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    Skip to main content. Log In Sign Up. The Patriotism of Despair: Nation, War, and Loss in Russia. Cornell University Press, If acknowledgment has been omitted, rights holders are encouraged to notify the publisher. Except for brief quotations in a review, this book, or parts thereof, must not be reproduced in any form without permission in writing from the publisher. Sergei , — The patriotism of despair:

    Maybe social- ism was not that bad? The Soviet past and social- ist legacy had become once again a major source of inspiration for political activism. The trope of the Soviet tragedy was supplemented by the trope of Soviet grandeur. It was, however, the presumed falseness of the present that made the post-Soviet reappropriation of Soviet cosmogonies possible. Pokolenie became a major outlet for organizing political events and cam- paigns. For an extensive exploration of this transformation see Pelevin ; for an etymolog- ical review see Erkhov One student, for in- stance, wrote: I realized that the Soviet people were several steps higher in their moral at- titudes than myself or my generation.

    I think individualism is not typi- cal for the Russian national consciousness, even though a lot of people in my generation welcome it. They will be disappointed later, for individualism leads to alienation, loneliness, and self-isolation; it destroys links between generations. We should be developing according to our traditions; that is to say, we should follow the Russian path.

    Kharitonov, music by D. In , a somewhat similar attempt was undertaken by pop singer Oleg Gazmanov. As the singer explained it: We grew up with them. Why should we erase them from our memory? Like many other key cultural concepts, narod provides a stable concep- tual container, a familiar symbolic form for new experiences and meanings. Russian populists narodniki of the s famously turned narod into a cultural and moral icon, into a repository of knowledge and skills that were to epitomize the Russian way of life.

    For my discussion here it is crucial that in both cases appeals to narod were used primarily to frame a reaction against capitalism in Russia. In his analysis of populist ideology, Andrzej Walicki reveals the core of this attitude: More than a century later, Altai neocoms were inspired by a similar pro- cess.

    Evgenii M. In the Soviet period, there was this communion [prichastnost' ] with some- thing big. People felt that they were part of a certain whole, a part of a certain totality. And now everything is completely atomized.

    Maybe this is the way Americans want to think about themselves. Today, in the post-Soviet person the level of this sociality [sotsialnost' ] is next to zero. Everyone is as isolated as a grain of sand.

    It is precisely this experience of being socially marginalized and pushed beyond meaningful networks and relations in the present that brought back the desire for the connectedness of the past. The historical component of See Ries , 27—30 for a detailed discussion. It was not the ac- tual Soviet experience that my informants were trying to rediscover. Unlike the contained-yet-content life in the Soviet Union, the post-Soviet situation produced very different associations.

    Projecting the dichotomy onto herself, she brought up the issue of belonging: Today I do not feel that I am an element of something big at all. I have a feeling that I am totally on my own in Russia today, and Russia hardly needs me. It is by realizing his or her own location within a larger symbolic order that the subject could ad- dress and be addressed by others. For a detailed discussion see also Foucault , — Repatriating Capitalism 39 Such longing for an address, for a subject position within a field of long- term values, was clearly reflected by my informants.

    Again and again, in their interpretations, sociality and social relations were seen metonymi- cally: My informants, however, tended to reject the other side of the equation: As a result, the idealized totality of the past not only provided an im- portant feeling of belonging to something big but also helped one to deny or ignore the individuating principles that underlay the present. Within this frame of reference, the collectivity was perceived not as a group of dis- tinctive individuals but as a ramified yet integral national body.

    Several weeks after my conversation with Nurmatova, I observed how the elemental desire for the whole was realized in practice. On Novem- ber 1, , I attended a meeting organized by local Communists and labor unions. The event took place in front of the building of the regional admin- istration in downtown Barnaul.

    The demonstration did not last long. After half an hour, the electric power that the regional administration provided for microphones and loudspeakers was mysteriously turned off, effectively forcing the group to leave. Nurmatova, with another young woman, participated in the meeting in an unusual form: So, imagine what happened to all these passersby when they saw us.

    I paid attention to their reactions on purpose. Nobody who saw us turned their eyes away. People would stop and look at us.

    For a long, long time. Their entire mocking attitude disappeared when they saw us, our armbands, and our banners. Expressionist motivations aside, the quotation shows how subjection to the gaze of others is realized through constructing a meeting point: See Barthes , 55 on the role of metonymic punctum in structuring the gaze.

    An antigovernment meeting in Barnaul. The banner reads: This material sedimentation of experience has its own spatial dimension. The importance of such exchanges and meeting points —as imaginary as this importance might be —was widely shared by Altai neocommunists. But successful performance of subjection or deliberate self-inscribing in already existing settings occurred infrequently. More often, neocoms failed to estab- lish an effective locus of mediation for expressing their position, as the fol- lowing quotation indicates.

    Barnaul, November Only ten years ago, from each and every corner one could hear a lot of scorn and contempt addressed to the totalitarian Soviet Union, to the cursed CPSU, and to the bloodthirsty tyrannical Soviet leadership. You can still hear all that even now, especially if you spend a lot of time in front of the TV.

    But if you take a break and look back, if you think just for a moment, then in your con- sciousness. But one cannot hide the Truth. And one day they will realize that things should be named accordingly. The present is negatively charged and then rhetorically bypassed altogether by affirming the past and by projecting it into the future. Characteristically, various leaflets fre- quently pasted by neocoms and Pokolenie around the city demonstrated the same tendency.

    Instead, it was elevated to the status of strategy for the manipulation of consciousness. By describing hidden or violent technologies through which stereotypes were imposed, my informants explained away the collapse of the Soviet Union and the current state of affairs in Russia. These politically charged attempts to unmask the lies and falsities of capi- talism have developed historical roots.

    After all, for more than seventy years the newspaper titled Pravda Truth was the official outlet of the Commu- nist Party of the Soviet Union.

    Uncoined Values versus Conditional Units Pravda-seeking neocoms in Altai often started their intellectual search with a basic historical question: Forces interested in destroying Soviet civilization carried out a brilliant operation. Yet people neither stopped it, nor did they even notice it. Unlike Soviet propaganda, manipulation is a hidden process.

    Igor K. By contrast, in American films about maniacs, everything is irrational and meaningless. Anyone can do anything to you at any time. One has to be on a constant alert, expecting to discover a maniac in every social encounter. Sometimes this section is a subdivision of a larger section of books on PR; in other cases books on NLP are categorized as a subfield of psychology. See Kovalev In —94, the Yeltsin government conducted large-scale privatization by quickly transferring most national assets into private hands.

    Within a decade, a state-dominated economy became an economy with mixed forms of prop- erty ownership: Each citizen got one check, regardless of his or her age. Usually known as vautchery vouchers , these conditional units could be sold for cash or invested in a piece of public property.

    By the end of the campaign on July 1, , more than , enter- prises became private; over 40 million citizens —30 percent of those who received privatization checks—chose to own shares of privatized enter- prises Kokh , 31, The majority sold their checks for money.

    Dur- ing the twenty-month campaign, market value fluctuated between four and twenty dollars Boycko, Shleifer, and Vishny , Popularly considered the largest scam in Russian history, this privatization is often Stories about insider deals and fake auctions are numerous. Their plots, though, usually unfold within the same basic matrix. They were more concerned with trying to under- stand how it was possible to convince a huge number of people to give up their property.

    Describing their views on privatization in interviews and publications, my informants often referred to the work of the prolific Rus- sian essayist Sergei Kara-Murza n. Beginning in the s, Kara-Murza born in worked within the system of the Academy of Sciences, the highest research institution in the Soviet Union.

    Throughout the s, he published a series of books that discussed the role of ideology in social life. One of his ideas, actively publicized by the Altai neocoms, is summarized below. In an extended excerpt from Manipulation of Consciousness published in Pokolenie, Kara-Murza explained the reasons behind the success of privati- zation. He particularly singled out one symbolic strategy of the substituting For brief reviews of the privatization campaign in English see Kotkin , —34 and Goldman For an extensive analysis see the report of the Russian Audit Chamber Analiz ; for a theoretical discussion of privatization see Verdery , — Elsewhere, Kara-Murza outlines the logic of manipulation this way: Given the state of hyperinflation in the country at that time, vouchers were quickly accumulated by would-be oligarchs Kara-Murza b, 8.

    The description of is illustrative: It is even more strik- ing that both supporters and opponents of privatization recognized the symbolic significance of the voucher. Interpretations of this significance, of course, differed drastically. When I interviewed Maria K. Repatriating Capitalism 47 knowing the actual meaning of imported words, she adamantly insisted, people become hostages to the hidden content that these words bring with them. See how we were duped from the very beginning?

    My explanations were firmly rejected: And where did Chubais study? At Harvard, that is to say, in America. They brought it over here and implemented it. And today we have this dominant attitude that anything could be done in a false kind of manner because it might work this way! Social injustice was linguistically and geographically linked with the West; it was preprogrammed by the West, as the Altai neocoms would have said.

    Of course, regarding vouchers as fake money was only a reflection of the anxiety about the lost certainty of social exchanges. Aleksei P. Even if it was a utopia, it does not matter now; there was a supreme goal.

    The best accomplishment of the So- viet period was the fact that there was created a society that was not based on money. Associated with falsehood and substitution, money was frequently juxtaposed to real values. What ap- peared to be problematic was the conversion scale that could bring these While Chubais did not study at Harvard, some Harvard scholars did influence the pri- vatization process in Russia in a serious way Wedel, a, b; McClintick ; Yale Connection What caused uneasiness was the absence of a media- tor able to transform a nonmonetized collectivity into a collectivity created by the circulation of the generally accepted equivalent.

    What was at stake, in other words, was a question of the price that one was willing to pay for such a transformation. Vasilii Filippov, a vocal professor of philosophy in Barnaul, whose work is discussed in the next chapter, expressed this posi- tion in the most succinct way: How does that happen?

    Priorities have been selected; the choice has been made. There is at least one more substitution taking place here. Exchange value and use value, which normally deter- mine the social life of things, are both completely discarded here. Instead, a new value class is constructed Parry and Bloch , Aggravated by false and illusory connections among atomized individuals, the lost sense of authenticity is restored through appealing to absolute standards of measurement.

    The following citation from Pokolenie is a good example of this anxious search for a reliable touchstone. It is hard to withstand this pressure. Russian reformers have everything they need: We should remain the way we are—just as nature and history have created us. Not everything shiny is gold. Gold is us. It reveals an attempt to secure some meaningful control over the flow of ideas and commodities. Its strong anti-Western language should not hide the underlying concern with the perceived debasement of local cultural values.

    It is useful to approach this constellation of false money, manipulated consciousness, and illusory subjectivity on the one hand, and references to truth and the gold standard of Russia on the other through a theoreti- cal framework suggested by Jean-Joseph Goux.

    For instance, money backed by gold corre- sponds to the expressive realism of descriptions. The disembodiment of value, in other words, demonstrates how the amalgam of measurement, exchange, and deposit falls apart: The examples discussed earlier reveal a similar tendency. Persistent por- trayals of post-Soviet falsehood, taken together with obsessive fixations on manipulative mediation, indicate a perceived symbolic or material imbal- ance that has been produced by existing strategies of symbolization a right to property in the shape of the voucher.

    In the texts of Altai neocoms, words, objects, and values have lost their authenticity; they are not what they purport to be. Just as in the eighteenth-century political economy and courtship novels studied by James Thompson, Altai neocoms are working through the semiological crisis of the concept of value by trying to restore its proper location either in the signifier, in the referent, or in the process of exchange itself , For Goux, the inconvertibility of values under the regime of noncoverage—and the admission of loss and the unpredictability of gain- ing that are associated with it—is a starting premise of any contemporary exchange.

    Value is a product of dialogical interaction rather than a reflec- tion of the inherent quality of objects. The polemical efforts of Altai leftists were aimed at locating principles of inconvertibility and noncoverage in a very different context. It was not a search for an effective form of mediation in a given circumstance that was at stake here.

    Instead, the Altai neocoms were mostly concerned with the rhetorical substantiation of the regime of noncoverage. It was an attempt to determine the size and scope of the inalienable wealth that animated their symbolic activity.

    The context-bound perception of values and meanings of the sign was overshadowed here by a striving to resurrect the ultimate refer- ent, to go back to uncoined values Goux As a result, a particular set of symbolic practices and symbolic objects was construed as exclusive cultural possessions that had to be protected from duplication, corruption, or piracy by others, precisely because these possessions were perceived as representing important aspects of collective identity Harrison , , As he pointed out, to be effective, the regime of noncoverage must compensate for the decreas- ing confidence in value with the increasing faith in the abstract aspects of exchange and representation , But here the resemblance ends.

    For neocoms, universality of formal law was hardly a choice. What could function as a new source of legitimacy in this case? In what form were social relations abstracted by neocommunists? There are two main approaches through which Altai neocoms tried to maintain their confidence in the social order.

    Both reflect the tendencies explored throughout this book. The first approach produced strong bonds of social attachment by repeatedly articulating a culturally shared trau- matic experience. The second approach highlighted the commonality of the place of origin as a crucial component of the sociocultural and political solidarity of Russians. The next section demonstrates how such statements and foundations were laid out. More on the place of origin mesto rozhdenia and the place of development mesto razvitia as key elements of Russian nationalist writing see chapter 2.

    See Michael Brown ; Harrison ; Weiner for more details on inalien- able cultural possessions. Among the par- ticipants were local politicians, educators, heads of regional museums, and military-patriotic clubs Pol'shchikova In his long presentation, the head of the committee listed numerous patriotic song festivals, boot camps, and exhibits that were intended to instill the right patriotic attitude in the new generation.

    The next plenary speaker, Major-General Vladimir Val'kov, the head of the regional division of the Ministry of Interior, which co- sponsored the conference, framed the issue quite differently.

    The war, the general insisted, was both a source of patriotic values and a source of veterans who had been able to transmit these values to other generations. Bemoaning the drastic deple- tion of this source, the general asked: Who can implement patriotic education today?

    It has not yet found its de- coding [rasshifrovka], if you will. There is no decoding whatsoever! We call the state emblem of Russia.

    It all starts with educating people, with making them love their native Russia. But how could you possibly love it when the child does not absorb this pure [feeling]? Instead of absorbing it as the infantile sponge [ gubka detskaia] and carrying [this feeling] with him throughout his life, the child absorbs something else.

    He absorbs drugs. Very quickly, he absorbs the idea that one can have a lot of money without work- ing. And the main symbol of patriotic education today is precisely this: The increasing autonomy of money, as well as the logic of uni- versal exchangeability that associated with it, constantly raises unsettling I quote from the tape recording made during the conference.

    Repatriating Capitalism 53 questions about the limits of monetization. Moreover, the drastic polariza- tion of post-Soviet society in the process of privatization has painfully re- vealed the arbitrary character of exchange-value. No longer associated with the labor invested in the object of exchange, exchange-value became solely dependent on the interplay between supply and demand. Exchange was equated with empathy.

    In my interviews with Altai neocoms, the theme of war very rarely de- veloped into a special conversation. My questions about the Chechen wars were usually shrugged off, too. Aleksei Z. He elaborated: Yet attempts to alleviate the traumatic memory are bound to reproduce representations of misery as their ultimate point of departure. It is not the war memory as such that is problematic here. Rather, it is the persistence with which images of overwhelming social trauma are used as the universal equivalent that could symbolically bring people together.

    In this context, it is indicative that despite their very different social and educational backgrounds, Altai neocoms ended up using the same strat- egy of consolidation that would be deployed by Chechen war veterans see chapter 3.

    Both neocoms and ex-soldiers approached social difficulties and a state of moral uncertainty through the lens of the militarist discourse of besiegement. It is important that Altai neocoms tried to establish links with a broader community by emphasizing first of all popular memories of war losses rather than war victories. An article published in the October issue of Pokolenie illustrates this tendency.

    5 Ways to Break Through A Creative Block

    Designed to celebrate the eighty-fifth anniversary of the October Revo- lution of , the headline of the issue announced: Some time ago Shakespeare wrote: We have a po- litical opposition that is even incapable of picking a leader who could bring its members together. And then, there are the people.

    There are the people who are glued to TV commercials for tampons and condoms. There are the people who are dying out and drinking themselves to death; there are the people who go through two million abortions annually, accompanied by the squealing of [the lesbian duo] Ta-Tu.

    The only reasonable conclusion for all that is: And nonetheless, we won then [i vse-taki my pobedili togda]. The whole world— enemies, friends, relatives, and even your own mind—keeps telling you: And then, knowing damn well that you will lose it, you make yourself believe.

    And you become invincible. The meaning of Victory cannot be expressed in numbers of conquered cities or killed enemies. But so was the Sixth Paratrooper Company that did not surrender but faced death from a group of Chechen fighters [boeviks], which was ten times bigger.

    Victory is not about gaining [vyigrysh]. One can gain by cheating, or by chance, or by building a quantitative superiority. Victory is the Truth [Pravda]. Victory is Providence. This might be a really tough lot for us; yet the enemy cannot have victory. The victorious are the ones on the side of the Truth. As we are. Borovikov 41 Figure 1. What is quite distinctive about these forms of connectedness is a par- ticular type of fixation on the things being rejected.

    The compulsion to repair the social fabric, torn in moments of crisis, by appealing to the power of the collective seems to be very limited here if it is present at all. This solidarity of grief is not about restorative mending, nor is it usually aimed at retribution. It appears that the primary meaning of this type of connect- edness is to bring back multiple recollections of the traumatic experience, to reveal the semblance of the current situation with grave historical events that similarly consolidated the nation in the past.

    Continuity of national history is constructed by tracing the unceasing circulation of pain. Seemingly accidental, achieved in spite of everything, these victo- ries of despair highlight obstacles and recall ordeals rifles against tanks. Rather than celebrating achievements, they constantly recall their impos- sibility: The pop-duo t. It was the first Russian group that was marketed as lesbian Heller The Sixth Paratrooper Company mentioned later refers to an event on February 29, , when ninety combatants from the Sixth Company were blocked by a large group of Chechen troops about two thousand people near the village of Ulus-Kert, Chechnya.

    Eighty- three Russian soldiers were killed; all of them were awarded highest military distinctions post- humously Khairulin , 6. For more on truth as a binding value in provincial Russia see Solovei , 98— Pokolenie Generation: Stringing together a chain of negations, these sentences nonetheless produce an affirmative effect.

    You know you will lose. You know that victory is not about gaining. But more importantly, you know that the enemy cannot have victory. The mother-land rodnaia zemlia acts as a perfect totality that simulta- neously provides an ultimate moral ground, a dominant national symbol, and a literal physical container for the martyrs of the past and the future.

    With Love and Pain. But every nation has a breed of people who associate their mother-land [rodnaia zemlia] only with gas, oil, or met- als. This is the only value that it has for them. For me, Motherland [Rodina] means the graves of my ancestors.

    It means sweat, blood and the tears of our people. For what cause have millions of people died? Did Russian peasants, merchants, tsars, and secretaries-general carefully pull together my Fatherland so that a peddler could sell it piece- meal? He could spit on my Motherland.

    The Soviet soldier saw burning He also saw the enemy, and he crushed this enemy without pity. Today our land is not on fire, nor is there an enemy at the borders. But one invisible force has already passed our bor- ders; this force destroys everyone and everything. This force imposes norms alien to our peoples: Manakov , 1 Used as a screen for projecting traumatic histories of the past and economic anxieties of the present, the mother-land rodnaia zemlia constantly fluc- tuates here between the symbolic and the material, between the sign and the referent, resisting any stable localization.

    The quote also suggests an inter- esting semantic triangulation within which the meaning of the mother- land emerges. Not constrained by church doctrine, he was quite outspoken and opinionated in conversations with me.

    You cannot grant freedom to them! Especially in our miserable economic conditions. Our economy is forever geographi- cally determined by the negative [i. These conditions demand that Russia have strong state leadership, an authoritarian one. Otherwise, all these democratic values would result in a simple fact: The new Russians [capitalists] have saved lots of money, but where would they invest this money?

    During my fieldwork I gradually got used to this geographical determin- ism. In different cultural and social settings I repeatedly observed the same intellectual attempt to reconnect the national history with the soil in order to restore the original configuration of nature and history and return to the geohistorical context that had shaped up the Russian people in the past. These discussions were usually structured around the argument developed by Andrei Parshev, a Moscow-based economist, who in published the first edition of his book Why Russia Is Not America.

    Written in a highly accessible manner, the book seemed to provide a final, objective, and ideo- logically neutral argument against the current course of liberal reforms. Between and , the book was reviewed in major academic jour- nals. Its main arguments have been examined by a wide range of experts, from local economists, historians, and literary nationalists to senior fellows from the Brookings Institution Laktionova ; Burganov ; Kudrov ; Rusakova ; Hill and Gaddy Within a very short time, a previously unknown lecturer from a Moscow military college became a highly sought-after pundit.

    Altai also followed this in- tellectual fad. In August , Aleksei Ekart, the leader of Altai neocoms, published a long review of the book in Pokolenie , As if sharing the same script, in interviews and conversations my informants also re- peated the meteorological view of the economy already articulated for me by Vladimir O. When the second edition of the book came out in , it had a po- litical framing that could not be called subtle. Why Russia Is Not America has almost nothing to say about America, and given the main mes- sage of the book, Russia could be easily compared with any other place.

    The starting point of the book was a set of seemingly economic ques- tions. Why, despite all these years of liberal reforms, did foreign companies not invest in Russia? What happened to foreign capital in Russia? Moreover, why was there a persistently unequal economic exchange between Russia and the rest of the world? The end result was discouraging. Yet even this third is located in the coldest part of the world: The extremely energy-intensive life in Russia would be forever aggravated by yet another geographic factor: Taken at face value, such geographic observations could hardly provoke any substantial interest.

    There is only one Institute for the Economy in Transition in Russia; it is organized and chaired by Yegor Gaidar, the leader and the main intellectual force behind the reforms in the early s Institute for the Economy in Transition, n. As the main argument went, by creating for itself an entry into the free market, Russia simultaneously provided an exit for the capital that had been accumulated at home.

    As soon as legal and physical obstacles were lifted, money fled for a location with a more efficient and warmer climate.

    Sad as it might be, the reformers were to be sacrificed for the just cause of the global economy. What kind of economic strategy could work in this situation? The country should download only those objects that it could not produce in exchange for objects it did not need. In other words, to stop capital drain, the country must introduce a set of barriers. In politi- cal and economic terms, three main measures aimed at institutionalizing a controllable form of the regime of noncoverage: Repeating a similar argument, Margarita Nurmatova told me: It is all determined by our natural conditions.

    In America, they Historically, this communality is in our blood. Yet others found his rather physiocratic understanding of capital, still unfamiliar with financial derivatives, somewhat outdated. It emphasized a permanent lack of equivalence and at the same time a perma- nent state of exception. The next section shows how people in Altai translated this vision of the enclosed community and inalienable wealth into local politics. The region itself was framed as a part of cultural property that could not enter commercial circulation.

    The Region in Danger In the spring of , the usually quiet Altai region was turned into a po- litical hot spot, attracting much attention from the national and even inter- national media. Aleksandr Surikov, the incumbent governor, decided to run for a third term. In and he had already won two gubernatorial elections, actively supported by the local Communists. Federal law precludes On the role of metaphor in economic analysis see Klamer and Leonard Repatriating Capitalism 63 anyone from being elected for the same state office more than twice in a row.

    But the law came into effect only in and did not specify how to count already served terms. After the federal law was adopted, the inter- pretive calculation of terms became a favorite pastime for many regional assemblies. It was the immense symbolic orchestration of the campaign that attracted so much attention. Heavily relying on the popular anxiety associated with the arrival of capital, the election highlighted ten- dencies described earlier in this chapter.

    The slogan stressed the very local nature of the campaign. The incumbent was 3 per- cent short of the 50 percent plus one vote required for an outright victory. With Within a week, the general tone of the election campaign drastically changed.

    Dissatisfied with his team, Surikov hired a leading Moscow PR company to manage the second round. On March 22, , Barnaul was These inventive exercises in political chronology abruptly stopped in the fall of , when President Putin decided to get rid of the direct election of governors altogether.

    Unlike sootechestvenniki people who have the same fatherland , zemliaki literally soil mates tend to be more geographically specific. To win in the first round of a local election, a candidate had to collect 50 percent plus one vote of those who registered for the voting; the second round required only a simple major- ity of votes of those who actually participated in the voting. Their white lettering read against red and black backgrounds: Say no to Moscow oligarchs!

    Vote and defend Altai! Suddenly, Altai emerged as a territory on the verge of being looted and occupied by greedy and cunning Moscow capitalists. Three days before the second round, local newspapers, generally favorable to Surikov, published a letter from the governor addressed to staff members of polling stations. The next day the planes and people were apparently sent back to Moscow, but nobody ever came forward with an explanation.

    Nobody took responsibility for a failed invasion, and the incident remains one of the murkiest moments of the campaign Altai Daily Review ; Chernyshev , 34 — Nor was Evdokimov actually foreign For a detailed discussion see Chernyshev On black PR and other dubious post-Soviet political technologies see Ledeneva , 28— Repatriating Capitalism 65 to the region.

    He had been born in Altai, and despite his eventual move to Moscow, he frequently visited the area, bringing his fellow actors to the re- gion to film one of the most popular comedy shows on national TV.

    Having no political experience whatsoever and constrained by a lack of money, spe- cialists, and seemingly ideas, Evdokimov responded to his opponent with a different version of the same region-is-in-danger theme.

    Denied any vis- ible access to local TV and radio channels, the comedian repeated his party line in his meetings with people: After all, in different capacities, Surikov had been in charge of the region since , when he was initially elected to preside over the regional as- sembly. Attempts to see in Evdokimov yet another American actor-turned-politician failed too.

    No invasion of Moscow oligarchs, allegedly hiding behind the governor, was in sight, nor was there any cor- rupting influx of capital. The biggest and most bitter surprise was the discovery that the election was just a vanity campaign of a popular star with no political program to realize or any strong ambitions to carry out.

    At the end of March , less than a year after the election, the local legislative assembly passed a vote of no confidence in the governor. In his comments on the impeachment, the chairman of the Fed- eral Election Committee summed up the general disappointment: Both sides appealed In the second round, M.

    Evdokimov had Surikov, Almost two years later, Surikov was appointed ambassador to Belarus Altaiskaia pravda, September 2, The deadlock lasted through the summer, and was resolved unexpectedly: Following the new procedure, President Putin nominated a new candidate for governor who was quickly approved by the local assembly. One is the use of danger and threat as a way to mobilize the audience. It is significant that the danger was persistently construed in economic terms — either as an in- vasion of capital from the outside or as local, homegrown, corruption.

    The second moment deals with the way that the mass media and my informants chose to characterize the election. Regardless of their actual political pref- erence, a majority of voters and the media perceived the campaign as an operation that was masterminded behind the scenes, as an event whose true meaning must be guessed and deduced from various hints and signs.

    Half a year after the election, I interviewed a wide range of people in Barnaul, from local political scientists, philosophers, and journalists to young radi- cals and members of the conservative business community. Most of them still expressed a deep conviction that the mysterious politico-economic force that had brought Evdokimov to power would soon come out of hid- ing.

    There was no particular agreement about the geographic origin of these interest groups. This desire to locate the agency of economic and political changes elsewhere is quite im- portant. Ironically, the will to connect with a higher power in another place radically preempted the existing environment. Imagining alternative —or at least nontransparent—webs of meaningful relations, these emerging cos- mogonies indicated a certain shift in the mode of questioning political fig- ures, too.

    The Levada Center, a major independent survey company, polled sixteen hundred re- spondents throughout Russia; 34 percent of them thought it was an accident, and 14 percent did not have any opinion Sevriukov , 2. For local discussions and examples see Chernyshev , 34 — Repatriating Capitalism 67 unfamiliar comparison and unknown codes was marginalized by a search for plausible links and connections. The search for hidden forces was reflected in yet another way.

    Again, there seemed to be a general consensus that words and people were not what they purported to be. As this chapter has demonstrated, a similar operation of discursive dissociation of the real object and its vis- ible identity could be discovered in many other settings. Framed through a rhetorical pairing of invasion and manipulation, this patriotism of despair structured various narratives about post-Soviet dislocation, dispossession, and detachment.

    What the election campaign highlighted very clearly was a strong belief that manipulative invasions of liberal values or Moscow oligarchs were not accidental but followed a certain logic, if not a master plan. The general picture would become clear as soon as one found out who was really hiding behind Evdokimov.

    She spent several years working with local nongovernmental organizations and eventually started working for the regional government. When I interviewed her, she worked for the office of cultural and educa- tional affairs in the Altai region. One of our meetings happened shortly after she supervised a regional competition among school students for the best performance of patriotic songs.

    Maria passionately complained about the dazzling politi- cal diversity of the performed songs that ranged from military ballads of White Russians who had left the country after the Russian Revolution to late Soviet romantic pop songs about Mother Russia, to post-Soviet patri- otic military chansons: Imagine a teenager, with no feeling of distinction at all, who sits and listens to all this.

    He sits there and slowly goes out of his mind. He has no clue what A set of materials on the results of the elections, published by Altai scholars in the summer , is a good example of this interpretative strategy Chernyshev Some people favor the tsar, some — the Russian Patriarch, some—Trotskyites, some— Communists.

    We do not train the feeling of distinction at all. But information governs the indi- vidual; it is like water: People are information animals. What could happen, if they cannot make distinctions? Well, this is why we get skinheads who grew up in one culture and monarchists who were shaped in a different culture.

    We get all kinds of groups and groupings today. These groups are all created by those who have access to the levers of gover- nance.

    In a very accurate fashion, they play these groups against each other, and in the right time and in the right place they get the result they need.

    As in many other cases in this chapter, depictions of the rapid fragmen- tation of the environment that had looked so solid and coherent in the recent past generated here a search for a cultural explanation that could jus- tify the evident disintegration. Cultural polyphony was construed not as a representation of autonomous, independent groups and tendencies but as a deliberate outcome of post-Soviet governmentality.

    Atomizing diversity was linked with a particular regime of power that diffused any consolidated challenge by purposefully differentiating the field of social relations. It was Maria who introduced me to a group that took such training seri- ously: I attended several sessions of the seminar that took place in an audito- rium of the Altai State Pedagogical University, in the wing that hosts the Department of Philosophy.

    This geographical proximity appeared to be quite accidental; the sessions that I visited had no faculty members from the philosophy department in attendance. The seminar seemed to be open to anyone who wanted to come, but given the fact that even getting in the building required a special pass, the seminar could not be convened on the university premises without an official permit.

    The sessions that I visited lasted about two hours and were typically structured as a short lecture fol- lowed by questions and a group discussion. Judging by their questions and appearances, people who attended the seminar came from diverse educa- tional and economic backgrounds.

    Most participants were men between twenty and sixty years old; there were also a few women in the audience. In what follows, I outline the main ideas of this seminar by using its publications as well as the notes I took during the sessions. The Concept was apparently developed at the end of the s by a group of officers working in military colleges and academies throughout the country. Later the group was joined by technical intelligentsia from provincial universities. In the s, this group tried to institutionalize it- self as a political movement; it even managed to present its views to the members of the Russian parliament in during a session on national se- curity.

    Peters- burg and Novosibirsk, but it has a network of local chapters as well. When in the movement organized its first congress in Moscow, it managed to attract representatives from fifty-four regions of Russia Moroz , Some Russian newspapers and scholars have traced a close connection between the leadership of the Conceptual movement and high-profile Moscow politicians Soldatov and Borogan In Barnaul, Maria K.

    However, it was impossible to either confirm or deny this assertion. In the party candidates ran for seats in the regional assembly but managed to get only 1. Since the middle of the s, the group associated with the Concept has been publishing a string of books and brochures as a part of the series For program documents and statistics see Edinenie n. See Moroz for a detailed review of this movement.

    Communists won, with The short standard blurb printed in each book of the series warns: The basic premise of the Conceptual movement is hardly controver- sial: However, they suggest, politi- cally driven interpretations of the cold war should not be taken seriously.

    It was not ideological differences between Russia and the Western world that were important for the mafia of globalists. After all, as the argument goes, the Soviet Union and the United States were not that different in terms of their economic bases. But the two countries radically differed in the ways their re- spective corporate ownerships were established.

    It was precisely this ideological-cum-managerial post- Soviet elite that became the main target of global influence, the authors of the Concept in- sisted. This general outline of geopolitical disposition was then followed by an- other conceptual conclusion. One issue of Mera za meru has a diagram that presents the process of governing in general and for Russia in particular. The diagram is simple: First, the subject directly influences the object, and then it receives feedback on its own action by analyzing the outcome of its influ- ence figure 1.

    As Timothy Melley convincingly suggests, conspiracy theory is closely linked with the profound doubt about the dominant methods of knowl- edge production and about the claims to authority by those who produce For an extremely detailed explanation of this scheme in different social and historical settings such as ancient Egypt or contemporary society see the main manual of the movement Dostatochno , — For studies of the role of paranoia in political life see Marcus ; Knight ; West and Sanders ; Pratt ; and Waters A suficiently general theory of governance: Subject vs.

    Each diagram suggests a higher level of generalization of governance: Mera za mery, September Courtesy of the newspaper. Repatriating Capitalism 73 this knowledge , The second important feature of conspiracy theory is the particular form in which its will to connect is realized.

    Political control of the Soviet regime and consumerist illusions of the market society were replaced by the fantasy of a large-scale presence in convoluted networks of relations. The fear of individual isolation attributed to capital was overcome by a vision of poly- morphous embeddedness in the constant flow of information. The scenario of seizing governance suggested that everyone and everything could be connected, if only through informa- tional pressure.

    The publications of the Conceptual movement offer an extensive variety of such potential plots and tacitly realized scenarios. Many treatises in the library are filled with formulas, diagrams, mathematical equations, cyber- netic schemes, and extremely close readings of official documents and ar- tistic texts.

    The October issue of Mera za meru published a long letter from the presidium of the Conceptual Party that outlined the hidden logic of the event: To remove Putin from his position of the head of the country.

    For less convoluted versions of political conspiracy in post-Soviet Russia see Norka ; Prokhanov ; Morozov Mera za meru a, 1; emphasis in the original. Bizarre as it is, this excerpt nonetheless highlights the basic anxiety about the actual and imaginary fragmentation of Russian society and points out the main source of this obsession with disintegration: The dissolution of the USSR was perceived as a paradigmatic model for the possible dismembering of Russia itself.

    The success of conspiracy is rooted in the leaps of imagination that establish similarity between apparently unconnected events, objects, and people. To quote from the same letter: There was the Ostankino TV-tower fire. Internationally, as the article indicated in October , a politically feeble Putin would have to give in to the U. In a situation of change, ability to predict requires a special kind of interpretive skill. That is to say, fragmented bits and pieces of information could be seen as parts of a meaningful yet disconnected mosaic panel only by those who pos- sessed the necessary mental glue.

    Interestingly, Sergei Kara-Murza, whose Manipulation of Consciousness was discussed earlier, construes the same idea of disjointed consciousness as the main tool through which a collapse of national statehood can be ac- complished.

    Unlike the authors of the Conceptual movement, Kara-Murza sees this aggression against cultural values of the nation not as a product of ex- ternal forces. As Kara-Murza insists, Soviet society might have been sick, but it was alive. It was the bomb of the anti-Soviet project that killed it 10 — Moreover, the intelligentsia failed to realize the global condition of its own activity. As Kara-Murza points out, liberal capitalism in Russia is a utopia, In a less radical form, the same post-Soviet will to connect bits and pieces of informa- tion into a coherent plot is reflected in the incredible popularity of the detective novel in Russia since the early s.

    For an extensive discussion see Olcott Accelerated globalization. The end of the cold war did not automatically re- move its epistemological premises, its ways of questioning the unknown, as well as its constitutive metaphors.

    Second, a broader crisis of representation reveals the inadequacy of existing channels of communication, modes of translation, and genres of interpretation. There is another important factor that helps us understand the intel- lectual and emotional attractions of conspiratorial thinking in contempo- rary Russia. Because every block is different, they offer a wide variety of solutions, from cleaning the house and.

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