Blog Post

Maisuradze, Artaud and Pussy Riot: New Discourse of Liberation

Here we are in the 21st century and there is a new revolt in the former Soviet Space. Both Giorgi Maisuradze and Russian Punk Rock group Pussy Riot come from the former Soviet Empire. They do not miss Lenin nor Stalin. Maisuradze might be Trotskyite and Pussy Riot is Anarcho Feminist, making Kropotkin Vodka and offering it to different postmodern authoritarian leaders. But they are for sure not very thrilled with the bourgeois lifestyle—the NEW LIFE that Russia, Georgia and other former Soviet republics have embraced after 1992. Twenty years have passed and I can already see some new vision in different philosophers and artists. They are the ones who dare to say something different from an established narrative and metanarrative. They are the ones who can contradict the neoliberal metanarrative of our day. It is so interesting to watch.

It is definitely worthy to read Maisuradze's new work "Homosexual Conspiracy". In this work he gives a very challenging analysis to mainstream liberal discourse of our days.

Those who have read Maisuradze’s work will easily notice that he tries to express his protest not just through his writings but through his life. Just like Foucault, Maisuradze ran from his position of power, when in 1993-94, he was one of the leaders of Citizens Union that was a ruling party and still is to some extent. He abandoned his power position and started to defend marginal minorities – he was one of the first gay advocates in Georgia by 1995, which was extremely dangerous that time. He has embraced Artaud’s language and went against any kind of determinism, including biological one. This has led him to have very difficult experiences in a country like Georgia. He became one of the first openly gay radical writers in Georgia who challenged the traditional feudal understanding of biopolitics that was a rule in the Soviet Union. One of his predecessors in this enterprise was a great Georgian-Armenian artist and director, Sergie Parajanov, who was also quite open about his sexual orientation. Just like Parajanov, Maisuradze is not afraid to challenge the liberal discourse about homosexual lifestyle and declares that “Liberal homophobia is a much bigger hypocrisy and grotesque, than ideologies of hate that are based on animal instincts”. According to Maisuradze liberal homophonic ideology is a result of non-reflection and rigidity of thought. Just like Antonin Artaud, Maisuradze is a lone voice in this case that opposes liberal philosophy in post-Soviet space where liberalism is as much of a dogma as Leninism was 50 years ago.

More than this Maisuradze continues and he says that the liberal notion of asserting that homosexual orientation is not a choice is close to fascist understanding of Eugenics. Liberal narrative portrays gays as ‘the other’ that has not chosen its fate and that needs our ‘support’. “liberal patronizing is much worse than conservative hate’, because this reinforces fascist understanding of homosexuals as ‘others’ and serves to divide our society into identity groups. This is very courageous statement for today—when liberalism is such a dogma. In 2004-2005 Maisuradze was under a strong influence of Delueze and Guattari and of course Foucault has been one of his major influences through his life. Biographers of Maisuradze note that by 2008 he has returned to the notion of Freud as “Theoritical fiction.” “I think that liberal notion of biological determinism is fascist thought in very Deluzian sense, but I think that Psycho analysis introduced a new fiction”. It is a play. I guess Freud has introduced a new dimension—that is for sure different from previous understanding of homosexuality—but nevertheless the argument of Deleuze and Guattari holds true. Foucault was right in saying that Delueze was a greatest philosopher of 21st century—he did not know Maisuradze or Rati Amaghlobeli for that matter. In their dialogues they often talk about the holistic notions of intercontinental thought—that is connecting different civilizations. It is indeed true that bourgeois liberal hypocrisy about ‘the other’ is no less fascist than Hitler’s or Stalin’s hate language. I agree with this completely. One thing that I disagree is perhaps the materialistic psychoanalysis – I still dislike it, even after reading Maisuradze’s convincing arguments. In fact, I think as a thinker Maisuradze is bigger than Freud and he is trying to defend the father of psychoanalysis with his own semiotics, but it still does not convince me. In any case Maisuradze’s anti-liberal proclamation is very encouraging to see—I think this is a very courageous step. Maybe something that one of his favorite thinkers, Chaadaev would have approved in his day.

Now, about Pussy Riots. These are great young Punk Rock performers in Russia, who just like Maisuradze are at the center of semantic revolution in Russia. These singers were able to create such a great noise that even Sex Pistols will be envious. I happen to know their predecessors in the US, great Riot Girls from 1990s. I think Alison Wolfe is one of the best performers I have ever seen for sure and today this new discourse has started to talk very loud. Pussy Riots have managed to scare Putin and now 3 of them are in prison facing possible 7 years in GULAG.

Anarcho Feminist language of 2012 offers Kropotkin Vodka to Neoliberal Dictators—what a brilliant idea. In fact a new postmodern oligarch authoritarian system of Putin is not different from Leninist and Stalinist states—it is robbing its own people to enrich the few. Earlier they were called Politburo—now they are called capitalists—but in the end they are the same—it. Pussy Riot has not just great performances but also great lyrics to their songs. It is wonderful to read these words of protest.

The column of guerillas approach the Kremlin

In offices of FSB windows explode

Bitches pee in their pants behind Red Walls

Riot is declaring “Abortion to System”

Revolt in Russia – Charisma of Protest

Revolt in Russia – Putin peed in his pants!

Revolt in Russia – We do exist,

Revolt in Russia – Riot, Riot!

 

Come out on the street,

And start living on Red Square!

And show me the freedom

Of Citizen Wrath!

 

3 of the singers of Pussy Riot are arrested and face 7 years in prison just for their performance.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=GCasuaAczKY&feature=related

There are some great lines in different poems. I think this a whole new paradigm in written word and performance. Pussy Riots use the word Bitch to characterize the sexist civilization and they are not automatically repeating the texts of the bourgeois feminists. On the contrary they have their own narrative—different in style, just like Kropotkin Vodka. There is the revolt against the contemporary biopolitics of surveillance in the name of “Free Market”. “Regime is going towards censorship of dreams, this is the time of explosive confrontation!” Kropotkin, Bakunin, Tolstoy, Emma Goldman—they come to mind—most of all Emma Goldman with her ‘Dancing Revolution”. Pussy Riots are a dancing revolution – just like Bikini Kill or Bratmobile. They are different from Socialist Realism or Stanislavsky style—they are qualitatively different from Holywood trash. It is not just happy ending – it is Brechtian ending. “Feminist Mary Magdalene goes to the Rally” – you can hear the cry of Anarchist and truly democratic civic participation. “We are unhappy with the culture of male hysteria, savage hierarchy is eating our brains”—I must say some of their lyrics are so brilliant. I guess we haven’t seen such a political p-art-icipation after Mayakovski and Russian Futurism of early 20th century. We remember Visotsky, surely remember Boris Grebenshikov, Kino or Makarevich, but this is absolutely different. These young women are brilliant, since they have the courage to challenge the system of neoliberal authoritarian regime that allows more on the facade than Soviets did, but in fact is much more dangerous for individual freedom than Bolsheviks, since it does have well established limits. Just like Maisuradze writes, there are the limits for the rebels—they are relegated to the ‘safe space’, where they can scream and protest, but can never cross the borders. They are not allowed to cross the borders of this imaginary prison where liberal system places them in. “Oh Godmother, Oh Godmother, please get Putin out of here, Oh, Godmother, Oh, Godmother, please join feminist movement!” they say.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7kVMADLm3js&feature=relmfu

Pussy Riots also change the language—they are changing a discourse in many ways. They are also schizophrenics—in Deleuzian sense—they are today’s Artaud. Schizophrenia is the best tool to fight capitalism and bourgeois consciousness. And in the end this is going to be successful.

There is no determinism—no biological—no political—no economic—everything could be changed by creativity – that is the main message of our time.

Pussy Riot ends one of its songs with a great phrase:

«Пиздец сексистам, ебаным конформистам!»—“The end to sexists and f-ing Conformists!”

The word Пиздец is actually more authentic for the end of conformist bourgeois civilization. So we could continue in the spirit of Antonin Artaud:

Пиздец – To Capitalism

Пиздец – To Militarism

Пиздец – To Police States

Пиздец – To Racism..

Etc….

April 15, there will be a concert in support of Pussy Riot. 3 of them are facing 7 years in prison for allegedly offending feelings of Orthodox Christians. Meanwhile, somehow Putin’s ‘Christian’ legal system is forgetting about the freedom of speech and also a very Christian notion of forgiveness. I guess we will have to stand up many times for these wonderful Russian singers.

Irakli Zurab Kakabadze's picture

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..