It Will Be Fun and Terrifying
Nationalism and Protest in Post-Soviet Russia
“A compelling and insightful work of scholarship. I’m particularly impressed with the fact that Fenghi manages to include sketches of individual National Bolsheviks as a seamless part of a narrative that is largely about public figures.”
The National Bolshevik Party, founded in the mid-1990s by Eduard Limonov and Aleksandr Dugin, began as an attempt to combine radically different ideologies. In the years that followed, Limonov, Dugin, and the movements they led underwent dramatic shifts. The two leaders eventually became political adversaries, with Dugin and his organizations strongly supporting Putin’s regime while Limonov and his groups became part of the liberal opposition.
To illuminate the role of these right-wing ideas in contemporary Russian society, Fabrizio Fenghi examines the public pronouncements and aesthetics of this influential movement. He analyzes a diverse range of media, including novels, art exhibitions, performances, seminars, punk rock concerts, and even protest actions. His interviews with key figures reveal an attempt to create an alternative intellectual class, or a “counter-intelligensia.” This volume shows how certain forms of art can transform into political action through the creation of new languages, institutions, and modes of collective participation.
“Provides a rich and nuanced narrative filling in an important piece of the puzzle of post-Soviet Russian culture and politics. This book offers fascinating insights into the curious blend of conservative postmodernism and radical provocations that fuels the Russian far right.”
—Peter Rutland, Wesleyan University
“Fenghi draws on archival material and interviews with NBP activists to powerful effect. This is an important work of scholarship that attends to the meanings these controversial projects held and acquired, insisting that we take them seriously. A must-read for those interested in Russian culture and politics or in emergent cultures of protest globally.”
—Julie Hemment, University of Massachusetts Amherst, author of Youth Politics in Putin’s Russia: Producing Patriots and Entrepreneurs
“Those interested in the lasting influence of the marginal over the mainstream, or the tail wagging the dog, should perhaps look no further than the history of the National Bolshevik Party (NBP) and the Eurasia Movement (EM), elegantly outlined in Fabrizio Fenghi’s It Will Be Fun and Terrifying: Nationalism and Protest in Post-Soviet Russia.”
—The LA Review of Books
“This thought-provoking and innovative study is unquestionably one of the most important books on contemporary Russian political culture to appear in years and offers other scholars a wonderful model for how to organize a truly interdisciplinary project that blends sociological interviews with visual and textual analysis.”
—The Russian Review
“Fenghi posits that Limonov saw his own life as an artistic project, making his real-life persona inseparable from his writing and his politics. A month after the publication of Fenghi’s book, Limonov died in Moscow. In addition to offering a profound and probing understanding of the post-Soviet political and cultural fringe, the book serves as an homage to its controversial protagonists.”
“Fenghi’s book is successful proof that the move beyond the top-down paradigm for studying Russian political culture is long overdue. His overview of the NBP reveals the continued importance of the “bottom-up” paradigm: looking at the transformation of post-Soviet cultural and political forms rather than using the West as an arbitrary measuring stick against which the Russian public sphere can be judged.”
“Fenghi’s timely, assiduously researched, and richly illustrated microhistory reminds us of the fact that disadvantaged educated youth and marginalized intelligentsia form the social basis for nationalist organizations in Putin’s Russia, and that class struggle and social inequality are crucial underlying issues of nationalist movements in general. It will be of profound interest to undergraduate and graduate anthropologists, political scientists, and cultural analysts.”
—Journal of the Royal Anthropological Institute
“. . . provides a fascinating account of the relevance of counterculture and political fringe ideas in post-Soviet Russia.”
—Newsletter of the ECPR Standing Group on Extremism&Democracy
Of Related Interest
New in Paperback!
LC: 2019019120 JN
312 pp. 6 x 9
50 b/w photos