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(en) ias romania: AN ANARCHIST GUIDE TO CHRISTMAS By Golos Truda [machine translation]

Date Sun, 17 Dec 2017 09:04:53 +0200

It is not surprising to discover that anarchist theorist Piotr Kropotkin was interested in Christmas. In Russian culture, St. Nicholas (Nicolas the Wonderworker) was venerated as a defender of the oppressed, weak and disadvantaged. Kropotkin shared these feelings. But there was also a family bond. As it is known, Kropotkin comes from the ancient Dynasty Rurik who ruled Russia before the Romans and who, since the first century AD, controlled the commercial routes between Moscow and the Byzantine Empire. The part of the family to which Nicholas belonged was sent to patrol the Black Sea. But Nicholas was a spiritual man and sought to escape the piracy and robbery for which his Russian viking family was renowned. So he settled under a new name in the southern countries of the Empire, where Greece is now,

Unpublished sources of archive recently found in Moscow that Kropotkin was fascinated by this family history and the striking resemblance between him and Father Christmas's image, popularized by the publication "A visit from Santa Claus" (also known as "The Evening Beyond Christmas ") of 1823.

Kropotkin was not as cunning as Klaus, but a pillow under his tunic could easily mimic him. His friend, Elisee Reclus, advised him to give up the fur on the suit. It was a good idea because it allowed him to wear more black in combination with red. He followed Elisee's advice on reindeer, and used a handshake. Kropotlin is generally not expensive. But he took advantage of this resemblance to spread the anarchist message, which was an excellent propaganda by deed.

Kropotkin believed we could all be Santa Claus. On the edge of a page it says: "Infiltrate the stores, distribute the toys!"

Remains on the back of a view proclaim:

"The night before Christmas we'll all be ready
As people sleep, we
'll blow We'll expose goods from stores because it's fair
And we'll distribute them to those who need it."

The notes of his project also show some valuable perspectives on his ideas about the anarchist features of Christmas and how Victorian Christmas rituals can be adapted. "We all know," he says, "that the big stores - John Lewis, Harrods and Selfridges - are starting to exploit the commercial potential of Christmas, creating caves, caves and magical realms to draw our children and press us to buy gifts we do not want them and we can not afford them. "

"If you are one of us," he continues, "you will realize that the Christmas magic depends on Father Christmas's production system, not the shops' attempts to seduce you to use unnecessary luxuries." Kroporkin describes the workshops at the North Pole where the elves worked all year round because they knew they were producing for the pleasure of others. Observing that these workshops were strictly nonprofit, artisanal, and deployed on communal lines, Kropotkin considered them prototypes for factories of the future (described in "Fields, Factories and Workshops").

He believed that some people considered Santa Claus's dream of bringing a gift to everyone on Christmas Day as idealistic. But it could be accomplished. Indeed, the expansion of workshops - which are expensive in the Arctic - would facilitate generalized production for needs and the transformation of occasional gifts into a gift-based economy. "We have to tell people," Kropotkin wrote, "that community workshops can be set up anywhere, and that we can pool resources to make sure everyone has satisfying needs"!
One of the things that bothered Kropotkin most about Christmas was how Nicholas's inspirational role in creating Christmas myths that distorted his ethics. Nicholas was mistakenly represented as a charitable, benevolent man: holy because he was benevolent. Absorbed in the figure of Santa Claus, Nicholas' motivations to give birth became even more erroneous by the Victorian fixation for children.

Kropotkin did not really understand the ties, but he thought it was an attempt to moralize childhood through a concept of purity symbolized by the birth of Jesus. Of course, he could not imagine creating the "big brother" Santa Claus, who knows when the kids are sleeping or not, and who arrives in the city knowing who dared to cry or be stunned.

But, sooner or later, this idea of purity will be used to distinguish between naughty children and those who are good, and only the latter will be rewarding with gifts.

Whatever the situation, it was important both to recover the principle of Nicholas' compassion from this confusion and the folkloric origin of Santa Claus. Nicholas gave him because he was aware of the suffering of other people. Although he was not an assassin (as far as Kropotkin knew), he shared the same ethics as Sofia Petrovskaya. And although it is important to worry about the well-being of children, the anarchist principle is to take account of everyone's sufferings.

Similarly, the practice of dedication was wrongly considered to require the implementation of a centrally coordinated plan supervised by an all-knowing administrator. This is wrong: Santa comes from the imagination of the people (consider the variety of names accumulated by Nicholas: Sinterklaas, Tomte, de Kerstman). And the spread of the gentle spirit was organized from bottom to top.

Rooted in Christmas, says Kropotkin, is the solidarity principle of mutual aid.

Kropotkin appreciated the significance of the ritual and real value that individuals and communities attributed to carnival, commemorating and remembering actions. He did not want to decimate Christmas just as he did not want it to be republicanized by any bureaucratic reordering of the calendar.

It was, however, important to separate the ethics that Christmas holds for the singularity of his holiday. A party means only that; expanding the principle of mutual help and compassion in everyday life is quite different. In the capitalist society, Christmas offers a space for particularly good behaviors. Although it is possible to be a Christian once a year, anarchism is for life.

Kropotkin realized that his propaganda would have the best chance of success if he could show how the anarchist message is embedded in popular culture. His notes show that he was particularly interested in Dickens 'Christmas Carol' to find a vehicle for his ideas. The book was highly appreciated because it strengthened feelings of love, joy and goodwill for Christmas. Kropotkin considered it brilliant in its structure. What else was the story of Scrooge's encounter with the ghosts of past, present and future if not a prefigurative account of change?

Seeing his present past, Scrooge has been given the chance to change his blatant way of being and shaping both his own future and the future of the Cratchit family. Even though it is only remembered once a year, Dickens' book, considered Kropotkin, offers the anarchists a perfect instrument to teach this lesson: by transforming our present actions, adapting our behaviors to Nicholas, we can build a future in which to be always Christmas!

Ruth Kinna is an editor of the Anarchist Studies journal and a political theory teacher at Loughborough University. He is the author of Anarchism volumes: A Beginners Guide and William Morris: The Art of Socialism .

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