Inglis: Unreserved embracement of politics


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The Russian punk band Pussy Riot has an extensive international fan base these days. Madonna endorsed the group at an August concert in Moscow, and the Red Hot Chili Peppers devoted a song to the band at the same venue. Burmese opposition leader Aung San Suu Kyi, recently voiced her support, and the London-based magazine Art Review just listed Pussy Riot among its Power 100 of today’s most influential artists in the world.

Adding to the growing number of fans, the University of Iowa Amnesty International chapter recently held a solidarity protest for Pussy Riot on the Pentacrest.

None of these fans support the band for its musical prowess, however.

As anti-Putin feminists protesting the Kremlin’s repressive streak, three of Pussy Riot’s members were recently jailed after they protested in a Moscow church. Charged with hooliganism and religious hatred, two of the three face two-year prison sentences in a Russian labor camp.

The sentence is undoubtedly unjust, and Pussy Riot’s fans are right to protest, but before wholeheartedly embracing Pussy Riot’s politics, however, supporters should be careful to parse their solidarity between issues of justice and those of complete ideological support.

In an interview with Der Spiegel in September, one of the jailed leaders stated Pussy Riot is “part of the global anti-capitalist movement, which consists of anarchists, Troskyists, feminists, and autonomists.”

As such, Pussy Riot isn’t simply anti-authoritarian and pro-democracy. The members are anti both, simply because both are systems.

Instead of unreservedly supporting the Pussy Riot members’ politics, supporters should highlight their struggle for justice under Russian law. Only through improving that system, only by instituting a real rule of law in Russia, can the Pussy Riot members achieve the freedom of speech they’re fighting for.

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