Power Is Unfair.
Jacob Jugashvili's interview for the web magazine of Malayanatu web community
Jacob Jugashvili, artist-activist from Georgia is the son of Yevgeni Jugashvili, military historian and retired colonel of the Soviet Army and the great grandson of Ioseb Jugashvili, one of the most influencial persons in world history, popularly known as Joseph Stalin. Jacob’s father has gained note as a defender of his Stalin’s reputation, and in the 1999 elections of the Russian State Duma, he was one of the faces of the Stalin Bloc — For the USSR, a league of Communist parties. Jacob studied painting at Tbilisi State Academy of Fine Arts and Glasgow School of Art. Jacob has showed at various London venues: the Boundary Gallery, Lamont Gallery, Royal College of Art, London Art Fair, Georgia 2000 exhibition at Cork streets Gallery 27. His works were also shown at Batumi Art Museum (Batumi, Georgia). Today his artistic life is goes in parallel with his political life and activism as part of a public movement called IGPR (Iniciativnaia Gruppa Po Provedeniu Referenduma) former Army of the Will of the People. Jugashvili lives in Georgia and Russia with his wife and daughter. Jacob Jugashvili shares his views with us here
Warm welcome. Thank you for the interview.
As a person and as an artist, have you ever felt discriminated against as Stalin’s great grandson?
As far as I understand the word "discrimination" comes from the Latin word which means "denial or infringement of the rights." Discrimination in relation to me can be neglected when it comes to discrimination which takes place in relation to the peoples of the former USSR. Such level of discrimination which some have called genocide. My family and I have faced many, but we shall not waste time on them.
On Joseph Stalin, your great grandfather, one of the four most important men of modern socialism and the champion of the war against Fascism and Nazism..
Being a theorist of socialism is not the same thing as to be its builder. Lenin and Stalin were real leaders and builders of a new type of economy where Marx and Engels contributed theoretically towards to the construction of socialism. That was what Stalin said during a discussion of a new textbook of political economy in 1948: "... For example, according to the conformity of production means to the production relations these schools chatter. Marx and Engels said all these in the abstract, in the abstract, only in theory. We are standing at the helm, in our economy where everything is clear, where we can see everything, speak easier, more accessible, more understandable… " Soviet victory over fascism was also the result of the victory of the type of organization of the economy and society, not theory. Yes, I agree that theory is needed, but only as an assistant in solving specific problems faced by the manager, the head. If the theory does not carry out this function it is necessary to get rid of such theory. The main objective of Stalin as the head of the State was to serve the people and not the theory. Most of the people think that serving the theory and serving the people is the same thing. It is incorrect.
About the well preached stories and images of a ‘bad Stalin’? Dr. Grover Furr’s researches about Stalin’s struggles for democratic reforms. It says about the distorted Russian archives.
The major components on which the anti-Stalin propaganda is built is a lie which says Stalin was a dictator. In the USSR there was never a one-man dictatorship as in the West. In the Soviet Union the dictatorship was of the communist party apparatus - The Central Committee. 70 or more people constituted that Central committee. It was that collective body a dictator, not Stalin. Communism and dictatorship are incompatible, because communist society is a society for all its members and the communist state is for all the people of that society, not just for any class or stratum. The dictatorship was necessary for pest control, and the Communists, having established their dictatorship, got rid of the parasites of that society. In the first 30 years a new generation was brought up in a very different historical environment in the Soviet Union. The dictatorship of the party began to impede the development of the country. Stalin as a true communist knew it and did everything which he could to make the country truly communist - to remove the power centres and to give this power to the people as represented by the Soviet Union and its executive bodies. In other words, Stalin tried to bring the state system of the USSR in full compliance with the Constitution of the USSR. Let me remind you that at that time in the Constitution of the USSR there was no such public authority as the Communist Party. Grover Furr is perhaps the only English-speaking researcher who understands the nature of the events of those years and Stalin's role in these events. Please view his articles here http://jugashvili.com/press/Stalin_and_struggle_for_democratic_reforms_I.html and http://jugashvili.com/press/Stalin_and_struggle_for_democratic_reforms_II.html
About the famous Legend of Stalin’s refusal of an offer of exchange of his captured son, your grandfather, Yakov by the Germans?
Yakov’s imprisonment was a Nazi propaganda. Yakov was not captured; he was killed during battle near Vitebsk in July 1941. Germans pretended as if they had Yakov captured and wanted to persuade the world and Stalin that Yakov was alive and kept in prison. When Stalin received an offer from Nazis (via Bernadotte- the head of Red Cross) he turned it down. According to the legends he said: I don't exchange soldiers for generals. (Stalin said “You have in your hands not only my son Yakov but millions of my sons. Either you free them all or my son will share their fate”. Thus goes another legend about the Man of Steel)
How do present day Russia, the old and the new generation remember Comrade Joseph Stalin?
I think it depends on the awareness of the people. Some people, even though they lived in the Stalin era, do not understand the nature of the events of those years. But in spite of this, almost all whom I have ever met or listen to recalls that under Stalin, the people were masters of their land. Young people, especially in Russia, are now getting more and more interested in the personality of Stalin and his deeds. This is good and gives us hope that all is not lost and we have a future.
As an artist, how do you view the Government attitude towards art and criticism in erstwhile USSR, which many call a Stalinist attitude?
Two aspects must be taken into consideration. Firstly, at a time when there were no sufficient technical means like we have today, fine art was used as a tool for propaganda. There is no need for this today. Secondly, the essence of those criticisms was in fact the criticism of the VALUES propagated by Soviet state by means of fine art inclusively. I share those values and think they are worth to be called VALUES. One of the main VALUES propagated by the soviet state was the idea of the state which is organized according to FAMILY values. One of the main things about family is that every member of the family has a right for food. Soviet State was the first and probably last in the history of mankind which put it in practice.
"My Russia is a poor, long, suffering country, mercilessly torn to pieces by greedy, dishonest, unbelieving people. My Russia - it is a great artery, from which the "chosen" few are draining away its wealth,” This was what last year’s Russian beauty pageant Natalia Pereverzeva, said about Russia under Putin. How is Russia under Putin?
Sorry, but Natalya said only one reason - Putin. It is a mistake. She had forgotten 450 more reasons. The 450 deputies of the State Duma. If in a country, things are going bad, that is the fault of government - legislative and executive. Today in Russia, state executives (president and members) are not liable for the results of their rule before who pays them a salary, and allows them to control the fortune gained by the previous generations. I mean the people of Russia.
Insurrections against injustice, government policies are seen all over the world more than ever. You are associated with a movement named ‘Army of the Will of the People’. What is your political stand?
Life is arranged unfair. And injustice comes from the government. Power is unfair because it has the opportunity to be unfair. How to achieve justice without revolutionary violence? It's simple, but you need to look at the root of the injustice of power. Why do the members of government and their cronies in power do anything they wish? Because they are unaccountable for the results of their rule – they are not punished for the harm caused to the people. A driver is punished for the accidents he cause, but when an authority do so, he is let unpunished. Is that fair? We need a law according to which in all elections each voter gets a chance to challenge and alter the power structure. A verdict in three lines: "Worthy of encouragement", "worthy of punishment" and "without consequences." If a majority of voters decide to release old structure of power without consequences, the power will leave its powers without consequences for themselves. If a majority of voters decide to encourage power, the President or a member of the Federal Assembly of Russia will be the hero. And if the voters decide "worthy of punishment", the President or the member of the Federal Assembly should be punished, should be sent to jail. Through the verdict, voters will answer a simple question: did their life during board of this power improved, worsened or didn't change. Any voter can answer this question, regardless of his education or cultural background. We, citizens, who submit to the power, will judge the authorities for the results of that submission. It is justice! ‘Army of the Will of the people’ is a movement which stands for this cause. You can find more about our manifesto here http://igpr.ru
A long interval spent in IT industry before you came back to art. How was the experience?
Probably it may strike strange, but thanks to my days in the management of a small company, my understanding of the word "creativity" became much deeper. The matter is that creativity is an ability to accept non-standard, sometimes, the most unexpected decisions for achievement of goals.
Do you think that paintings/ art should be political?
By means of modern technology it is easy to manufacture images, paintings, art of any complexity and sizes, and use it for propaganda purposes, be political ones or other. Therefore painting must not “compete” with the technologies. The value of painting today consists in the fact that it is made by man, and man, as is known, characteristically make mistakes. Specifically, the skill of man, artist, to manage his errors in the process of his work, finding for this the most unexpected solutions which is not capable by a computer or technology, makes painting interesting and therefore, valuable. In the painting it is the most important thing. The more he fights with his errors and weaknesses, the more interesting and creative his work would become and stronger the effect of his work shall be on the world, on the imagination of the people. And this inevitably would lead to the generation of new ideas and thus influence and change people.
India as a nation and its communist movements has always maintained a good relation with USSR and Russia. Do you have something to say to the people of Kerala, where a communist government came into power through election ballot for the second time in history, where sentiments still exists for Left politics?
Hope the results of Left holding the power were good. Did it change the lives of most of the people? Remember that the people who killed Stalin and then destroyed the USSR also called themselves communists, leftists and other beautiful words. I hope that you have reasons to be confident that the Left would serve them good.
Thank you for the time you spend for us. Salutes to you, your family and friends.
Thank You very much.