Modernization is the basic political plot offered by the Russian authorities to the society two years ago. NZ is the analytical magazine; and it is hardly possible for such a publishing to ignore the important political events. The main thing is that conversation on modernization should be of reflective character. The 74th issue of NZ aspires to define several historical, philosophical, politological and sociological aspects of the modernization concept and to enter into this wide context the specificity of the present project. The editorial board tried to analyze such aspects of the known phenomena which usually escape a sight of experts. Thus, the main topic of this NZ special issue is the Russian modernization as “nostalgic” project; and many articles of this publication differently try to explain, why namely this concept seems to be true for us.
This issue consists of the five main thematic blocks. The first, “Modernization Dialectics”, concerns the concept itself and its semantic components. Kevin Platt investigates the parity between “nostalgia” and “innovation” (the tendencies simultaneously co-existing in the Russian public consciousness), and “traditional, nostalgic modernization”, as that, is the topic of the article by Andrey Ryabov. Dmitry Gorin who analyzes “a retrospective sight” at modernization in the context of conversation on the today’s project (“Modernization Generations: Detection of Alternatives and Repetition of the Passed”) summarizes the main issues on the topic.
The block of articles united in a regular heading “Political Theory and Practices of Depolitization” became a theoretical introduction to the first section. Here one could read two texts important from the viewpoint of the issue main topic: “Antimodernists” by Antoine Compagnon and “Breakdowns of Modernization” by Shmuel Eisenstadt. Both are based on the analysis of ideology of “modern” and those obstacles and restrictions which stand on a way of various national modernization projects. “History”, “past” and “nostalgia” as the basic symbolical elements of the last Russian modernization project — topic of a traditional column of the NZ editor-in-chief Ilya Kalinin. An essay by Denis Dragunsky “Steampunk Modernization” is devoted to the same context.
Actors of the present Russian modernization and their ideas on modernization are the subject of the second main topic this NZ issue. Dmitry Travin compares the following two projects — Gorbachev’s perestroika and current Medvedev’s modernization. An interval between these historical moments is a topic of an essay by Vladislav Inozemtsev (“What Have Happened with Russia? From Transient Perestroika to Never-Ending Putinizm”). Konstantin Sonin passes from individuals to institutions and their newest history (“Upwards by the Road Which Tends Back: Evolution of Political and Economic Institutes in Russia in the 21st century”). This section is adjoined by an interview with British historian Geoffrey Hosking “Britain Owned Empire. Russia was the Empire Itself”.
Topics raised by Konstantin Sonin are continued in the Culture of Politics section; its authors consider various aspects of functioning of the present Russian regime which has declared the beginning of its own modernization (“Raw Sector of Russia: Economics of Control and Politics of Rent” by Richard Sakwa and “Russian Political Regime: Neosoviet Authoritarianism and Patronage Presidency” by Margareta Mommsen).
The fourth section — “Modernization and Modernized” — thematically corresponds with the second block of the 74th NZ issue. Here, as appears from the title, the focus is transferred from the actors of modernization on the modernization object — on those who are affected by this policy. Kyrill Kobrin analyzes the notion of “modernization” namely in this context — and on an example of variety of historical situations. Ilya Kukulin considers “a nostalgic component” of today’s modernization with regard to the Soviet men of the 1960s. The “catching up” modernization ethos is the topic of the article by Alexander Sogomonov.
The next topic of the 74th issue is connected with the discursive modernization models, first of all with the present Russian. The place of such models in language spoken by authorities (section “Modernization and Emptiness: Paradoxes of Discourse”) and in historically developed language of various political forces and social groups is analyzed here (section “Ideological Palimpsest of Modernization”).
Mark Lipovetsky and Artem Magun find out various and frequently contradicting each other ideological layers in present liberal modernization discourse; one should also note a substantial historical excursus by Ilya Gerasimov “Formation of Another Russia: Modernization and Its Simulacra”. Some texts are devoted to the analysis of the authorities’ statements (and actions) on modernization — first of all, those by president Medvedev (“Guarding Modernization by Dmitry Medvedev. Some Reflexions Concerning the Yaroslavl Speech” by Vyacheslav Morozov and “Modernization and Post-Industrial Barrier, or Why It Goes Wrong by Medvedev”). Other aspects of a parity of Medvedev’s modernization with Russian public, political and social-cultural situation are considered in the article by Victor Martyanov (“Remodernization of the Russian Modernist Style: Theory, Practice and/or Rhetoric?”) and Vitaly Kurennoy (“Modernization of the Modernizer. The Newest Transformations of the Russian Political System”).
In the 74th issue as usual there are authors’ columns by Alexey Levinson (Sociological Lyrics) and Alexander Kustarev (Political Imaginary). The issue ends with traditional Russian Intellectual Journals’ Review by Vyacheslav Morozov.