Friday, April 3, 2009

Russian Magicians to Unionize?

According to a report in the Nezavisimaya Gazeta news daily, some Russian magicians are now pushing for a trade union to represent their interests before Russia's Federation of Independent Trade Unions.

The report, quoting unnamed sources in the Russian parliament, said a group of "psychics, witches and other specialists in contact with supernatural forces" wanted formal status with the main independent trade union federation.

Russia is an unusual country in that magical practitioners are simply treated as professionals of a sort rather than dismissed out of hand as "for entertainment only" or persecuted by crazed mobs and driven out of town or executed. As a result, it provides a window into what a modern society in which magick is an accepted part of everyday life might look like. Russia recently drafted bill to regulate magick according to the dictates of a professional board, and union representation might help to counteract government overreaching related to the terms of the bill and the composition of the board.

Not everyone thinks that such a union is necessary or likely to form, however.

Vladimir Yegorov, head of Russia's folk medicine association, voiced scepticism that Russia would see an official wizards' union anytime soon.

"Trade unions are necessary where there are employers. But here we have no plants, no faith-healer factories. We have only individual entrepreneurs," Yegorov told the daily.

While this is true, what Yegorov fails to consider is that unionization will likely help prevent this situation from ever coming to pass. While getting magicians to work together can be like herding cats, there isn't anything inherent about magical work that would prevent a clever entrepreneur from trying to put together some sort of large organization that could compete with individual practitioners. Such organizations occasionally show up even in the United States, like the famous Psychic Friends Network, where magick and related practices are not nearly so highly regarded.

I'll be watching the situation in Russia to see how it plays out. Maybe if regulation and unionization work out well for all involved I'll reconsider my aversion to working toward widespread acceptance of magick in the United States, but honestly the outcome would have to be pretty impressive for me to come out in favor of it. As an effective magician I would much rather work in the shadows than in any sort of official capacity, since I don't need people to believe in me in order to get things done.

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1 comment:

Anonymous said...

" herding cats..." Yes, I can definitely see that. It is interesting. Thanks for keeping us up on all this!