№1(21) of Debates on Politics and Culture opens with an essay on European Unity and Its Vicissitudes by Isaiah Berlin. The author argues that despite the devastating effects of the 20th-century radical movements (which origins he traces back to the Romanticism), the European civilization still preserves its moral foundations. The essay is published with a foreword by Boris Dubin.
Andrei Zorin, the magazine’s columnist and a prominent historian of literature, points out the historical parallels between the current depoliticization of the Russian public and the «stagnation» of the 1970s. The Culture of Politics section features an article by Robert Argenbright, an expert on urban geography, who stresses the social meaning of the Third Transportation Ring construction in Moscow.
The first thematic section includes three articles and an interview that deal with the problem of middle class formation in Russia. Sergei Parkhomenko, the editor-in-chief of “Ezhenedelnyi Zhurnal” (and former editor-in-chief of “Itogi” magazine), firmly believes that the Russian middle class has already arrived. Valeria Karpova, a sociologists, analyzes the political behavior of the middle strata of the Russian society (Will the Middle Class Save Russia?). Semion Faibisovich, a noted essayist, is somewhat unsure whether the infamous “new Russians” could indeed be transformed into a genuine middle class (The Marginal Class), while Maia Turovskaia, a film critic, talks about the “proto-middle class” in the late Soviet period (The Soviet Middle Class). Finally, Aleksei Levinson, the magazine’s columnist and a prominent sociologist, points out the existence of a peculiar urban strata between the new middle class and the lower classes (The Mediocre Class).
The second thematic section includes a historical overview of the Soviet dissident movement by Aleksandr Daniel (The Roots and the Sources of the Dissident Movement in the USSR) and an interview with a legendary dissident and a noted mathematician Aleksandr Esenin-Volpin (A Memo for Those NOT Waiting To Be Interrogated). The Politics of Culture section features the transcript of a round table, organized by Evgeny Yasin’s “Liberal Mission” Foundation (The History of a Success: Russian Liberal Reforms and the Russian Culture).
The thirds thematic section features articles that commemorate Astrid Lindgren and talk about her place in Swedish and Soviet cultures (Kajsa Еberg Lindsten, Astrid Lindgren and Swedish Society, and Olga MКeots, Astrid Lindgren in the Bolshevik Country). Ekaterina Margolis, head of the children’s literature section at the “OGI” publishing house, analyzes the general trends in modern children’s literature (Little Man’s Literature). Djamilia Mamedova, a culturologist, discusses the recent revival of interest to the classic Soviet children’s literature. While familiar for today’s Soviet-born parents, its characters are deeply strange and sometimes incomprehensible for their children (Our Book for Children, Soviet Book for Children).
The Morals and Mores section features an essay by Lev Usyskin on the unrealistic job expectations of the young Russians, who have recently graduated or about to graduate in the construction engineering (Officers of the Construction Sites). In the New Institutions section we present a short overview of the Moscow School of Political studies. The issue concludes with the New Books section, which includes an overview of the new Western books on the current Chechen war, as well as a series of reviews on the latest Russian publications on the same topic.