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In progress.

Wednesday, 29 September 2010

Last day in Moscow

It rained, and the city was transformed.
I spent my morning coffee checking out locations on the internet and created a big list of places to try and see.
The two prisons and three monasteries on the list were left out (although I have walked past 2 of these accidentally, and so their stories will still appear in the zine.)

I finally found Kropotkin's grave monument, in the really wonderful Novodevichy cemetery (not convent - a different wall surrounds it...), and I re-visited the Palestine Embassy in Kropotkin alley, which is in what remains of his old aristocratic family's palace. I was still unclear how much of the pillared building was original - it was being renovated etc.. as I was there.

Past Tolstoy's house and the monument to the murdered (to which I added flowers) and down Kropotkin metro to get train tickets from the other side of town.

That done, and pretty wet now (both me and the city), I chose as my final destination the 'House of Anarchy'. This grand mansion is now the Lemkom theatre, with posters outside and performances about to start. At the time it was the merchants' club (important enough for the street itself to be called Club-skaya at one time) and the anarchists occupied it during the heyday of the 1917 events. I sat in a cafe over the street and tried to draw it from a funny angle through the windows, not with any particular success but it WAS peeing it down.

I'm so pleased to have finally left the trail of our renegade aristocrats (Bakunin, Tolstoy, Kropotkin with their mansions) and to the sites of the real bloody struggle of Russia. Of course it all ended badly, Trotsky, Lenin and the other political sadists sent in their secret police and armed lackeys. Some anarchists went underground to fight, some joined the new regime, others escaped. But I don't really know what happened to the rank and file real people of anarchism - just the most internationally famous intellectual types.

Also in Russia, especially, there were certainly 'anarchists' engaged in bloody and pretty fruitless pursuits at this time, who I wouldn't have liked to be anywhere near. Emma Goldman makes some pretty accurate comments about them. But even the anarcho-syndicalists who criticised the anarcho-communists' armed wings for bombings and expropriations disconnected to the popular movement, they too had their OWN armed wings. And meanwhile the adherents of 'purposeless' violence, aimed at the enemy class or whoever, especially in Odessa, Bialystok and places. The anarchists' history in Russia is certainly not all pure dreamers.
(it was to dissociate itself from this underground/terrorist side of russian 'wartime' anarchism that the resurrected groups of the 1980s & 1990s proclaimed their pacifism. I would too with the Russian legacy)

But the House of Anarchy rocked! WHAT a location to take over.

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