четверг, 23 июня 2011 г.

Russia and the Caucasus: what's the solution to corruption and chauvinism?

Well, I'm back here to share some of my political observations with you. The Greek protest movement is doing quite well in the late few days, but right now I'm not going to write about it. Protests in Saudi Arabia are much less likely than in Greece - especially with women participating - but there was a protest rally against the male-only driving rules in Riyadh last Friday.

I'm curious why some of their banners have text in Russian? (see the photo) If they're calling for international help, then I'm afraid we can't provide much of it... right now we can't help even ourselves. The biggest problems in today's Russia are corruption and interethnic violence, and let me start from the last.

First of all, I can't help the feeling that someone is dragging Russia into another civil war... with first one fought only in Chechnya, second - in Chechnya, Dagestan and Ingushetia, and the next will probably affect the whole country. Yes, I'm talking about some recent murders related to the conflict in North Caucasus (the high-profile assassination of Y.Budanov in the first place) and the whole surge of ethnic conflicts which is obviously taking place right now.

I'm not going to re-tell you the whole history of both Chechen war, let's concentrate only on the present moment. Despite official reports about the "rapid reconstruction of Chechnya", the whole North Caucasus remains to be quite shitty place to live, comparable only to countries like Sudan: extreme poverty (even though these regions are generously financed, only a little of that money flows down to the lower orders of society), unemployment, myriads of religious fanatics, continuing tribal violence and terrorist attacks (just look at this list)... and under R.Kadyrov's iron-hand rule things are getting better only on surface, not at the inside. The growing amount of violence spilling over the borders is a big source of concern not only for nationalists, but also for ordinary citizens and officials.

About an year ago, one of high officials in North Caucasian economic region, V.Shvetsov, proposed a code of conduct for North Caucasian youth outside their republics, as a possible solution. According to him, "even if that youth don't violate the law, they can violate regional codes of conduct. For example, if we take Russian girls in mini skirts to Grozny, we won't be welcomed by the locals - and we understand it, 'cause it's common for girls to wear short clothes in most parts of Russia, but not in strict Sunni Muslim regions like Chechnya. We should respect each other, and the youth of North Caucasus should understand it too".

A responce for this proposal from a Dagestani lawyer (source):

"What are you talking about? We can't even force our judges and police to comply with their professional ethics, and someone even wants to force the North Caucasian youth to obey that instructions? Let's face the truth: I'm from Dagestan and I see how it's common here to beat girls and shout on them in the public. Our sexual education consists only of religious restrictions; our youth cares much more about successes in martial arts than to intellect. If any of them sees a girl in short clothes, he just can't pass by; and on the other side, the girl herself won't even guess the reasons for such reaction, 'cause her attire is quite typical for the "mainland" Russia. And it's at least strange to expect the "gentleman" behaviour from the people who were grown up under the state of undeclared war. So I'm not surprised by these conflicts, and if we won't find the right approach to it, it'll lead to a new war"

Not only Dagestan is notorious for the corrupt officials; the rest of Russia isn't much better. The anti-corruption activist A.Navalny recently has done a big job of exposing the facts of corruption, which is just off the scale. Personally I don't like Navalny, his ideology (which can be described as liberalism mixed with some nationalist populism), and especially the majority of his fanboys, but at least he's a better alternative to any far-right leader, and he's doing a good job of encouraging people to self-organize against the corrupt government.

So, what will happen if liberals and nationalists would form an union and try to topple the government? Most likely, nothing good. Most of the military command and the security forces of Russia consist of conservatives who admire either Stalin or pre-1917 monarchy, and loathe any kind of "orange revolution" or separatism (even if they agree that the state should not "coddle with terrorists", they view any calls for the separation of North Caucasus as destructive and cheap populism). So the "Libyan scenario" in Russia would probably only result in brutal crackdown by security forces (speaking of their reception of the situation in Libya - they're largely on the side of Qaddafi, BTW). I don't think Navalny's fans are capable for a large violent action, and the nationalists' morals are generally quite low - as the recent events have shown, they can't counter the riot police even if nobody is using firearms. So they'll most likely resort to attack innocent people who look similar to Caucasians or Central Asians (of course, they won't dare to attack the really dangerous members of pro-Kadyrov mafia), and the vast majority of them will remain just keyboard warriors. Just as Mark Twain wrote (and this unfortunately applies to a lot of leftists too):

"Then he says, slow and scornful:

"The idea of YOU lynching anybody! It's amusing... Do I know you? I know you clear through was born and raised in the South, and I've lived in the North; so I know the average all around. The average man's a coward. In the North he lets anybody walk over him that wants to, and goes home and prays for a humble spirit to bear it. In the South one man all by himself, has stopped a stage full of men in the daytime, and robbed the lot. Your newspapers call you a brave people so much that you think you are braver than any other people - whereas you're just AS brave, and no braver. Why don't your juries hang murderers? Because they're afraid the man's friends will shoot them in the back, in the dark - and it's just what they WOULD do...

You didn't want to come. The average man don't like trouble and danger. YOU don't like trouble and danger. But if only HALF a man - like Buck Harkness, there - shouts 'Lynch him! lynch him!' you're afraid to back down - afraid you'll be found out to be what you are - COWARDS - and so you raise a yell, and hang yourselves on to that half-a-man's coat-tail, and come raging up here, swearing what big things you're going to do. The pitifulest thing out is a mob; that's what an army is - a mob; they don't fight with courage that's born in them, but with courage that's borrowed from their mass, and from their officers...""

So, what are our main problems?

  1. The corrupt and impotent police who don't give a fuck when the average citizens attack and kill each other, and cares only about the interests of the rich, and the high officials;
  2. The same police actively preventing the people from any attempts to self-organize;
  3. The people themselves, who still aren't capable for any major kind of self-organization (which isn't surprising, as the political system in Russia always was designed to breed the most unthinking and servile kind of people, and even the revolution of 1917 didn't change much)

What's the possible solution? Only a strong grassroots movement for self-organization and self-defence, not aligned with any kind of nationalism, radical liberalism in economics, or the idea of worshipping some dictator. Everyone should be equal to the law, regardless of their ethnicity or wealth - and only the people themselves and assure it, not the state which is corrupt and rotten to the core. Once the people are armed and capable for self-governance, there won't be any major nationalist tensions: those people who can get along with the others would stay where they want; those who cause problems can go to their home regions; and for those who aren't welcome even at home, we'll open the borders, so they can go to Turkey, Poland, Saudi Arabia or any other country which is currently accepting them. There's the only solution against nationalism: just equal reasonable standards for everyone. Violence will be needed only in responce to violence.

Unfortunately, I still can't see any significant political force which could implement this strategy. The libertarian left in ex-USSR is growing more and more since mid-2000s, but the anarchist and libertarian socialist groups still aren't strong enough to cause any major political changes. But at least we already have anarchist guerrillas who are capable for actions like this:

(music: The Crhyme Scene - Sound of Revolutions)

Of course, this non-lethal bombing is just a symbolic act, like church burnings in Norway, to help the movement getting more publicity. Hope once they'll grow much enough to implement the policies similar to what I've wrote above.

Link: http://r-a-b-m.blogspot.com/2011/06/russia-and-caucasus-whats-solution-to.html

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