Thursday, February 24, 2022

Zizek on Ukraine (Translated)

Slavoj Zizek, "'Goodbye Lenin' in Ukraine: accept it, leftists, Putin is a conservative nationalist"
All of us who witness the sad comedy of the rape of a sovereign country must be aware that only true castration prevents rape.

At a press conference on February 7, 2022, Putin noted that the Ukrainian government did not like the Minsk Agreements and then added: "Whether you like it or not, it's your duty, my beauty." The saying has well-known sexual connotations: Putin seemed to be quoting 'Sleeping Beauty in a Coffin', from Soviet-era punk rock group Red Mould: "Sleeping beauty in a coffin, I crawled and fucked her. Whether I like it or not, my beauty sleeps." Although the Kremlin press representative claimed that Putin was referring to an ancient folkloric expression, the reference to Ukraine as the object of necrophilia and rape is clear.

As early as 2002, Putin responded to a Western journalist's question thus: "If you want to become a complete Islamic radical and you are ready to undergo circumcision, then I invite you to Moscow. We are a multi-confessional country. We have specialists in this question [circumcision]. I will recommend that they carry out the operation in such a way that afterwards nothing else grows," a rather vulgar threat of castration. No wonder Putin and Trump were comrades in vulgarities. At least politicians like Putin and Trump openly say what they want to say and avoid hypocrisy; however, in this case, I am wholeheartedly on the side of hypocrisy: form (hypocrisy) is never just a form, it is part of the content, so that, when the form is abandoned, the content itself is brutalized.

Russia says it doesn't want to rape Ukraine, but makes it clear that if it doesn't get their consent to have sex, it will.

We can continue here: the US, protector of Ukraine, warns that war can break out at any time while the president of Ukraine, expected victim of the Russian attack, warns against war hysteria and calls for calm. Russia, which is ready to rape Ukraine, claims it does not want to do so, but between the lines makes it clear that, if it does not obtain Ukraine's consent to have sex, it is ready to commit rape (remember Putin's vulgar response), and accuses Ukraine of provoking it to commit rape. The US, which wants to protect Ukraine from being raped, sounds alarm bells about the imminent threat of rape so that it can assert itself as the protector of post-Soviet nations (this protection can only remind us of a local mobster who offers shops and restaurants in his domain protection against theft, with a veiled threat that, if they refuse their protection, something can happen to them.) Ukraine, the target of the rape threat, tries to remain calm, nervous also by American alarms, aware that the uproar over rape may push Russia to commit rape.

What's really behind the conflict

So what's behind the conflict with all its unpredictable dangers? What if this conflict is so dangerous not because it reflects the growing strength of the two former superpowers but, on the contrary, because it shows that they are not able to accept the fact that they are no longer true global powers? When, at the height of the Cold War, Mao Ze Dong said that the US is, with all its weapons, a paper tiger, he forgot to add that paper tigers might be more dangerous than real, self-confident tigers. The fiasco of the withdrawal from Afghanistan was only the latest in a series of blows to American supremacy, and Russia's effort to rebuild the Soviet empire is nothing more than a desperate attempt to cover up the fact that Russia is now a weak state in decline. As with real rapists, a rape signals the impotence of the aggressor.

This impotence is palpable now that the act of rape has begun with the first direct penetration of the Russian Army into Ukraine; first, if we discount the obscene role of the Wagner group, a private military company whose contractors have been involved in several conflicts, including operations in the Syrian civil war, Crimea, Central Africa or the Republika Srpska in Bosnia. This group of anonymous mercenaries, a firearms unit of the Russian Ministry of Defense used in denied conflicts, has been operating in Donbas for years, organizing 'spontaneous' resistance against Ukraine (as they already did in Crimea).

Now that tensions erupted, the Russian Duma made a direct appeal to Putin to recognize the Russian-controlled separatist states of Donetsk and Luhansk. Putin first said that he would not immediately recognize the so-called republics, so it seemed that when he recognized the two entities as independent republics, he was only reacting to popular pressure from below, following the rules described (and practiced) for decades by Stalin. In the mid-1920s, Stalin proposed to promulgate the decision to simply proclaim the government of the RSFSR, also the government of the other five republics (Ukraine, Belarus, Azerbaijan, Armenia, Georgia): "If the present decision is confirmed by the Central Committee of the RCP, it will not be made public, but will be communicated to the Central Committees of the Republics for circulation among the Soviet organs, the Central Executive Committees or the Congresses of the Soviets of these Republics before the convening of the All-Russian Congress of Soviets, where the desire of these republics shall be declared."

The interaction of the higher authority (CC) with its base is not only thus abolished, but the higher authority simply imposes its will; to add insult to injury, it is put back on stage as its opposite: the Central Committee decides what the rank and file will ask the higher authority to promulgate as if it were its own wish. Let us recall the most conspicuous case of such a reorganization since 1939, when the three Baltic states freely requested to join the Soviet Union, which granted them their wish. What Stalin did in the early 1930s was simply a return to pre-revolutionary tsarist foreign and national policy (for example, the Russian colonization of Siberia and Muslim Asia was no longer condemned as an imperialist expansion, but was celebrated as the introduction of progressive policies).
What Stalin did in the early 1930s was simply a return to Tsarist foreign and national policy
Now, when, similarly, at the public recognition ceremony of Donetsk and Luhansk all senior officials were asked to declare whether they agreed with that, one of them (Sergei Naryshkin, the head of Foreign Intelligence) went too far and said that he supports their integration into Russia. Putin immediately interrupted him because the question now was not about integration but about independence: the minister acted too soon, without following the script.

The End of Leninism

Although in January 2022, the Communist Party of Russia proposed the motion to appeal to President Vladimir Putin in order to consider recognition of the two regions (Putin, playing a patient legalist, rejected the appeal), it is crucial to note that the ongoing invasion of the Donbas is the final rejection of the Leninist tradition in Russia. . The last time Lenin made western headlines was during the 2014 Ukrainian uprising that toppled pro-Russian President Yanukovych: in tv reports about mass protests in Kiev, we saw again and again the scene of angry protesters tearing down statues of Lenin.

These furious attacks were understandable to the extent that Lenin's statues functioned as a symbol of Soviet oppression, and Putin's Russia is perceived as a continuation of the Soviet policy of subjecting non-Russian nations to Russian domination. Nonetheless, there was a profound irony in seeing Ukrainians tear down Lenin's statues as a sign of their willingness to assert their national sovereignty: the golden age of Ukraine's national identity was not Tsarist Russia (where Ukrainian self-assertion as a nation was thwarted), it was in the first decade of the Soviet Union that they established their full national identity. Read wikipedia's passage about Ukraine in the 1920s:
"Under the aegis of the Policy of Ukrainianization followed by the National Communist Leadership of Mykola Skrypnyk, the Soviet leadership encouraged a national policy of revival in literature and the arts. Ukrainian culture and language enjoyed a renaissance, as Ukrainianization became a local implementation of the Soviet policy of 'korenization' [literally, indigenization]. The Bolsheviks also pledged to introduce universal benefits of health care, education and social security, as well as the right to work and housing. Women's rights were greatly increased through new laws designed to eliminate the inequalities of centuries. Most of these policies were drastically reversed in the early 1930s, after Joseph Stalin gradually consolidated power to become the 'de facto' leader of the Communist Party."
After the Russian Revolution of 1917, according to Putin, it was up to the Bolsheviks to redress Russia.

This 'indigenization' followed the principles formulated by Lenin in rather unequivocal terms in 'The Socialist Revolution and the Right of Self-Determination' (1916): "The proletariat cannot but fight against the forced retention of oppressed nations within the limits of a given state, and this is exactly what the struggle for the right to self-determination means. . The proletariat must demand the right of political secession for the colonies and for the nations that 'their' nation oppresses. Unless he does this, proletarian internationalism will remain a meaningless phrase; mutual trust and class solidarity between the workers of oppressive and oppressed nations will be impossible."

Lenin remained faithful to this position until the end: in his last struggle against Stalin's project of a centralized Soviet Union, he again defended the unconditional right of small nations to secession (in this case, Georgia was at stake), insisting on the full sovereignty of the national entities that made up the Soviet state. No wonder that, on September 27, 1922, in a letter to members of the Politburo, Stalin openly accused Lenin of 'national liberalism'. And Putin's foreign policy is a clear continuation of this Tsarist-Stalinist line: after the Russian Revolution of 1917, according to Putin, it was up to the Bolsheviks to offend Russia: "Governing with your ideas as a guide is right, but that is only the case when that idea leads to the right results, not as happened with Vladimir Ilyich. In the end, that idea led to the ruin of the Soviet Union. There were a lot of these ideas, like providing autonomy to regions, etc. They placed an atomic bomb under the building called Russia that would then explode."

No wonder we can revisit Stalin's portraits during military parades and celebrations in today's Russia.

In short, Lenin is guilty of taking seriously the autonomy of the various nations that made up the Russian empire, of questioning Russian hegemony. No wonder we can re-see The Portraits of Stalin during the military parades and public celebrations in Russia today, while Lenin is erased; in a large opinion group a couple of years ago, Stalin was voted the third greatest Russian of all time, while Lenin appeared nowhere. Stalin is not celebrated as a communist, but as the restorer of Russia's greatness after Lenin's unpatriotic 'deviation'.

No wonder that on a Monday in February 2022, when announcing the military intervention in the Donbas region, Putin repeated his old claim that Lenin, who came to power after the fall of the Romanov royal family, was the "author and creator" of Ukraine: "Let's start with the fact that modern Ukraine was created entirely by Russia, more precisely, by Bolshevik Communist Russia. This process began almost immediately after the Revolution of 1917." Can things be made clearer? All those leftists who still have a tender heart for Russia (after all, Russia is the successor to the Soviet Union, Western democracies are a forgery, and Putin opposes US imperialism...) should fully accept the brutal fact that Putin is a conservative nationalist.

Russia is not only returning to the old Cold War with its set of firm rules. Something much crazier is happening: not a cold war, but a hot peace, a peace that amounts to a permanent hybrid war in which military intervention is declared a humanitarian peacekeeping mission against genocide: "The State Duma expresses its unequivocal and consolidated support for appropriate measures taken for humanitarian purposes."

So to conclude with Lenin's question: what to do? All of us who come from countries that have to witness the sad comedy of rape must be aware that only true castration prevents rape. So, we should recommend that the international community carry out in Russia (and, to some extent, in the US) a castrating operation, ignoring and marginalizing them as much as possible, making sure that afterwards nothing else will grow of their global authority


  1. No wonder we can revisit Stalin's portraits during military parades and celebrations in today's Russia.

    My father hated Stalin and for good reason. He was driven out of his homeland in Panevėžys, Lithuania. He was forced from his homeland where he was wealthy by Stalin into the hands of the German Nazis along with his parents and siblings. He was traumatized at the age of 14 and was in a subcamp but I believe I told you all this at AOWs blog, anyhow my point is my father hated Stalin more than Hilter and that astounded me until I read about Stalin.

    The Russian people are lied to and given a false perception of Stalin. They cannot speak up if they don't agree. They still kill you in Russia if you speak against your job let alone the government. In case crap going on there. The Russians suffer under Putin and most celebrations you see are put on like the ones in North Korea. You cannot believe all we see.

  2. Zizek likes to tell the following Stalin story:

    Now you will say that I’m exaggerating here. No I’m not. Imagine even the most totalitarian communities imaginable. The Stalinist regime. The real old one from the 30’s. You would say but there everything was clear, no unwritten rules. Oh, their were.

    Imagine a session of the central committee where someone stands up and starts to criticize Stalin. Now, everyone knows this was prohibited. But that’s the catch. Imagine someone else standing up and saying: “But listen, are you crazy? Don’t you know that it’s prohibited to criticize comrade Stalin?” I claim the second one would be arrested earlier than the first one. Because although everybody knew that it’s prohibited to criticize Stalin, this prohibition itself was prohibited. The appearance had to be unconditionally maintained that it is allowed to criticize Stalin, but simply why criticize him since he’s so good.

  3. "'Goodbye Lenin' in Ukraine: accept it, leftists, Putin is a conservative nationalist"

    Huh? There are leftists who see Putin as somethging other than a conservative nationalist

    That piece rambles and rambles...

  4. I notice that it couldn't get published in English...

  5. I take the above back... Spectator just published it. I thought that it was the "dig" against America at the end that may have made it "too subversive". It's obvious why RT didn't publish it.