Why is the left quiet about Pussy Riot? Панк-молебен “Богородица, Путина прогони” Pussy Riot в Храме

August 2, 2012 at 11:31 pm (apologists and collaborators, Art and design, Christianity, Feminism, Human rights, Jackie Mcdonough, liberation, music, protest, religion, Russia, secularism, thuggery, women)

“It was a sin against God and God is judging it; and all Christians should know this…

“For the Orthodox Church, like for Muslims, of course the authorities and the church are understood as one thing.  Our Ideal is the unity of the church and the authorities, and unity of the people and the authorities.

“in this way, we are decidedly different from the west. I think attempts in the west to seperate the spiritual sphere and secular sphere is a historical mistake. Such a division is not characteristic to any civilisation except the west”Vsevolod Chaplin,  Senior Priest, Spokesman of the Russian Orthodox Church and advocate of harsh punishment of Pussy Riot.

Above: The three members of the Pussy Riot band — Nadezhda Tolokonnikova, Maria Alekhina, and Yekaterina Samutsevich — rejected charges of hooliganism for performing a “punk prayer” in Moscow’s main cathedral against Vladimir Putin’s return as president.

A group of brave, smart, peaceful but militant young women confront a thuggish, authoritarian President and a corrupt church hierachy and have already been jailed without trial for five months: what’s not to like about Pussy Riot?

Yet the “left” has, on the whole, been strangely reticent about supporting them: why?

A number of possible explanations present themselves:

1/ They are anarcho-feminists and conceptual artists, not leftists.

2/ (Following on from #1): they have no clear demands or programme.

3/ They already have celebrity support from the likes of the Red Hot Chili Peppers, Peter Gabriel and Stephen Fry.

4/ Much of the western “left” is actually rather sympathetic to Putin, because he’s part of the pro-Assad/Iranian axis that they, more or less openly, support. Many of them also seem to have a built-in predisposition to support dictators and to despise any form of democracy.

5/ Pussy Riot are being done not just for “hooliganism” against the Putin regime, but also for “religious hatred” – a concept that much of the western “left”,  having discovered the joys of Islamic fundamentalism, now supports (in the sense of agreeing that insulting and/or criticising religion is Bad and should be illegal). The semi-literate SWP blogger Lenny “Seymour” Tombstone, for instance, recently coined the term “theophobia” and meant it as criticism (in his case, of Christopher Hitchens). Pussy Riot are nothing if not “theophobic.”

Objections #1 and #2 don’t really stand up, given that much the same could be said of the “Occupy” movement that most of the far-left had no hesitation in supporting. #3 has also never been a problem for the “left” before now: the so-called Stop The War Coalition, for instance, is very happy to accept ‘celebrity’ endorsement.

Which leaves us with #4 and #5: almost certainly the real reasons. And despicable ones at that.

Support Pussy Riot!

Here’s what they now face seven years in jail for doing (the “punk prayer”):

What’s going on with Pussy Riot, explained, here.

Good(ish) piece by Suzanne Moore in the Graun, here.

The nearest thing there is to an “official” Pussy Riot site, here.

20 Comments

  1. OldTrot said,

    But they’re not

    http://socialistworker.org/2012/07/30/pussy-riot-for-the-99-percent

    Any more Aunt Sallys?
    A sectarian piece of tosh with a big fat dose of rather nasty ad hominem remarks.

  2. Jackie McDonough said,

    OldTrot: did you not notice the words “on the whole” in my piece?

    OK, perhaps I should have specified the *UK* “left”: what you’ve linked to is *not*, of course, the British publication called Socialist Worker, but the US paper of the same name that is (as far as I’m aware) no longer linked to the Brit SWP and generally takes a healthier ‘line.’ OK?

    I don’t think that disproves my argument in any substantive way.

    And what are the “rather nasty ad hominem remarks”? The stuff about Seymour? If so, it’s not really “ad hominem” is it? It’s a simple, factual description (complete with link) of what he wrote.

    I suppose my description of him as “semi-literate” might possibly be regarded as “ad hominem,” but consider this, from his piece on Hitchens and then tell me that the phrase “semi-literate” is unfair:

    “Among the forgettable ranks of ex-Leftists, Christopher Hitchens stands out…”

  3. Andrew Coates said,

    Actually JIm I think you mean, “hypertrophic theophobia” – Seymour’s greatest coinage: http://tendancecoatesy.wordpress.com/2012/08/02/christopher-hitchens-and-richard-seymour-a-trial/

  4. Dumbham said,

    And SWP UK

    http://www.socialistworker.co.uk/art.php?id=29258

    Russian band in hooligan trial
    Three members of all-female punk group Pussy Riot are standing trial in Russia, accused of hooliganism. If they are found guilty they could be jailed for up to seven years.

    In February the band burst into Moscow’s biggest cathedral and performed one of their songs calling for president Vladimir Putin’s downfall. The trial is part of a wider attempt to crush dissent.

    Posted on the 31st July, 3 days before your shitty little blog covered it.

  5. Alex Ross said,

    Wouldn’t theophobia be a fear of **god** rather than a fear of religion? Theos (Θεός) meaning “God” in Ancient Greek and Phóbos (φόβος) meaning “Fear”. Whatever you thought of Hitchens, I don’t think he was the good fearing type!

  6. Alex Ross said,

    Sorry – *God* fearing.

  7. Abu Faris said,

    You get the feeling that Fr. Vsevolod Chaplin of the Russian Orthodox Church is no relation to Charlie…

  8. Jackie McDonough said,

    Dumbo: that UK SWP quote is hardly a ringiing statement of solidarity, is it? More a neutral statement of the facts that might appear in any bourgeois news report.

    I do not rule out the possibility – indeed likelihood – that the SWP and other soft-on-religion “left” groups will come out in support of Pussy Riot, in spite of the political inconsistency that will involve – once it’s become too embarrassing for them not to.

  9. Sarah AB said,

    There may indeed be a connection between tolerance for Islamic fundamentalism and tolerance for the treatment of Pussy Riot, but it is also the case that the Orthodox Church is itself intolerant of Islam

    http://hurryupharry.org/2012/07/21/repression-in-russia-punks-and-prophets/

  10. Abu Faris said,

    The ROC position, as set out AtL by Fr. Chaplin, is uncannily like that of Islamism…

  11. Pinkie said,

    I am fairly sure that there are many abuses of human rights that ‘the left’ have not made or do not make a big thing of. This is perhaps because we live in a cruel and wicked world.

    Plainly the persecution of ‘Pussy Riot’ is something to protest against. Strangely, many on ‘the left’ have done so, despite the pretence of the author of this piece.

    There are no ulterior motives in play here, nor is there silence.

    What kind of fool thinks that what they judge as insufficient support for the oppressed implies support for the oppressor?

    Next up, human rights in Myanmar, why is the left so silent?

    What puerile bollocks.

  12. Jim Denham said,

    The argument (made by Pinkie, above) that because a given left group, at any given time, doesn’t comment on a given human rights abuse, doesn’t necessarily mean it supports (or is indifferent to) that abuse, is fair. For instance, to the best of my knowledge, the AWL have yet to comment on ‘Pussy Riot’, though I have no doubt about where they stand on the issue.

    However, it seems to me that the main post is making a more specific point with regard to the left’s reticence (so far) on Pussy Riot: that a new Stalinism has emerged in recent years, which clearly supports Assad in Syria and the Iranian regime, and so is well-disposed towards Putin (and also the ruling class of China). The most blatant examples of this are people like Galloway, the leadership of ‘Stop The War’, ‘Counterfire’ and Guardianistas like Seamus Milne, Jonathan Steele and Tariq Ali. The SWP vacillates but is on the same wave-length. That, combined with the softness of that current of the “left” on religion and its unwillingness to stand up for secularism, clearly puts it in a difficult position with regard to militant anti-Putin secularists like Pussy Riot. The SWP, of course, is supple-spined and ‘forgetful’ enough to find a way of supporting Pussy Riot without addressing the contradictions in its own position and history that such support will raise.

    The attack on Seymour’s craven, politically – and in the literal sense – illiterate bollocks is, of course, 100% warranted.

    • Babz Badasbab Rahman said,

      I agree with the OP. The exact same thing can be said about the ‘other’ left. You know, the type that still thinks the Western World has a moral high ground to stand on and should use it’s overwhelming military power to ‘liberate’ countries from ‘oppressive’ regimes (oppressive allies don’t count). The type that is unable to see the crimes ‘we’ commit because they don’t count as crimes ( we call them mistakes or strategic failures) but when a country outside our hegemonic influence commits the crime, we need to be reminded of this 24/7.

  13. shug said,

    Putin “There is nothing good in what they did”.Nevertheless,i do not think they should be judged too severely for this”

    Sounds all very magnanimous,forgetting that the lasses involved have been banged up for the past five months…

  14. Andrew Coates said,

    The more I think about the more I think Alex Ross has a point, Theophobia is god-fearing, and even if it were an irrational dislike of ‘God’ you’d have to accept that ‘god’ existed for it to any meaning.

    Jim’s main point, that ‘anti-imperialism’ has been stretched to cover support, or at least sympathy, for any country, leader or movement apparently ‘standing up’ to the West is clear. Rees explictly says this about Iran.

    And as for the alliances this can sanction, Counterpunch is an illustration of where this can lead. Having now gone into some detail about Israel Shamir’s take on Dryfus, not only is he an anti-Semite (published with Alex Cockburn’s blessing) but he himself draws on an ultra-Catholic attempt to deal with the Dreyfus Affair and give a voice to the ant-Dreyfusards. This is a reversal of the alliances that were the basis of the entire left for over a hundred years: http://tendancecoatesy.wordpress.com/2012/08/04/piers-paul-read-the-dreyfus-affair-and-its-tribes-and-israel-sahmir/

  15. shug said,

    Russia, had changed since uncle Joe!s day,But Joe is back in the Kremlin.And has been for a considerable number of years now.

    These girls and their action as far as they were concerned, was a bit of street circus, albiet a political expression, held and acted in what is oxymoronic to the hard line red, steadfast communist,A state a church.

    Would like to think that the time they have been banged up will be all the jail time they do.And Commrade Putins words has influence.effecting their release.

    Better he, than diva Madonna and diva Tonshend,having that influence.

  16. Sainsbury's So Organic range Crunchy Peanut Butter - a bit salty but at least it is sugar free. 6/10 over all rating said,

    Lots of white knights here. Aint gonna do jack shit of course. Another cause celebre for self righteous liberals to circle jerk over.

  17. The Friday mixtape is back « Bob's Beats said,

    […] Why is the left quiet about Pussy riot? Dylan’s “Hurricane” and the truths we will never know. Are Paul Robeson and Pete Seeger great Americans? […]

  18. Панк рок портал said,

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