We are proud to present another essay by Tomasz Kozak on zenvampires. Tomasz Kozak is a theoretician and visual artist combining philosophy, political sciences, and video art. He is an associate professor at the UMCS Institute of Fine Arts in Lublin, Poland. Currently, he works on a book inspired by Mark Fisher’s concept of libertarian communism.
Dead Kennedys once shouted out the Westerner’s hard-core blues. So much hate and so much pity. It’s such a bore; it gets me really sore. Gag with every breath. So I’m looking forward to death!
These days, we suddenly find ourselves in a world that is a far cry from boring. A traditional Chinese curse, ‘May you live in interesting times’, updates exponentially – through every move made by Russian jingoism during the invasion of Ukraine. So most of our societies will bid farewell to boredom in the days to come.
But some of us plan to remain dull. Certain red celebrities attest that by insisting on old songs: demented and daunting.
Take Noam Chomsky. In the 4 February interview for Truthout, he was so preoccupied with a new concert of Great Powers, with tuning into Russian concerns, that he ‘forgot’ of the 2014 Revolution of Dignity in Kyiv. And yet it did happen. It proved Ukraine is not a pawn but an independent and determinate agent. And as for self-determination, it hasalways made the very basis of socialist anti-imperialism. Mr Chomsky should be aware of so fundamental a fact.
There’s also Yannis Varoufakis: an advocate of Ukrainian neutrality. On his and DiEM25 part, he proves reluctant to mind a critical factor. Putinist Russia can hardly be filed under ‘peace- loving’ or ‘agreement-honouring’. As some stillremember, the 1994 Budapest Memorandum, signed by the Russian Federation, guaranteed Ukraine territorial integrity in return for giving up nuclear weapons. In 2014, Putin killed the deal by the annexation of Crimea. Had the Ukrainians kept their nukes, would the aggression have been possible? Not bothered by the question, Varoufakisans are still happy to solicit the unilateral demilitarization. It’s not to be the Russian one, clearly.
These pronouncements are compassionate to the far-right regime’s complaints (e.g., the alleged NATO threat) andtacitly friendly to the ‘sphere of influence’ concept. Since its meaning cannot be decoupled from the imperialist tenets, those left-wingers who stick to it find themselves in an idiotic (pardon my French, aporetic) position. They will become inadvertent sidekicks of an aggressor.
As a leftist, I was infuriated. Choking with Chomsky’s smug dictums and Varoufakis’ counselling, I waited for someoneto fire soldierly expletives upon them. But then the spirits of the Classics stepped in and advised: A fistful of reminders will do.
So here you are. Socialism cannot reduce itself to non-violent idealism. The Left at its peak was bellicose and hencecapable of revolution. One could scarcely see Marx as a pacifist. According to him, pacifism contributed greatly to bourgeois ideology with the belief that too many devastating conflicts would lower stock prices. ‘War depresses thequotations of the three and four per cents!’ Hence ‘Peace everywhere and always!’
Sadly, ‘peace’ becomes a meaningless vocable when facilitated through dealings with a barbarian who revels intrampling on agreements. Marx and Engels then make themselves clear: ‘buttermilk pacifism’ (stale, soured, scared) ishardly a template for communists to follow. ‘No doubt, peace is the ultimate necessity of civilization; but what is peace with Nicholas of Russia?’ Since the tsar operates as a ‘disemboweller of whole nations’, suspension of hostilities between ‘mankind’ and ‘this madman’ would be cowardice and crime (The Manifesto of M. De Lamartine) . Communism must engage in revolutionary actions that entail, inter alia, military intervention against the fiend (GermanForeign Policy and the Latest Events in Prague).
One thus could scarcely imagine the two men being empathetic Zar-Versteher. The same goes for the idea of empathizing with Putin. He is the fascist who not only employs manifest neo- Nazis (recall SS-runes-tattooed Wagner mercenaries marking Tripoli with swastikas) but also fancies the overall destruction of everything socialists care for:human and animal rights, self- determination, national liberation, social equality, sustainable development.
The young Marx fashioned an evergreen appraisal of such a danger. Where the playing-with- fire oligarchy assumesunlimited power – there must emerge a regime ‘wherein wealth derived from gambling naturally seeks its satisfaction, where pleasure becomes debauch, where money, filth and blood commingle’ (The Class Struggles in France, 1848–1850).
Putinist kleptocracy reboots this paradigm. It gambles with the same lusts, seeks the same pleasures. Only that it grows to be a global monster on genocidal steroids. So, instead of placating the full-frontal beast, the Left should grow belligerent.
That said, I share the common fear of nuclear war. We face a loose cannon armed with the button. Therefore, it’simpossible to simply dust off an old Marxian new-year plan: ‘The table of contents for 1849 reads … world war.’ (The Revolutionary Movement) It had better not happen in 2022. On the other hand, socialists cannot just brush red bellicosityoff. It would be naïve to convince Putinism into self- limitation by the power of our peacefulness.
The hard-to-embrace truth is that the endgame of Russian oligarchs can be apocalyptic regardless of Western conciliatoriness. Backing down may not suffice to save the world as we know it. The Left has to get it. Also, no danger posed by transatlantic capitalism will turn out equally substantial in the nearest future. So we need to ally against Putinism with American and European liberals. And even – brace yourselves for the heresy – with NATO.
It isn’t a matter of our boredom-brewed death drive, once ridiculed by Dead Kennedys. Quite the opposite, the survivalof values and material amenities dear to both socialism and liberalism will be at stake. Wanna save your freedoms and luxuries, reform your societies and countries? Care to revive great hopes for your fellow citizens? Well, you must defend them. Sometimes with a pen, keyboard, camera, a painting or book – and sometimes with the MIM-104 Patriot.
Radical reds cannot then regress into a shelter of complacent pacifism. Instead, we need to see that the desired ‘patriotism’ proves progressive. And our satisfactions – egalitarian, just, creative.
Those who crave better life must be forward to fight.