№6(20) of Debates on Politics and Culture opens up with an essay What rights do we have? from Ronald Dworkin’s first book, Taking Rights Seriously, where the prominent contemporary expert on moral philosophy and philosophy of law questions the very existence of freedom as a right, suggesting instead the right for equality as a foundation for the new, post-1960s, liberalism. The essay is published with an editorial foreword.
Andrei Zorin, the magazine’s columnist and a prominent historian of literature, analyzes the early-1990s Russian rhetoric of «joining the civilized world» and its subsequent transformation into generally anti-American discourse. The Culture of Politics section features reflections by Modest Kolerov, a historian and a political consultant, on the construction of new national ideology in Russia. It also includes an interview with Aleksei Kara-Murza, where this prominent politician and the editor-in-chief of the Pravoe Delo newspaper offers his vision of the future of Russian liberalism.
The first thematic section includes three articles that deal with different modes of describing the 1990s in Russia as a historical period. Aleksandr Semyonov, a historian and an edition of the Ab Imperio magazine analyzes the competing approaches toward the collapse of the Soviet Union found in modern western historiography (What Was the Soviet Union and What Does Its Collapse Mean: The Debates Among Western Historians). Irina Davydova, a sociologist, casts a critical view on the 1990s (A Decade of Troubles), while Igor Fedyukin, a historian and an editor of the Debates argues for describing the society, not the good/evil reformers, as the prime actor in our recent history (Describing the 1990s: The Social Sciences and Democracy). Finally, Aleksei Levinson, the magazine’s columnist, offers his analysis of the social change in the 1990s (The Other Simplicity).
The second thematic section present different perspectives on the economic reforms in the 1990s. Anders Aslund, a prominent economist, presents an optimistic picture of Russian transition to market economy (Ten Years After the Collapse of the Soviet Union. The Advantages of Radical Reforms). Yoshiko Herrera, a Harvard economist and political scientist, argues that the reformers did not do enough to build the institutional framework of market economy (Economic Reforms in Russia in the 1990s). Konstantin Sonin, a professor at the New Economic School in Moscow, reflects on Herrera’s criticism (Reforms and Institutions. On the Article by Yoshiko Herrera).
The Politics of Culture section includes two articles by cultureologists Natalia Samutina and Vera Zvereva. Samutina (Music Video: Poetry Today) analyzes the poetics of music videos. Zvereva (Wrestling as a Show) places the popular entertainment into the context of modern culture.
The third thematic section features three essays on recent Russian/Soviet history submitted by the high school students to the annual competition organized by the Memorial society. It also includes a foreword by Irina Shcherbakova, a historian and Memorial activist (Memory and Myth) and a piece by Ilia Utekhin, a linguist and anthropologist (…To Keep In Touch With the Roots). The Morals and Mores section introduces an essay by Revekka Frumkina, a prominent linguist (To Save Money, To Spend, To Live) on the role of money in the life of Russian intelligentsia today. The issue ends with the New Books section, which includes an overview of the new intellectual magazines that appeared in 2001.