'Against all Parties'
From February 10th until 27th 1999 the "Non-Parliament Control Commission"
presented itself in the 68elf gallery
in Cologne, a group of artists, authors, culture activists and journalists from Moscow (more about the exhibition - soon here).
What seems to be a call for anarchy at first sight turns out to be a quite constructive comment and concrete intervention to the russian situation. - The approach to begin the change of the society from the culture means at first to decline on the game of democracy that is loved in the west as a symbol for progress in the east.
The group publishes the russian/english magazine radek, parts of which are also available on the internet.
Kirill Preobrashenski is an artist and one of the groups spokesman, he made the following interview with Bernd von den Brincken:
Question: In the exhibition you show some performances and events of the Moskau art group 'Against all Parties' that seem to me like a little child trying to find its borders and finding out how much it can provoke the authorities. Is there any more sencere concept in that ?
Kirill Preobrashenski: The thing which I see with which I would like to start the discussion is here our Logo on this window - which is the native folk sign of the expression of some meaning . And I now that in different cultures even in Europe this sign of this hand had been misunderstood. Actually in Russia this sign means "I don't".
Q: Like "net"?
KP: Yes, but more pathetic. - I would like to start the discussion of the meaning of our project with this misunderstanding of the signs. Because when we were looking for the logo of our movement we were of course thinking that our main idea was that the people _in Russia_ understand it. So, this logo is significant for the russian culture because there is an expression, a metaphor: The position of the hand like this is called in russian 'Figa' - you 'show figa' to someone. Which has already classical metaphorical meaning to have 'Figa in your pocket' which was and still is the main strategy of intellectuals in Russia: It means that you understand the system, you can use the system, and your protest against it is only reduced, in the pocket. So, a symbol of protest, but hidden protest.
In the same way that this sign is being mistaken here in germany, the concept of our project "Gegen alle Parteien" is misunderstood. The main coment I heard of an ideal visitor of the exhibition - one that really tries to understand - is that 'We had all this 30 years ago'. So behind the misunderstanding of this sign is the misunderstanding of the work we are doing in moscow.
Q: I understand that this actions were not spontaneous outbreaks of revolutionary spirit - so what is the fundamental concept behind it?
KP: I will explain this in several steps. We have different signs, we have
different context, there are misunderstandings, but beside this we - that is Moscow and Cologne culture
in this case - have something in common.
First is the technique of lectures; a lecture is a basic principle of the democracy which is now establishing in Russia. Democracy means the right to choose; the choosing factor is the main fundamental principle of the western democracy. What does it mean - 'Choosing'? - It means voting for _some_thing. It means delegation of your own wishes, wills and activities to some group, party, candidate, movement etc. to represent these wishes.
Q: So what more than just provocating is it to construct a group "Against all parties"?
KP: Yes, but what means the fact of "representation"? - Power pretends to have the ambition to fight for your rights, wishes and wills that you delegated to it. But in fact it does not function this way. The system represents nothing but its sickness.
Q: You mean, not in russia?
KP: No, anywhere. Instead, power is a psychosis of the people who represent this power and the only thing which you can hope when you delegate your meaning of the world to somebody else means that you are giving out your life concept to some psychpats.
Q: So what would be an ideal or at least better form of government then?
KP: The mistake is hidden in the concept of representativity of the power. Because when you delegate your thinking of life to somebody else to be responsible you delegate it to some human being or structure thereof - not different from yourself or your structure. But it is an illusion that these representatives of power are different. The leaders of this representative structures are the same sick people that we are, the only thing they actually represent is the psychosis of power.
Q: But the people here in Germany would not accept that their leaders are suffering from sickness.
KP: No, it is my definition that power _is_ sickness.
Q: The conclusion is that there should be no representation at all?
KP: No, why vote for somebody or something? - Don't you think that you are able enough to realize your life project by yourself? - It is a question of the technique of voting that there shall be one or very few representatives. So this is why we founded "against all parties" - it is a quest to take responsibility by yourself.
Q: Maybe it is or was a special russian phenomenon that people wanted to hand over this responsibility to some central power?
KP: Of course, by almoust 80 years of communist ruling it was like ... clear that the system is reliable - whatever the system is, not neccessarily strong or good, but reliable. It is an illusion, the biggest illusion, as we see now.
Q: But this group "Against all parties" might be also a representative for something?
KP: No, we see that the system does not function in russia, does not function in the west also, so it means it is not reliable and it makes no sense to delegate your power to this system. Economical and political crisis in the east and spiritual and intellectual crisis in the west prove that the system is not functioning. "THEY" do not care about YOU. YOU could do it better. Don't give your power to somebody else! You are able enough to realize everything you want by yourself.
Q: How do you judge in this context the events starting in August 98?
KP: This new crisis started with a 'money pyramid' which was built by the government: Money was not supported by real economic functionings but only by fake paper promise that it would yield a very high interest rate up to 50 percent per year. After 17th of August it was clear that the system failed, it is a law that sooner or later all money pyramids will fail, by its own law it was clear that it would fail sooner or later. All these promises were guarenteed by the development of democracy in russia, relying on the new economic concepts which were developed by young russian politicians like Tschubais with his concept of privatization.
Q: So you would prefer to keep the old structures alive?
KP: The privatisation was wrong because there is no mental meaning of property in russia, still. This is why privatization has failed; for example the law about land earning still did not come through the Duma after 5 years.
Q: So what has basically changed after this new crisis?
KP: The crisis did not just mean that people loose money - which is a big social
factor. The whole country lost its status, its international status as a reliable partner. Practically
it means that investors loose not only their profit but their whole investment. Investors don't believe
in Russia any more and they start to take it as a third world country. For example, the standard
of living in Moscow the third of all cities in the world, after August 17 it became the 89th and
is still falling.
What does it mean in local politics? We have Sjuganov, who is not real communist, but a social democrat and he won't turn the system back to the planning economics. We have the democrats and young reformators leaded by Tschubais who prooved enough that they really deconstructed the country's economy because privatization was black, unreal. And we have stupid nationalists who are trying to bring the country back to the middle-age.
Q: What could be the direct action someone could do to bring forward the economy...?
KP: On the next parlamentary elections the russian constitution gives you the possibility to vote "against all parties". It is important that these votes are counted like any other vote. And if the votes "Against Everybody" will cover the votes "For Somebody" the elections will be declared illegal and none of the parties who took part in it could appear in the next one. The project "Against all Parties" is not really about being negative or protesting to everything but in this particular political situation it should bring you to the idea of some alternative. Important is that people start to think by themselves - we are not going to tell them what to think.
Q: On your actions you provoked not only the normal person passing by but also the authorities, police and other security forces. Were you seeking this confrontation or was it just a side-effect of the actions?
KP: Of course it s a side-effect, we were not looking for confrontation with this representatives of power. Because esp. the police is the gang of psychpaths, maniacs, completely corrupted. Of course it was not by purpose, but in any of our action which could be taken as a conflict with law we try to analyze and prepare ourself to possible confrontation with police, city administration, FSB and so on. So we are trying to defend ourself from the beginning, after barricade we learned that to feel ourselfs secure even if somebody of us gets arrested. Before each of that we make condultations with advocats, lawyers so that we know which laws can be brought against us.
Q: In Germany the impression is that there is chaos in the justice system - so someone could take you not only to jail but to Siberia?
KP: Yes, they could do it, if you are not strong enough or socially established enough to defend yourself. For example, at the barricade, they knew that we are artists, they were very angry about it, but they could not use the whole brutality of the system, because we are public.
Q: What does it mean?
KP: We have contacts to the media, many people know us, if someone gets arrested than many people will ask questions. And also - our performances are public. - So basically, to finish this question, I have to say we have to _pay attention_ to this problem.
Q: You call the movement "Against all Parties". But is it maybe closer to one party than to another? Which of the existing aprties could that be?
KP: The movement can't be close to a party, because the movement is against the concept of representativity of the power, and political parties are part of this representativity. At this place I would like to admit that it is not our main aim to be part of the political fight because we are not politicians and in our nearest plans we don't have the idea to become public leaders. So our main aim is to establish new culture, or contemporary culture and to reestablish the communication between culture and society. But the phenomen of the project is that it can be interpreted in different directions - right or left - democrats or communists. But we are not really afraid of it. The main message is clear: Against everybody means against everybody, we are not a party, we are not the candidates. So in all cases we keep the clean image. We are just promoting the idea to be against....
Q: My personal thought about this was one time that if you say "against everybody" it means also "together with everybody"?
KP: No, that is pure provocation, that's stupid, german style of journalism. - It's not against everybody, it's against all representatives of power. Its not nihilistic or anarchic. You have to understand the context of the situation now in Russia, that all political parties or candidates for President already failed in the public opinion.
Q: So there could possibly be a party or candidate that you would accept?
KP: Yes, possibly, but not know, it does not make sense to discuss it. Our basic thinking is that people , or people of the future, the future society , doesn't need power.
Q: Ok, thank you for this conversation.
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