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In Case Of Political Catastrophe: An Op-Ed by Nadya Tolokonnikova of Pussy Riot

Billboard

It's been five years since Russian punk protest group Pussy Riot first became a household name worldwide, after a staged punk rock demonstration in Moscow's Cathedral of Christ in 2012 landed some of the all-female group's members, including founder Nadya Tolokonnikova, in jail and charged with "hooliganism." The protest of Russian president Vladimir Putin earned them a nearly two-year stint in prison, with Nadya serving 20 months, but the injustice of the incarceration achieved resounding support from a fast-growing global fanbase.

While Nadya still remains firmly in protest of Putin and his regime, she has set her sights on his pal President Donald Trump, releasing a song and music video called "Make America Great Again" last fall, inspired by the businessman-turned-politician's campaign slogan.

Here, in an exclusive essay penned by the artist-activist, Nadya details the necessary steps U.S. citizens should take in order to cope with the changing political landscape, the nationalist movement, and Trump's rise to power.

In case of political catastrophe:

1. Don't panic.

2. Stay focused. Though don't focus just on yourself. The question "How would I survive under a Trump presidency" is false at its core: Think about those who are the most vulnerable, who's going to suffer from a Trump presidency the most. Find ways to help them. And then -- oh, miracle! -- you'll notice that your own political anxiety is fading away.

3. Learn your history. Figure out what you can do; follow your plan and your social justice dream -- day by day, step by step.

4. A is for Activist: a social justice's hustler. Think beyond egocentrism -- stop asking yourself how you're going to change the world. Hey, you can not change the world alone. But go hustle for justice anyway; make your input, your energy, an idea, an impulse. It will make a difference.

5. Be thankful for any achievement. Even if it seems small to you. Look around: You could either hate all those people and turn your life into a hell, or you could love them, and it'll bring heaven to the earth.

6. If your government is a pile of trash - build your own guerrilla government. Build and participate and support the network of alternative institutions, organizations, initiatives. We'd better be smart and fast in creating effective alternatives in those areas where government and corporation fails: healthcare, education, media.

7. Fight for your right. Obstacles should not discourage you from action. The opposite is truth: Let obstacles motivate you.

8. Respect your mistakes. Even a total disaster could teach you some important lessons. Like: You got Trump and it royally sucks, but it may be a sign that it's time for a radical political analysis -- it's time to analyze systemic political diseases. It's time to think about 1% and 99% dialectics. It's time to question -- how it's possible that many human beings are treated in our society as disposables; basing on class, race, sex, religion. Think about mass incarceration. Imagine for a second what does it mean -- to be released from prison and be rejected everywhere, to feel like a second-class human being.

9. Don't sit around like the world owes you something. Give yourself to the world, be a human gift to the world -- cherish it, love it, share yourself with it. And be attentive and thankful enough to notice gifts and miracles that the world sends you back.

10. I want to exist, therefore I protest. Proclaim -- loudly -- your presence. Our scream is loud. Sometimes it suffocates us cause we run out of breath. We break our voices when we're trying too hard. But it's our price to pay. When you want to put something on fire, you need to burn yourself. A miracle happens just when you wish for it is so real so you could eat it for breakfast instead of eggs.

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