I first met Sergei Nikolaivich Mareev, who
has died at the age of 78, on a trip to Moscow in
the aftermath of Yeltsin’s dissolution of the Soviet Union
in December 1991. It was the period of
“shock therapy” during which Russia’s
GDP fell by 50%. The economy was in chaos and people’s lives were being turned
upside down. Demonstrators were being killed by the paramilitary riot police
OMON outside the state television centre at Ostankino.
Encyclopedia of Russian Philosophy, 3rd edition, General editor M. A.
Mir Philosophii, 2020.
Published with the kind permission of Andrey D. Maidansky
Translated by Alla Potapova
MAREEV Sergey Nicolaevich (2 May 1941 – 12 September 2019, Moscow) was a philosopher, a doctor of philosophy and a university professor. He was the pupil and associate of Ilyenkov, a specialist in the field of dialectical logic and a historian of Soviet philosophy.
Philosophical Thought in Russia in the Second Half of the Twentieth Century edited by Vladislav Lektorsky and Marina Bykova is a ground-breaking book combining recent Russian archival research with inspiring contributions from key thinkers from around the world. Lektorsky and Bykova’s volume has a Tolstoyan breadth of action. This, together with Dostoevskian reflection, makes the volume an epic and absorbing account of philosophy in the Soviet era and beyond.
How a philosopher considered the most significant theorist of the Soviet era came to influence Nordic, British, American and German thinkers, as well as revolutionary activists, is revealed in Finding Evald Ilyenkov.
Ilyenkov and his co-thinkers were driven by a desire to rescue Marxism from the dead hand of Stalinist orthodoxy. As cultural theorist and philosopher Vadim Mezhuev remarked, paradoxically, “it was harder to be a Marxist in the Soviet Union than in any other country”.
The 2016 referendum vote to leave the European Union sent shockwaves around the UK and beyond. Over 17.4 million people voted to Leave. Despite warnings from all the major political parties, voters narrowly rejected the proposal to remain in the EU.
Understanding what lay behind the result leads to a dialectical analysis of the contradictions within the vote, the process which led up to the referendum and the current political impasse at Westminster. Evald Ilyenkov’s concept of the Ideal – which concretely in this case is about the state and democracy – provides us with a tool to explain these contradictions.
The worker voting to leave the EU is rebelling against certain aspects, the ruling aspects you could say, of social and political culture as transmitted to her through an extensive, lifelong, experience of it, starting with the earliest socialisation and on through life and life roles as child, adult, worker, mother, political animal (voter), etc.
She expresses this rebellion through ideas offered to her by those who present themselves as the alternative – leaders with a voice, to put forward a nationalist, racist and historical explanation of her predicament, and an idealised future outside the EU. She takes this on as a single piece of cloth, momentarily, for the duration of this political episode.
There is a material basis for her decision. Her life as a citizen of the EU is hard; she is poor and sees inequality all around her plus terrible dissonance between what the popular culture tells her life should be and what her income will achieve. Continue reading →