Wednesday, November 2, 2016

Russians are ‘Born, Suffer a Little and Then Die,’ the ‘Alas-Patriots: of St. Petersburg Say

Paul Goble

            Staunton, November 2 – Yesterday, the {Rodina} Creative Arts Group, whose members style themselves as “alas” patriots,  organized what it called an “alas” parade in the more depressed areas of St. Petersburg to show how Russians in fact feel all the “hurrah” patriotism of the authorities notwithstanding.

            They carried signs with slogans like: “All will be bad and it will never end,” “Let’s tolerate this,” “Born, Withstand, Die,” “You’ll never change anything,” “All are dead but some are more dead than others,” “We aren’t this Russia,” “Hope only in Death,” “Nothing,” and simply “Alas” ( and
            Organized in 2013 and especially active this year, the group engages in what it calls “performance social art and field and experimental research on patriotism, languages, and the institutions of power.” Its method, leaders of the group say, is to use the language of the authorities, turn it around, and test reactions on the streets.

            On May 1, the group organized a similar demonstration to coincide with May Day.  There was a sense, its leaders say, of a clear lack of correspondence between what the authorities said and what Russians feel.  They then decided to hold another demonstration six months later under the title “War. Unemployment. November” to “give voice to our collective depression.”

            Such actions, organizers, do not mean that its members do not love their country. Rather it is “simply the case that we are not hurrah patriots, but alas patriots,” Russians who love their country but are anything but happy about the direction things are going in it.

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