Goodbye to All That

pofigin forteWhatever Forte Chewing Gum. Improves emotional baseline. Gives peace of mind. Compensates for lack of positive emotions.” Scan of package by the Russian Reader

As of today and until further notice, I will not be publishing stories about human rights abuses, political prisoners, police frame-ups, attacks on Russian human rights, civil rights, environmental, and trade union organizations and activists, and related matters on this website.

I have decided to discontinue this coverage for a number of reasons. First, most of the work I have done on this subject over the last eleven years has obviously not made the slightest dent in how the current Russian regime and its opponents are viewed in my blog’s target audience outside Russia, even among people I have thought of, mistakenly, as allies, supporters, and friends.

Second, my recent campaign to rally support and solidarity for the blog was a near-total failure. Even people who have personally benefited from coverage on the blog ignored it altogether, once again confirming to me that not many people agree with me that solidarity is a two-way street.

Finally, I’m tired of dealing with the rather large amount of snarkiness towards me and the blog. If this snarkiness were limited to weird comments by total strangers, I could deal with it just fine. But when people who know me well resort either to telling me peremptorily what I should and should not publish on the blog or, on the contrary, ignore altogether the efforts I make on behalf of campaigns and organizations in which they are directly involved, I lose all sense that what I do matters to anyone but me and a handful of apparently misguided people.

Since this is the case, I will now confine myself to dealing with other subjects that interest me. I hope they will interest my readers as well. As I now realize, however, I literally cannot do anything at all to increase overall interest in the Russian Reader, certainly not explicit, enthusiastic support for it.

So, from now on, I will devote whatever time I have for the blog to no less interesting topics, but ones in which I have much less emotional and personal investment.

It is simply too hard for me to continue as if I didn’t notice all of the things I have mentioned above.  {TRR}

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4 thoughts on “Goodbye to All That

  1. NO NO NO NO NO!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

    I’ve just discovered your website and was planning a (necessarily modest, since I’m just a private person) ‘publicity campaign’ to get more readers for it. (As part of a more general project to get more readers for similar websites which focus on events in authoritarian/totalitarian countries, but which are not the organs of Western state or quasi-state institutions.)

    Look … the struggle to advance liberty is ALWAYS difficult, because there are entrenched interests in whose interests it is not to allow it. (It’s even more complex than that, but this isn’t the place to go into it, except to say that this struggle is seldom a black-and-white issue, Good Guys — ‘the people’ — vs Bad Guys — ‘the oligarchy/nomenklatura/corporations/’. )

    And it’s usually incremental, with the increments often being too small to notice individually. But they add up, slowly, until, as the old Marxists said, ‘quantity becomes quality’ and things take a leap. And, yes, sometimes this is a leap into chaos, and all the bright promises, or most of them, are spoiled — witness the ‘Arab Spring’, or, in your own country, the ‘Thaw’ sixty years ago.

    After the crushing of the 1905 Revolution, Trotsky observed that the slow progress of history was like ‘a voracious monster’, sucking the very life-blood from the hearts of the revolutionaries, making them want to cry ‘What thou doest, do faster!”

    And the ‘good guys’ who are supposed on the side of democratic progress can be infuriating … egotistical, cowardly, self-serving, not apprciative of the sacrifices of people like yourself. This observation is absolutely standard and has been true since 1640 at least, with respect to every single situation in which our species has dragged itself painfully forward.

    It’s slow… and for every three steps forward, there are two steps back.

    Please don’t give up. Take a vacation, you’ve earned it, but don’t burn this democratic bridge.

    It’s frustrating, painful to try to push the world forward … But… as a great scientist once observed … “and yet … it moves”.

  2. Thanks, Doug! That’s literally the best message anyone could have written to me at a moment like this. I’ll just note that I wasn’t planning to close the blog per se, just take a break from writing about certain things until I could either forget my frustrations or see more real support for what I do. It’s been over 11 years and over 2,000 posts. I’m very tired. But your message and generous donation are what I lack from my own friends and comrades, many of whom think they support me because they appreciate (without telling me) the support I always or nearly always give them.

  3. Товарищ! Don’t give up out of frustration! Can’t remember how I found this blog but I’ve been checking it periodically and you’ve produced the most consistent English translation of news about the persecution against Russian anarchists and antifascists. We need this content

    1. Thanks for the kind words. I’m not giving up quite yet. But I need a break from the pure grimness of translating a hundred articles or so every year about persecuted Russian anarchists and antifascists. Most of them don’t seem either to know or care about what I do, and they certainly don’t accept what to me is a given in any kind of grassroots political work: solidarity is a two-way street. When I ask explicitly for help and support, as I’ve done now, the non-persecuted Russian anarchists and antifascists feign that they don’t know me or don’t know what I’ve been doing for the last eleven years. Or maybe they really just don’t know.

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