Debates on Politics and Culture
Since the last special thematic issue of NZ “1905: 100 Years of Oblivion” (2005. № 6 (44)) our journal has undergone certain revolutionary changes and is now published in a renewed format and different design. This issue is dedicated to several topics discussed in a confrontational manner due to both the burning urgency of those topics and to the conscious efforts of the NZ editorial staff.
The first section, entitled Between Civil Rights and the Right to Security is formed as a series of extended responses to Aleksandr Verkhovsky’s provocative paper Russian Human Rights Activists and the Matter of Threat to Security. A prominent expert on nationalism and xenophobia poses a question: what exactly are human rights activists defending when they insist the human rights of those charged with terrorism must be protected? Other authors in the section discuss the uneasy relationship between the human rights activists, society and the state facing a security threat. The capricious dialectics between the right to security and other civil rights is examined by human rights activists Sergei Smirnov and political scientist Denis Dragunsky. The articles of Leonid Reznichenko, Timur Aliev and Lev Ponomarev are dedicated to the prospects of the internal evolution of the Russian human rights movement, to the possibilities of drawing on international experience and to the issue of state security using the threat of terrorism to increase police control over society. The section is concluded with an article by Nikolay Mitrokhin, Non-Islamic Extremism in Modern Russia, that offers the reader a consistent review of Russian extremist movements not connected with the “Islamic factor”.
Yevgeny Saburov who runs a permanent Humane Economics column links the range of problems raised in the first section to the second one, devoting his column to the topic of the state ideological activities directed at the young people and to the totalitarian dangers of adopting one particular single education program.
The second topic Not “Our” Young People: Youth Movements in Modern Russia was initiated by a series of questions formulated by the editorial staff and addressed to the leaders and active participants of youth movements that had lately attracted growing interest on the part of “adult” politics. Our questions touched upon several issues: the level of political and civil activity among young people; the political self-determination of youth movements; their independence in relation to the already existing political parties, state and financial institutions; the priorities specified in their programs and the means of achieving set goals; the internal motivation of the movement members; state policies on working with the youth and so forth. We directed our questions to the Moscow and regional representatives of those youth movements that from our point of view were not artificial “spin” projects deliberately created to service the current needs of the dominant political elite. Answering the NZ questions: Dmitry Kokorev, Artem Marchankov, Ilya Yashin, Maksim Shmakotin, Aleksei Kozlov, Ivan Bolshakov, and Oleg Kozlovsky. The analytical framework establishing the necessary social and cultural context is provided by the editorial, but first and foremost by an article Pop-Cultural Revolution or a Perestroika Remake? Modern Context of the Youth Question by sociologist Elena Omelchenko.
Aleksey Levinson’s Sociological Notes this time are also devoted to the problems of young people, to the issues they consider important and to their opinion of the general political situation in the country. The author uses material from sociological opinion polls to analyse the current meaning of the verdict “normal’no” (“it’s normal|fine|satisfactory|acceptable”) that within the youth culture serves as an equivalent of the concept of “stability”.
Next topic Empire and Identity: From Joseph K. To Danila Bagrov, touches upon the problem of individual and collective identity in a polycultural situation of imperial periphery (article by historian Kirill Kobrin Search for National Identity in Central Europe (Franz Kafka’s Case)). Apart from that, in the article Nostalgia for the Cold War. Visitors from the “Second World” critic and literary scholar Mark Lipovetsky, using modern American and Russian cinema materials, deconstructs the “images of the other” through which former Cold War enemies are building their cultural identity.
The matter of Empire is further discussed in the Culture of Politics section by a philosopher and historian of political thought, Artem Magun, who is plotting the meaning and power coordinates of an empire as one of the modern political forms using the framework of Toni Negri and Michael Hardt’s well-known book Empire.
The last group of materials To Expose and Display: On the Cultural Functions of Fashion and Cultural Studies Criticism returns to the subject already featured on the pages of NZ (2004. № 5) — the issue of consumption in soviet society. The section is opened by Larisa Zakharova’s article devoted to the social and political context of soviet fashion during the “Thaw”. It is followed by a debate between Maria Bast, costume historian, and Olga Vainshtein, cultural scientist.
The issue is concluded with NZ standing sections: New Institutions presenting the “Collective Action” Institute, and Journals Review featuring general reviews by Vyacheslav Morozov and Petr Rezvykh that map the intellectual landscape of the latest politological, sociological and philosophical periodicals. As usual we close the issue with our New Books section in which we would like to especially note Vasily Koshkin’s review Window to Europe which analyses the books of the newly emerged Europe publishing house.