The Politics of Music & the Music of Politics.
Track №2 (interlude): “Post-Soviet Tristesse & Echo of the Turbulent 90s”.
I’ve received a comment on my post titled “Voice of the Russian Jilted Generation” worth quoting here in its entirety:
It is my opinion that the rapid dismantling of the Soviet Union was a deliberate and planned act. The ‘invisible hand’ that ‘tweaks’ nations, operates on a mechanism that is both manipulative and intransigent. The ultimate intent is to check-mate the non-complying opponent. However, Russians are chess masters, and the ‘taming’ of this ‘shrew’ will always become problematic!
Why shouldn’t narcotics work their magic on Post-Soviet Russians; after all weed, greed and a little dusting of Small Pox worked wonders in annihilating the entire Native American civilisation, and in equal measure almost effectively relegated their identity and values to the dustbin of history. But then again, Native Americans never submitted. History teaches invaluable lessons, even when biased towards the Western ‘Grand Narrative’.
For the post-Soviet generation – Generation ‘P’ – it is interesting to note that as the “narcotics suite was the soundtrack to our existence. It helped to ease the unbearable lightness of our being”, the ‘experience’ does not rob one of self-esteem. It would seem, rather, as in Joyce’s A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man – in which Stephen’s ‘experiments’ catalyse creative transformation and reaffirmation of ‘self’ – that everything here effects and strengthens an appetite for recovering identity.
The splitting of the former Soviet Union may have caused “the first generation of “‘democratic Russia’” to feel “cosmopolitan and globalized”, but roots run deep. Indeed, the very questioning of this new ‘status-quo’: “We were… Who were we? I’m not quite sure” implies a longing to something more authentic, more ‘real’ than modelling the Western template. This generation is not only conscious of all the ills that followed the breaking of the Union, but of all the good that can be achieved to re-establish, strengthen and sophisticate the Mother-land. The invisible hand can slap its own ugly face.
I should comment on this comment. The popular idea that the “rapid dismantling of the Soviet Union” was only due to someone’s evil – external – will or inner problems of the Soviet system is a big simplification at best and, thus, is only a half-truth. It was a combination of two factors: the pressure from the inside and outside of the Soviet ‘melting pot’ that tore it apart. The efforts of Our Western Partners™ were synchronic with the moves of the Late Soviet Nomenklatura™. The petite mort of convergence resulting from the actions of both parties turned out to be the actual death of the Soviet Union: its old heart wasn’t prepared for such entertainments.
Nautilus Pompilius song “Kryl’ya” (Wings): “Where are your wings which I liked [so much]?”…
Convergence (from lat. convergere - to converge, come together) – political theory of the second half of the 20th century, according to which the Soviet Union is gradually becoming more liberal, and the West – more socialist. As a result of this process, an average socio-economic system will appear, combining the principles of socialism and capitalism at the same time (for example, planned economy and political democracy respectively). In a general sense 'convergence' means increasing similarities between different societies which are at the same stage of history, removal of external non-economic inequality, 'smoothing' of social conflicts and liberal democratic reforms (Wikipedia).
In the Western ‘Grand Narrative’ Russia plays the role of the ‘Ideal Other‘. The main fear related to Russia is that it still represents the (possible) challenge to the status quo in which Russia plays the role of a raw materials appendage to the West. Classical colonialism is dead but it’s spectre is haunting the world in the form of neo- and/or quasi-colonialism. Le Roi est mort, vive le Roi!
The echo of the so-called ‘likhiye devyanostye’ (the turbulent 90s) in the Russian mass consciousness was perfectly described in the gangsta rap/spoken word track by Krovostok called “Biografiya” (Biography), from their 2004 album “Reka Krovi” (River of Blood). This album became an instant classic. The song describes the rise and fall of a post-Soviet Russian criminal – from ‘byk’ (goon) to ‘mafia’ boss – on his behalf [note: this fan video contains obscene language (mat) and imagery]. It starts with the processed words by Patriarch Alexy II: “vspominayem i molimsya”, i.e. [we] remember and pray.
So if I was asked to coin one term to describe the turbulent 90s it would be – “pandemonium“, Hell (cf.: the capital of Hell in John Milton’s Paradise Lost). Demonization? May be… but it’s hard not to demonize a very painful experience in the life of the nation.
What’s going on right now is just the beginning of the Russian national consciousness revival [this topic needs a special discussion]. Russians saw real life nightmares in the 1990s, so all we needed was a good ‘sleep’ in the 2000s. But spring is coming. Time to spread our
wings paws and fly walk. The Russian Bear is leaving his snow den. 😎
Neuromonk Feofan “Plyaski s Medvedem” (Dancing with a bear).
To be continued.