Lev Shlosberg: On how energy builds in society first for dissent and then for protest

31 May 2024

Source: Facebook


Firing of the large-caliber political machine-gun known as “foreign agent” at dissident citizens, politicians, and media has resumed in its previous form after a brief pause. The machine-gun’s objective is the maximally possible social isolation of the people and media that have landed in its sights. Outwardly, everything corresponds to the plans of the machine-gun’s designer and the machine-gunner. But there is one nuance.

Every politician, media, and activist that has come under fire has an audience. Supporters, listeners, readers, and simply relatives and acquaintances. Political bullets aimed at a person or organization ricochet on the most varied communities. All these people are voters. They all suffer moral wounds, each in his own way but equally critically with respect to the machine-gunner and the machine-gun’s designer.

The number of people hit by these political bullets mounts after every machine-gun round. There are hundreds of personal targets in the register. There are millions in the impact zone. And this zone is constantly expanding.

After every Justice Ministry foreign agent decision in Russia, the audience grows of people the authorities have cut to the quick—their personal and political sympathies, their respect for an author, journalist, or publication. The majority of these people are not public individuals. Rather, these are real, live people the state machine-gun is ricocheting off. 

Those ricochet marks are not forgotten. They leave in people’s heart and memory a sense of injustice, indignation, and rejection. These feelings, as it is fashionable now to say in the law enforcement world, are lasting. The bullet missed them, but the feelings remained. Persistent feelings.

This is how energy builds in society first for dissent and then for protest. Driven deep into private conversations and thoughts, this energy for now has not revealed itself publicly. It has not shown itself in any open movement.

This will go on as long as the audience hit by ricochet feels itself to be a minority. It is this feeling of being a minority that the machine-gunners are counting on. The minority defers to the majority. The smaller to the bigger. 

But with each machine-gun round the minority accrues new audiences. And the quantitative relationship gradually shifts.

A tear can wear away a stone.

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Translated by Marian Schwartz

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