Geert Lovink on Tue, 30 Mar 1999 14:09:31 +0200 (CEST)

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Syndicate: Bloody Russian Soul/Irina Aristarkhova

From: (Irina Aristarkhova)

Bloody Russian Soul

1. Naturally, we must be unconditionally against NATO's bombings of
anyone. However here I would like to elaborate on what stands behind the
Russian support for and obsession to defend the Serbs. In order to think
through why Russians defend Serbs so much I must refer to the so-called
Russian Soul.

2. As has been the case in Russia many times in the course of this
century, it is the communists with their duplicitous simplicity who have
best expressed the multi-faceted essence of our Russian Soul. Recently
they had clearly embodied the anti-Semitic feature of the Russian soul and
its nationalist rhetoric, now Zuganov adds another feature: "Serbs have
Kosovo, we had Chechnya. So what - we could have been bombed too?" Here he
invokes a mythical, no doubt Slavonic, brotherhood with the Serbs. By
linking Russians' and Serbs' relation to their 'others-within' through a
comparison of Kosovo and Chechnya, Zuganov points out that the possibility
of our brotherhood comes not so much from any mythical historical, ethnic,
religious or other grounds, but from the similarity of our strategies of
denying the 'others-within' our national polities.

3. Thus, the widely spread defence of Yugoslavia, Milosevic or Serbs in
the name of 'our common Slavonic roots' cannot be sustained. In fact it
has nothing to do with those people who are killed by NATO and/or by the
Yugoslavian army. It's only a useful tool to defend ourselves, Russians,
and our history of repressing ethnic minorities. To defend our Russian
self from the weight of history and empire. Many in Russia have expressed
it like this: 'We are next'. But why us you might ask? Zuganov's
articulation of the Kosovo/Chechnya connection as basis for possible
persecution by 'the West' answered that question. 'Us' because of the way
we deal with our own ethnic minorities.

4. Brotherhood based on the blood of Kosovo's Albanians and the Chechen
people - this is what seems to ground our national imaginary as and with
the 'Russian Soul'. It also seems to ground Pan-Slavism today. By
'cleaning' the Serb killings, Russians try very hard to clean our bloody
Russian Soul and thus retrospectively articulate the war in Chechnya as a
legitimate "defence of Motherland".

5. Thus the constitution of the Russian soul through metaphorical
articulations of 'blood' relations with other Slavs enacts a strategic
erasure of the very real bloody sacrifices of its others such constitution
is based upon. That is why ultimately "soul is only a word that refers to
something about the body". And the notion of the Russian Soul historically
is used time and again to protect and empower Russian bodies within our
heterogeneous land.