Staunton, February 7 – The Navalny protests have advanced revolutionary slogans, and some observers have described them that way. But Georgy Filin suggests that beyond their commitment to justice, those taking part don’t look like revolutionaries with nothing to lose but people who are part of the existing system and have benefited from it.
These well-dressed and well-fed people now in the streets look very different from the impoverished masses who overturned Russian regimes in 1917 and even from protesters in Soviet times who were also concerned about justice but sought not the overthrow of the regime but specific improvements, the Versiya commentator says (versia.ru/predel-zhestokosti-i-medijnye-texnologii-protestov-v-istoricheskom-kontekste).
Comparing the protests in Soviet times which often resulted in bloodshed with what is happening now is to compare the incomparable. What was on view in that past, Filin says, was “hatred and force” but that isn’t what one sees now, at least beyond the realm of media presentations and rhetoric.
Many commentators have looked for organizers of the protests recognizing that without such organizers, the protests won’t be sustained and certainly won’t qualify as revolutions. But so far, they have found only shadows of such groups and blame either factions within the existing regime or the ever-available US State Department, Filin continues.
But in reality, “in the January protests there were neither people from the right or those guilty” of something. On the one hand, a spirit of unaccustomed schizophrenia was present,” with some running around and others photographing themselves and now those who called for the protests declaring a pause.
That declaration in and of itself is enough to show that this isn’t a revolutionary situation, the commentator continues. Revolutions are not put on pause. They may be crushed or they may succeed, but they don’t simply stop and wait for better weather – which is exactly what appears to be the case in Russia today.
“We live in the era of post-truth,” Filin says. “People call it the post-modern, but that is a question of words. Jean Baudrillard teaches that there is no reality anymore: we live in a world of simulacra.” In that world, “no one is ready to lay down his life … Now what is important is to show oneself to others on social networks.”
“No one needs to ‘take’ the Kremlin,” he argues. One simply needs to photograph oneself in front of its walls and then send them around on YouTube or Instagram. That is because as Jacques Derrida says, text and television are real. “Everything else has no importance; it simply doesn’t exist.”