Expropriation and dispossession Redux (for Richard Harris): A Russian speaks for himself, it's not the "Socialist Worker"
bendien at tomaatnet.nl
Sat Jul 26 15:10:58 MDT 2003
Who Is Called A "Sovok"
Alexander Zinoviev is a writer, sociologist, logician, artist and
poet, a person
of gigantic capabilities that are still to a great extent underrated.
many adherents, but even more opponents. Zinoviev spent twenty years
West in forced emigration.
Alexander Zinoviev received his degree in philosophy from Moscow State
in 1951. He soon became one of the more prominent researchers in
received a Doctorate of Political Science.
Many of the works of this talented academic created a sensation in the
world. These were "Philosophical Problems of Multifold Logic", "The
Science", "The Logic of Expression and the Theory of Deduction", "The
of Physics". He was elected to the Finnish Academy of Sciences that at
was one of the main centers in the field of logic.
Following is an excerpt from his new book which is still in the
George Shenkar, Detroit, USA
Translation from Russian.
CONFESSIONS OF A "SOVOK"? NO, OF A SOVIET INDIVIDUAL!
By Alexander Zinoviev
The Russian bastardized word "sovok" (sovokopniy=cooperative or a
person - GS) is now used for the representatives of the generation
born and lived for a more or less significant part of their lives
Soviet period. Some people now use this word as a term of derision
USSR epoch and to the people that this period has produced.
I belong to the many such "sovoks" whose silent acquiescence destroyed
Union and the Soviet socialist structure in Russia and in other parts
former Soviet Union. Until the present day I was afraid to admit this
analyzing and imagining all kinds of excuses for that which occurred
the Gorbachev and Yeltsin years. And yet, in the Institute where I
over thirty years, they told me that as a result of privatization and
reorganization my services were no longer required. I had known that
sooner or later this would happen. I was waiting for that moment. And
naturally, I was prepared for it.
But, when they officially notified me of this, it sounded to me like a
Unemployed! For me as for all the "sovoks," in all of the years of my
the Soviet Union, it never ever entered my head, even hypothetically,
could be unemployed. Now I accept this word as a diagnosis of an
illness. A special type of illness; a social illness. Against it there
is now no cure.
In a condition of petrifaction, not even seeing my friends, I left the
It was as though I have left an entire epoch. Did this indeed occur in
and not in a sick delirium?! How and why did this happen?! Who was
Walking halfway to my residence, I finally achieved the capability of
thinking. You, yourself are responsible for this. How did you react to
s "perestroika?" You welcomed it? How did you react to Yeltsin's
in August of 1991? You welcomed it? How did you react to the shooting
bombardment of the Supreme Soviet in October of 1993? You favored it?
And so you got that which you were fated to receive for all of your
irresponsibility, if not to say even more about your conduct - for
or at best, fore your tolerance of treason. What you sow, so shall you
LOSS OF A COLLECTIVE
Having left the Institute on the day that they announced my dismissal,
understood that I lost not only my accustomed place of work and source
but something even immeasurably greater: the collective. I dare say
is the greatest loss for a "sovok". It is easier to survive the loss
and relatives than the loss of a collective. Only now have I
realized) that the soul of a "sovok" is in his association within the
a socialist collective, in all aspects of its existence - that is
what, it turned
out, was the basis of our socialist life. And now, this greatest
of the Soviet era no longer exists!
I began to notice this while I was still working at the Institute.
beginning of Gorbachev's "perestroika" there began to occur in the
life on the
Institute something that I could not describe. There was some type of
There were the same premises, the same students, the same teachers.
was the same as previously. But the most important thing disappeared:
organization of people in a united collective, a socialist collective
collective psychology, a collective behavior. There was a sense of a
loss of purpose in
the Party and the Komsomol organization, in meetings, in conferences,
and in other components of the undivided collective. There still
hope of Soviet collectivism, still a dim hope that this condition was
that soon a miracle will occur, that we will be gathered in an
and that there will be read some kind of announcement from a superior
- and everything then will return back "to our daily rounds". But
of this sort occurred. Hope was lost. The thin thread, tying me to the
The basic support of the lives of "sovoks" consisted of all that they
through, their primary collectives. We did not attach unfortunately
to this, as we considered this to be self-evident and unshakeable.
Soviet emigrants admitted that they had suffered when deprived of the
collectives. But here, something dreadful occurred: the people
remained at home
and not abroad as emigrants, while the Soviet collectives disappeared.
emigrants had been surviving their own personal drama. But now there
occurred a tragedy of an entire nation: they were all excluded from the
basic conditions of their
existence, their natural medium of existence... Something was done to
to a fish being hauled out of the water onto dry land and told: here
free from the Communist water, enjoy the Democratic dry land! Well, we
I walked past innumerable establishments after I was let go from my
factories, enterprises, business-cells of post-Soviet Russia. People
were working in them. But they seem no longer collectives, such as they were
during Soviet times.
These were isolated business machines, cleared out of everything that
the essential life of "sovoks". The people in these private machines
to me only phantom people, and their movements seemed to me only
of human life. To me the city looked like a cinematoscopically revived
The destruction of Soviet collectives was the greatest illness of our
It was astounding that it proceeded with little resistance and almost
inconspicuously. It entered hardly anyone's mind that this would
become the basis for everything else that occurred without limit. The
individual was freeing himself from control, but likewise from control of an
intimate environment. Only now do I realize
that the whole undertaking of privatization was actually aimed at the
of all collectives and of collectivism. The organization of
communes has been killed. It is terrible that all of this occurred
own eyes, and I did not lift a finger to interfere with it.
It seems that what we had we did not appreciate it and we do not feel
for it, but when we lose it, we weep. How amused we were at the scenes
collective life! We somewhat strove to avoid meetings, subbotniks
volunteer work - GS), and other state activities. And now I think
participating even in one such activity, to feel myself as one member
of a gigantic family
- a collective. To participate in all activities as we did during
and to feel that you are part of a loving collective.
Lord, has all of this indeed disappeared in that summer, never again
What idiots we were to have let everything go by!
War heroes like these are called "sovoks" and are persecuted and
President Putin call his father, who fought against fascism, a
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