“Bradatan and Oushakine’s volume maps out the vast territory of philosophical issues shaped and left behind by decades of state socialism. It is the first attempt of its kind in conditions of post-socialism, and as such it will provide an immense assistance to those seeking to understand what the real, deep, and abiding philosophical conflicts are around the ideas of communism. This is an excellent volume with outstanding contributions from anthropologists, historians, philosophers, and political scientists.”
—Karen Dawisha, Walter E. Havighurst Professor of Political Science and Director of the Havighurst Center for Post-Soviet Studies, Miami University
Despite its key role in the intellectual shaping of state socialism, Communist ideas are often dismissed as mere propaganda or as a rhetorical exercise aimed at advancing socialist intellectuals on their way to power. By drawing attention to unknown and unexplored areas, trends and ways of thinking under socialism, the volume examines Eastern Europe and Russian histories of intellectual movements inspired – negatively as well as positively – by Communist arguments and dogmas. Through an interdisciplinary dialogue, the collection demonstrates how various bodies of theoretical knowledge (philosophical, social, political, aesthetic, even theological) were used not only to justify dominant political views, but also to frame oppositional and nonofficial discourses and practices.
The examination of the underlying structures of Communism as an intellectual project provides convincing evidence for questioning a dominant approach that routinely frames the post-Communist intellectual development as a “revival” or, at least, as a “return” of the repressed intellectual traditions. As the book shows, the logic of a radical break, suggested by this approach, is in contradiction with historical evidence: a significant number of philosophical, theoretical and ideological debates in post-Communist world are in fact the logical continuation of intellectual conversations and confrontations initiated long before 1989.
List of Contributors
Clemena Antonova; Aurelian Craiutu; Mikhail Epstein; Elena Gapova; Letitia Guran; Ivars Ijabs; Natasa Kovacevic; Jeffrey Murer; Veronika Tuckerova; Vladimir Tismaneanu; Maria Todorova
Costica Bradatan is assistant professor in the Honors College at Texas Tech University.
Serguei Alex Oushakine is assistant professor of Slavic Languages and Literature and associate faculty in the Department of Anthropology at Princeton University.
Table of Contents: Introduction by Costica Bradatan, Serguei Oushakine • I. The Sickle, the Hammer and the Typewriter • 1) Ideas against Ideocracy: The Platonic Drama of Russian Thought by Mikhail Epstein • 2) Asking for More: Finding Utopia in the Critical Sociology of the Budapest School and the Praxis Movement by Jeffrey Murer • 3) Aesthetics: a Modus Vivendi in East Central Europe? by Letitia Guran • 4) Changing Perceptions of Pavel Florensky in Russian and Soviet Scholarship by Clemena Antonova • II. Heretics • 5) The Totalitarian Languages of Utopia and Dystopia: Fidelius and Havel by Veronika Tuckerova • 6) Martyrdom and Philosophy. The Case of Jan Patocka by Costica Bradatan • 7. Anti-Communist Orientalism: Shifting Boundaries of Europe in Dissident Writing by Natasa Kovacevic • III. In Search of a (New) Mission • 8. Vitality Rediscovered: Theorizing Post-Soviet Ethnicity in Russia by Serguei Oushakine • 9) Balkanism and postcolonilaism or on the Beauty of the Airplane View by Maria Todorova • 10. Anxious Intellectuals: Framing the Nation as a class in Belarus by Elena Gapova • IV. Reinventing Hope • 11. The Demise of Leninism and the Future of Liberal Values by Vladimir Tismaneanu • 12) “Politics of Authenticity” and/or Civil Society by Ivars Ijabs • 13) Mihai Sora: A Philosopher of Dialogue and Hope by Aurelian Craiutu