few who still shout “High Hitler” should certainly be mercilessly suppressed. But what about those who mimic the anarchists? Some say they need to form an alliance with them under certain conditions, others say we need to ignore them and wait, and sooner or later these “national anarchists” will completely abandon the remnants of nationalism and move to the position of internationalism. The red-brown national-patriotic alliance must of course be combated in the event of revolutionary events in Russia.
In general, anarchists in Russia have taken a wait-and-see tactic and are not taking any retaliatory action. Once again, the anarchist movement has experienced a crushing decline following the defeat of the public opposition to the country’s autocratization, has recently been weakened by unprecedented repression; the presence of anarchists on the streets and the intensity of action since 2014 has been almost zero. The consequences of the repression itself have become a major focus of efforts.
12. The Russian anarchist movement: which are the various tendencies that characterize it? What relation do they have to each other?
Russian anarchist movements can be conditionally divided into 3 independent flows: legal, semi-legal and illegal.
A typical representative of the legal movement is the organization “Autonomous Action” (Russian abbreviation – AD). This organization was founded in 2002 and is a kind of alloy of all non-authoritarian leftists, from anarchists to libertarian marxists and others. AD chose as its main methods of resistance rallies, demonstrations, and journal printing, in general, any action that is not strictly against the law. Before that, there had been no major anarchist association in Russia for almost 10 years. A few years ago, the organization brought together hundreds, perhaps even thousands, of participants, was very active, and had a good reputation in civil society circles. But the frustration that followed the defeat of the anti-Putin protests and the tightening of legislation (which hit the legal means of struggle) almost destroyed the organization. Nevertheless, the AD has managed to preserve and develop its website, which remains the most visited and has become an information platform for all interested , ABC-Moscow, which is actively involved with AD and some other projects are active. However, AD can no longer mobilize people to protest.
At the same time, there were many participants in AD who held more classical views (anarchist communism in the spirit of Bakunin and Kropotkin) and did not consider AD a sufficiently radical organization. This movement lived in the spirit of the traditions of the Machnovshchina, the old-school workers’ movement, and the history of the Russian and Spanish revolutions. An important role in the formation of this movement was played by groups of anarcho-syndicalists, who, despite their small number, developed active publicist activity, rediscovering the revolutionary romanticism of the early 20th century. The movement called itself “social anarchism,” and was averse to all the anarchist practices of Western anarchists of the post-war period (squatting, feminism, counterculture, LGBT, animal protection), except for anti-fascism, and any ideas that implied rejection of violence were considered ineffective, harmful, reformist, and “hipponic”. Their opponents called them “class reductionists”.
During the 2011-2012 political crisis in Russia, which was related to the presidential election, major protests and demonstrations began in the country. AD was unable to contain such contradictory trends and split. “The “social” anarchists formed what is now known as the People’s Self-Defense organization (Russian abbreviation – NS). NS became a semi-legal organization because it did not refuse to use violence and illegal actions if necessary. NS tried to participate in trade union activities and local social protests, for example, by taking direct action to extort unpaid salaries from the capitalists and preventing raiders from seizing apartments. Apartment raiders are very common in Russia, they buy, for example, a room in a three-room apartment, move in and create unbearable living conditions for the rest of the residents, forcing them to sell their part of the apartment cheaply. At the same time, NS also acted by legal methods, for example, put applications for rallies, and appealed to labor laws in the struggle against employers.
With the toughening of the state and the general decline of the anarchist movement, NS made an emphasis on internet propaganda. They managed to create a public channel in Telegram for 30,000 subscribers, but after Zhlobitsky’s attack (autumn 2018) the control over Telegram-group was captured by the FSB, and a number of NS participants and subscribers of their group were detained, and some had to leave Russia after being persecuted and tortured.
With the growing authoritarianism of the regime and the narrowing of the legal field of activity, NS is more and more inclined towards an illegal struggle. Time will show how much this is a consequence of ideological evolution, and not a necessary consequence of repressions. AD, on the contrary, remain public and try to act in a legal field. They have the most visited site, SM publics, hold lectures, participate in civil protests and help repressed people. The relations between the NS and the AD are at a level of hatred, the conflicts were not only political but also personal in nature and even used to end in fighting.
The decisive influence on the formation of radical groups in Russia was the anarchist uprising in Greece in 2008. Almost immediately, many insurgent autonomous groups began to manifest themselves, publishing statements first on the Indymedia, and after the introduction of censorship there, videos and action reports began to be published on the specially created sites Black Blog and From Russia with Love. With the appearance of BB, anarchist action groups were able to inform about their activities and communicate their opinions to all other members of the movement. It featured radical anarchist actions, mostly videos of arson attacks on the offices of the ruling United Russia party, expensive cars and arson of construction equipment.
Supporters of the informal organization and action groups launched radical activities in many Russian cities. The period of the active phase of the rebels can be considered 2010-2012. During this period, the number of actions and action groups was the largest. This can also include the activities of radical anarchists in Belarus, who through their actions (for example, the attack on the Russian Embassy) solidarized with the Russian anarchist movement and also contributed in every possible way to the development of the insurgency trend in the BUR territory.
Thus, completely illegal and clandestine anarchist groups emerged in Russia. They were different from both the AD and the NS and can be called “rebel anarchism”. Unlike insurrectionism, the BUR rebels never followed a particular theory and could be anything from anarcho-syndicalists to bonanists and individualists. The main thing was to actively agree with the principle of “Anarchy – illegal and attacking”. For the rebels, the other currents, the “euroleft” or “social anarchists”, were not entirely anarchic, because their attributes were to a greater or lesser extent legalism and reformism. For the rebels, anarchism must be in constant confrontation with the system of state and capitalism. The criterion of confrontation is not philosophical abstractions that put the conscience to sleep, but a practice that is completely outside the law.
Despite the great similarities and common spirit, the tactics of the rebels may have differed in some respects. Some rebels could also attack workers, not just machines, who were involved, for example, in deforestation and openly called such workers their enemies on an equal footing with the police and other authorities. In turn, the BB team did not share this view and wrote a small text on the subject. There may have been some other reasons for the creation of a separate blog called “Love from Russia”, and the content of both resources differed.
For some time AD also published the communiqués of radical anarchists (only from abroad), it all happened under the influence of the Greek uprising. At the same time, AD harshly criticized the actions of local insurgents (and even called them police provocations!), which revealed the hypocrisy of the legalists.
After the decline of the protests of 2011-2012, radical anarchist actions also subsided, and some anarchists were captured. The rebellious trend intensified after the Ukrainian Maidan. In Kyiv, arson of the authorities’ facilities began to occur on a regular basis, and the trend is towards inflicting maximum damage (rather than a symbolic attack as before) and the use of firearms. Also, the experience of Maidan and Rojava has led some rebels to the idea of building clandestine militarized organizations for advanced military training, in order to activate in the event of a revolutionary situation. Videos from some of the training camps were uploaded to the Internet. “The Network Case” is just an example of such an organization.
In general, since 2013, there has been a crisis and transformation. AD is trying to continue to operate in the legal field and their agenda is more like a left-liberal one. BB and ” Love from Russia” have long kept silent because of the decline in actions. The NS has suffered heavy losses, one of the repressed comrades has left for France and sought political asylum, some others have also had to flee. At the moment they are running a website and a channel in the Telegram messenger.
Our project, “Anarchy Today”, has been running on the Internet since recently, as well as the “Combatant-Anarchist” project and the young “Monroe Effect” media project (only available on social media). These projects reinvigorate the discourse of radical and violent anarchism.
13. What are the current anarchist projects and struggles that comrades are proposing and carrying out?
Some significant and current projects may not exist (or we do not know about it), or the undertakings of comrades do not reach a serious level. The activity of anarchists is more episodic than permanent. Often these are contributions from small groups or individual members of the movement, which act vate themselves according to their capabilities and resources. Some projects and initiatives are more focused on anarchists themselves. And so, generally speaking, anarchists continue to experiment with different tactics and types of struggle, participate in social protests, and carry out information work, mostly on the Internet. Street activity of anarchists, for example, in Russia and Belarus, is reduced to visual propaganda (hanging up banners, distributing leaflets, picketing, etc.). Perhaps, some underground groups are ripening and we are to see a qualitative leap and a new wave of anarchists’ presence in the streets, but so far the situation is the opposite. Except for individual actions (Zhlobytskyi and anarchists of FAI/IRF in Ukraine, for example), there were no attempts to pump up the movement frozen in anticipation.
On the surface, it all comes down to a couple of noteworthy practices. Firstly, these are the attempts of public participation in the growing popular protests, but it seems that the agenda of anarchists is diluted by the moderation of protesters’ slogans, although a few years ago, on the contrary, anarchists attracted some protesters with their originality. Also, there are those who take part in the protests in a nonpublic manner, without presenting their views and symbols, trying to radicalize the slogans and tactics of the protests as much as possible. In conditions of repression against anarchist movement we believe this tactic to be the most practical.
Secondly, there is an attempt to promote anarchist groups and channels in social networks and messengers, because today it is the main way of communicating information to the masses. The problem is that anarchists cannot create such quality content as their opponents and independent bloggers, so frankly speaking anarchists look weak and dull.
BUR’s anarchist movement needs a general discussion and the development of a strategic plan, the pooling of resources and mutual support, and the inclusion of all sorts of tactics to strengthen anarchist influence, but so far this has not happened. For years, anarchists from many groups have spent their energy on divisive activities and moralizing within the movement, arguing over who is the right one, while forgetting about the external enemy. Double standards have become ubiquitous. As a consequence, anarchists have become largely disjointed, in some ways even incoherent, and have not been able to withstand any criticism and the feud between the various factions and groups unfolded in a certain period of time and has given rise to a multitude of splits and gnawing. Now the loud squabbles are gone, but the “quiet” hatred continues to live on a personal level.
14. Since we only know very little of Russian anarchism, especially in regards to the last years, we would like you to explain and give an overview about “illegalist” anarchism of the last decades. About the history of different groups, individuals, organizations and actions in the last part of the 20th century. Are there anarchist prisoners locked up since a long time in Russia? What is their story? How did repression manifest itself against these groups, individuals and organizations from the past?
Speaking of “illegal” anarchism in the 90’s, it is necessary to mention the New Revolutionary Alternative, an underground militant organization that operated in 1996-2000. However, this topic is problematic because in those years there was such a type as “leftist radical”. A person calling themself an anarchist could be a member of a bolshevik youth organization, which, in turn, were associated with nationalists. Anti-semitism was a characteristic feature of the post-soviet communists, most of whom were not even classical bolsheviks, but “red-brown”. This applied not only to the older generation, but also to young people. The National Bolshevik Party did not emerge from scratch. And even those people who called themselves anarchists, such as Larisa Shiptsova, later became a communist.
The NRA planted and detonated several bombs in the military registration and enlistment office, official trade unions, prosecutor’s office and the FSB office. There were bombing attacks by “pure reds” on the background, such as the explosion of a memorial plate of the royal family and the explosion of the statue of the last Emperor Nicholas II.
It is important to say that there was no continuity between the NRA and the subsequent rebels, most of them didn’t know about the NRA.
Three participants were sentenced to 5.5, 6 and 9 years. Some other members also got to prison cause of other criminal cases, not connected to NRA.
Anarchist Ilya Romanov was captured in Ukraine in 2002 as part of the repression against the red rebels (“Odessa torture case”) and sentenced to 10 years in prison. After his release in 2013, he was extradited to Russia, where a year later he suffered from a spontaneous bomb explosion. Romanov had his hand amputated and was sentenced to 10 years in prison for preparing for a terrorist attack. In 2017, in prison, he was added another 3 years.
15. How and when, in the last years, did anarchism based on attack re-emerge?
Rebellious anarchism began to revive in 2008, in Russia and Belarus. The key event that inspired it was the uprising in Greece. It is important to emphasize here that anarchists started violent attacks in practice, but no new ideological direction was created. Ideologically, the rebels could share any trend of anarchism. The ideas of the insurrectionists at that time were almost unknown to local of anarchists. Rather, it was a new stage in the revival of anarchism as such, the full version. It has always been clear that anarchism without violence and underground is not anarchism. It became obvious to many now that anarchism without violence was merely political masturbation, the fruits of which were enjoyed by the ideological enemies (liberals, communist Marxists, and even nationalists).
After the suppression of mass civil protests in 2012 and especially after the Maidan revolution in Ukraine, many anarchists in both Russia and Belarus began to prepare for similar scenarios in their countries. Wait, save resources, exercise. Once semi-legal and covering a wide range of topics and discussions, the anarchist gathering called “Libcom” has been transformed into a more narrowly focused one, with more emphasis on the topic of underground and armed struggle. They started inviting people to “Libcom” on a selective basis. There are reports from some of these events, where anarchists demonstrate weapons and signal that they are preparing for armed struggle. This showed that illegal anarchism remained on the agenda and had its supporters. Nowadays, such rallies are taking place more and more anonymously and are organized by different groups of anarchists. The only exception is the video reports from the training camps of the RevDiya (Ukraine).
Due to the absence of such anarchists on the streets and in the media space, illegal anarchism has ceased to be talked about, and it has become harder for newcomers to reach. But this did not mean that this trend died and anarchists rejected illegalism as an outdated form of struggle. Not at all, those who were involved in the wave of radical attacks in the period 2008-2013, and those who were not afraid of repression, continued to experiment with illegalism. Independent paramilitary groups began to emerge, some of them coordinated with each other, while others remained autonomous. They stopped all public activities, withdrew from social networks and even abandoned acts of symbolic violence, and focused on training and accumulating resources, weapons and explosives. They began to prepare for an uprising. Then several anarchists from Penza and St. Petersburg were arrested (2018) and accused of belonging to such a group. They were tortured and forced to confess. After that, many anarchists emigrated, someone even committed suicide, coordination was disrupted and compromised, and with the exception of the anarchist hero Mikhail Zhlobitsky, there were no more attacks by other anarchists in Russia.
A review of the illegal anarchism of this period is well illustrated by our video clip.
Also, a more detailed overview of representatives of the illegal wing of anarchists of this period can be found in the book “Other Generation”, which includes a selection of communiqués, thoughts of different groups and individual comrades. Including stories from fugitive anarchists in an illegal situation or those imprisoned on charges of attacks. In short, the book illustrates the world of those anarchists, the young generation of comrades, who have taken this path.
The situation in Ukraine is different, and since 2016 the attacking anarchism has continued. The trend is towards a transition from symbolic attacks to real damage attacks. However, it should be noted that such a trend runs counter to the post-Maidan anarchist movement in Ukraine, which, with the exception of a group of semi-legal anarchists, was fascinated by patriotism, legalism and left-wing liberal ideas.
16. What are the perspectives and interventions of anarchists of action, which are carried out in an autonomous way, through affinity groups or individuals, unconnected to the movement, and which targets do they set themselves?
After 2013, the autonomous groups did not carry out any actions for a long time, so it is rather difficult to understand and determine the prospects and goals of the comrades. Anarchist and autonomous affinity groups once again made themselves known and appeared in Ukraine only in 2015, while in Belarus and Russia this practice has disappeared somewhere, although there were isolated cases when, for example, in Belarus, a group of anarchists attacked the Tax Inspectorate with Molotovs. It is also wrong to say that these groups are not connected with the movement, they are anarchists who, one way or another, have withdrawn from the movement but have formed their affinities and preferred an informal organization. Even though they operate autonomously, they continue to be interested in the news and follow the development of other anarchist formations. At the same time it is important to understand that here united anarchists movement is not existing for several years, each branch spins primarily in its information space.
The goals that autonomous anarchists set for themselves when carrying out their actions may be different, in addition to the direct damage to facilities or property, these are also signals to the other anarchists who had adopted a waiting policy and adjusted to society, to anarchists who were afraid of going radical before this society is ready, or for some other reason do not use all their accumulated experience and potential. The secondary goal is a possible media effect, but first of all, it is an attempt to radicalize the movement and encourage anarchists to go beyond their usual activism in the form of demonstrations, banners, etc.
It can be said that in the context of the movement, the goal is the emergence of new autonomous groups adopting experience through the information resources of radical anarchists.
17. What are the perspectives of an insurrectional anarchist projectuality in Russia?
For reasons we do not understand, rebel anarchism in Russia has so far postponed its attacks and does not remind of its existence. However, now more than ever, this practice could have some prospects. The movement must show its teeth and respond appropriately to repression and state terror, and it is the anarchists who could now revive and give confidence to both the anarchists themselves and the outraged society.
At the moment, it is noted that the mood of the population in Russia may have become closer to proanarchist spirit, so the consequences of any anarchist action are difficult to assess, but they will definitely be super-effective compared to previous years. At the moment, almost all political forces (including almost all nationalists except national patriots) and political scientists (political observers) in Russia are already speaking in one form or another for proanarchic ideas. All over YouTube, they are talking about self-governance, direct democracy, the minimum role of the state and social justice as the desire of the Russian people. With these tendencies, of course, many anarchists aim to increase their numbers, and the anarchist revolution in Russia and to resist reaction. At the moment, any form of social protest spontaneously takes on proanarchical forms even before the anarchists themselves appear at these actions. The peculiarity of all protests is a fierce denial of any leaders, no one can be superior to all others, only self-governance. Until 2018, only anarchists said this, and now the entire active population. However, it is important to note that the ideas of self-governance and direct democracy, which are popular among the population, do not yet run counter to the ideas of parliamentarism. That is why libertarianist ideas gain popularity.
To sum up: with each month violence is becoming more attractive for the protesters. We believe that “attacking Anarchy” has a good chance for success, the situation is developing in that direction.
18. Which echoes does anarchism of action awaken within Russian society and in the revolutionary movement of your country?
Russian society empathizes with the actions of brave people who direct their attacks on the state and capital, even bank robbers are approved by society. People’s vigilantes (the example is Primorsky guerrillas, who killed cops) received general approval from the people for their actions, the same as extreme case of the act of Mikhail Zhlobitsky. In some places, attempts are made to take radical actions as revenge on the part of individuals or small groups. Sometimes, brave individuals throw Molotovs at the government facilities. Have they learned from us? We cannot neither assert nor deny this.
Protoanarchic ideas have very deep roots in Russian society, the core of freedom and equality has always been in the village, and the further the village was from the city, the more fierce was the hatred for the state. Perhaps it was connected with the fact that Russia, unlike other empires, was never separated from its colonies by the ocean. All the desire for freedom could not be expressed in a kind of national and political independence, such as the desire for freedom of 13 American colonies from Britain. The only deterrant to this rebellious spirit was the orthodox religion and the tzar as anointed god. In times of crisis, no matter what it was – famine, war or general disappointment in the ruling tzar (as unjust), there was a terrible element of anarchy, destroying everything in its path. It demanded full equality, justice and revenge for the grief caused to the people by the state, nobility and the church for decades. Such uprisings were, for example, the uprising of Stepan Razin 1667-1671, the uprising of Yemelyan Pugachev 1773-1775 (also called the Peasant War) and even the revolutions of 1905 and 1917 are still the same peasant, village, anarchist, natural rebellion against the state, the church and all the rich. The ideas you read from Bakunin and Kropotkin are essentially a mixture of Russian village anarchism and European enlightenment.
Perhaps the modern awakening of Russia is another anarchist province uprising against the authoritarian metropolis, but it can be much more powerful, because the Internet has destroyed and ridiculed the foundations – the people’s faith in God and the Tsar. It is also possible that post-industrial social changes caused by the mass spread of smartphones, social networks and messengers, the forced transparency of the power vertical with its corruption and idiocy (which also undermined the belief in the Tsar) are taking hold. It feels like both processes are happening simultaneously, both in cities and in remote province, and they reinforce each other.
Again, today’s attacks on power are generally perceived as positive at all levels of society.
19. How did the fall of the USSR effect anarchism?
To a large extent, the collapse of the Soviet Union was an end in itself for Soviet anarchists, they characterize their position unequivocally – our goal was to destroy the Soviet Union, and then from their point of view anarchy would have come. Of course, the results of the collapse of the Soviet Union disappointed many anarchists, and some of those who were the most famous anarchists became the first faces of Putin’s Russia. Andrei Isayev, for example, was an anarcho-syndicalist and a supporter of Nestor Makhno until 1991, when the Soviet Union collapsed, he gradually took the path of reformism until he eventually became a member of the Supreme Council of the ruling “United Russia” party. The overall result of the collapse of the Soviet Union, of course, disappointed the majority of anarchists, and some of them considered their mission (revenge on Marxists and the destruction of the USSR) fulfilled.
The very revival of anarchism became possible due to the crisis and the collapse of the Red Empire, beginning in 1985. Even two years earlier, a leaflet would have put you in jail or, worse, in a forced psychiatric hospital. In Europe, there are enough left-wing idiots romanticizing the USSR, they only read about Orwell’s totalitarianism, and here people have experienced this nightmare on their own skin.
20. How does solidarity manifest itself within struggles and during situations of repression?
The main manifestation of solidarity is information coverage of situations, fundraising for lawyers and letters of support. Fighting solidarity either does not take place or it is done by individuals and small groups of rebel anarchists. So, for example, the attack of the hero Mikhail Zhlobitsky, in addition to revenge on the FSB, was also a gesture towards the anarchists, remembering one of his last messages on social networks, where he wrote: “What are you waiting for?” These words were addressed to comrades who did not give an adequate response to the violence of the security forces. Let us also take a communiqué from Ukraine from the informal anarchists who, through their attacks on the Training Center of the Ministry of Internal Affairs and the shelling of the court, are trying to convey to their comrades in Russia, and not only that the time has long come for fighting solidarity. In a word, the anarchists have not really taken up fighting solidarity yet.
21. Which are the most recent episodes of repression against anarchists in Russia?
The latest cases are Kirill Kouzminkin, a 14-year old anarchist from Moscow, detained in prison, under investigation. Accused of contacts with Mikhail Zlobitsky and of possession of explosives (allegedly he was going to bomb the nationalist Russian march). Denies all accusations.
Azat Miftakhov, an anarcist from Moscow, a post-graduate student of mathematics, now in prison, under investigation. Azat was tortured but didn’t say anything, so the police had to abandon the first accusation (he was accused of making a bomb and planning a bomb attack) as they could not find any proof. But immediately they found a new accusation, now he is accused of taking part in an attack against “United Russia” party office.
Also, several people are under criminal prosecution for writing on the internet that Zhlobitsky was a hero (“justifying terrorism”), they are different people, not all of them are anarchists. Some of them got 1 year of prison or big fine (equal to a medium wage for more than a year).
22. The repression of the network case: how is it proceeding, which positions are the involved comrades taking? What is the story of this experience of struggle? What is your opinion about this?
The case is now in court in Penza and Petersburg. One of the defendants (Zorin) spoke immediately after arrest and betrayed his comrades,During the investigation all the others were severely tortured and finally made to speak. Yet, later all of them (with the exception of Shishkin) took back their words. Shishkin made a pre-trial agreement with the procecution, told everything he was asked to, repented and got a relatively light sentence(3 and a half years in a prison camp). Another exception was Boyarshinov. He did not speak till almost the end of investigation, but then he aknowledged having been in a terrorist group and repented. He claims he doesn’t remember much and was not seriously involved. All the rest deny all accusation. They claim there has not been any terrorist organisation at all, the video of their exercise with arms is just a strikeball game, the text of the manual that the police got hold of is just a set of nonsencial sentences, a secret meeting in Perersburg was a seminar on consensus, etc. Pchelincev, who is accused of being the organizer of the group and whose job was a shooting instructor, even claims that he is against violent methods as such and does not identify himself as an anarchist.
The lessons to be learned:
1. Before the Network case, in case of arrest you could be beaten up, threatened , hadncuffed for many hours, etc but nobody was prepared for real Gestapo (or NKVD)-like tortures. Now this is the reality to face. Illegal anarchists must be prepared not only morally but also organisationally. The moment somebody is arrested everybody he/she worked with should disappear and all the communication patterns should be changed immediately. At the same time we must understand that arrest or extinction of a group is not the end of the world, there must be a plan how to recover the activity as quickly as possible in such a case.
2. Two comrades from the Penza group are also accused of drugdealing. We do not know if it was just their private business, if the others new about it and if they wanted to use the money to finance the activity. Yet,this made these people noticed by police. If you are involved in revolutionary struggle you must not have anything to do with drugs – both for moral and practical reasons.This business is totally controlled by police and as soon as you step into it you are hooked.
3. The defense line has replaced the truth itself, and now the vast majority of the public does not believe that it was really an anarchist militant group, only random anti-fascists \ “left-wing activists” Everything has its price, and by giving up their beliefs, a person loses a part of their own “self”. Without positioning oneself as an anarchist, what is happening is not perceived as an act of anarchist struggle and loses its meaning.
4. During the investigation, some people did not wait for the trial and published an article at NS-group media, in which they called the traitors those who at that moment did not refuse from the testimony given under torture during the investigation. Such a person was Arman Sagynbayev. Later Arman refused from his testimony and did not admit guilt in court. Yulian Boyarshinov, on the contrary, pleaded guilty.
It should be understood that we do not know all the circumstances of the case, the nuances of the situation of the arrested, their tactics, and before the trial it is impossible to say for sure who is right and who is the sneak.
Also, during the investigation, some people from the ABC refused to accept money for a some arrested person, arguing that they consider him a traitor. Subsequently, this was not confirmed. How it possible to look yourself in the mirror after that?
23. We have noticed in various texts coming from Russia that comrades are often defined as activists, antifascists and anarchists, etc. Why are these terms interchanged? Is it because of media? Is it because of a collaboration between different revolutionary expressions? Is there the intention to diminish or hide anarchists intervention? Or perhaps something else?
These terms are used by certain legalist collectives and we do not quite understand why they do it. The reason could be cooperation with various non-anarchist movements (human rights activists, liberals, relatives of the arrested comrades) and also the desire to gain the media and society support. The word “anti-fascist” is acceptable in the society and has a positive historic background. In fact using these words as interchangeble diminishes and shades anarchist influence. Legalists generally tend to more and more imitate left liberals so this linguistic tactics fits the general tendency. Our collective avoids using the terms “activist” or “antifascist” for anarchists unless the person insists on identifying themself as a social activist or antifascist. Unwilingness to call themselves may hide subconscious fear of anarchist ideas. Anarchists who are afraid of Anarchy – there are always people like that.
24. What are your considerations about the anarchist struggles of the past and the present ones in Russia?
The present day struggle of anarchists in Russia is low-containing and low-intensity. However, this is due to the number and quality of participants in the movement, not to the social situation. Obviously, the anarchist struggle of the present is qualitatively inferior to the past. Symbolic activity, correction of the purely anarchic agenda in favor of mass demands, lack of practical examples and projects close to the anarchic ideal, unfortunately, make our influence weak.
But the anarchist struggle of the last few years has been the best thing in our lives. It pulled us out of the swamp of the philistine attitude to life, gave us unforgettable experience, friendship, love, passion, courage and hope. The black star lit the way to the knowledge of the world, hardened the mind, making it stubborn, demanding, critical. Let the movement have its ups and downs, we would never trade this experience for a safety cage. Be faithful to the ideals of youth!
The Russian anarchism of the past has become an important source of inspiration for us. The example of revolutionary anarchists in the era of tsarism is fascinating, those people became an unbeaten example of morality, valor and honor.
25. In your opinion, what are the limits of present day anarchist struggle in Russia? Which are the priorities and which ones should be the priorities?
There are no limits to the struggle in Russia. Unlike similar cases of authoritarian regime crisis, we have weak liberals and business, and they are unlikely to be able to seize power throughout the country in case of its collapse. The situation strongly resembles 1917, when there was no clearly dominant alternative political force, and the people were getting more and more angry. This opens up the widest range of opportunities.
Opinions on priorities vary, and it is difficult to understand what will be effective. Some believe that it is necessary to make targeted attacks on the symbols of the regime and to bring anarchism to the indignant people through such propaganda. Others believe that it makes sense (in the case of a social explosion) to try to seize a separate territory and create there, at least temporarily, an anarchist confederation, to use it as a good example and a base for expansion. There is also an opinion that society should be activated by participating in social conflicts, not so much to achieve a result but for the radicalization of the protesters, for them to gain experience of self-organization, and to increase tensions with the authorities. It is important to note that the All-Russian revolt which is in the air does not yet have a clear economic coloring, and that this upcoming uprising is directed against the idea of governing society through authoritarian methods, and many people just cannot imagine a non-authoritarian state.
We believe that this is the key point for attack – undermining the very idea of statehood and positioning the idea of direct democracy of participation as an alternative. If people are able to melt this block of ice in their minds, then other ideas will also have prospects.
A certain limit of an anarchist struggle, although in fact the Anarchist struggle has no limits (it unfolds whenever injustice manifests itself) can be considered a spontaneous mass rebellion, when there is an attack on the existing government, after that it will be difficult for anarchists to influence the revolution. The people may overthrow the government that they hate but it is unlikely that they will reject the state as such. People’s demands may be radical, but not enough to accept Anarchism in its purest form here and now. Mankind still has a lot of rebellions to go through in order to finally accept the anarchist view of the world and to reconsider the relationship between people.
Therefore, anarchists should make their contributions where possible, mark their presence and be consistent fighters, go together with rebellious people as long as the uprising is directed against the authorities and institutions, but if the people start to be afraid of the freedom granted to them and go back to the old forms of organization of life, anarchists should continue their uprising alone. To sum up, the priorities of the anarchist struggle must be an insurgency perspective, where the struggle is aimed at finding contradictions and unjust forms in any of the existing societies and political regimes to continue the attack on the enemies of human freedom. No matter how much life in Russia changes after the overthrow of the Putin regime, there will come a time when the enemy will once again be feasible for anarchist attack on it.
26. In your opinion what are the limits of social struggles and movements, and which are the limits and perspectives of anarchist participation in non-anarchist struggles?
The limit of the struggle of social movements, even the ultra-radical ones, is in their reformist aspirations. It is not possible for a social movement to become revolutionary without developing ideals that go beyond the foundations of the social and political system. The idea of anarcho-syndicalists that the struggle for particular improvements will lead to a social revolution has been disproved by the history of the 20th century. The improvement of social and economic conditions has led the working class into a well-fed stall, and that is all. The early success of the anarcho-syndicalists was due to the fact that the capitalists simply could not meet their demands, the economies were not yet so productive. But when the capitalists were able to afford it, they created a “social state” and bribed the workers.
When true freedom appears in the horizon, the freedom that caresses and energizes, the average person is afraid, because their imagination does not contain this idea, which would serve as a navigator in the new space of uncertainty and defiance. At this moment, reactionary forces, which organize and arrange everything according to their views, appear on the arena of struggle again. Freedom in its purest form is abolished, restrictions are imposed, and a certain compromise takes place. Opportunism is the limit.
From now on, we, anarchists, should be interested in those few who managed to overcome the barrier of fear and moved on to the world of utopias. As for the rest, even a defeat is already our victory, because after such a defeat people harbour resentment against authority, which will show up later on. It is a paradox, but the victories of social movements turn out to be defeats for anarchism, because people have an illusion have met their demands. That is why liberal regimes are much more stable than authoritarian ones. In addition to skepticism about power, in the course of social struggle people also acquire skills of self-organization and socialization in general, which is especially important in an atomized society.
Today, anarchists in Russia usually join social protests without identifying themselves as anarchists but promoting components of anarchist ideas (direct democracy, distrust of parties, direct action). Previously, it would have been different – anarchists would have come with their own symbols and a separate bloc, just like another party. However, now it is not safe to call yourself an anarchist because of the persecution by the authorities, and in this context repressions have played a positive role. We believe that an anonymous format of participation is the best solution, but the final conclusions can be drawn after a while, when the results can be evaluated. This may be a misperception.
27. Why and how did the habit of filming oneself during actions and in their preparation develop? What are the advantages and the limits of such practice?
The plusses are obvious:
1. People will learn about the action from the Internet and in the Internet nobody will believe you unless you produce a proof.
2. The official media will most likely ignore the event or they will show a fake, we need to be able to let people understand what really happened.
3. There is so much information around that you need to show a good picture just to attract the people’s attention.
4. It has an instruction function (shows how to do it) and inspires others to follow the example.
5. People will no longer see vandals and chaffers in anarchists, but will see people who are not indifferent to the injustice that is happening around them.
6. The more often and in more detail will anarchists demonstrate themselves in video, with a detailed description of what is happening ( it can be preparing an action, street protest or a radical action), the more difficult it will be for the pro-governmental or any other media to make the anarchists look like stupid vandals.
7. If we learn to show ourselves from the good side (as selfless fighters for the common people and justice), it is possible that even some of the near-liberal media (and not only) will start speaking positively about the anarchists, thus increasing the sympathy for our ideas and actions on the part of the general public.
The minuses are also obvious:
1.You need a separate camera-man.
2.The original of the video is a criminating evidence.
28. We have also noticed that there is a remarkable use of social networks by anarchist comrades, what is your opinion about their use?
BUR’s anarchists do not just actively use social networks, it is one of the main ways of propaganda for the general public. Not only legalists, but also almost all rebel groups are developing their platforms there. However, the popular social network (vkontakte) is under full control and supervision of the intelligence services, alternative social networks and messengers also do not give confidence in security, people are constantly being judged for reposting in them.
Our team has deliberately refused to run its own social media channels. This is partly due to the security reasons and unwillingness to voluntarily create databases for the security services, which, without any doubt, work out the connections of each subscriber. At the request of the security services and police, the administration of the social network can easily block the public group.
In addition to security, we are concerned about the tendency of the information society to reduce to a superficial perception of content. Instead of reading serious analytical articles and books, anarchists (following the society) are increasingly living in the news flow. The level of theoretical education is declining, ideas are being replaced by emotionality, symbolism and aesthetics. Anarchists are keen to create a fragile infostructure on social networks to the detriment of the development of websites and print media. The authorities have been able to destroy most of the anarchic information space, and the earlier it happens, the better. Maybe this will make comrades understand.
It should be noted that the state loses control over the Internet. For example, the authorities failed to block the messenger Telegram, and it became a key platform for alternative media. The number of people who criticize and insult the government has reached such a level that even repression cannot stop this critical mass of disrespect for power. Yet, people actually get jailed for reposting, from a few months to three years.
The attitude and opinion of some members of our team towards social networks is expressed in more detail in this article: https://a2day.net/sotsialnye-kleti/
Main ideas of the article:
“Here and now”
Increasingly, users only read headings and a few lines, and the format of an article c consisting of 3-5 paragraphs has become common. This used to be possible for news, but not for analytics or theory. The infinite and over-intensive flow of news has led to people reading only what is happening at the moment. If you don’t write about the events immediately, you do not exist. The very format of social networks is not suitable for structuring and systematizing information, it is almost impossible to find anything in this dump.
Spinning up their groups on social networks has replaced the task of enlightenment with the desire to get as many views, likes and followers as possible. Ask yourself, how much does this reflect the real depth of reading in an information system that is designed for rapid change?
“Reality in the news feed”
What is happening in the world is perceived through the prism of the news flow, which radically distorts the perception of reality. Try to follow the war in Syria through social media news, and after a while read articles in journals and books about the same events. You will see completely different pictures, see more important and well-known events that are left out of the inflow.
Instead of a plethora of anarchical sites that provide quality content filtered from info noise, we see a bunch of groups and channels that you don’t even want to read. Readers of such publics have a very poor understanding of even the basics of anarchism, which can be seen in the discussions and the level of discussion. Instead of qualitative and organizational growth, there is a legitimization of superficiality, and newcomers consider this level to be a standard. Quantity does not turn into quality. The pursuit of the number of Followers has taken a toll on many anarchists, who have begun to identify the number of subscribers to the channels with the real influence and strength of the group. The long-awaited heat of the situation in Russia occurs almost without anarchists. There can be no excuse: it is an epic fail. By the way, note that the three most notorious events – Network, Zhlobitsky and Miftakhov – made millions and dozens of millions of people hear about anarchism for the first time in modern Russian history, and all these events turned out to be based on violence or connected with violence (the explosion, the creation of an underground armed organization, and the manufacture of explosives, respectively).
In addition to the fundamental flawedness of publics, the situation is exacerbated by their blatant vulnerability. The administration of social networks can easily block them, and years of work can disappear at any time. In Belarus, the Prameny and Revolutionary Action groups in Vkontakte (Russian social media) have thus been blocked, so these groups have completely abandoned setting them up (which is logical).
But even the praised Telegram is engaged in blocking. Thus, on 31.03.2019 the administration of the Telegram blocked the chat of the RevDiya. However, we see the main problem with vulnerability not in blocking, but in the fact that social networks are transparent to repressive bodies which can easily get the user’s ip-address.
Social networks and messengers make an invaluable contribution to the awakening of society, the new consolidation of people after the anabiosis of post-Soviet atomization. It is necessary to learn how to use them properly, not to engage in imitation. Instead of creating our own anarchist publics, we propose to use existing mass publics for propaganda. There is a much wider reach of the audience and there is no need to spend energy on maintaining the resource. When high-profile events occur, mobilization for comment is essential. Several dozen anarchist messages leave a mark even among several thousand comments. The effect is greatly enhanced by writing in streaming mode. We are talking not only about news, but also about lectures, debates, which are watched by hundreds of thousands of people, and it is not difficult to track the announcements. Today, information ecology is a vital quality of Internet usage. This means a deliberate restriction of the frequency of reading news, early selection of information sources, allocation of basic time for reading books and informative articles. We only need to create quality content (not one-day garbage) to stand out in the information flow.
Russia is revolutionizing. Dissatisfaction with the authorities is growing precisely because of social injustice, slogans about direct and electronic democracy are heard during popular protests, and even liberals talk about “basic democratic demand”. We are entering a zone of deep upheaval, but the anarchists themselves are not heard in this outright request for Anarchy. In 1917, the ideas of the Soviets and economic socialization gained support of the people within a few months. We need to present anarchism in a modern form for every social group, in a language it understands, to focus the natural popular aspiration for freedom and justice.
29. Are there anarchist newspapers (in paper form) that circulate among comrades? What kinds of positions do they tend to have?
There used to be many, now there are practically none. From the remaining the periodicals we can name the old magazine “Avtonom”, which has been published for 20 years. The digital format is actively replacing the printed format, and in entire social groups the printed media have become archaic. Informative pamphlets are still being produced for use within the movement, but this is also going away. Objectively, the digital format is faster, safer (if security rules are observed), cheaper and impossible to confiscate during a search (if the computer is encrypted). Now, in the conditions of fragmentation of the movement, for many anarchists there is no other way, the open field of activity has been greatly reduced, there is now no place to distribute the periodicals and few people will agree to provide their address for mailing.
In society, not only are print periodicals being supplanted, but periodicals are being supplanted as such. Periodicals are replaced by social media channels that broadcast a continuous flow of news. Whether this trend continues or reverses, we do not know yet. Thanks to this phenomenon, the threshold for entry into politics has been lowered, and Internet channels are regularly read by a huge number of people from the widest social circles. At the same time, however, the quality is falling, and so called “digital retardation” is developing.
30. Are there anarchist book publishers? Which ones, what are their themes?
Yes, there are a few and we are glad that their number is growing. They publish both Russian authors and translations, the amount has grown a lot. Among these publishers are ATP (Anarchist theory and practice), Lixoy Star, Cherny Kvadrat, Samoopredelenie. The subjects are diverse – classics, modern literature, history, theory, practics and analitics.
31. How is anarchist propaganda distributed?
99% by Internet: websites, telegram channels, social networks.
Also, the spreading of ideas de facto takes place through YouTube channels, many bloggers and intellectuals show open interest and even support for certain forms of anarchism in their videos. At the moment, the ideas of anarchism on YouTube are particularly active among libertarians (anarcho-capitalists). Of course, they seem to be ideological opponents for other anarchists, but nevertheless, thanks to the Internet, the influence of the ideas of a stateless society has already reached almost all strata of Russian society.
32. Are there anarchist libraries or printing spaces?
Very few and they are not really popular – such places are often under survellance and you can find the books on the Internet. The groups that have an access to a printer are lucky, printing, say, leaflets is always a problem. It is dangerous to leave traces on your home or work printer as during a search the police can easily identify the printer.
33. What are your considerations in regards to clandestine struggle?
Clandestine struggle in Russia due to the political regime is not only a rebel struggle, it is almost all propaganda and organizational work. Illegalism outside the underground can exist only within the framework of relatively liberal regimes, 10 years ago it was still possible, but now it would be mere suicide. However, even within the underground, there may be different tactics. We are supporters of clandestine affinity groups, not necessarily each of them has to engage in insurgency, for example, a publishing house is also important and you might also go to jail for it (criminal article “extremism”). Internet is enough for coordination, scryptotechnology enables us to securely encrypt messages and build an entire cloud infrastructure. An important advantage of such a system is its survivability and the development of a culture of acting under the maximum conditions of secrecy. In a revolutionary situation, affinity groups will be able to concentrate and even emerge from the underground when the struggle is open.
Another, more classical tactic is to build a single underground organization, as the underground fighters did in the 70-80s. Although this seems more optimal, it is much more vulnerable. Intelligence agencies only need to find one element of the organization to unwind most or all of it.
In the example of the Network, we can see how the 3 groups were neutralized, even without starting to act, because of the physical connections between their members. The organisation as a whole did not prove itself publicly, so we cannot even assess its real potential and the willingness of the participants to act decisively. By the way, the network of rebel anarchist groups (during the BB period), which were coordinated and acted informally, held on and did much more than the Network groups from Penza and St. Petersburg. The contribution of the insurgents was felt, and the vulnerability of such groups was much lower than that of the underground organizations a la Network. Only a couple of insurgent groups were uncovered in Russia, and no one was imprisoned. The echoes of insurgent anarchism are evident in Ukraine since 2016, with the latest report dated April 2019. This suggests that the tactics and method of organizing autonomous insurgents are alive.
The underground is the main type of organization and struggle. We respect public figures such as members of solidarity networks, journalists, lecturers, and publishers, and in today’s Russian realities you need the courage to speak out openly. And it is precisely because of the harsh realities that such activity should not be an example for others, as it can all end in reprisals in a matter of days.
At the same time, we oppose the symbiosis of “above the ground + underground” and follow the logic “if the authorities allow us to act openly, it means that it is more advantageous for them than to ban it”. Russia is neither Ireland nor Kurdistan, here revolutionaries do not have mass support of the people (people are ready to support them in words, but in practice they do not support them), which could quickly make up for the losses. Sometimes the authorities use a more primitive power model, prohibiting everything, as in Belarus, because the small scale of the country, low activity of the society and a huge number of police officers allow such a model to be effective. Russia is large, very heterogeneous, and a simple prohibition is ineffective. Therefore, the authorities use more effective methods, especially since they have more material, technical, and organizational resources. The Russian security services have accumulated vast experience in fighting underground militant movements of the separatists of Chechnya and jihadists. Like the Israeli Mossad, the FSB realized that it is strategically more advantageous to provide a public platform than to squeeze out radicals into the underground. It is impossible not to underestimate the enemy, one cannot agree to the proposed rules of the game.
Now the possibilities of the anarchist underground are insignificant. Resources are very limited and there is no real support from the people, it is not realistic for any significant group to start active urban or rural gerilla. We are for the underground not in the form of a single underground organization, but as a network of autonomous groups coordinated through the Internet. We need dispersion, and we need a variety of tactics. Only in this way the movement will not be destroyed by the police and special services, and only in this way will anarchists understand which tactics are better.
Today, the public anarchist movement seems to be the most dangerous place. Each anarchist, especially recently who has come to the movement, first of all should go into the shadows. You need to assemble your group without a physical connection with the rest of the movement, otherwise the matter will be doomed to failure in advance.
The circle of public anarchists will decrease as the repressiveness of the state grows. Already now, former political prisoners, who were sentenced for protests in 2012, are arrested simply for speaking at a demonstration. Further it will be even worse.
On personal level for many people clandestine work means leading a double life: having a job, an account in a social network with holiday photos, etc. and doing the things that nobody should know about.People live like that for many years.
34. What is the relationship between anarchists and communists in Russia? In general what is your relationship to communist and the left?
Marxists believe that the state can be used as a tool to achieve communism and protect the interests of workers, but this is a mistake. The state has its own subjectivity, bureaucracy is de facto a separate class with its own interests. Even if some other class (the proletariat or bourgeoisie) manages to conquer the class of “bureaucrats” for a while, the latter will sooner or later take revenge. The state is an indomitable and rabid animal that makes no sense to train, it can only be put to death.
The attitude of anarchists (especially semi-legal organizations and illegalists) to marxists is extremely negative, reaching, in some cases, irreconcilable hatred comparable to hatred for nationalists. This hatred also concerns all the symbols associated with marxists: the red flag and sickle with a hammer (the attitude towards them is similar to the attitude towards swastikas), Maoism, the cult of Che Guevara, trotskyism and so on. The new wave made a point of identifying itself as anarchists, sharing anti-bolshevism (this was the great merit of the anarcho-syndicalists’ publicists), and it even reached the point of collisions with the communists, attacks of their meetings and burning of the red flag.
Yet, in practice some marxists (as well as some liberals) are much better than their ideologies. Some of us can remember situations when we were fighting shoulder to shoulder against fascists or police /private security. All cooperation ends when marxists get or hope to get even the tiniest bit of authority.
At the same time, legalists are much more loyal to the left and often form common blocks at demonstrations.
Left-wing social-democratic forces do not exist in Russia, the left flank is usually occupied by those who are nostalgic for the USSR. The European “left-wing”, which opposes corporations for more social and green capitalism, is hardly known here (except for those who mistakenly call themselves anarchists). This kind of fantasy only makes us smile.
35. What are your considerations about European anarchism?
European anarchism is diverse and varies greatly from region to region, north or south. It is necessary to distinguish between trends and to speak in more detail about them. There are not so many texts and theories from Europeans that come to us; there are both negative and positive aspects of European anarchism. Many practices and actions, such as decent behavior in courts and defending one’s anarchic indentities to the end, the use of weapons and attempts to lead an urban gerilla, are very inspiring to us! Modern anarchists in BUR have also for a long time failed to notice and value nihilistic and individualistic views, but through the texts of a number of Greek and Italian anarchists these views have been studied as an important trend in the general discourse. As we have already said, we did not have our own 1968 year, and in the Russian anarchist classics the questions of personality are not sufficiently elaborated. However, we have no sympathy for anti-humanist concepts in the spirit of Stirner and Nietzsche. We are convinced that the freedom of one person increases (not restricts!) the freedom of another person, and the richer you are, the more you give (not accumulate!). It is important to note that in our history anarchists of the individualistic trend participated in the revolution and were members of synthetic organizations, for example, the Ukrainian “Nabat”. If anyone does not care about the revolution outside the window, then such a “superhuman” is just a product of a rich society, which can afford bohemian rebels who do not know the difficulties of life and human love.
Frankly speaking, the expression “european anarchism” usually means something typical of Germany, the atmosphere of happening, the struggle for anything but the main thing, from outside it looks like relaxation and childhood. Although some people like it. To speak constructively, we see a number of fundamental drawbacks:
It seems that European anarchists by default consider themselves to be the most advanced, that their processes are the most important. This self-confidence in their leading role has already played a cruel joke many times. In fact, Europe has the least revolutionary potential and the greatest conservatism. The most interesting are the regions that have the most oppression and exploitation.
European anarchists like to consider themselves Left and automatically cooperate with left movements. The process has gone so far as to blur the anarchist identity. The anarchist agenda is filled with the discourse of the leftist academic environment, and further away from real life. For us, it is a savagery that comrades can be restricted in their rights and excluded from interaction because of their nature (white, male, athlete, straight), which the cabinet theorists have declared to be oppressive in some way.
Leftist trends of non-violence destroy the spirit of struggle, it hurts to see how people under the black flag promote obeying the law. More and more often, anarchists as typical leftists seek to become victims of “unjustified” violence by the police and to assure the public of their peacefulness. Here, liberals do this during demonstrations.
The sacred cow of anti-imperialism is also characteristic of seeing the world through the murky leftist prism. The oppressed and the weak automatically becomes a good person who deserves solidarity. Can it be a guilt complex for the imperialist past? We are now witnessing the hype of the European movement in connection with Rozhava, as it used to be with China, Vietnam, or Cuba. Instead of black flags, European anarchists like to fly YPG flags, join the PKK, build theoretical foundations to strengthen “democratic confederalism” and self-censor uncomfortable facts.
For us, anarchism left the cradle of leftism long ago. We want complete freedom, any intermediate step is a step backwards. Russian anarchism has already burned its fingers, it was in 1917, when anarchists shared the theory of three revolutions: against the monarchy, then against the bourgeoisie and then against the socialists. A tragic mistake, the leftish turned out to be worse enemies than the reaction, worse than the fascists. We want anarchism – not socialism, anarchism – not communism, anarchism – not gender equality within the state, or some other liberal nonsense that substitutes the true purpose of our struggle. Forget about the concepts of the left or right, we are anarchists, we destroy the framework of dictatorship and representative democracy, we do not care about the struggle of the left and right statehood, we must crush them all. For us, the primary issue is freedom, not the level of material wealth. Only direct democracy without the state, only complete freedom for the individual and no common “anti-fascist” fronts!
European anarchists are literally dreaming of autonomous zones. Squats and social centers are presented as an unconditional benefit, so this idea has become fundamental. We see “autonomy” as a fiction, a dangerous fictitious opportunity to use it as a springboard to attack the system. First, to have autonomy, you need a liberal political regime that will allow you to have it. This is unthinkable in Russia! We are accustomed to the fact that the state can destroy such places at the click of a finger. Is it worth building infrastructure on such a fragile foundation?
Secondly, even if the state allows the autonomy to exist, the police will make the most of it. It is much more convenient to observe the movement, its dynamics, and to identify dangerous elements inside (radical groups or individuals).
Real autonomy should have its own armed forces (militia) for self-defense rather than the protection of the state and the police. In the event that the autonomy starts to pose a real threat, anarchists will not be able to hold these territories with Molotovs against the armed special forces or army units. Even the famous Exarchy is powerless against the drug mafia, located right in the center of it. Local inhabitants already want police to come in! This powerlessness undermines the belief in the effectiveness of anarchist methods. And if you are unable to defend your free zone against a real, seriously armed enemy, then you have no freedom. You are just the same servant of your master who allows you, as a child, to play on a small part of their land.
The problem with antifascism is that it legitimizes the liberal system. Allegedly, there is a relative political “normality”, a little to the right or left, under the rule of the capitalists and with many flaws, but which we all must necessarily protect, because fascism is obviously worse. First – liberalism, and only then anarchism? Who has “proven” this linear logic emanating from the old belief in continuous progress? Are freedom of speech and social guarantees that were once obtained in the course of the labor struggle really values in themselves? These rights are only anesthesia in the struggle against authority; they mitigate oppression and infect the illusion of the possibility of change. On the contrary, fascism is extremely frank, doesn’t leave any doubts what is in front of you.
Think about how many revolutions and uprisings that have occurred in liberal regimes do you know? And in the authoritarian regimes? A spurt to Anarchy is much more possible in a repressive environment than in a society in which a well-fed burgher idly comes out to hold a flag on demonstration. Down with the “normality”! Down with the anti-fascist fronts designed to defend “normality.” If the ultra-rights destroy the social state, then let it go. The worse, the better! Let the state reveal its true face in order to dispel illusions. In Russia we don’t have so much allowance as in Europe, but it is possible to live and to fight.
36. Could you talk about the story of Mikhail Zhlobitsky? What were the reactions within the anarchist movement in regards to his attack? What were the general social reactions? What has been the repressive answer to this? How did anarchists react to it?
The news of the explosion in the reception room of the Arkhangelsk FSB, October 31, 2018, made us happy and upset overnight. On this day, there was a long overdue act of retribution for all those repressions carried out by FSB in Russia against representatives of the anarchist movement over the past year (the Network case, the new case against Ilya Romanov, Karakashev and many others). Torture, arrests and detention in prisons of our like-minded people required not only attention to the very fact of arrests and cases and the organization of all kinds of support for prisoners and their relatives, but also elementary retribution! The anarchist movement itself needed to defend its own dignity and honor. Solidarity needed an attack!
It would seem that modern anarchists who are developing their activities in the Russian state will not tolerate such attitude towards themselves. In addition, street actions of solidarity against the FSB were immediately suppressed, and a number of participants were also tortured! But anarchists continued to resort to the same information activism, appealing and appealing to the public. The attack did not happen, nothing was done to directly point the bastards to their guilt in front of the anarchists. The bastards did not feel any consequences – their usual comfort zone remained untouched.
From the moment the first reports of torture and continued detentions appeared, such a reaction (or rather the lack of proper response) seemed to clearly demonstrate the inability of anarchists to organize themselves into direct anarchic action, the lack of morale, and perhaps the banal fear of sharing the fate of imprisonment with those who had already been caught. The ambition and potential of the anarchists on the outside began to fade right in front of our eyes. It became obvious that behind the public groups with dozens of thousands partisipants in social media there were just small bunches of active people.Against the background of all this, the Network’s defendants, having accepted the line of defense from their lawyers, began to drift from anarchists to anti-fascists. The anarchists in this whole protracted history with the Network simply disappeared from the front of the struggle without defending themselves or proving their revolutionary claim.
As a result, only the facts that the Network prisoners had lost their anarchist identity and the complete absence of direct attacks from those who remained free came to the surface. There was an atmosphere of amorphous and passive observation of what was happening. At that moment, the fate of those arrested was fully in the hands of judges and prosecutors, and solidarity was reduced to jurisprudence.
At the end of October 2018, the news of the explosion in the FSB building in Arkhangelsk crashes into this atmosphere. A dedicated and young hero, Misha Zhlobitsky, delivered and initiated an explosive device in the FSB foyer. This individual act on the part of Mikhail and the atmosphere in which he detonated the bomb is probably the whole story about him. A young and selfless comrade, he sacrificed himself for the sake of terrorizing those who terrorize the people and for each of us to think about our purpose and role in this uncompromising and fierce struggle against power and capital. Mikhail is in our hearts and memory forever!
The bomb not only damaged the building, but also injured three FSB officers (they may have died, their fate has not been made public), it also destroyed the last barrier that kept the population from taking action – fear of the KGB-FSB. Here it is necessary to make an important remark, in Russian tradition there is respect for heroic self-sacrifice, for such an act people begin to treat seriously the person who have made a self-sacrifice and to those ideas which he carried, and Michael’s ideas about anarcho-communism (before death he wrote exactly so) almost perfectly coincided with anarchy and atheism in the Internet. On the Internet, Mikhail was almost immediately recognized as a national hero, there he was called a true patriot (nationalist part), and a vigilante (the bulk of the people), and just a hero among anarchists. People stopped being afraid of arrests, repressions and any threats from the state in general, and the aggression of the state began to cause not fear, but anger. From that moment on, the “social storm” finally shaped itself in the form of calls for general self-governance (making all decisions only through people’s assemblies and referendums), the liquidation of the state and the removal of all officials from their posts, as well as the exacerbation of all social conflicts to a degree, after which a revolution or civil war could erupt.
37. We would like to leave you all the space you deem necessary to talk about issues and aspects of your anarchism that we have not touched or that you find interesting to share with us.
The biggest weakness of the anarchist movement as a whole (Europe and BUR) is the lack of ambition. It is not a question of dreams in which an anarchist revolution will suddenly occur simultaneously throughout the world, but of real concrete goals. The world is a heterogeneous place, so a one-step revolution in all countries will not happen, which means that potential pro-anarchical social explosions (for example, the processes taking place in Russia today) are likely to cover only individual countries where the states may fall, and in their place will come free confederations of communities, municipalities, communes, no matter what they are called. These state-free territories will have to become the bases for the further spread of the revolution, otherwise they will be crushed sooner or later. Such a scenario is the only possible scenario for anarchists at a given time in history, but almost none of the anarchists have real goals and ambitions to achieve them. Even if there is a desire, at the very first opportunity of its REALIZATION, anarchists tend to quail, they are afraid of taking responsibility for further development according to the scenario just described. Anarchists want to remain eternal fighters, eternal noble Robin Hoods, who are always trying to change the world, but they still fail. Our common weakness – the lack of real will to change reality – has been successfully exploited by our main enemies, the Nazis and especially by the Marxist Communists. Therefore, at a crucial moment it is necessary to show your ambitions, and then 10 anarchists will be able to scare 100 cops with just a demonstration of their will and make themselves respected. Seeing the will and determination of the anarchists the masses of the people will believe thatt our ideas are right, and before we realise it, demonstrations with black flags will seize the buildings of parliament, destroy police stations and offices of the intelligence services, create local self-governance bodies in their place, and bring anarchy to the rest of the world.
For anarchism, it is necessary first of all to destroy the state’s monopoly on violence, in practice it is very easy to do: if you see that some injustice is being done no matter where – in the street, in the supermarket, anywhere, stand up for the humiliated person! This will be the strongest and most rterrible for the state propaganda of anarchy. If, for example, a girl is raped in the Exarchy free region of Greece, organize battle teams and punish those who committed violence or bring the perpetrators to a meeting of the district’s residents and publicly (by the people’s court) punish the perpetrator. This is the only way to show everyone that anarchism works and there is no need for the state. It will be stronger than thousands of car bombings, stronger than hundreds of burnt-out banks, stronger than dozens of police stations blown up, it will be even stronger than the explosion of any parliament building. Kill the state in the eyes of people, and anarchism will come faster than you can say, “Death to the state!”
The fight against the idea of “civilization” and “technology” was a huge mistake of anarchists of the 20th century and early 21st century. Science and technology are only tools, like guns or bombs. In the end, an anarchic society will be a form of human civilization, as well as technologies that in the future will be fully in harmony with the surrounding nature. Don’t let our enemies use such strong words and images to their advantage. Just as assault rifles and grenades can be used by anarchists and states for opposing purposes, so too can technology become both the scourge of mankind and its savior, the main thing in whose hands these tools are.
Science should become our weapon in the fight against the state in the heads of people, use and publish on your media any articles and videos by popularizers of science, undermine the faith of the population in the soul, angels and all other supernatural beings. Anarchists need to fight against religious dogma, especially as the state openly appeals to it and uses it to justify its existance. Kill God in people’s minds, and anarchism will come sooner than you can say “there is no God!”
Anarchism is a fist, and science and reason is a torch with a flame that we are holding in this fist. So don’t be afraid and set fire to this rotten house called the state with this torch. Let the flame of this fire light up mankind and light up the way to the future shining with unprecedented light!
Classical anarchism is charged with the enthusiasm of the epoch of enlightenment, it is attractive and contagious, but it is necessary to approach science and technology in a balanced way and not to rush to the extremes. On the one hand, faith in science and enlightenment is popular today, especially among liberals and Marxists. But in the 20th century, “death camps” and Gulags were erected in very “technical” countries. The world shuddered from the wars that the “civilized” countries unleashed. Science does not automatically mean progress.
On the other hand, does science mean regression? There are ideas that idealize primitive society, glorify harmony with nature and call the Earth our Mother. Without denying some of the advantages of natural societies, the layer of romance does not veil harmony but the endless struggle with the whims of the environment. Man learns from his own experience, forms knowledge and applies it. Science and technology is the answer of mankind to the lack of harmony with nature, so that one day Mother/Step-mother does not destroy us by virtue of her natural course of things.
The essence is that, like any other sphere of life, science is corrupted by the logic of capitalism and the needs of the state. Pulling science and technology out of this logic means building new goals, which are just another projection of the oppression system. Unlike states, capitalism, religion, science and technology do not in themselves create a class of oppressors. They can be called pure tools that do not have their own will. Any development has its own customer and sponsor, just as in education or art, for example. At the same time, frankly anti-human developments should become objects of our criticism and attack, their developers are also living people of flesh and blood.
Science itself contains a liberating impulse. Achieving public freedom is unthinkable without achieving the freedom of reason. Everyone needs to get rid of the shackles of ignorance, belief in the gods and the supernatural, which requires scientific knowledge of the world.
Our dreams and faith are an anarchist revolution, a utopia of its kind that will permeate the whole world and infect the entire society of the rebels. We all, deep in our hearts, believe and hope that this society and the world will finally take a civilized form. But even if this does not happen and if the renewed civilization is still oppressive and destroying, Anarchy will continue its attack on it. Anarchy is an endless rebellion, uprising and revolution. Societies will always face contradictions and conflicts among themselves, in such circumstances, the purpose of Anarchism is to exacerbate these conflicts and point to contradictions in any civilizattion. A person who feels and realizes that his or her freedom is being infringed or violated in every way, must resort to anarchism and attack the source of oppression and nonfreedom.
Anarchist revolutionary struggle is a social war against everything that suppresses the individual. A struggle that involves a person in order to free him or her from old relationships and to give them experience of new direct and free relationships. A struggle that shapes a human being into a personality capable of resolutely and uncompromisingly defending his or her interests. A new life is born out of this struggle, and none of us can foresee what it will be like.
The anarchist revolutionary struggle is self-sufficient, it does not think about the future, because, in developing methods of fighting against the old, it gives rise to new things. This social war forces us to rethink our relationship with each other, and this is the most important social change that must take place.
The anarchist revolutionary struggle is not looking for a better way of social interaction in these conditions. It attacks all social and individual aspects of civilization (here “civilization” is understood as a term that includes all aspects of our lives from industrial and technological to cultural and psychological), in order to free a person for further, already independent interaction. Free society is based on free individuals. It is in this struggle that a person becomes free.
A person’s life is determined by the conditions in which he or she exists. All thoughts, desires and ideas are born depending on social conditions. It cannot be otherwise. That is why the anarchist and revolutionary struggle aims at destroying the social conditions in which the individual is suppressed.In the anarchist revolutionary struggle there is no single method and means of struggle, because this is the struggle of individuals, and all people are diverse in nature. The suppression of the individual occurs in different forms and in different social aspects, and therefore the resistance of civilization will be carried out by different means and methods. Only in such an uncompromising struggle is there a prerequisite for learning to listen to each other and for taking into account mutual interest.
Death to all gods!
Death to all states!
Long live Anarchy!