Workers' Weekly On-Line
Volume 52 Number 10, May 7, 2022 ARCHIVE HOME JBCENTRE SUBSCRIBE

International Issues of Concern

Russian Artists and Athletes Persecuted by International Boycotts

Musicians and others in the cultural and sports spheres are being persecuted by arbitrary imposition of banning or boycotts, when the "west" or "international community" decrees. This is meeting with opposition and condemnation from many circles whether they take a position on the Russian military operation in Ukraine or not. Among those artists with a high international profile who have been affected are conductor Valery Gergiev, pianist Boris Berezovsky, and soprano Anna Netrebko.

Russia's teams are banned from international soccer and hockey tournaments and the Paralympics. Russian tennis players are also being barred from participating in the Wimbledon tennis tournament. Among those raising concerns is Russian-German pianist Igor Levit. He said, "It's an absolute insanity to strip concerts away from young Russian musicians just because they're afraid."


Soviet War Memorial in Geraldine Mary Harmsworth Park, by the Imperial War Museum. On Novermber 14 2021, as every year on Remembrance Sunday, flowers were laid at the ceremony honouring those who had made the supreme sacrifice in the defeat of fascism in the Second World War, in particular those of our allies the glorious Soviet Red Army, who played the main role in the defeat of Nazi Germany.

What is happening is that everything except one point of view is being blocked out. There is an attempt on a global scale to have peoples everywhere line up behind what the establishment say is the correct view. Everything else is termed anti-thought and wrong. So the issue is really about finding and being able to express one's voice. This issue of speaking in our own name becomes the all important and crucial point. The issue of speaking in our own name and who decides what is what is the deciding factor. With Ukraine, the US, British and other governments who have been for years pursuing a programme of isolating and encircling Russia are now deciding who is right and wrong and who gets to have a say. The way the issue is being posed is to attempt to deprive people of an outlook. People are not being given the context or the information allowing them to make up our own minds, nor to ideologise about the issues as they see them or as political and social issues or concerns.

Furthermore, there is the issue of vantage point. People are being told that the powers-that-be know what is the case: that Ukraine is the beleaguered state and that the aggressor is Russia. End of. Their perspective is that there can be no thinking beyond this view. They deny that there can be another view or thinking.

Therefore, the question goes immediately from this to raise the issue of what our vantage point should be. How do we see the problem as it is represented? What resolution do we think would bring about an advancement for the working class and people? That is the real question. Any other question regarding taking sides in this debate and this conflict is encouraging the entrenchment of divisions and preventing any meaningful and real solutions.

The way the Russian musicians and peoples and businesses are being targeted is very dangerous. Everyone is being enjoined to take sides. But as with the conception of a government system after the Westminster model, with the cartel parties fighting a turf war and dividing the people, the agenda has long since been decided and we, the people, are merely asked to choose this or that policy. What is being marginalised is the people's right to determine what is the agenda and what kind of society they want.

People must not be treated as voting fodder to ratify the diktat of the ruling elites and what has already been decided. What is desperately needed instead is for the people to do their own thinking. Targeting individuals or collectives on the basis of their being Russian only serves to divide people and promote the agenda of those in power.

The powers-that-be act as though the issue is already decided. It cannot be! The banning and boycotting of Russian artists and athletes is unjust and cannot and must not be accepted.


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