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Sergey Kuryokhin: Improvisations and Performances
Empire and Magic. Sergey Kuryokhin's “Pop-Mekhanika No. 418” (1995)
Second, revised version 11 March 2020 (First version 13 August 2018)
page 2 • Pop-Mekhanika – a National Bolshevik Party band?
page 2 • Pop-Mekhanika – a National Bolshevik Party band?
The year 1995 saw a significant change in Sergey Kuryokhin’s activities: having met Eduard Limonov and Alexander Dugin, the founders of the National Bolshevik Party (NBP, 1993), he turned to politics and adopted a totalitarian, anti-Western position.
The NBP operated from 1993 to 2007 in the form of аn “inter-regional public organisation” (mezhregional’naia obshchestvennaia organizatsiia / межрегиональная общественная организация); in 2007, however, it was accused of extremism and banned by Moscow City Court. The NBP started as a sort of eclectic totalitarian movement, adhering to the ideas of Italian fascism while also absorbing Crowleyan positions and assembling both ultra-right and ultra-left ideologies. Since the movement had not been granted the status of a party, Dugin participated in the Duma elections on 17 December 1995 as an independent candidate. He ran as a candidate for Saint Petersburg constituency no. 210 under the slogan: “The secret will be revealed”.
In the first of its twenty-six points, the party programme from 1994 stipulated:
The main goal was stated in point no. 3. It also formed the basis of the “Eurasian Movement” Dugin founded after leaving the party in 1998:
Point 7 is more specific about how this goal is to be achieved:
The party programme committed itself to reconquering Russia, stating “Russia will belong to us”, and promised the socially deprived youth they would become like “Dzerzhinsky, Goebbels, Molotov, Voroshilov, Ciano, Göring, and Zhukov” (point 24). The party’s motto was “Russia is everything, the rest is nothing” (point 26, "Россия - все, остальное ничто!").
The party’s aspiration to dominate an empire incorporating satellite states from Vladivostok to Gibraltar – an aspiration which was notably both imperialistic and totalitarian in nature – extended far beyond what had once “belonged” to the Soviet Union. But there was one point of this programme that was not totalitarian in spirit, namely point no. 15, pertaining to culture, and this particular point contradicted all the other points of the programme:
This point demonstrates Dugin’s assimilation of Crowley’s main dogma from the Book of Law – The Law of Thelema: “Do what thou wilt shall be the whole of the Law.”
I would, however, deem it Dugin's postmodern, “anything goes” interpretation of Crowley, in whose understanding one’s true will can only be searched out and achieved through a complicated process predicated on magic. This diluted version of Crowley may have represented a concession on the part of Dugin towards his target group or towards the co-founder of the NBP, Eduard Limonov. Limonov, a well-known and highly controversial Russian writer, spent many years in in exile before returning to Russia in 1991, at which point he became a political activist. In his “The Book of the Dead” from 2013, he mocked Dugin’s esoteric approach as that of a “skilful fairy-teller, a conjurer who hypnotised young people with enticing myths”, while nevertheless still acknowledging the fact that it had helped the party to consolidate.
In contrast to Limonov, Kuryokhin was greatly interested in Dugin’s knowledge of philosophical and esoteric literature, especially with regard to Aleister Crowley. The Englishman Aleister Crowley (1875-1947), a person of extraordinary occult knowledge and a remarkably prolific writer, had been the leader of the British Branch of the Ordo Templi Orientis (OTO) and a medium to a spirit by the name of Aiwaz or Aiwass. According to Nevill Drury, “Crowley believed that Aiwass was a messenger from the Egyptian deity Horus, the flacon-headed god that had the sun and the moon for his eyes. Crowley came to believe that he was Lord of the Aeon of Horus, which began in 1904, replacing Christianity and the other major religious traditions of both West and East.”
Whether Kuryokhin met Limonov before meeting Dugin or after, there can be no doubt that Dugin’s influence on Kuryokhin was more important than Limonov’s. Kuryokhin appreciated Dugin not only as a political companion, but also as a spiritual partner. Dugin, on the other hand, saw in Kuroykhin a personality capable of recreating “pre-cultural” forms of priesthood via the medium of Pop-Mekhanika performances. To Dugin, this was of great significance. The following quotation is from his essay The Entity’s 418 Masks, dedicated to Sergey Kuryokhin and Pop-Mekhanika No. 418.
But did Dugin’s influence mean “Pop-Mekhanika” was an NBP band? This is what Andrei Rogatchevski and Yngvar B. Steinholt argue in their 2015 article, “Pussy Riot’s Musical Precursors? The National Bolshevik Party Bands, 1994-2007”, which counted Pop-Mekhanika among the (mostly punk and metal) bands “orbiting the NBP”.
Yet Pop-Mekhanika had a ten-year history behind it before Kuryokhin ever set out to give it a new mission. The main period of the band's activity had ended in 1991, long before Kuryokhin became interested in Dugin, and between 1992 and 1995, PM performances took place only sporadically. Pop-Mekhanika No. 418 was the only performance directly connected to the National Bolshevik Party – as part of Dugin’s election campaign and indeed accompanied by distribution of the party’s newspaper “Limonka” and other “red trash” in the foyer of the Lensoviet Palace of Culture, where the concert took place. It isn’t clear whether Limonov or Dugin came out with any party slogans during the performance, as (incomplete) video documentation only shows their esoteric speeches.
The concert itself was essentially a reproduction of the Helsinki performance staged three weeks earlier, containing the same “Crowleyan” elements, plus readings from Dugin and Limonov. Dugin stated that it was “actually a Crowleyan performance, illustrating the end of the aeon of Osiris”. In a press conference given prior to PM No. 418, Sergey Kuryokhin declared, “This concert starts a new line in both Pop-Mekhanika's and my own creative work… Roughly speaking, this thread has to do with religious propaganda. I understand 'religious propaganda' as meaning the propagation of Religion with a capital R.” The irony is that the NBP abstained from religious positions as such.
Pop-Mekhanika No. 418 was to become Kuryokhin’s very last PM performance; in the spring of 1996, he fell ill and died shortly afterwards. It thus remains a matter of conjecture whether – or in what way – PM's participants would have continued their collaboration with Kuryokhin following the scandal created by this concert. Alexander Kushnir, who starts his biography of Sergey Kuryokhin with a – highly embellished – description of the Helsinki performance (omitting any mention of Crowley – possibly deliberately), quotes the negative reactions of two of the musicians: Vladimir Volkov (“I was experiencing qualms of conscience on account of the fire, the crosses, and all that scary stuff”) and Alexander Kurashov (“It was so creepy”). Bearing in mind how they reacted to the performance in Helsinki, it is possible to imagine how they may have reacted to the performance in Saint Petersburg. While it is conceivable that the other participants may have responded to the performance in a less critical way, it must still be borne in mind that the musicians, performers, and artists were all members of their own separate bands and groups, and they had joined Kuryokhin for the purpose of pleasure, not so as to gain a dubious reputation.Taking all these things together, we can establish that PM No. 418 was the first of its kind, namely: National Bolshevik on the outside, but Crowleyan on the inside. Kuryokhin’s announcement notwithstanding, the question of whether he would have perpetuated his new concept remains in doubt to this day. Bearing in mind that what had taken place was a one-off, calling Pop-Mekhanika a National Bolshevik Party band would seem to be going too far.
 Informatsionno-analiticheskii tsentr “SOVA” (The “SOVA” Centre of News and Analysis) [Информационно-аналитический центр «СОВА»]
“Reshenie Mosgorsuda o zapreshchenii NBP ot 19.94.2007” (“Moscow City Court. Court Decision banning the NBP, dated 19 April 2007.”) [“Решение Мосгорсуда о запрещении НБП от 19.04.2007”] Web. 25 July 2018
According to this document, the NBP was registered on 8 September 1993.
 Тайное становится явным.
Dugin’s campaign poster is available on the website of the Gosudarstvennaia Publichnaia Istoricheskaia Biblioteka Rossii (The Russian State Public Historical Library) [Государственная публичная историческая библиотека России (ГПИБ)]
“Vybory v Rossii” (“Elections in Russia”) [“Выборы в России”], The Second Legislative Period, 17 December 1995. Web. 25 July 2018. http://www2001.shpl.ru/plakat/index.php%3Fid=2840&sel_id=0.html
 Сущность национал-большевизма - испепеляющая ненависть к античеловеческой СИСТЕМЕ троицы: либерализма/демократии/капитализма. Человек восстания, национал-большевик видит свою миссию в разрушении СИСТЕМЫ до основания. На идеалах духовной мужественности, социальной и национальной справедливости будет построено традиционалистическое, иерархическое общество.
Website of “The NBP without reference to Limonov in Kaliningrad”. See Chapter 1, footnote 13. Web. 25 July 2018
A (poor) English translation of the programme is available on the Swedish website Vänsternationell. Web. 25 July 2018
 Глобальная цель национал-большевизма создание Империи от Владивостока до Гибралтара на базе русской цивилизации. Цель будет достигнута в четыре этапа: а) Превращение РФ в национальное государство Россию путем Русской Революции, б) Присоединение населенных русскими территорий бывших союзных республик, в) Сплочение вокруг русских евразийских народов бывшего СССР, г) Создание гигантской континентальной Империи.
 A vast literature has been published on Dugin’s “Eurasian” or Neo-Eurasian movement. Vadim Rossman provides a short description: “This new ideology resembles the centuries-old, anti-Westernist ideas rooted in Slavophilism and Eurasianism and shows remarkable parallels with contemporary, right-wing ideologies in Western Europe.”
Rossman, Vadim “Moscow State University's Department of Sociology and the Climate of Opinion in Post-Soviet Russia.” Eurasianism and the European Far Right: Reshaping the Europe-Russia Relationship, ed. by Marlene Laruelle, p. 55. Lanham, MD: Lexington Books, 2015.
 Денонсируем Беловежский договор, и как следствие, границы России будут пересмотрены. Объединим всех русских в одном государстве. Территории отколовшихся от нас "республик", где русское население составляет более 50%, будут присоединены к России путем проведения местных референдумов и их поддержки Россией (Крым, Северный Казахстан, Нарвский р-н и пр.) Стремления нац. меньшинств к сепаратизму будут безжалостно подавлены.
Programme of the National Bolshevik Party from 1994:
Website of “The NBP without reference to Limonov in Kaliningrad”, undated. Web. 25 July 2018
 Point 15: НБП твердо уверена, что культура должна расти как дикое дерево. Подстригать ее мы не собираемся. Полная свобода. "Делай, что хочешь" будет твоим единственным законом. Programme of the National Bolshevik Party from 1994
Website of “The NBP without reference to Limonov in Kaliningrad”, undated. Web. 25 July 2018
 Thelema is Greek for “will”, and the concept of thelema as a cosmic force is indeed expressed in the Lord’s Prayer where it is explicitly related to God: “your will [thelema] be done, on earth as (it is) in heaven” (genethetō to thelēma sou hōs en ouranōi, kai epi gēs):
γενηθήτω τὸ θέλημά σου ὡς ἐν οὐρανῷ καὶ ἐπὶ γῆς): Matthew 6: 10, Nestle 1904.
Bible Hub. Web. 28 July 2018. http://biblehub.com/nestle/matthew/6.htm
 умелый сказочник и фокусник-иллюзионист, гипнотизировал молодежь красивыми мифами.
Limonov, Eduard [Edward]. Kniga mertvykh. (The Book of the Dead.) [Книга мертвых.] Saint Petersburg: Limbus press, 2013
Web. 25 July 2018. http://www.litmir.me/br/?b=100917&p=71
 According to the website of the United States Grand Lodge Ordo Templi Orientis, “The letters O.T.O. stand for Ordo Templi Orientis, the Order of Oriental Templars, or Order of the Temple of the East.” Web. 6 January 2020 https://oto-usa.org/
 Drury, Nevill. Stealing Fire from Heaven: The Rise of Modern Western Magic., New York: Oxford University Press, 2011, p. 295, footnote 35.
 See Limonov quoting Dmitry Meskhiev concerning their first encounter in Moscow.
Limonov, Eduard [Edward]. Kniga mertvykh. (The Book of the Dead.) [Книга мертвых.] Saint Petersburg: Limbus Press, 2013
Web 25 July 2018 http://www.litmir.me/br/?b=100917&p=71
 “First, Sergey built close ties with Dugin and then, through Dugun, he built close ties with Limonov.” [Сначала сближение Сергея с Дугиным, а через Дугина – с Лимоновым.]
Kan, Alexander [Aleksandr]. Kurekhin. Shkiper o kapitane (Kuryokhin. What the Skipper says about the Captain) [Курехин. Шкипер о Капитане]
Saint Petersburg, Amfora, 2012.
PDF for Digital Editions version, p. 120. Web. 31 July 2018.
 With regard to the subject of this essay, Limonov only plays a minor role (though he played a major role in the foundation of the NBP); he will therefore only be mentioned in relation to the speech he gave during PM No 418.
 То, что всегда делал Сергей Курехин - не просто творческий поиск, это упорное и последовательное воссоздание того органического единства, которое предшествовало и классике, и модерну, и гипермодерну (рок-музыке, авангардизму и т.д.). Поражает, с каким постоянством он воспроизводил все основополагающие черты традиционного, "докультурного", "архаического" жречества.
Dugin, Alexander [Aleksandr]. 418 Masok subyekta. (The Entity’s 418 Masks) [418 Масок субъекта] First published in Nezavisimaia Gazeta, 1996
Web. 25 July 2018. http://arcto.ru/article/103
 The bands in question are Krasnye zvezdy (Minsk, Belarus), Volshebnaia gora (Briansk), Banda chetyrekh (Moscow), Korroziia metalla (Moscow), Den’ donora (Moscow), Zapreshchennye barabanshchiki (Rostov-on-Don), Viselitsa (Daugavpils, Latvia), Gosplan (Haifa, Israel).
Rogatchevski, Andrei and Steinholt, Yngvar B. “Pussy Riot’s Musical Precursors? The National Bolshevik Party Bands, 1994-2007”, 2015, p. 448.
Popular Music and Society, 2016, Vol. 39, No. 4, 448-464
Web 25 July 2018 http://dx.doi.org/10.1080/03007766.2015.1088287
 See Chapter 10, footnote 3
 Фактически, это была кроулианская постановка, иллюстрирующая конец эона Озириса.
Dugin, Alexander [Aleksandr]. 418 Masok subyekta. (The Entity’s 418 Masks.) [418 Масок субъекта.] First published in Nezavisimaia Gazeta, 1996 Web. 25 July 2018. http://arcto.ru/article/103
 “Этот концерт начинает новую линию в творчестве ПОП-МЕХАНИКИ, в том, что я делаю... Линия эта связана, грубо говоря, с религиозной пропагандой. Под религиозной пропагандой я понимаю пропаганду Религии с большой буквы.”
Polishchuk, Alexander [Aleksandr] “Pop-mekhanika v DK Lensoveta.” (“Pop-Mekhanika at the Lensoviet Palace of Culture.”) [“Поп-механика в ДК Ленсовета.”] Rock Fuzz no. 26, October 1995. Web. 31 July 2018.
 У меня угрызения совести начались по поводу огня, крестов и всех этих страхов. / Там жуть была полная.
Kushnir, Alexander [Aleksandr]. Sergei Kurekhin. Bezumnaia mekhanika russkogo roka, (Sergey Kuryokhin. The Crazy Mechanics of Russian Rock) [Сергей Курехин. Безумная механика русского рока], p. 7. Moscow: Bertelsmann Media Moscow, 2013.
Uploaded 13 August 2018