Skip to main content
main-content
Top

Hint

Swipe to navigate through the articles of this issue

Published in: Society 3/2022

25-05-2022 | Forum Article: Russian Regress: Reading Victor Zaslavsky in a Time of War

Russian Regress: Reading Victor Zaslavsky in a Time of War

Author: Judith Adler

Published in: Society | Issue 3/2022

Login to get access
share
SHARE

Abstract

This introduction to four previously untranslated papers of Victor Zaslavsky draws attention to shocks to understandings of the past in times of crisis, and to the light these papers cast upon the Russian invasion of Ukraine. It suggests the need for a long- term perspective on enduring patterns of Russian political culture, censorship, policing, and social psychology that neither originated nor ended with Soviet Communism.
Footnotes
1
In the midst of tragedy, the spectacle of European neo-Nazis struggling to take a common “position” on the Russian invasion of Ukraine affords comic relief. The invaders’ anti-western, anti-democratic rhetoric and calls for punishing “purification” are as congenial to them as to some autocratic politicians and heads of state, but characterization of the invasion as a fight against “Nazis” and “Nazification” presents difficulties.
 
2
In addition to describing a successful student campaign to rid themselves of an unpopular professor involving defensive denunciation, lies, threats, and support of the Tsar, Herzen’s Memoirs contain a thought-provoking observation on the division of the university’s professors and students into “two camps or strata who quietly hated each other”. One “looked upon Europe in the same way as provincials look upon those who live in the capital, with deference and a feeling of our own inferiority”, “blushing for our peculiarities and trying to conceal them”, ready to “pretend to agree” with a Liberal or Legitimist; the other, “servile in their patriotism, as uncouth as seminarists”, spoke no language but Russian and “indulged in an immoderate consumption of liquor” (Herzen 1982: 91–94, 97).
 
3
In Russia, this line carries both Communist and Scriptural association. When Moses asks what he should answer when asked by the Israelites who has sent him, the Divine Name offered in response takes the form of the first person of the verb to be (Exodus 3:13–14). The Hebrew verb has no present tense, and some translations render the Divine Name as “I am, I was, I will be”. (Rosa Luxemburg substituted revolution for the Scriptural voice in words penned the evening before her execution: “Tomorrow the revolution will…raise itself with a rattle and announce…to your terror: I was, I am, I shall be!”)
 
4
On the background to this schism, and condemnation of the Russian Patriarch’s doctrine of “Russian World” as heresy, see Cunningham 2022 and Jaulmes 2022.
 
Literature
go back to reference Cunningham, E. 2022. How Russia’s war in Ukraine is dividing the Orthodox Christian World Washington Post April 22, 2022. Cunningham, E. 2022. How Russia’s war in Ukraine is dividing the Orthodox Christian World Washington Post April 22, 2022.
go back to reference Dixon, R. 2021. Russian court abolishes country’s most prominent human rights group, Memorial. Washington Post Dec.28, 2021. Dixon, R. 2021. Russian court abolishes country’s most prominent human rights group, Memorial. Washington Post Dec.28, 2021.
go back to reference Gerschkovich, E. 2022. He worked for Moscow’s police for nearly 30 years then he spoke up about the Ukraine War. Sergei Klokov…now faces 10 years in prison. Wall Street Journal. April 21, 2022. Gerschkovich, E. 2022. He worked for Moscow’s police for nearly 30 years then he spoke up about the Ukraine War. Sergei Klokov…now faces 10 years in prison. Wall Street Journal. April 21, 2022.
go back to reference Goldman, P., Lapidus G. and Zaslavsky V. 1992. Introduction: Soviet federalism – its origins, evolution, and demise. From Union to Commonwealth: Nationalism and Separatism in the Soviet Republics G.Lapidus, V.Zaslavsky and P.Goldman. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press:1-21. Goldman, P., Lapidus G. and Zaslavsky V. 1992. Introduction: Soviet federalism – its origins, evolution, and demise. From Union to Commonwealth: Nationalism and Separatism in the Soviet Republics G.Lapidus, V.Zaslavsky and P.Goldman. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press:1-21.
go back to reference Herzen, A. 1982. My Past and Thoughts: The Memoirs of Alexander Herzen Berkeley: University of California Press. Herzen, A. 1982. My Past and Thoughts: The Memoirs of Alexander Herzen Berkeley: University of California Press.
go back to reference Jaulmes, A. 2022. Une Pâque orthodoxe sur fond de schism entre Kiev et Moscou. Le Figaro April 4, 2022. Jaulmes, A. 2022. Une Pâque orthodoxe sur fond de schism entre Kiev et Moscou. Le Figaro April 4, 2022.
go back to reference Schlögel, K. 2018. Ukraine: A Nation on the Borderland tr. Gerrit Jackson. London: Reaktion Books. Schlögel, K. 2018. Ukraine: A Nation on the Borderland tr. Gerrit Jackson. London: Reaktion Books.
go back to reference Snyder, T. 2018. Ivan Ilyin, Putin’s Philosopher of Russian Fascism. New York Review of Books March 16, 2018. Snyder, T. 2018. Ivan Ilyin, Putin’s Philosopher of Russian Fascism. New York Review of Books March 16, 2018.
go back to reference Snyder, T. 2022. The War in Ukraine Has Unleashed a New Word. New York Times April 22, 2022. Snyder, T. 2022. The War in Ukraine Has Unleashed a New Word. New York Times April 22, 2022.
go back to reference The Economist March 12-18, 2022, The Stalinization of Russia (cover story) The Economist March 12-18, 2022, The Stalinization of Russia (cover story)
go back to reference Zaslavsky, V. 1982. The Neo-Stalinist State: Class, Ethnicity and Consensus in Soviet Society. New York: M.E.Sharpe. 2 nd rev.ed., New York: M.E.Sharpe, 1994. Zaslavsky, V. 1982. The Neo-Stalinist State: Class, Ethnicity and Consensus in Soviet Society. New York: M.E.Sharpe. 2 nd rev.ed., New York: M.E.Sharpe, 1994.
go back to reference Zaslavsky, V. 1984. Il dottor Petrov parapsicologo tr. Antonella d’Amelia and Maria Fabris. Palermo: Sellerio. Zaslavsky, V. 1984. Il dottor Petrov parapsicologo tr. Antonella d’Amelia and Maria Fabris. Palermo: Sellerio.
go back to reference Zaslavsky, V. 1988. A Mystery in a Soviet Library. Partisan Review1: 24-32, republished in The Best American Essays 1989. G.Wolff and R. Atwan. Boston: Houghton-Mifflin. Zaslavsky, V. 1988. A Mystery in a Soviet Library. Partisan Review1: 24-32, republished in The Best American Essays 1989. G.Wolff and R. Atwan. Boston: Houghton-Mifflin.
go back to reference Zaslavsky, V. 1990a. Preface, V. Salamov. I racconti di Kolyma Palermo: Sellerio: 11-18. Zaslavsky, V. 1990a. Preface, V. Salamov. I racconti di Kolyma Palermo: Sellerio: 11-18.
go back to reference Zaslavsky, V. 1990b. ‘Gli intellecttuali occidentali e lo stalinismo: il nuovo approccio sovietico’, Il mito dell’URSS. La cultura occidentale e l’Unione Sovietica’ M.Flores and F.Gori. Milano: Franco Angeli: 381-388. Zaslavsky, V. 1990b. ‘Gli intellecttuali occidentali e lo stalinismo: il nuovo approccio sovietico’, Il mito dell’URSS. La cultura occidentale e l’Unione Sovietica’ M.Flores and F.Gori. Milano: Franco Angeli: 381-388.
go back to reference Zaslavsky, V. 1990c. Traditional Soviet Nationalities Policies. Soviet Nationalities Problems Ian Bremmer and N. Naimark . Center for Russian and East European Studies, Stanford University: 1-9. Zaslavsky, V. 1990c. Traditional Soviet Nationalities Policies. Soviet Nationalities Problems Ian Bremmer and N. Naimark . Center for Russian and East European Studies, Stanford University: 1-9.
go back to reference Zaslavsky, V. 1992. The evolution of separatism in Soviet society under Gorbachev. From Union to Commonwealth: Nationalism and Separatism in the Soviet Republics G. Lapidus, V. Zaslavsky and P. Goldman. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press:71-98. Zaslavsky, V. 1992. The evolution of separatism in Soviet society under Gorbachev. From Union to Commonwealth: Nationalism and Separatism in the Soviet Republics G. Lapidus, V. Zaslavsky and P. Goldman. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press:71-98.
go back to reference Zaslavsky, V. 2008. Class Cleansing: The Massacre at Katyn. Kizer Walker, transl. New York: Telos Press. Zaslavsky, V. 2008. Class Cleansing: The Massacre at Katyn. Kizer Walker, transl. New York: Telos Press.
Metadata
Title
Russian Regress: Reading Victor Zaslavsky in a Time of War
Author
Judith Adler
Publication date
25-05-2022
Publisher
Springer US
Published in
Society / Issue 3/2022
Print ISSN: 0147-2011
Electronic ISSN: 1936-4725
DOI
https://doi.org/10.1007/s12115-022-00717-9