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The czar and the patriarch

Forgive me, I haven’t been keeping up with the Pussy Riot story — this is just the worst possible time of the year for me, with classes starting tomorrow. But I strongly recommend Eric Macdonald’s summary: this is a collusion between an old school tyrant, Putin, and the Russian Orthodox church to silence criticism, and to promote an unthinking, dogmatic nationalism. It’s not just Russia, either, but similar forces are at work in the United States, where God and Country are deeply entangled, and it’s a recipe for world-wide catastrophe.

The problem with Pussy Riot is that they see this clearly, and their music opposes both czar and patriarch. Look at their latest video and you can see their contempt for both.

(You don’t like their music? Tough. I thought it was wonderfully loud and angry and political, and if you don’t care for it, I’m pretty sure Lawrence Welk is still available in reruns on cable. Also, you don’t have to like it to respect the freedom of artists to express themselves.)

There’s also a third cause they’re clearly opposing: the historical confinement of women to very specific gender roles. I don’t know exactly what is going on in Russia, but it seems to be the women who are leading the charge against tyranny. Take a look at the Ukrainian FEMEN, too. Women are becoming the bravest of us all.

They aren’t just fighting against a tyrant and orthodoxy, but against the gender police. I’ve got to admire that.

Comments

  1. says

    I haven’t found any translations of the new song, but here’s another:

    choir)

    Virgin Mary, Mother of God, put Putin away
    Рut Putin away, put Putin away

    (end chorus)


    Black robe, golden epaulettes
    All parishioners crawl to bow
    The phantom of liberty is in heaven
    Gay-pride sent to Siberia in chains

    The head of the KGB, their chief saint,
    Leads protesters to prison under escort
    In order not to offend His Holiness
    Women must give birth and love

    Shit, shit, the Lord’s shit!
    Shit, shit, the Lord’s shit!

    (Chorus)

    Virgin Mary, Mother of God, become a feminist
    Become a feminist, become a feminist

    (end chorus)

    The Church’s praise of rotten dictators
    The cross-bearer procession of black limousines
    A teacher-preacher will meet you at school
    Go to class – bring him money!

    Patriarch Gundyaev believes in Putin
    Bitch, better believe in God instead
    The belt of the Virgin can’t replace mass-meetings
    Mary, Mother of God, is with us in protest!

    (Chorus)

    Virgin Mary, Mother of God, put Putin away
    Рut Putin away, put Putin away

    (end chorus)

  2. blf says

    What might be a better translation (than teh poopyhead quoted in @1) was done by Carol Rumens, who has an article at The Grauniad about it:

    This, of course, is the song that sparked the trouble when the three women performed it in Moscow’s Cathedral of Christ the Saviour five months ago. The performance was mildly shocking, at least for any believer unused to trendy vicars putting on rock concerts. Loud, rude, up-yours protest is what punk is all about. But the lyrics are not all raw obscenity: they have something significant to say, which the careless translations slopping around the internet tend to obscure.

    Pussy Riot have explained that their protest was not primarily against religion but against the Russian Orthodox Church’s support for Putin. The lyrics they wrote for Punk Prayer bear out the truth of this claim.

  3. David Marjanović says

    Patriarch Gundyaev believes in Putin

    As the Second Rome, so the Third.

    There won’t be a Fourth, said the mad monk.

  4. says

    The Russian Orthodox Church has long been a tool of government for keeping control. The Czars used it to enforce rigid obedience to Europe’s last serf-based feudal society. Stalin allowed the church to exist on the condition that it served that same function under his regieme, and its usefulness was such that subsequent governments kept it. After the collapse of the Soviet Union and the fall of communism, the new Czars have themselves found that having the power to condemn dissenters to eternal damnation is a useful tool for keeping their absolute autocratic authority unquestioned.

    The more things change, the more its the same old shit.

  5. says

    There’s a translation of the new song (“Putin Lit Fires”) right in the post on YouTube, if you click through and watch it on the YouTube site.

  6. gardengnome says

    There was a story on TV here last week about how the orthodox church supposedly pleaded for clemency for these girls, saying “the church has forgiven them”. But they would say that wouldn’t they? They’ve made their point – “cross us at your peril!” and now wish to appear magnanimous. Of course this is more about the narcissistic Putin than them, they need each other. India, Indonesia, Russia – how long before the evilangelicals in the US start pursuing people for ‘blasphemy’ I wonder?

  7. elliete says

    *eagerly awaits comments from people who know nothing about the situation, it’s always fun.

    Oh, and РПЦ should really stop doing this shit, we are still heavily agnostic and very wary of flamingly religious people, РПЦ wants “moar moneys” and is trying to get them from the centrist oil-rich, largely apathetic government.
    Mad ? Nah, pragmatic, hell yes. Patriarch Gundyaev believes in selling tobacco products, using a tax exempt but hey, apparently you don’t have this info in English wiki.

  8. elliete says

    And yes, I don’t like their music, but they have the right to do whatever they want, and if РПЦ thinks they can kick people’s butts for that, well, can I sue РПЦ for their awful fashion sense, it “offends my religious views”, or something.

  9. No One says

    Russian Nationalism & the ROC walk hand in hand. Pussy Riot fell on the sword to point this out to the rest of the world.

    For an extreme example of Russian Nationalism see the documentary “Village of fools”.

  10. says

    If you want to show some solidarity you can put your own pics with Pussy Riot style balaclavas on the Free Pussy Riot tumblr at wearepussyriot.tumblr.com. I knitted one for it. I’m too broke to donate money right now or I’d do that too.

    FreePussyRiot.org has a lot of the latest news on them. Nadezhda Tolokonnikova and Maria Alyokhina are currently in danger of having their children taken away from them.

  11. Forbidden Snowflake says

    There was so much fatwa envy surrounding this trial, and so many elisions (come to think of it, fatwa envy is an example of elision: the political clout of the “offended party” is elided therein), and lots of hand-wringing about the hurt feelings of believers. Well, if the believers aren’t offended when their church is used to prop up Putin, they have no business claiming offense when the church is used to protest Putin, either.

  12. elliete says

    Pussy Riot style balaclavas on the Free Pussy Riot tumblr at wearepussyriot.tumblr.com.

    Like seriously, does it count as support these days, honestly, I don’t think how it supposes to work.
    I can even predict the way the whole situation will end, with or without “we are x” slacktivism campaigns.

  13. timberwoof says

    “You don’t like their music? Tough. … I’m pretty sure Lawrence Welk is still available in reruns on cable.”

    False dichotomy.

    I haven’t listened yet (watching a video while riding the bus sucks bandwidth and annoys other riders), so I reserve judgment. But don’t tell me ahead of time that if I don’t like it, I should listen to Laurence Welk (bleaaagh!) instead.

  14. Janine: Fucking Dyke Of Rage Mountain says

    It should come as no surprise that many of the US wingnut groups are on the side of Putin and the ROC.

    And Ed Koch said that Pussy Riot is as bad as ACT UP. I guess he still has bitter memories of dealing with righteously pissed off queers.

  15. Janine: Fucking Dyke Of Rage Mountain says

    Visually, it just strikes me as wrong (Well, the trial and sentence is even a worse wrong.) to see them in a glass isolation booth as if they were Adolf Eichmann.

  16. donny5 says

    Russian justice looks like something from 100 years ago. What the hell kind of crap is this making people sit inside cage while on trial? I’m sure that leads to an unbiased court. They should make you wear shirts that say: “guilty” on them.

    Let’s face it, Russia had about 14 years of democracy and went right back to a dictatorship. Sad very sad.

    Those women did a very brave thing and they should be appauled.

  17. elliete says

    donny5
    You know, at first I’d started to write a long-long post about what exactly happened after the murder of the half-dying half-zombi S-Union, pardon the pathos, but then, after re-reading your comment I thought why the hell should I bother.
    Let’s face it, you have absolutly no idea what was, is or will be happening there. And you don’t really want to know anything beyond the things you already do. Sad, very sad.

    That said, the goverment and РПЦ can still go and jump in the lake, ’cause I obviously infinitly love them.

  18. unclefrogy says

    all art is subject to personal prejudice to irrational reaction based on personal taste. that does not it any way make it not art nor does anyone’s personal opinion over rule anyone else’s opinion. it is still art!
    this is not 1712 or 1512 this is 2012 things are very different now. I find it kind of funny watching authoritarian in their futile efforts to for stall the changes in society that are occurring. It’s not new and it is only successful for a limited time and that time seems to be shorter now than it was 500 years ago.
    Putin seems to not have really studied his own countries history very well. What makes him think he can do what no one else could do without escalating repression? The kind of repression required is not good for business and I doubt the oligarchs’ would put up with that for very long.

    uncle frogy

  19. elliete says

    Janine: Fucking Dyke Of Rage Mountain

    Yep – We had a bunch of guys who loved oil too much. We still do.
    Honestly, I can’t figure the algorithm I got to use to figure out which of them was the Hollywoodish good guy.

  20. w00dview says

    Janine, wingnuts are on Putin’s side? Don’t they know he was formerly in the communist party? Or are commies okay if they tell uppity wimmenz to shut up?

  21. Esteleth, Who Knows How to Use Google says

    The wingnuts have liked Putin ever since Dubya looked into his soul.

    Also, when Putin demonstrated that he was happy to bomb brown people and Muslims, help bomb brown people and Muslims, and kissy up to the church.

  22. Janine: Fucking Dyke Of Rage Mountain says

    When it comes to Pussy Riot, w00dview, they are squarely on the side of god and country. Besides, we can ignore Putin’s past in the KGB; dubya had a good long look at Putin’s soul and pronounced him a good man.

    Good enough for me.

  23. Janine: Fucking Dyke Of Rage Mountain says

    Esteleth, funny how we both are sneering at the ludicrous statement.

  24. Janine: Fucking Dyke Of Rage Mountain says

    Damned Typo Monster gets fed again.

    that ludicrous statement

  25. elliete says

    Magic soul reading eyes, my ass. Hmm, didn’t McCain read KGB in them, or somthing I remeber spitting my coffie out when I was watching the debates. Do they come in different version and you suppose to get the newest updates ?

  26. Janine: Fucking Dyke Of Rage Mountain says

    That would be George W Bush, or dubya, that stared deep into Putin’s eyes and did not see a thug, elliete.

  27. Janine: Fucking Dyke Of Rage Mountain says

    Also, dubya, should have some knowledge of what people in intelligence agencies are like. George The Elder was briefly head of the CIA. Though it is possible that dubya was too drunk at the time to really notice.

  28. elliete says

    Janine: Fucking Dyke Of Rage Mountain – Well, the US pubs like to stare deep into people’s eyes and see stuff in them.
    I remeber both of them using the phrase, both McCain and Bush, that is – You would think they ought to see the same thing, but noooope.

  29. Esteleth, Who Knows How to Use Google says

    Actually, Dubya did a little flip-flop on this. Originally, he brought up the KGB thing and said “Once a KGB man, always a KGB man.” (paraphrased). Then came the War on Terra and the need to stamp on the Scary Mooslims, and Dubya did the soul-peeking.

  30. Janine: Fucking Dyke Of Rage Mountain says

    Funny how that works.

    Why did he ever give a shoulder massage to a woman who was born in East Germany?

  31. Esteleth, Who Knows How to Use Google says

    Because he wanted to and as everyone knows, a man has the right to do whatever he wants (explicitly sexual or not) to a woman’s body. The only person who would have any grounds to complain would be Merkel’s father or husband, but insofar that she was out without them, unprotected, that meant that she was fair game.

  32. Esteleth, Who Knows How to Use Google says

    But what am I babbling about anyway? I’m only one of those fuckwitted radfems.

  33. KG says

    I read this book when it came out in 1987. Prophetic or what? While at present, I’d say “fascist” is not quite the correct description of Putin’s regime, outright Nazism is growing, and despite formal condemnation by Putin is largely tolerated, while gays and punks are persecuted.

  34. Rolan le Gargéac says

    David Marjanovic’ @4 21 August 2012 at 9:00 am

    As the Second Rome, so the Third.

    There won’t be a Fourth, said the mad monk.

    I love you man !

  35. truthspeaker says

    False dichotomy, indeed. It is possible to be a fan of both punk rock and accordion music.

    Now, give me punk rock that incorporates an accordion, and I’d be in heaven.

  36. says

    You don’t like their music? Tough. I thought it was wonderfully loud and angry and political, and if you don’t care for it, I’m pretty sure Lawrence Welk is still available in reruns on cable. Also, you don’t have to like it to respect the freedom of artists to express themselves.

    What the fuck is that, PZ? I agree with their message, but as for the music itself? The Clash and Bad Religion did it way better. Even Green Day is more sonically interesting and they’re the very definition of three-chord pop-punk. Hell, I’d probably take Sleater Kinney over this stuff and I can’t stand the lead singer’s voice.

    I can say they make awful music. That’s not the same thing as saying they don’t deserve to say anything or their message is wrong. And it sure as hell isn’t an invitation to listen to Lawrence Welk.

  37. says

    The Clash and Bad Religion did it way better. Even Green Day is more sonically interesting and they’re the very definition of three-chord pop-punk. Hell, I’d probably take Sleater Kinney over this stuff and I can’t stand the lead singer’s voice.

    hmmm….

    just as a curiosity… what are your thoughts on Le Tigre? or the Soviettes?

  38. Rolan le Gargéac says

    donny5 @21 21 August 2012 at 12:08 pm

    Let’s face it, Russia had about 14 years of democracy and went right back to a dictatorship. Sad very sad.

    Are you american ? Sad very sad. But the russian oligarchy is only following success ! Shirley a capitalist credo ?

    Those women did a very brave thing and they should be appauled.

    And they are being applauded everywhere, well, almost everywhere and there they’re appalled.

    _________________________________________________________________________________________

  39. says

    just as a curiosity… what are your thoughts on Le Tigre? or the Soviettes?

    I have no idea. I’ve never heard of either before reading this comment.

  40. Rolan le Gargéac says

    unclefrogy @24 21 August 2012 at 12:25 pm

    Putin seems to not have really studied his own countries history very well.

    Bwahahahaha ! Ooooh,bwahahahahaha…

    What makes him think he can do what no one else could do without escalating repression? The kind of repression required is not good for business and I doubt the oligarchs’ would put up with that for very long.

    This passage is so, so incredibly stupid, so blinkered it verges on the insane. I pity you sirrah. And despise you.

  41. shoeguy says

    I believe these Women could teach the Western punk rockers of old a thing or three. Nothing like genuine repression to bring out the heart and drive out the dilettantes. Ovaries: the new balls!

  42. unclefrogy says

    Rolan: I the despised one do not need your pity thank you very much. who the hell are you any way?
    Do you think that the world would approve or look aside when and if the Russian powers institute the kind of repression that they have used in the past to stop this kind of protest? What has been the long term results to that kind of repression on a functioning modern economy?

    Do you really think that there is something so different about Russia that some thing like what is happening in Syria could not happen forgetting that it has happened in the past. why just last century and if I have not been mislead it has happened twice?
    (a radical change in government that is)

    I am not all knowing nor a supper genius that can predict the future. are you?
    uncle frogy

  43. Holms says

    You don’t like their music? Tough. I thought it was wonderfully loud and angry and political, and if you don’t care for it, I’m pretty sure Lawrence Welk is still available in reruns on cable.

    Everyone complaining about this statement is technically correct (false dichotomy, subjective vs. objective and etc.) but is completely missing the point. Diverting the thread to be about whether Welk fans should be derided or whatever is pretty much the same as everyone that says ‘but why haven’t we heard elavator guy’s side?!?!’ when Watson’s elavator incident is mentioned.

    The point is not the music so much as the message of that music, and the fucking awful state of freedom of expression in Russia.

  44. Rip Steakface says

    Man, who said that punk is dead? This is pure old-school punk, and incorporates that same DIY, anti-establishment feel that the old guard did decades ago. Good music with a good message.

    This is coming from a jazz musician who listens to everything from Morbid Angel to Steve Gadd to Tower of Power to Atheist (there is in fact a band named Atheist – and they have one of the best drummers period in metal history).

  45. Rolan le Gargéac says

    unclefrogy @50 21 August 2012 at 3:58 pm

    Rolan: I the despised one do not need your pity thank you very much. who the hell are you any way?

    Oh, unclefroggy, you are a turn !

    Do you think that the world would approve or look aside..(bollocks,blah,blah,) “in the past”, (some tedious bollocks)..
    “repression on a functioning modern economy”, blah blah, more tedious ignorant bollocks,

    aargh, I’ve lost track of the brackets…but then I am neither a supper genius or all knowing, but I have forgotten, forgitt, gitt, fur, fer, f.g..

    Er…?

  46. RFW says

    That cute cartoon gets something right that’s woefully often wrong: it uses the word “gender” correctly, not as a euphemism for “sex”, which has become something of a dirty word.

    Those who write “transgender” instead of “transsexual” also get it right.

  47. says

    I have no idea. I’ve never heard of either before reading this comment.

    that’s… actually even more blatant than I expected. Thanks for confirming my suspicions.

  48. says

    Do you think that the world would approve or look aside when and if the Russian powers institute the kind of repression that they have used in the past to stop this kind of protest?

    of course they will. Russia is on the security council, and it’s not like the US will invade them. They’ll just pointlessly wag their finger at the Russians the same way they are at the Chinese.

    What has been the long term results to that kind of repression on a functioning modern economy?

    what makes you think Russia is or has ever been a modern economy? (also, the answer to your question is: it’s a requirement. if you can’t do it internally, you outsource)

  49. unclefrogy says

    I would agree that the UN will do little nor have much of an effect. Do you think such repression would be conducive to investment of foreign capital? Aren’t the Russians trying to get foreign capital?

    I get the impression that some here think that the Russian people are in agreement with this ( the Putin government)and will allow increasing political repression to continue. Why does anyone believe that?

    uncle frogy

  50. says

    I get the impression that some here think that the Russian people are in agreement with this ( the Putin government)and will allow increasing political repression to continue.

    “allow”?

    you’re being stupid.

  51. unclefrogy says

    then you think they will just rollover?

    or will there be more demonstrations?

    uncle frogy

  52. unclefrogy says

    no of course not but change does not happen without it,
    the people have to want it and at least a significant percentage must feel the need to act

    uncle frogy

  53. says

    the people have to want it and at least a significant percentage must feel the need to act

    i see you’ve completely lost track of this conversation. let me remind you what this conversation is about

    Putin seems to not have really studied his own countries history very well. What makes him think he can do what no one else could do without escalating repression? The kind of repression required is not good for business and I doubt the oligarchs’ would put up with that for very long.

    you said this, which is hilariously stupid, because the oligarchs are absolutely in favor of oppression, and repression has a long and successful history in Russia. Your response to people making fun of you was another stupid comment, this time about how we must think the Russian people want this, which 1)a claim not supported by anyone’s comments, and 2)irrelevant; the thing about tyranny and repression is that they’re really good at not needing to give a fuck if anyone agrees.

    And now you’ve added another non sequitur to the conversation with this comment about how a people need to want to rebel. because what the fuck does that have to do with anything anyone said?

  54. shaftesbury says

    Though it’s a little old now, this is a good story from the NYT about the collusion of the Russian Orthodox Church with Putin to shut down differing views (albeit in this case it’s mostly against Protestantism). It includes a video report (look on the left hand side and scroll down).

    Kremlin Rules
    At Expense of All Others, Putin Picks a Church
    By CLIFFORD J. LEVY for the New York Times April 24, 2008
    http://www.nytimes.com/2008/04/24/world/europe/24church.html

  55. unclefrogy says

    I may be as you say stupid and I would admit ignorant about many things.
    I write slow and am not always able to say what I am trying to say in a manner clear enough for any one to understand. I do not know why I am even trying to now.

    Is it off topic I do not know, It seldom bothers anyone around here as we go off topic almost all the time. Maybe it is off your topic so don’t pay any attention.
    One of the things I was trying to say all governments govern by the consent of the governed. There are many ways to get that consent, it can be the unanimous consent freely given of a free people, it can be given as the result of lies and manipulation or it can be obtained by fear and repression.
    The oligarchs of the Czar’s time tried many things and they were very successful for a long time but they failed in the end, as have others in other places in the last few years. Do I think that the time is at hand in Russia now probably not. Bu I do not think you can use the old model of repression any longer, you need to give the people more or they will take it by force. The Chinese know that they must give some level of prosperity to the population They have to give some level of rights and dignity also or it will fail.
    Pussy Riot made a statement big and loud and in your face a statement only for that they get 2 years.
    A good deal of the posts on this thread were more to do with the style of their statement than the political implications of making the statement and the resulting trial and penalty.

    I do not think they have 10 years to fuck around with repression before the governed make a decision to with draw their consent to be governed by Putin and the oligarchs. Unless they can deliver some prosperity and relative freedom to the people they will be dead meat. That is my opinion, time will tell how it comes out.

    your stupid despicable
    uncle frogy

  56. says

    I may be as you say stupid

    i didn’t, actually. i said you were saying stupid things.

    Is it off topic I do not know, It seldom bothers anyone around here as we go off topic almost all the time.

    the point is not that you’re off topic, the point is that you are saying random, disconnected shit that has nothing to do with what people are saying to you.

    One of the things I was trying to say all governments govern by the consent of the governed.

    ok. I can’t be bothered to read your post any further than this, because really, what am I supposed to say to a comment that includes bits of complete disconnect with reality like this?

  57. unclefrogy says

    why do you even bother to answer this complete disconnect from reality?

    you laughed at “allow” which I used to imply the consent of the governed. Do you mean that the statement that all governments govern by the consent of the governed is not true?

    uncle frogy the despicable

  58. DLC says

    I don’t care if their music sounds like a chorus of angels or fingernails on blackboards. Being jailed for “Hooliganism” ?
    Putin and his mob should be ashamed. They won’t be, being bosses in the classical model, but they should be.
    Romney and Ryan would love them.

  59. Holms says

    Frogy, the reason people facepalmed at your ‘they wouldn’t allow oppression’ comment is because not only are the oligarchs already ‘allowing’ it, they are the ones doing the oppressing in the first place.

  60. jefrir says

    I get the impression that some here think that the Russian people are in agreement with this ( the Putin government)and will allow increasing political repression to continue. Why does anyone believe that?

    Well, because nearly half the population approves of the conviction, and only 1 in 6 opposes it, for example?
    Not that the approval of the population is as important as you seem to think, but yes, there is a pretty strong conservative streak in Russian society, including a fair amount of nostalgia for Soviet times.

    And we think that Putin will be allowed to get away with it because he has been so far.

  61. lpetrich says

    I’m rather perplexed at the Russian Orthodox Church. Didn’t they learn anything from their Tsarist and Communist history? After associating themselves closely with the Tsars, the Communists took aim at them and demonized them and persecuted them as the moral equivalent of drug dealers.

  62. left0ver1under says

    Janine: Fucking Dyke Of Rage Mountain (#22):

    Donny5, Russia had a kleptocracy, not a democracy.

    A big reason for it was the disaster capitalists (the IMF, the criminals of the U of Chicago) and their insistence on “shock therapy”, that the Russian economy be unregulated. There were no standards to prevent unethical trading or business practices, so as a result the most ruthless succeeded and the honest failed.

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Shock_therapy_(economics)