Blog Post

SCAR CITY

One week after the bombings in Boston and I still feel the urge to write about this so much. First I was shocked to find out that Chechen brothers, Tamerlan and Dzhokhar Tzarnayev, were suspects.  Then I watched like everybody else what was going on and how this tragic story unfolded.   I want to tell so many stories and I realise that it is impossible to do it at once.

I grew up and spent the first 21 years of my life next door to Chechnya.  Georgia has its North-Eastern border with Chechnya.  Many people say Georgians and Chechens are even ethnic relatives, but there is no hard scientific proof of this statement.  In any case we know each other well.  

Today, Chechnya reperesents one of the most tragic cases of Global South—located in Northern Country.  Russia is a Northern country in all senses—it has a very harsh climate in winter and it is a member of G8 industrial countries club for more than 20 years.  It has become part of the Neoliberal world after "Perestroika' and Russian Capitalists are some of the richest and greediest in an entire world today.   Chechnya has been fighting its independence war with Russian Empire for last 19 years. There have been long struggles for independence under different Sheikhs and most notably under Imam Shamil in 1834-1859.  Chechens were always known as fierce fighters and very good looking people who were devoted to Islam and their traditions.   In the 20th century Soviet Dictator Joseph Stalin deported the majority of Chechens from their homeland, because he suspected Chechens would back the German invasion against Russians.   And they were returned years after.

Dzhokhar was the name of the first Chechen president Dzhokhar Dudayev whose name is pronounced in English as Jokhar.  It is the same name as young Dzhokhar Tsarnayev.  Dudayev was a secular politician who did not have fundamentalist ideas.  He just wanted independence for his country.   He declared independence from the Russian Federation in the early 1990s and never got an agreement from Yeltsin.  In 1994 Yeltsin started the war that has not even ended officially by now, although most of the Chechen independence fighters are killed or exiled.  Dudayev was a good military and his people loved him as a great patriot who returned to his country after distinguished service and led its independence movement.  Plus, he was a secular man, who was not a fundamentalist and was friends with many people of different religions and nationalities. This is the reason why many children born in 1990s were called Dzhokhar.  Dudayev was a name in these years and he deserved it.  He was against terrorism, he was a military man with his honor and ethics to stick to the rules. Russians could not defeat him for 2 years.  Then he was killed in April 1996 by laser-guided missiles when using a satelite phone.  It was so much like a drone attack.  This technological genocide of South by the North.  The plane approaches and fires and leaves many people dead.  Leaders amongst them.  Other secular leaders were also killed and starting in 1997 Wahhabi Fundamentalists funded by Saudi money started to take over Chechnya.  Sufi Islam was attacked by Wahhabis and some of the military commanders, like Shamil Basayev became fundamentalist warriors.  They started to organize terrorist attacks against the civilian population in Russia.  Emir Khattab from Saudi Arabia became one of the leaders of militant fundamentalists who carried out number of attacks.    After his death he was succeeded by fellow Saudi Abu al-Walid and others.  

The question that is bothering me now is that knowing Chechens really well we know that fundamentalism was not a factor during and before the great Jokhar (Dzokhar Dudayev) and Aslan Maskhadov (3rd President of Chechnya 1997-1999) and it was sold there by foreigners with mostly Saudi funding.  Emit Khattab claimed to be an accomplice of Bin Laden.  So the links are very clear.  Now, the Wahhabis are increasing their influence in the neighboring Russian republic of Dagestan.  They are fighting traditional North Caucasian Sufi Imams and pushing them out of their Mosques. What is very important is that most of these Saudi Wahhabis were trained to fight Soviets in Afghanistan by the West.  Just like Khalid Sheikh Muhammed was raised by the Western powers to fight Soviets, but he turned against the West after the demise of the Soviet Empire.   West needed fundamentalists against Communism, but it became a victim of them after the Cold War.  

So, here are two brothers—one of them dead and one barely alive—who committed this horrible crime killing innocent people.  One of them appeared to be even likable by his friends and apparently was smoking marijuana and loved hip-hop music.  How could that happen?

I think something is wrong in the world today—and that something is that secular religion is ailing us.  Soviet Communism did not fulfill the hopes of millions about equality.   Chinese communism became state capitalism.  Liberal democracies are associated with corruption, fraud, spin and propaganda.  It is a neoliberal kingdom of the world, where less than 1 percent are winners and more than 99 percent are losers.   We are living in an insanely materialist world, where everyone is told to go after money and then we react with scary fundamentalism.  Two extremes—extreme materialism and extreme fundamentalism.  Richard Rubenstein provides quite a useful analysis of these conflicts.   Why do these conflicts happen?  What have we done to cause this?

It is not right to feel guilty or innocent in today's world.  We are all becoming citizens of the smaller planet that is called earth.  Each minute makes this planet smaller with increasing amount of communication. The Tsarnayev brothers were communicating through social media with the North Caucasian Fundamentalist group Caucasus Emirate that is very far, but at the same tme very close.  These days we cannot think of something being really far—nothing is far anymore.  We communicate with the entire planet in seconds.  So That means we should take responsibility for the planet.  We should take responsibility for under a billion people who starve today as of I write, because they are not far anymore, they are very close.  We should take responsibility for todays slavery, motivated by greed of multi-nationals and different corrupt governments.  We should take responsibility for structural and cultural violence perpetrated every day by the privileged les than 1 percent of the world citizens.  We shall not run from this responsibility—since it affects us these days.  This all prepares a ground for direct violence—this all invites terrorism—not terrorists, but terrorism.  

Nobody is born a terrorist—people become when they don't have an option or chance to develop creatively.  Deprivation is responsible for terrorism.  Structural violence causes direct violence.  State violence causes individual violence.  Everything is interconnected.  

With each explosion we have a new scar in our city—called the World.  With each life ruined by unfair and unjust structure we have one more scar.  With each woman sold for prostitution we have another scar.  With each child killed as a child warrior we have another scar.  We have billions of scars.  Can we heal them?  Yes, we can.  Absolutely.  We have more than enough resources to heal many of those scars—but we are lazy not to do it.  Some of us maybe do more than others—but even that is not enough.   And because of this we live in a Scar CityCity of Billions of Scars.  Instead of feeling guilty or innocent we need to start acting to heal our scars.  It is possible to heal them—but it requires a lot of work.

So what is that made young Jokhar–Dzhokhar Tsarnayev want to go back home, when he tweeted on March 14, 2012, according to David Remnick's article in New Yorker.  Was the American Dream not working for him?  Or he wasn't given the right interpretation of American Dream?  

For me the American Dream is associated with people like the Venerable Dhyani Ywahoo, who talks about visualization, affirmation and manifestation of Abundance.   Like MLK Junior's Dream for equality and freedom for all.  There are wonderful examples of this dream.    And it is an abundant thinking—thinking of multiplicity—of multitude co-existing—and not just—co-living—and co-loving.  This is a human dream for 21st century.  We have made it so far—but it will be a shame not to make it farther than this.  We need to make it farther.  We need to have an abundance.  

Perhaps, the reason is that we need to overcome bourgeois consciousness?... That is when all of us are afraid of scarcity in our Scar City and think too much about it.  Perhaps we are capable of thinking about the abundance—as a humanity.  W cannot divide ourselves into identity groups—this is one of the causes of today's ills.  Terror is caused by identity today—who is this chosen nation?  I guess every nation is chosen and we are all becoming too small to be divided into nations and nation-states.  This didn't work—we have already seen this.

How do we act against scarcity to make our Scar City into a City of Lights?  

Here I want to agree with Zizek's last article about Margaret Thatcher.  We need to believe that there is abundance.  We can scientifically also prove it, since there are some staggering numbers - but we should not need to prove it.  We need to believe it.  And we need to fight without hesitation.  That is where Thatcher succeeded—in being able to fight.  Now the time came for the left to put up a fighta just struggle for the noble cause.   We need the people who beliee in this cause.  

We desperately need the people who believe that we can overcome scarcity in our Scar City and transform the Scar City into the City of Lights.  This is very much possible.  It has happened many times and it could happen again.  It just needs some guts.

 

Irakli Kakabadze has been a leading figure in the nonviolent movement for social change in Georgia for more than two decades.  A member of the Civic Disobedience Committee in 1989 and during the Rose Revolution in 2003, he has since been harassed and detained repeatedly by authorities.  He is the author of five books and hundreds of essays in English, Georgian, and Russian. His play Candidate Jokola controversially depicted a love story between a Georgian presidential candidate and an Abkhaz woman. He is also an author of lyrics for “Postindustrial Boys,” and, together with Zurab Rtveliashvili, practices a literary performance style called Polyphonic Discourse.  He taught art and peacebuilding at Cornell University from 2008-2012 and currently teach at the Georgian-American University in Tbilisi, Georgia..