DEBATES ON POLITICS AND CULTURE
№2(22)of Debates on Politics and Culture opens with an essay On the External and Internal Organization of Institutions of Higher Education in Berlin by Wilhelm von Humboldt, the early nineteenth-century Prussian philosopher and reformer. The essay is published with an editorial foreword where it is argued that our understanding of liberalism and its intellectual roots should not be limited to the standard canon of Anglo-American thinkers only, but include also a variety of philosophers belonging to the French and German traditions.
Andrei Zorin, the magazine’s columnist and a prominent historian of literature, reflects on the contemporary tendency to «historicize» politics (using as an example the restitution laws adopted in many countries), while at the same time levels of historical knowledge among the population are measurably declining (From Novel to Folktale). The Culture of Politics rubric is devoted to the situation in France before and after the second round of the presidential elections. After the First Round: An Electronic Correspondence features immediate reactions of Russian and French post-graduate students to Le Pen’s unexpected success, while The Intellectuals Have Gone, by JОrЩme-Alexandre Nielsberg, is a passionate call for intellectuals’ greater critical involvement in politics, published in France just before Jacques Chirac’s re-election. Next comes a piece by Luc Ferry, the political philosopher turned Minister, entitled The Philosopher and the Political, followed by a debate on Political Passions and Interests between Ferry and his co-author AndrО Comte-Sponville.
The first thematic section includes three articles that deal with the current debates on totalitarianism in Western Europe. Sonja Margolina (The End of a Beautiful Epoch. The German Experience of Reflecting on Totalitarianism) and Guido Carpi (The Thousand Faces of Fascism. Latest News From the Birth-Country of Fascism) point out the tendency, in Germany and Italy respectively, to relegate the totalitarian past to distant history, while Jean-Charles Szurek analyzes ways of remembering European totalitarianism in present-day France (Memory and Totalitarianism: The French Debates). Finally, Alexei Levinson, the magazine’s columnist and a prominent sociologist, argues that our society has learned to live with the Chechen war, and many of us, from medical doctors to university professors, benefit from it in indirect ways (Who Needs It).
The second thematic sections features four articles in which the authors analyze various aspects of both contemporary and modern discourse on the February revolution in Russia (Boris Wittenberg, February and August: A View from 2002; Irina Zhdanova, “A Seed of Freedom That Fell On Stones”; Oleg Ken, The Tragedy of Competing Impossibilities; Boris Kolonitsky, The February? Bourgeois? Democratic? Revolution…) The Politics of Culture section consists of two articles by cultural studies experts Tatiana Dashkova (Surprises of Representation: an Attempt at Analyzing a Bad Movie) and Alexei Nazarov (“Reality” as Reflected in Soviet War-Time Photos and Documentaries).
The third thematic section discusses the history and current state of Russian religious philosophy. Nikolai Plotnikov (Philosophy for Internal Use) and Alexei Kozyrev (Russian Philosophy: mode d’emploi) decry the lack of interest in, and profanation of Russian religious philosophy today, while Alexander Kyrlezhev (Russian Religious Philosophy: By The Church Walls) analyzes the relationship between philosophy and theology in Russia. Both of them have been and still are relatively weak, and therefore their symbiosis is especially important, argues Kyrlezhev.
The Morals and Mores section features an article by Vasily Kostyrko, who discusses the politicization of folklore and the construction of a “national history” in present-day Yakutia (Metamorphoses of Tygyn: Ideology and History in Contemporary Yakutia). In the New Institutions section we present a short overview of the “Liberal Mission” Foundation, which celebrated its second anniversary in April 2002. The issue concludes with a New Books section, which includes an overview of the major trends in Western “peasant studies”, as well as a series of reviews of the latest Russian books about peasants.