Largely through connections made through Russian Reader blogger Thomas Campbell, I have learned about important developments involving the Russian left that defy the stereotype of Russian opposition to Vladimir Putin as neoliberal snakes. To be sure, such snakes exist but the Western left has an obligation to keep abreast of our comrades there, who are opposed to capitalism just as much as us. In addition to Thomas Campbell’s blog, another important asset is the journal n+1 that largely because of the presence of co-founder Russian émigré and Marxist Keith Gessen (Masha’s brother) on the editorial board has a pipeline to the Russian revolutionary movement that makes it indispensable to our ongoing political enlightenment.
It was through an introduction to Keith Gessen made by Thomas Campbell that I learned of a tour by Kiril Medvedev, the revolutionary socialist poet, journalist, activist and–most distinctively–translator of Charles Bukowski. n+1 published Medvedev’s “It’s No Good“, a book whose $16 price tag goes against capitalist rationality, just as does every word in his Molotov Cocktail of Russian literature.
The good news is that n+1 has now published another voice of the Russian left: Victoria Lomasko, the author of Other Russias, which was translated by the good Thomas Campbell. Vika is an artist and activist whose work reminds me both artistically and politically of Marjane Satrapi’s “Persepolis”. Satrapi’s work was a comic book after the fashion of Harvey Pekar but Lomasko’s is much more text with powerful illustrations to make key points such as the ones shown below that come from the chapter on Pussy Riot.
Like Medvedev and Pussy Riot, Lomasko is “one of us”. In one of her chapters, she describes Russian protests marked by a large antifa contingent that was countering a phalanx of Russian nationalists who can only be described as Richard Spencer with a Russian accent. Far be it from me to try to penetrate the thick skulls of the Putinite left in the USA and England, but with Trump clearly trying to emulate Putin’s authoritarian ways it is high time to familiarize ourselves with the thinking of the Russian left that has been dealing with this crap for the longest time.
Vika is coming to New York the day after tomorrow and her tour begins with her speaking at Columbia University on February 28th, NYU (3:30 PM, Jordan Center, 19 University Place, 2nd Floor) on March 2nd, and at the n+1 offices on March 3rd (7:30pm, 68 Jay Street #405, Brooklyn). She will also be having an art opening at Ortega y Gasset Projects in Brooklyn on March 4th.
Information on other stops on Vika’s American tour can be found here. It includes engagements in Pittsburgh, Seattle and Portland.