Book: Contesting Authority
Chapter: Humour and Resistance in Russia’s Ecological Utopia (A Look at the Anastasia Movement)
Humour’s ambivalent relationship to authority presents one of the most interesting challenges to the scholarship on the subject. Does humour succeed in challenging the dominant social or ideological system in which it appears? Does it, on the contrary, merely serve to sustain the status quo by channelling revolutionary energy into jokes?
This chapter examines the multiple functions of humour in the countercultural movement of ecological spirituality based on the Ringing Cedars of Russia book series of Vladimir Megre. Conservative readings of Megre’s books are often challenged by critical opinions and alternative interpretations expressed in humorous form. At the same time, these jokes ensure the stability and vitality of the movement itself, enabling internal criticism without challenging its main tenets.
The chapter addresses this contradiction by emphasizing a third function of humour, which becomes apparent in the context of contemporary spiritual seeking. Humour, here, can serve as a strategy of determining individual relationships to various doctrines, as people carve their own paths on the alternative spirituality scene.