Moacir P. de Sá Pereira on September 5th, 2008

Yesterday I found an article about Galina Lavrenčiuk, who had been arrested and fined for selling Soviet memorabilia on Pilies gatvė (English version). Apparently the Seimas passed a law in July that forbids public use of Soviet and Nazi symbols outside of educational/historical purposes (more or less). Zuokas already wrote in with his being bewildered as to why on earth the police are wasting their time arresting trinket sellers on the street, but he also includes a bit about the law at the end of his post:

Bet dabar parengtas įstatymas yra toks absurdiškas, kad baigiasi teismo nuosprendžiu išsigandusiai gatvės prekeivei, nors negalioja kai kuriems veikėjams, kurie iškabina savo plakatus su pakeltais kumščiais.

Ir dar kartą rodo, kad kovojame su praeitimi, nes bijome kalbėti apie ateitį.

I had no idea that the law had been passed, and when I saw that it covered Soviet and Nazi symbology equally, I was immediately reminded of my hard-line post about how, no, in fact, creating an equivalence between Stalinism and Nazism is a ploy to recuperate/justify fascism. And that sort of thinking meshes with Zuoko point about history. Zuokas remains generally in favor of banning Soviet symbology (he is silent on Nazi symbols), but in treating Soviet symbology (and, hence, the New International) as the dustbin of history, he robs it of its transformative appeal, an appeal which remains rather tantalizing to this day (pace Fukuyama et al.).

Either way, the abovementioned post should indicate that I think this law is rubbish. Below, I go into the law itself.

For starters, here’s the text:

Nacistinių ar komunistinių simbolių platinimas ar demonstravimas

Nacistinės Vokietijos, SSRS ar Lietuvos SSR vėliavos ar herbo arba vėliavų, ženklų ar uniformų, kurių sudedamoji dalis yra nacistinės Vokietijos, SSRS ar Lietuvos SSR vėliava ar herbas, nacistinių ar komunistinių organizacijų simbolių ar uniformų arba nacistinės Vokietijos, SSRS ar Lietuvos SSR vėliavos ar herbo, nacistinės svastikos, nacistinio SS ženklo, sovietinio kūjo ir pjautuvo ženklo, sovietinės raudonos penkiakampės žvaigždės ženklo pagrindu sudarytų vėliavų ar ženklų, atsakingų už Lietuvos gyventojų represijas Vokietijos nacionalsocialistų ar SSRS komunistų partijos vadovų atvaizdų platinimas, naudojimas susirinkime ar kitame masiniame renginyje arba kitoks demonstravimas, taip pat nacistinės Vokietijos, SSRS ar Lietuvos SSR himno viešas atlikimas –

užtraukia baudą nuo penkių šimtų iki vieno tūkstančio litų su daikto, kuris buvo administracinio teisės pažeidimo padarymo įrankis, konfiskavimu.

Pagal šį straipsnį neatsako asmuo, kuris padaro šio straipsnio pirmojoje dalyje nurodytas veikas muziejų veiklos, visuomenės informavimo apie istorinius ir dabarties įvykius, totalitarinius režimus, švietimo, mokslo, meno, antikvarinės prekybos tikslais, asmuo, kuris naudoja oficialią egzistuojančios valstybės simboliką, taip pat Antrojo pasaulinio karo dalyvis, vilkintis savo uniformą.

The carelessness masquerading as detail is a bit mind-boggling. Any public performance of the national anthems of either Nazi Germany, the USSR, or the Lithuanian SSR, for example, is banned. Does that include, then, The Internationale—the most translated song in the world—simply because it was (as to be expected) the anthem of the USSR for a time? Furthermore, the use of the “Soviet five-pointed red star” is banned. What about a five-pointed red star makes it Soviet? Can Heineken still be sold in Lithuania?

And if a veteran of the Second World War wears his uniform to a pro-communist rally, say, then what? For that matter, how can a rally be pro-communist if it can’t utilize any of the symbology of the communists? It just has to use non-soviet red stars, hammers and sickles, etc., I suppose.

The carelessness of the law, then, shows that the history isn’t even that well thought out, much less the future. The potentially meaningless adjective “sovietinis” forces nearly the entirety of left iconography into the realm of the forbidden (I think “white and black hands, shaking” is the only icon left…).

But then notice the limitations on fascist iconography. The swastika and SS logo are off limits, but what of the Totenkopf? What of the fasces itself? The limitations on the swastika and runic SS point to a censorship based on a specific historical entity (the NSDAP), but the banning of the red star points to a censorship of an ideology divorced from a specific historical entity. In this case, then, the Seimas goes a step beyond the troubling act of making equivalent Stalinism and Nazism—it equates the radical left writ large with Nazism. Other fascist groups are welcome to develop their own iconography based on fundamental, transnational symbols like the fasces, but leftist groups have to start fresh without the historical link.

The result, to me, makes it look like the antifa aspects of the law are an afterthought, which is too bad. But expected.

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One Response to “Pilies gatvė and the hammer and sickle”

  1. Aciu uz idomia informacija

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