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.Continue reading
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”.