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Feature Story February 20, 2003
Let ‘Em Send Me to the Bughouse Again!
By Dar Zhutayev Browse author
Page 4 of 7
The nonthinking and visceral reaction of the "adult" (not to say superannuated) Trudovaya Rossiya is trash culture. Its fuehrer, the notorious Victor Anpilov, is no yahoo. Far from it. He's got a degree in journalism from a really good Moscow school, speaks Spanish like Che Guevara and has served as a reporter for various Soviet media in several Latin American countries. But I defy anyone who has seen or heard him to detect the faintest traces of any of this. He acts the part of the paradigmatic Dumb Guy from the Sticks, the Ultimate Greaser, to perfection.

With Anpilov personally, this may be a matter of personal preferences. An old army buddy of his told me that, when in the ranks, the young Victor used to drink aftershave lotion -- not out of any innate perversity or because of a lack of more conventional alcohol where they were stationed, but in order to, you see, improve the smell of his breath.

But it's really in the format of his movement. Despite its name, "Labor Russia" doesn't contain a lot of workers and has very feeble links with the labor movement. Whom it does contain is losers. Losers from all walks of life, no matter what social or personal circumstances have made them losers, gravitate naturally towards the TR and there embrace trash culture and start thinking and acting like yahoos. And I'm not just talking foul-smelling loud-mouthed short-tempered babushkas or Cossacks in faux-historical costumes here. An ultra-sophisticated scholar of dead Oriental languages, if he finds himself out of sync with his academic milieu and gravitates towards the Anpilovites, will, after a short stint with them, begin to proudly call himself a "lumpen," painstakingly dress like one and spout all kinds of nonsense about "kikes" and the evils of oral sex. I've seen this happen.

The nonthinking and visceral reaction of the youthful and sprightly AKM is existentialism. In fact, that's about the only feature the members of that movement have in common.

In Internet discussions following the bombing episode on the bridge, I've seen the AKM's social base characterized both as "bespectacled geeks erroneously believing they will make more girls if they pretend to be Communists" and "pimply-faced vocational-school students from the working-class slums." And, from personal experience, both statements are true -- there are many guys and girls of both types in the group. There are also some wayward adolescents (practically children), a lot of glue-sniffin', counterfeit-vodka-swillin' punks, some more or less serious college students and young professionals plus a large proportion of nondescript girls who believe (quite correctly) that they will make more boys if they pretend to be Communists and ... hang around a lot with a lot of boys. In fact, there was this girl one summer night, with whom I got drunk on Baltica No. 9 ... but no, who the hell knows those weirdo AKMers, she may turn out to be able to read English after all. Well, ahem, yes ... a common social base for the movement is hard to determine.

Ideologically... Well, there is in Moscow this Trotskyite madhouse called the Revolutionary Workers' Party, famous for the size of the cockroaches infesting the pad of its leader and the coal-black hue of the once pink bed sheets they give visitors. They are also dedicated working-class activists and generally nice guys. So those Trotskyites decided to do this very Trotskyist thing called entryism, when you enter some totally alien organization and start subtly perverting its members to the Trotskyite orthodoxy. And they chose AKM, as AKM, despite all its vices, is, I believe, the largest Leftist youth organization in today's Russia. And the Trots would come to every AKM meeting, have long talks with members and, sipping counterfeit vodka, they would start preaching their subtle and hidden message: "Workers' democracy ... permanent revolution ... deformed workers' state..." And the AKMers would nod and, sipping counterfeit vodka, comment: "Wow, man, that's deep! Workers' democracy! And a deformed workers' state. Yep, that's what it must have been: a deformed workers state! Gee, that's cool!" The Trots, staggering from the effects of the counterfeit vodka, would go home very happy.

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