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(en) Russia, 190th anniversary of Mikhail Bakunin in his birthplace Pryamuhino - officially and unofficially

From Worker <a-infos-en@ainfos.ca>
Date Thu, 1 Jul 2004 13:51:11 +0200 (CEST)

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30th of May 2004 was 190th birthday of Mikhail Aleksandrovich Bakunin.
Celebrations were organized 29th-30th of May in his birthplace Pryamukhino,
located not far from the city of Torzhok in Tversk oblast. These
celebrations were of mixed character - partly official, partly scientific
and partly informal. Russian state, just as any state, hated and hates Mikhail
Bakunin, enemy of any power, significance of whom for human thought and history
of mankind is however too big to be ignored. But state made everything in order
to vulgarize, castrate and formalize birthday of the great rebel.
Official events were organized 29th of May, with all encompassing high
weirdness. Inhabitants of Pryamukhino gathered to square surrounded by
school and Pryamukhino museum, in which a special exposition about Mikhail
Bakunin was opened. Pompous music was played, foodstuffs were sold, gawks
were hanging around and bureaucrats gave talks. Orators were officials from
administration of area and oblast, even deputies from Russian-Belarussian
parliamentary assembly had come. They had nothing to say, since they did not
know about anything about object of the celebrations. On of the deputies
even called him "our great compatriot Mikhail Ivanovich (sic) Bakunin",
obviously confusing him with "all-soviet elder" M. I. Kalinin, after whom
city of Tver was named after in Soviet Union.

Ideas and heritage of Bakunin are still actual and of little comfort to
power, and for sure best possible present in his birthday would be some
uprising and not banal formalities. Atmosphere was stifling, stagnated and
cheerful in the same time - jubilee of a great son of Russia, although an
anarchist, why not to drink! Only one of the orators said something about
personality, activities and ideas of Bakunin - head of Bakunin fond Sergei
Gavrilovich Kornilov even announced to audience that "our future will be an
anarchist state" (sic). No-one seemed to be excited for this revelation.
Books about Bakunin family were sold, as well as recently published booklet
of materials of annual Pryamukhino readings 2001-2003. New exposition by
local museum included many books about and pictures of Mikhail Bakunin,
especially worth of mention was a huge map of Europe of 19th century, where
manifold places connected to great anarchist were marked - Florence,
Sankt-Petersburg, Moscow, Bologna, Paris, Lyon, Prague, Dresden, London,
Bern, Locarno... Official happening was finished with musical-literary
composition "Mikhail Bakunin commemorated today" by actors of theatres of
Tver. This piece disappointed us - actors read from paper, badly and
stumbling, and for example great article of Aleksander Bloch on Bakunin from
1906 was submitted to a ridiculous censorship - for example, conclusion "Let
us take fire from Bakunin!" was dropped, obviously considered as an
"extremist call".

The same morning, with presence of much of offspring of the Bakunin family,
there was a prayer in local church to commemorate all Bakunins, after which
father Andrei and his followers talked that Mikhail Bakunin and his godless
ideas were bad and wrong, and should be forgotten. That was a honest
statement of point of view of the church.

Second day of the celebrities was less formal and more lively, since
officials and most of the relatives of Bakunin had left. A severely
truncated (due to lack of time) scientific conference dedicated to Bakunin
was organized, in which some dozen talks were given. Few dozen researchers
and anarchists participated from Barnaul, Tambov, Irkutsk, Minsk, Nizhni
Novgorod, Moscow, Tver, Dmitrov and Sankt-Petersburg. There were no more
than ten anarchists in the conference. First talk in the conference was on
theme "Mikhail Bakunin in world of today" by Petr Ryabov, member of
Autonomous Action from Moscow. Most of the talks were about very narrow
scientific topics, and some said very exotic opinions - for example
Dolzhikov from Barnaul proved that M. Bakunin was not an anarchist, but "a
left-wing liberal", and Sapon from Nizhni Novgorod convinced that between
views of Bakunin and leader of National-Bolshevik Party Eduard Limonov there
is "much in common". These attempts to redefine Bakunin as a Russian
nationalist, alien to West, or to usual liberal, not aware of his own
liberalism, were met with disagreement from side of most of the
participants. No matter abundance of the officials and cops protecting them,
which are seldom spoiling beautiful Pryamukhino and haste which disturbed
all events, participators of the conference were able to chat also in
informal way, change literature and addresses, drink for victory of
anarchism and hang around in the beautiful park of Pryamukhino.

Petr Ryabov (to be published in Avtonom #23)

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