Thursday, August 18, 2022

Petya and the authorities

 Introductory note

This text, published in Russian here, on the website of the Russian section of the International Workers’ Association, was written by a teenage school student in a small town in Russia’s Far East. The illustration shows people lining up to form a Z — a symbol of support for the “special military operation” in Ukraine.

The authorities are pushing the idea of love for the motherland-nation into the heads of the common people, presenting the idea in an extremely perverted form, with all its consequences… There are expressions of hatred and violence against other peoples, national conservatism, chauvinism. Autocratic tendencies in society are intensifying, which is why, in practice, a human community torn apart by “ethnic” contradictions is gradually being formed. Some people are pitted against others, often regardless of kinship and similarity of origin.

This is how a real social catastrophe is created in order to maintain a power monopoly of parasites who want to subordinate the working people to their will, distracting them from understanding the real state of affairs in the country. People become like little kittens who have nowhere to go without their mother, or to be more cynical, they become unfree, duped slaves, eventually turning out to be soulless amoral cogs whose purpose in life is to work in inhumane conditions. Such people are completely crushed inside and disconnected from the outside.

Our main character, let’s call him Petya, 15 years old, born in the Far East in a small town, comes from a working class family, is attracted to leftist ideas and actively interested in the history of the USSR and many other “socialist states”, communism, as well as Marxism, actively opposing capitalism, considering it an obsolete economic formation. When the Russian-Ukrainian war began, Petya, naturally, as befits a leftist, spoke from class positions, saying that this war is a conflict for the redistribution of spheres of influence between the Russian and Western bourgeoisie, and also that the ambitions of “our” ruling class contradict the interests of ordinary workers. That all the costs of the war will fall on the shoulders of ordinary workers. Anti-social measures such as pension reform will begin with renewed vigor. All those few freedoms that citizens have will decrease even more, until their complete extinction. Of course, relations between Russians and Ukrainians will finally deteriorate, causing a deep split between them.

And what is it for? For the sake of some vague “denazification” and “demilitarization”, with an admixture of slogans about protecting the “Russian world”, which are just “dust in the eyes” to justify their predatory, imperialist intentions. They are well aware that the elite needs this conflict to strengthen their influence more and more, both in the country – through violence and exploitation of workers – and outside the country, through dubious adventures, one of which was the “special military operation” on the territory of Ukraine. Naturally, the main character could not but speak out against the war, which did not meet the needs of the working people of Russia. 

The first story: a class

At the beginning of March, on the last day of the working week, on Friday, a hour-long class was held at his school on the topic of the armed conflict between Russia and Ukraine. This event combined such ideological attitudes as national conservatism, patriotism with a touch of chauvinism, Russian nationalism, and, of course, Russia’s civilizing role in protecting the fraternal Lugansk and Donetsk People’s Republics. 

It was very much like a verbal performance. According to the teacher, Russia is fighting the cunning West, advocating a “multipolar world.” Ukrainians, Belarusians and Russians are, it appears, almost a single nation with small peculiarities. It was the “damned Bolsheviks” who created Ukraine and its culture by implementing the policy of indigenization, thereby alienating peoples of similar blood. After that, the USSR, in which all nations formed a single whole, collapsed. And now independent Ukraine unleashed a full-fledged terror against the Russian-speaking population, and at the head of this terror were, of course, the very Ukrainian nationalists whom the Soviet government had failed to finish off. Meanwhile, the “beast”, represented by Western states, decided to surround “poor Russia” by expanding its influence in Eastern Europe, which violated the non-existent agreement between the Soviets and the United States on non-expansion of NATO. The peak of these trends was the Euromaidan, as a result of which neo-Nazis took power in Ukraine, dragging the country into organizations hostile to Russia. Russia, of course, is a peacemaker trying to stop the fascistization of Ukraine by returning it to a pro-Russian orientation, because kindred peoples will be better off sticking together. The annexation of Crimea, together with the confrontation in the Donbas, are the protection of the Russian people from right-wing radicals and liberal-minded Kiev authorities.

Summing up what we heard, we can say that at this cool event it was said in plain text that we, ordinary citizens, should support the “bread ambitions” of “our” government, which wants to expand its imperialist sphere of influence in the world. Which, as you understand, is presented as the liberation of Ukraine from the “Banderite-Westernist yoke”, the protection of our “Great Motherland” from external enemies.

The protagonist was clearly not thrilled with such verbal twists. There were quite mixed feelings in the classroom. For example, when Petya, who was sitting next to one of his classmates, was finally asked what he thought about the event, replied along the lines of: “This is all complete nonsense!” Another classmate asked: “So we were shown cute, fluffy stuff and then fobbed off with crap?” To which Petya replied: “Yes, that’s the way it is.” But if we talk about the whole stupid class, then we have to admit that the majority probably “took the bait” on this propaganda hook, without even thinking about how they tried to fool them.

The remaining two stories are smaller in scale but quite revealing.

The second story: conversation with churchmen

One day, having gone together with two classmates to do poetry for one of the contests in a small building near the church, we came into contact with two colorful personalities. They turned out to be a man and a woman who, judging by their appearance, have positions of some kind in the Russian Orthodox Church (ROC). They spoke in this vein: “Despite the difficult situation in the world, we must wish good luck to our troops in liberating Ukraine from fascism, and also remember the figures who loved and understood their Homeland.”

To be honest, it was somehow even strange to hear from representatives of the church about the correctness of the armed method of resolving the conflict between Ukraine and Russia, seasoned with bourgeois patriotism. At the same time, this should not surprise us, because from time immemorial, large religious institutions such as the ROC have been the mainstay of the authorities, being usually the most reactionary organizations of society, stifling any popular aspirations.

The third story: political information

The last incident occurred on political information, when many classes gathered in the assembly hall to listen to a woman who, by the look of her uniform, was probably from some sort of law enforcement agency. She gave the following speech: “What is extremism? This is when people organize violent actions directed against the state and to achieve their goals. Which often echoes terrorism. There are many organizations of this kind whose ideology is neo-Nazism. Making a certain protest event, they are actively trying to involve young people in it, through the same social networks. Therefore, be careful with such appeals, because you, minors, can simply be taken and sent to the police station, fining your parents because you, as a person under the age of 18, cannot visit places where actions of this nature take place. And in general, it is better not to participate in protests directed against the authorities, for the reason that you can injure yourself, ruin your reputation, eventually achieving nothing, wasting all your strength, and be left with nothing.”

Most of all, Petya was amazed by the statement that all “extremists” are, of course, Nazis, nationalists, fascists, etc. Left-wing activists defending their rights and freedoms, actively taken away from them by the authorities, and leading a trade union, protest, explanatory information struggle, clearly did not exist for her. Also, the belief that everything can always be solved peacefully without violence is in itself a lie. It doesn’t happen that way.

Sad afterword

The trouble is that now in Russia there is no major force representing the interests of workers. The opposition is represented by the same rosy Social Democrats like the organizations of Gennady Zyuganov, Sergei Mironov and the like. After all, they do not aim at a real coming to power, remaining only the “left hand” of the regime, symbolizing the illusory democratic confrontation of parties of different ideologies. At the same time, paradoxically, these same quasi-popular parties stifle any initiatives from below aimed at improving the quality of life of the working population.

The population is now impoverished to such an extent that the struggle for relief of their situation often turns into a fight for the last piece of bread. In Russia, there has been established a dictatorship of politicians who care only about their own enrichment and personal situation… The authorities want to take all the levers of pressure into their hands, do whatever they want, “laying bombs under Russia”, dividing it into several separate economic and political provinces, strengthening the status of Russia as the periphery of the West — the countries of the capitalist core, really without solving “ethnic” issues and in no way stopping the stratification not just between the poor and the rich, but also between the rich and the middle stratum. These authorities continue their policy of forming a police state, while at the same time dragging the country into campaigns that are completely strange in their design, serving, naturally, to strengthen the position of “our” haves and weaken the working class.

There is an important question tormenting the main character: “Why”? In fact, why was it necessary to tell all this to those living here in the Far East? In a region where the authorities have become completely brazen by implementing an autocratic regime, nepotism. corruption, and destruction of the Soviet legacy. Observance of the rights and duties of the individual has long been a formality here. And any alternative sources of opinion are broken and torn to shreds. Not to mention the red tape.

A certain picture of the state of affairs is emerging. It turns out that the idea of “convenient patriotism” goes hand in hand with nationalism, is implanted everywhere and penetrates absolutely any strata of society. Dissenters, or people of other positions, are under incredible pressure with threats of deprivation of economic liberties, political persecution and criminal charges. And the decisions that are being made from Moscow have nothing to do with any national goals in terms of security, ideological anti-Westernism, resistance to neo-Nazism and the like. “Those from Moscow” are guided, first of all, by their selfish and narrow intentions, having long ago turned Russia into a growing pile of trash, without solving the very essence of the problem, leaving it to others, believing that everything will settle by itself and it is not worth worrying about it at all.

The saddest thing is that the people are quite indifferent to everything that is happening. The population lives apolitically, not worrying about current events, living in accordance with their everyday routine of life. It is the problem of unwillingness to think with one’s own mind, taking for the real truth those tall tales that come “from the top”, that generates a combination of ignorance and stupidity in the minds of the population. All this strengthened the cultural, economic, political, and social primacy of the plutocrats. The current social surveys only confirm the emerging negative trend in modern Russian society, showing, once again, the severity of the problems. The bright ray in this pitch darkness remains political enlightenment among the people, building up their organizational potential, understanding their class position and interest. Without which some slaves of one slaveholder will be doomed to fight with the slaves of another slaveholder.

Petya and the authorities - World Socialist Party US (

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