Accepted paper:

Re-imagining the Russian left: socialism, affect, horizons

Author:

Petra Rethmann (McMaster University)

Paper short abstract:

How do young Russian activists imagine struggles for political agency today? How do they, in an era marked by entrenched capitalism, confront questions of socialism and the past? Does it, in Russia’s current climate, even still make sense to think about the possibilities of socialism and if so, on what terms? These are the questions that drive many left-wing artists and activists in Russia, and this talk.

Paper long abstract:

How do young Russian activists imagine struggles for political agency today? How do they, in an era marked by entrenched capitalism, confront questions of socialism and the past? Does it, in Russia's current climate, even still make sense to think about the possibilities of socialism and if so, on what terms? These are the questions that drive the many left-wing artists and activists in Russia, and this talk. Undeniably, what has emerged in Russia in the first decade of this millennium is a spirited, committed, and varied movement that seeks to imagine viable alternatives to Russia's current capitalist-reformative system, and to put them into practice. Consisting of a multitude of anarchist, anti-fascist, radical grassroots, Trotzkyte, innovative Marxist, and social action groups, this new left does not associate itself with the humanitarian socialism of the shestidesiatniki, non-conformist subcultures of the 1970s or 80s, or perestroika-era reformist movements, but rather posits the radical critique of capitalism as its determined target. Taking the concrete political and national situation of Russia's new left as my point of departure, here I seek to map out a few registers of the political possibilities that Russia's new left imagines for itself. Tracing these political possibilities through the diagnostic lenses of the future and affect, I especially seek to understand the difficulties and potentialities inherent in what the Russian new left still understands as the socialist - albeit not state-socialist - project.

panel W121
Inspiring alter-politics: anthropology and critical political thinking (EN-FR)