Blog Post

Riot Grrrls and Revolution in Georgia

October 1st saw once again that liberalism does not equal democracy. The great and very skillful neoliberal autocrat Mikheil Saakashvili lost democratic elections to the opposition.  This vote in Georgia was not so much a victory for the opposition, but a verdict to Georgian electoral autocracy.  Saakashvili and his team played very skillfully for the last 9 years.  Their Fujimori playbook was working really well.  Excellent media outreach, coupled with repressive state and outsourced terror enabled him to be a darling in the liberal press and be seen as a hero for the World Bank and other international financial institutions. 

Even when very damaging tapes of torture and rape leaked in the international press many people rushed to conclude that he was not at fault, for this 'Zero Tolerance' policy.  People in Georgia feared that Saakashvili with his fraud machine will be re-elected and nothing will be able to challenge him.
Earlier Lenin was the symbol of almighty political power in Georgia—the last 20 years he was substituted by Ronald Reagan.  So, those two symbols are fighting in the imagination of autocratuers—people who desire to serve the power almighty.  But there is also youth.
Concerts went really well in different clubs, but this was not enough for Georgia.  They demanded Riot Grrrls with their message for Georgian people "Saakashvili Daga-jvi" (სააკაშვილი დაგაჯვი) on the radio and on the mainstream TV.  In the last days of September, days before the revolution Riot Grrrrls appeared o many shows talking about the problems with capitalism, bourgeois attitude, patriarchy, domination, etc.  They were at the rallies.  They did street actions.
When Allison Wolfe made her statement on Georgian TV about half a million people were watching for this very important message coming out of well known American singer—"I would poop on you Mr. Saakashvili'—sounded like a great verdict.  Same words were pronounced by Italian Multi Media artist Bernardo Santarelli in English and Italian.  This message proved to be very powerful.  Day after this, on September 29, half a million Georgians came out to the streets to say the same.   After Riot Grrrls appealed to the population many artists, priests and ordinary citizens went to prisons to show the solidarity with prisoners who were being abused and raped on daily basis.  There were concerts conducted in front of Gldani Prison by artists like Bakur Burduli and others.  It became very hot for the regime. 
The work of Nadia Buyse needs to be admitted as well.  Her incredible performances were coupled also with wonderful visual images.  First she made sure that omnipotent Lenin had horns of Coca Cola—his mistakes led to more bourgeois consciousness—it is obvious today.  So "Horns on Lenin' that we did together signified the falseness of Bolshevism—today it became a commodified substitute for market goods.  You can buy Lenin anywhere—and the prices range all over.  God of Lenin is dead.

But another work of art that Nadia did was deposing Ronald Reagan from his throne of Neoliberal God.  Lenin's statues are now substituted by Reagan or Bush statues.  Georgians are afraid of them.  They are led to believe that Reagan was the one who destroyed Soviet Union—which in fact is not truth.  Soviet people destroyed Soviet Union—we fought for it—not Reagan.  And now, post-modern capitalist slavery is being sold to us as freedom and democracy.  People do not buy this anymore.  Lenin's State Capitalism was substituted by Reagan's Neoliberal Autocracy.  Peeing and pooping on Reagan was an act of defiance.  It has caused a big outcry in Georgia.  Defenders of the regime were up in arms.  Some of them even suggested that Nadia Buyse is Russian. :)  For these propagandists of a regime it was not easy to understand that someone can do art independently of ideology—someone can depose both Gods:  Lenin and Reagan—together and at the same time.
But People thought differently.  They came out, and even though Saakashvili has a perfect fraud machine, he was not able to win.  Democracy is more powerful than all those false Gods like Lenin, Stalin, Reagan and others.  We do not need their statues.
The whole symbolism of this time is that we do not need Lenin and Reagan anymore.  People can figure it out on their own.  And also it is so interesting that Bolshevism and Neoliberalism are very much alike when they control the population.  They both tax the poor and enrich the elite.  Whatever you call it: politburo or Oligarchy—it is a same thing.
This last Georgian revolution is another strong statement of rejection of liberal autocracies. 
We need a new system.  Not the same old thing.
As Georgians said during their revolution:  Venceremos, Companeros, Ou Ranina!
Thanks to Riot Grrrls for coming to Georgia and thanks to the Georgian people for another inspiring peaceful revolution.
No Pasaran!  
Irakli Zurab Kakabadze's picture
Born in 1969, Irakli Kakabadze is a Georgian writer, performance artist, peace and human rights activist. His first prize was awarded in 1990 by the TSISTAKRI MAGAZINE for the best creation of 1990 - Allegro or Chronicle of one Year. In 2009, he was awarded the Oxfam/Novib PEN Freedom of Expression Prize. Kakabadze's articles and stories have been published in Georgian, Russian, and English newspapers and magazines. In 2007 he received the Lilian Hellman/Hammett grant from Human Rights Watch. From 2008 to 2012, Kakabadze was based in Ithaca, NY, where he developed a new method of integrating performing arts and social sciences, called "Rethinking Tragedy" or "Transformative Performance." Kakabadze has also pioneered a multi-lingual and multi-narrative performing style, called Polyphonic Discourse. Irakli Kakabadze's work as an artist-activist is subject of an American verite documentary At the Top of My Voice filmed by Indian American Director Sudhir Venkatesh and Larry Kammerman. In May 2008 Kakabadze shared a stage at PEN World Voices Festival in New York with György Dragomán, Hasan Elahi, Asli Erdogan, Péter Esterházy, Chenjerai Hove, Jenny Marketou, Ivy Meeropol, Francine Prose, and Ingo Schulze, at the Writers and Artists Against the Surveillance State. In November 2008 at the Miami Book Fair Kakabadze shared a stage with Sarah Mkhonza, Russell Banks and Derek Walcott to perform another piece of Polyphonic Blues. Kakabadze has performed his polyphonic style of poetry at the Frankfurt Book Fair (2009) and “Free the Word” in London (2010) (23). At the 2010 “PEN World Voices” Festival in New York Kakabadze performed Polyphonic Discourse at the Cabaret Show that featured the author with Natalie Merchant, Ben Okri and Ariel Dorfman. He has performed at many literary and peace festivals including in Berlin (2014), Palma De Mallorca (2016), Valencia (2016), ext. His book 'Umberto vs Ernesto' or 'Marginal Delirium' was published and has introduced polyphonic discourse in December 2013. In 2017 publishing house 'Intelekti' has published another book of his essays "Love Doctrine" that is highly influenced by the works of Mahatma Gandhi.