V.A.Kovalev

Our Fictitious Future (Political Discourses and Political Forecasts in the Modern Russian Science Fiction: Prosand Cons)

We can change things, but what has to happen

first is a redefinition of this dream of ours.

J.Perkins.

Confession of an Economic Hit Man

 

The stalemate in forecasting instead of the “labyrinth of predictions”

The future of Russia is under the dark cover of authoritarianism. The real political practice inhibits the dynamic development of the Russian political science drastically reducing its forecasting opportunities. In the situation when “parliament is not the place for discussions”, when the political institutions that in the democratic polities play the role of the creative constructions turned into the “technical bodies”, when the political parties mean little, and the victory of the “United Russia” is predetermined in advance, what should a smart political scientist do? Regarding the elections, for instance, we are witnessing practically an ideal picture when the results are known in advance, while the procedures are extremely unstable or permanently undergo changes1 According to A.Przeworski, the combination of the certain election results and uncertain procedures is the distinguishing feature of the nondemocratic regimes (Przeworski 1991: Ch. 1; see also Bunce 1993).1. The alteration of the game’s rules in the interests of the ruling grouping leads directly to the game without rules, at least the formal rules and norms become nothing else but a convention. Nothing prevents the ruler from stating: “if we can — then we will do it” (i.e., in essence, “my wish is your command”). To put it briefly, why did the Russian political scientists fail do predict the appointments of Fradkov, Zubkov etc.?

The similar situation with the political forecasts in case of our country already occurred in the period of “stagnation”. Of course, there was Andrei Amalrik2 The prophecies of Amalrik are broadly known (see Amalrik 2005), however, we should remember which role in the collapse of the USSR he assigned to the conflict with China that one, thanks God, managed to avoid.2, but there was also George Shakhnazarov whose monographs include no less fairy plots than science fiction stories, which the President of the Soviet Association of the Political Sciences published under the pseudonym of G.Shakh3 See Shakhnazarov 1978; 1979; 1981; Shakh 1986, 1989.3. Is it the evidence that the political “outcast” was better at futurology than the member of the CPSU Central Committee who served the regime? How then should one treat the forecasts of the Western “sovietologists” since almost nobody expected the collapse of the Soviet Union to have occurred that soon? One heard and still hears very often the reproaches of the “kremlinologists”, blames on their “blindness”. Of course, such special branch as “sovietology” was ideologically overloaded and politically partisan, but the reproaches also touch other representatives of the social scientists community. They failed to predict it!

This is a separate huge topic that political science will always come back to since this is a classic, or even paradigmatic case. However, it is worth noticing that our colleagues, even the partisan ones, do not deserve the sweeping accusation. One should figure out what is exactly that they are guilty of: is that reading the newspaper Pravda not attentively enough, or watching the video reports about the elders standing over the Mausoleum not thoroughly enough? Let those who are wise after the event try to make a forecast of our country’s development (at least the short-term one) watching the Russian TV channels. However, nowadays despite the unfavorable national social and political “climate” for the scientific research studies, there is still a bunch of other opportunities, whereas in the period of the Soviet communism one had to deliver predictions mostly based on the indirect methods. One can probably rebuke those who failed to foresee the collapse of the USSR only for the analysis of the wrong variables.

It seems that if those variables typical for the political analysis (parties’ activity, public statements of politicians, elections results etc.) are unreliable, one should use the parameters that are of crucial importance for this autocracy. In case of the USSR and today’s Russian Federation it will be the world prices for hydrocarbons (or provisions?)4 Yegor Gaidar, in particular, explains the collapse of the USSR by the development of the oil market (Gaidar 2007: 81).4. However, in the recent years there was so much talk about the looming crash of “Putin’s regime” as a result of the inevitable fall in the oil prices that it obviously calls the reasonableness of the further discussion of the prices of the barrel “Urals” under question.

Basically, the researchers who are dealing with the political regimes and political transformations are aware of the fact that the authoritarian regime that seems to be very stable splits unexpectedly and extremely rapidly. This is encouraged by the split within the elite as well as the increasing instability caused by the internal socio-economic problems, external pressure and the impact of the subjective factors that “make the cup run over” and lead to the destruction of the autocracy. Therefore, it is reasonable to assume that the Russian “sovereign democracy” in the foreseen future can abruptly terminate its existence, but it is impossible to predict how and when it happens. The stiffening regime will appear to be unready for a certain economic or any other foreign or domestic challenge; the hard and, what is more, totally corrupted bureaucratic “vertical” will not be able to adequately and flexibly react to the new circumstances and will start to fall into pieces. It is no less curious what will happen aftermath: chaos? collapse? revival? The state of the modern Russian politics, its quasi-political institutions provide small chances to answer this question. However, what is the point of talking about the far future when the consistent denial of the democratic although imperfect procedures, closure of the equal right dialogue between power and society, extirpation of the independent mass media and jumping the critics’ throat down deprive the Russian state of an opportunity of the self-reflection even regarding tomorrow. This makes even the closest presidential elections that seem to be totally “under control” rather risky. As one of the leading Russian sociologists Alexander Filippov noticed, “the election of a president is no better than a choice of a flight: one can arrive safe and sound, or one CAN DIE. The worldly wisdom is right saying that wisdom is powerless here”5 Filippov 2006: 134—135.5. While the rigorous compliance with the rules minimizes the risk (although, anything can happen), their transformation into the mere convention for the sake of the notorious “stability” might cause the most negative consequences.

One should also remember one more significant condition. In his book Sovremennost kak predmet politicheskoy teorii [Modernity as a Subject of Political Theory] Boris Kapustin who used to criticize “transitology” a lot writes the following: “The collapse of communism despite the conventional wisdom of the political science and the established political practice, including the Western one, proved the power of the old truth that it is ideas rather than procedures and institutions that rule the world and change it and, how Hegel puts it, the whole “positivity” is both “unreal” and powerless in comparison with these ideas. This is... an important warning for the today’s West”6 Kapustin 1998: 287.6. We will also add — for the modern Russia. Indeed, the lack of the conceptual content of the political regime in the Russian Federation turns out to be the gluttony of the “leaders” as well as conformism and consumerism of the masses dreaming of being left alone. They are searching and searching for the notorious national idea, but despite all the efforts of the court ideologists they have failed to find it.

However, it is possible that some kind of the ideological brew is already being prepared for the Russian future. Moreover, it is unlikely to be included in the texts of the parties’ programs due to the conventional nature of the so called parties in the post-Soviet Russia. The “cleansing” of the public space from the criticism targeted at the regime and extreme ideological awkwardness of the official political discourse (since its function is to disguise it with the help of the PR means rather than to express the essence of the pursued policy) put the free political thought into the periphery, once marginal areas. One of such areas seems to be the literary genre that for a long time was considered “entertaining” and secondary. We are talking about science fiction that in our view is capable of telling us about out political future and even influencing it no less than the price fluctuations within the oil exchanges.

Political discourse and fictitious utopistics

The clash of different political discourses in many respects constitutes the struggle for the scenarios of the future development and interpretations of the current policy. We are warning right away that we see our task in using the already existing drafts rather than elaborating political discoursology. The debate on discourse might be endless since the meanings of this notion are just “scattering”. “However, for us it is of importance that the notion “discourse” fixes a “social dialogue that is conducted with the help of and through the social institutions between individuals, groups as well as social institutions that are involved in this dialogue”7 Duka 1998.7. “The frameworks” of the discourse (including the debate on the social and political problems) can shift substantially, for instance, instead of the parliament discussions (when parliament has no real power and does not exist at all) there can be boisterous literary discussions concealing one political content or another. Moreover, the key ideological directions of such dialogue will stay relatively constant, but its concrete expressions will take specific shapes such as literary pamphlet or fantasy. Such forms will be filled with the socio-political content, especially when the author wants to confirm his understanding of justice and/or prevents from something that seems to him inadmissible. This is how the struggle for the meanings that are implied by one or another notion occurs. The participation in the political discourse means permanent battle for the “true” sense of the past, present and future.

In connection with the increased attention to the modern political discourses research it is useful to recall some scientific directions that preceded the discourse-analysis. This regards, in particular, studying all possible sociopolitical utopias. It is important to note that such utopias often emerged in the form of the science fiction novels, i.e. amusing stories about the unusual countries and oversea miracles. When this genre was born in the Modern period one could already determine its two main currents: scientific-technical (The New Atlantis by Francis Bacon), which afterwards has transformed into the good old SF, with unusual machines, cosmic flights, blasters, robots etc., and utopian as such dating back to Thomas More, whose numerous adherents sometimes indulged in the irrepressible fantasies about the best forms of the social order. By all appearances, it is this movement that dominates in the modern science fiction. Interstar flights, exploration of new planets and interaction with robots are of interest only to teenagers and fans of the genre. What is called “social science fiction” (utopias as well as anti-utopias) is experiencing the increasing influence of the political discourse that is linked to the modern political myths and participating in the ideological struggle takes them into the unknown future that one is so much eager to predict.

Let’s take a small excurse. One of the modern greatest sociologists Immanuel Wallerstein once noted: “The possible is richer than the real. Who should know this better than social scientists? Why are we so afraid of discussing the possible, of analyzing the possible, or exploring the possible? (Italics ours — V.K.) We must move not utopias, but utopistics, to the center of social science. Utopistics is the analysis of possible utopias, their limitations, and the constraints on achieving them. It is the analytic study of real historical alternatives in the present. It is the reconciliation of the search for truth and the search for goodness. Utopistics represents a continuing responsibility of social scientists. But it represents a particularly urgent task when the range of choice is the greatest”8 Wallerstein 2003: 294—295.8.

Paradoxically, this statement of the founder of the world-systems analysis is highly relevant to the modern Russia, although the democratic, competent foundations are increasingly abandoning the field of the national politics. Utopistics seems to require some other object of analysis. In this case the works written in the science fiction genre where the modern ideological struggle is projected over the nearest and not that nearest future might be of paramount use.

Science fiction or fictive assumptions sometimes reflect various political and ideological tendencies of the modernity in their purest sense. We consider it important in the process of teaching as well. Actually, the social cognition begins with the question: “What if..?”, whereas reading challenging science fiction encourages development of the “sociological imagination” (Ch.Mills).

Observing the present state of the Russian politics, it is necessary to understand that overcoming the “neostagnation” and establishing new political alternatives is impossible without strengthening ideological alternatives. What will they be like? — this is the key question for the political scientist.

When the political area that is characterized by transparency, publicity and competition, i.e. uncertainty of the results and certainty of the procedures is reduced, the classic contradiction between Ideology and Utopia already described by Karl Mannheim is reproduced in a new way. The dominating myth (the ideology of the “party of power”) is intensively translated into and imposed upon the society through the political-technical means. Due to the reduction of the areas of the public politics and political competition the opposition is being step by step deprived of an opportunity to play the game as in the democratic polities (since the rules are permanently violated and/or banned). As a result, the attractiveness of the utopian constructions that (as the old Russian tradition says — a “poet in Russia is more than just a poet”) often take shape of the literary or pseudo-literary mantle is increasing. This rather unnatural form of expressing political ideas and positions (its unusual character lies in the fact that other methods of articulation of the alternative political attitudes are substantially hampered and not that literature reflects the authors’ positions) to a greater extent aggravates utopianism of the suggested reformatory projects. Under these conditions the modern Russian science fiction is becoming an almost ideal object for revealing and analyzing the political discourses existing in our society, especially of the oppositional direction.

We will repeat that the real politics in the Russian Federation is increasingly going into the shadow and already today its many components can be studied only through its indirect manifestations. How, for example, to learn about the “people will” if the elections are falsified in advance? How to follow the changes in the sentiments or ideal tendencies when the mass media is under the stiff control? Thus, one should analyze those areas where politics is present indirectly. One should also remember that the novels texts can be included as a component into the “text” of the modern politics and constitutes an element of one discourse or another.

At the same time, the real politics in the Russian Federation sometimes shows such postmodernist combination of styles and images of the reality (the classic example is the ideological brew made of officialism and graphomania presented by Alexander Prokhanov) that in terms of absurdness and illogicalness outdoes the most daring science fiction invention. Such shifts — the reality of the science fiction literature and fiction of the real political life — make the analysis of the respective transitions in literature and political practice relevant.

In the modern Russian science fiction (we practically do not consider foreign authors here) one can find plots and images of any ideological taste: from the “patriotic” anti-utopias (K.Benediktov) to the “rusophobian” (V.Sorokin); from Eurasianism (“Holm van Zaitchik”) to the imperial nostalgia (R.Zlotnikov); from celebrating the future triumph of communism (V.Koltashov) to the ode for the “religious fundamentalism” (E.Chudinova) etc. Of course, we can not tell which of these forecasts will be at least partly realized (the fact that most authors unavoidably come to one or another dictatorship type is an extremely alarming symptom) and which ones will stay within literature with the greater or lesser extent of the artistic credibility. However, what is of real significance it is the historical context that the work alludes to. It is clear that such historical context for the science fiction referring to the far or even near future can only be the modern period of the Russian history (“Putin’s” or in a broader sense the post-Soviet epoch). Therefore, the analysis of the political discourses within science fiction is a rather challenging tool of analyzing the very real politics. As Ekaterinburg authors Olga Rusakova and Dmitry Maximov reasonably note, discourses are the “mighty power resource, through which the state and social institutions implement their representation and legitimization, construct and promote these images of reality or other, position the social subjects in the political space. The subjects of politics are fiercely competing for the right to control the content of the discourses and channels of the discursive communications. The strength and power of discourses also lie in their ability to produce social, cultural, political and other types of identification. Discourses are both passwords and fruits of identification: “you will recognize them through the discourses...”9 Rusakova, Maximova 2006: 26.9.

The difference between certain discourses is of course related to the strategies of their practical implementation, attitude towards the world of the cognitive (getting hold of the world) thinking. In case of literary fantasies one can clearly trace two strategies, two directions of the science fiction literature: science fiction and fantasy. The first one is directed at the future, tells us about the projects of this future, dreams about the more perfect world, progress etc. The second one does not dream about such things, its worlds are in the fantastical past, its ideal usually refers to the made up (often rather stupidly) Tradition. If science fiction at its “Golden Age” cherished hopes for the reformation of the real world, the important function of fantasy is to help to escape from this world, to take the reader away from it as far as possible. As applied to our country, this is the difference between the young “builders of communism”, who were inspired by the science fiction adventure literature for conquering new territories and space, arduous scientific search, heroic deeds for the sake of the Progress, and the modern overgrown “tolkienists” (the champions of the role plays after Tolkien) that are characterized by the escapist (retreat) approach towards life (more precisely, escape from it), a desire to prolong childhood, shoot a way out of the world, at least for a while, that became too uncomfortable. They do not have any belief in that “the best is yet to come”. Fantasies and plays sublimate life as it should be into the ideal where one can be in charge of her destiny, love and heroism do mean something (or at least their fantasy surrogates), the life free from the evil and anonymous forces that rule the Reality, from the hopelessness of this anonymous leadership10 See Krylov, s.a. (a).10.

This replacement of dream and aspiration, belief in the progress, science and technologies with the games featuring elves and hobbits is the universal or at least all-Western phenomenon. The unique national historian Andrei Fursov links it to the end of the “glorious” postwar three decades and crisis processes in the world economy and society. “In the last quarter of the 20th century under the conditions of the increasing uncertainty and chaos in the world undermining the belief not only in the progress, but also even in the rationality, the religious, mystical... currents of thought are gaining momentum — he stresses. — In the mass popular consciousness of the West this tendency is marked by the significant shift from science fiction towards fantasy. In the science fiction itself the scientific, educatory and rational element has decreased and faded, whereas the fantasy one (in essence fairy) has intensified... It is this trend that the balance was turned to in the 1980—1990s”11 Fursov 2000: 146—147.11. Optionally, the shift mentioned can be expressed through the opposition “Modernity — Postmodernity” with the first being associated with the belief in the progress, bright future, cognizability of the world, and the second with denying all of it12 See Irkhin 2005/2006: 137.12.

Of course, in our country having been hurt in the epoch of perestroika and postperestroika with the deepest crisis the defined tendencies could not fail to manifest especially intensely. In the 1990s, in this damned, “lost” for the country, period, such books as Dragon Age etc. became extremely popular partly answering the question where one can run away. However, the Russian fantasy does not only entertain and anticize. Along with the boring computer games and “mockery” of the surrounding reality some Russian samples of this genre have a clearly expressed political content, normally of the anti-Western nature. Such direction is especially noticeable in the works by Kirill Eskov and Nick Perumov who turn the famous Tolkienian trilogy inside out. If in the framework of the famous interpretation of The Lord of the Rings (of course, there are other ones!) the “darkness from the East” is related to the Soviet communism, and evil orcs to the Red Army soldiers, let then exactly the orcs be the “good guys”. However, implementing this Western strategy one can with the “bathwater” of the real or drowsed rusophobia throw out the “baby”, i.e. the moral content of the great saga. If good and evil swap places, they might not exist at all then. The division on the “bad” and “good” appears to be rather conventional: the representatives of different magic peoples, human and nonhuman races devotedly hack each other, as Nick Perumov vividly describes in his numerous novels.

However, we are taking the genre of fantasy out of the brackets for now not only because most of such literature is obviously dull, imitative and secondary (science fiction also has enough graphomaniacs), but also because of fantasy’s featuring more relativism in comparison with science fiction. We usually read fantasy in order to take our minds off the surrounding reality, while science fiction helps us to better understand this world and its prospects.

The national science fiction as a genre has been on the rise in the recent years. It is most likely to be caused by the fact that other genres that deal with the grave problems regarding the society and individual rapidly declined after the boost in the epoch of the “openness”. Mikhail Denisov and Victor Militarev even argue that science fiction came to replace both traditional and vanguard prose13 Denisov, Militarev 2003.13. It is no accidence that the two most sensational novels of 2006 Den Oprichnika [Oprichnik’s Day] by Vladimir Sorokin (about the revival of oprichnina — Ivan the Terrible life-guards) and Empire V by Victor Pelevin (about the everyday life of the vampires living among us) are generally speaking a science fiction.

Fictitious future among the ideological bifurcations

The idea that one can find within the modern science fiction a lot of interesting things that might be applied to politics has already spread and become rather popular. “It is common knowledge that one can tell a lot about the society studying its literature, and in this sense science fiction provides a political scientist with the unique research opportunities”, — writes Leonid Fishman in the preview to his book14 Fishman 2002.14. However, dealing with this issue even superfluously poses a lot of problems for the researches that will manifest even more if the topic will be developed. The material for the analysis is in abundance: several hundreds science fiction and stories are published annually. How to cope with such amount, and is it worth doing it at all? We are sure that there is no point in that unless we are talking about the quantitative research studies with the help of the computer content-analysis (determining frequency, repetitiveness etc.). If talking about the qualitative approach, then the word “qualitative” should also reflect the features of the works being studied. Despite this whole ampleness, there is only a small number of the qualitative samples of the science fiction genre among the graphomania and “entertainment”: some of them “top of mind”, but we have found ourselves the other ones that contain some curious ideas. Apart from the fiction writing with its clearly expressed socio-political discourse, there is also “non-fiction” that is sort of a mythologized alternate history. It neither seems to belong to fiction, nor can such texts be referred to science or just journalism. We suppose that the vast texts of Sergei Pereslegin, Maxim Kalashnikov, Sergei Kugushev and some other authors belong to this “inter-genre” and rather unclear field. Such position is not a uniquely Russian phenomenon since all countries have “parascience” along with science as well as “nontraditional” sociology, culturology, history, philosophy etc. developing hand in hand with the academic social sciences. In our country “parapolitology” appears to be the most flourishing one in the recent years that in contrast to the political science as such specializes in making up new names and codes that in their essence mean nothing, rather than in comprehending political reality15 See Bykov 2007.15.

Regarding the political science itself, in the modern Russia it is almost not in demand by the power and society16 See Kovalev 2006a, 2006b.16, institutionally weak, and moreover, practically no one thinks of it as a result of the activity of the respective scientific community. We will not dare to tell who our political scientists are now and will be in the future, but we will not deny ourselves a pleasure — since we are working with this material — to quote Oprichnik’s Day with its easily recognizable characters from the “TV hangout” who are implementing the ideological request that to the greatest extent corresponds to the present (and future?) Russian politics:

— Good morning, honeys!

— The lady is smiling at them.

The two old fools are running to her

— Pavlushka-hedgehog and Duga-wood-goblin, take her by arms, lead her kissing her fingers. Chubbyfaced Pavlushka constantly murmurs:

— P-ower, p-ower, p-ower!

Hairy Duga is echoing him:

— Eu-rasia, Eu-rasia, Eu-rasia!

This is their future according to V.Sorokin’s novel.

Let’s come back to the question about the principles that we are driven by when choosing the material for the analysis. It is clear that it is impossible in the framework of a rather small article to give a sweeping overview of the development of the science fiction in Russia as it was done by Vsevolod Revich regarding the science fiction of the Soviet period and first post-Soviet years17 See Revich 1998.17. Therefore, we did not set such a task for ourselves. The approach was different. We might agree with L.Fishman that “the modern Russian fantasts are drawing various pictures depending on their political sympathies and antipathies, basic education, latest intellectual trends etc. However, one surely can determine the change in the certain tendencies among this diversity. One can conventionally state that the future if not taking into account sudden cataclysms such as meteoritic fall, or nuclear winter, or alien invasion etc. is determined by two groups of factors: achievements of the scientific-technical progress and predominance in the society of the certain social philosophy (or religion, or ideology)”18 Fishman, s.a.18. Since the question about the achievements of the scientific-technical revolution is secondary to our work, it seemed to us more reasonable to take the discourse-framework linked to the popular ideological currents.

The contours of the ideological landscape in the post-communist Russia were founded already in the Soviet times under the influence of the key dissident (alternative to the official dogma) currents. This is the subject for the separate analysis, but at a first approximation the main alternatives were concentrated around the ideas on the “true” socialism (communism), liberal ideas of the Western twist and views of the patriots-nationalists19 The variety and heterogeneity of such ideal seeking might be traced, in particular, in the “Anthology of samizdat” (Igrunov 2005). There is also a good deal of the research literature on this topic.19. Basically, it is these vectors that began to determine the national politics in the periods of perestroika and post-perestroika. It is highly probable that this political “trifurcation” (with numerous deviations) will be retained in the future.

Despite the fact that in the artistic works (both science fiction and nonfiction) the ideological messages are often substantially transformed, they are still rather clear, at least when talking about the communist, Western and national-patriotic (mostly “Eurasian” and imperial) ideologies, these ideological dominants are also traced in various and sometimes bizarre combinations in the science fiction novels dedicated to the future of Russia.

We were interested in how the authors of the science fiction works answer two questions: how will the destruction (transformation, reformation) of the present political regime in Russia occur and (just out of naive curiosity!) what will it be replaced with? Of course, we have chosen the works with their political discourse being linked to the answers to these questions and which in our view rather comprehensively represent one ideological direction or another. This article by no means presents all the noteworthy authors. It is also clear that although the works mentioned in the article are very different in terms of their literary merits (after all, we do not deal with literary criticism here), our subjective preferences as the readers played a rather significant role in making our choice. Nevertheless, it is the discourse on the possible political future that was the main criterion.

Western liberalism: fictitious rebirth

It is hard to determine the “purely” liberal tendency in the Russian science fiction, which is of no surprise in the absence of relevant historical experience. It is in one of the “episodes” of The Star Wars that the galactic senate sits in session and the dark forces for some reason want to yield the influence over it. In the Russian science fiction the authoritarian scenarios hold the predominant position, while the discourses dominating in the world and being imported to our country are being subject to the severe mockery as, for instance, in the Tupik gumanizma [The Deadlock of Humanism] by Arseny Mironov or Zolotoy milliard [Golden Milliard] by Gennady Prashkevich. The names of these novels speak for themselves. The Deadlock of Humanism is a hard satire, grotesque where some global tendencies of the development of the modern humanity (synthesis of people and machines, madness about the paranormal phenomena etc.) are carried to the point of absurdity. G.Prashkevich’s split of the world into the milliard of the elects and the “other” achieves its logical end: the “golden milliard” lives in the wealthy Ecopolis hedged with barriers, whereas the other seven milliards of “freaks” suffer from poverty and diseases living thanks to the humanitarian aid in the form of the so called “tongues”. Eating this mass with the nutritious properties, the “freaks” are being bereft of the ability to give birth to female babies. However, the “golden milliard” is still unsatisfied: they are planning to get rid of the superfluous mouths and use the newly free resources to speed up the progress. Is it the future or already the present?

The social and other stability is obviously not that attractive for this genre works — some type of catastrophe seems much better. The fashion of describing the “everyday life in the laboratories” is no longer popular, and we are interested in the socio-political changes rather than science. Of course, they can also occur as a consequence of the change in the conditions of the earth civilization’s existence. The science fiction literature often resorts to the descriptions of the unification of the Earthlings in the face of some cosmic threat (Telo ugrozy [The Body of the Threat] by Vladimir Mikhailov) and/or joint liberation struggle against some vile aliens. This is similar to what the US President Ronald Reagan declared at his time talking about the possibility of the joint US and USSR actions in case of the hypothetic alien invasion. The American fantast Harry Turtledove wrote the alternate history of the Word War II, in which the warring parties forget about their disagreements in order to repel the attack of the pangolins’ task group (a series of the novels opened with In the Balance). Another popular case is when the authors do not really care about the political decorations since they concentrate on other problems such as artificial intellect, moral aspects of the development of the new biotechnologies etc. In such books the socio-political circumstances are in the background; usually, the orders similar to the ones existing today are being extrapolated into the future. In this sense, the Western works are both abundant and scarce at the same time: there are a lot of works that assume that the present tendencies will be retained with technique undergoing the most substantial alteration, whereas there are few works posing the question about what should be expected after the development of the present tendencies.

One of the typical scenarios is victory of the West. In Russia there are only few who still believe that it will lead to the triumph of liberalism. The Earthlings have to solve their problems at the expense of liquidating the majority of the like. The West applies genetic weapon (within the framework of the fight with terrorism) against the “third world”; and as strange as it may seem, but Russia supports that. The survivors are provided with the significantly increased life expectancy. However, they are not happy with that. This is the starting point in the novel Poslednyaya bashnya Troi [The Last Tower of Troy] by Zakhar Oskotsky, in which he describes a Russia of the year 2085.

Several decades earlier the Government of the national revival headed with the former “Afghan” general Glebovitsky solves the acute modern problems. “The hottest enthusiasm... was caused by the eradication of the former oligarchy and bureaucratic elite accompanied by the scandalous exposure of the financial frauds...” So, finally there are “bloodsuckers” instead of “brocks” (according to I.Brodsky). However, this is so to say only minisummary. In contrast to the authors of a certain type, Z.Oskotsky does not rule out this scenario, but shows its dead-end. In the novel the Government of the national revival liquidates criminal groupings so that it can replace them; in the 2020s the Russians have scanty meal — porridge and potatoes, but one can safely walk along the streets without fear of being robbed. For now... After that a new “catastrophic construction” starts with the respective ramifications, and Russia would be done for if not for the help of the West (?!) and demand for the rare-earth elements that the country now exports instead of oil.

It is worth stressing that in the science fiction Gumannaya pulya [Humane Bullet] by the same Z.Oskotsky the description of the situation is much more realistic and severe: “Having ruined almost its whole science, banished most of its intellectuals destroying them morally and extirpating physically, Russia lost its capability of the independent scientific-technical progress... It happened at the most inconvenient moment in our historical destiny that one could only imagine. At the moment when the rapid and irreversible biological ageing of the people started”20 Oskotsky 2001: 156.20. However, in the novel the author does not rule out the possibility of the miraculous salvation of Russia in the middle of the 21st century. However, even with this assumption our country finds itself in a hard situation and receives only some respite. After the Western countries exhausted by fanaticism and terrorism of the South puts down the “third world” via genetic weapon reaching the rapid decrease in the number of its population and provided the survivors with the Western education and quality of life, new destructive global problems emerge. Thanks to the progress of medicine the Western civilization significantly prolongs human life, but people are not ready for that. The competition bitterly aggravates, especially within the labor market. Despite the exterior delight, crimes are multiplying, and no one wants to seriously investigate them. It is the interest in the latter that constitutes the “fault” of the novel’s main hero. Such conflict might seem a little artificial, but there is no doubt that even at the end of the 21st century the “end of history” in the spirit of Francis Fukuyama is still far away.

At the moment, we are interested in the first place in the inner political component of Oskotsky’s forecast. These plots have already been used by the author of this article for writing the political scientific essay devoted specifically to The Last Tower21 Kovalev 2005.21. It is hard to call the scenario of dictatorship as well as the hopeless drift presented in the novel attractive. However, is it possible to reduce their probability and how to accomplish that?

The parallels with the present Russian reality in the novel by Z.Oskotsky are just striking the eye. The main problems of Russia are still weakness of the political and economic institutions as well as deep moral crisis. Neither oil nor the rare-earth resources are of help. The majority of the population is “superfluous”. We are observing the hyperbolization of the “Dutch disease” that is aggravated by the prolongation of life without searching for its purport. The author proves himself as a brilliant satirist describing the advertisement of the futuristic pads or situation in the future Russian parliament where decisions are taken according to the results of the computer games, which is the image measuring up to Jonathan Swift. Lacking an opportunity to form the ministerial cabinet and somehow impact the political course, parliament evolves from the application of physical force through “not being a place for discussions” towards the virtual battles. The country again shut itself off from the decent future. The catch-up modernization appeared to be imitative and inefficient, Logos drowned in the abyss of the Russian myths. The institutions deprived of their own base function not in the way that its creators though of. Both in politics and science the Unreal assumed the predominant position. The simulacra are dominating. Rostov philosopher Oksana Tumanova used the opportunities of this notion coined by Jean Baudrillard22 Baudrillard 2000.22 rather successfully for the description of the Russian case: “The simulacrum of modernization is close and easy to understand for a Russian. Combining the elements of modernity and antiquity, it meets our unconscious desires. There are no barriers for virtualization and simulation in the modern Russia. However, there are a number of problems that need to be comprehended. Resorting to the experience of the simulative project of the modernity entails creating simulacrum of simulacrum and therefore, the real problems that our society is facing will not be tackled. Simulation through the system of communication provides more opportunities for manipulations that are already reproducing the total practices now. The standard formula inherent in simulacra deindividualizes a person. The real threat is to turn into a colony of the Western civilization”23 Tumanova 2004: 200.23.

Writing the novel about the future, the author in fact described the present: the extrapolation of the current tendencies into the future generates a great caricature of the orders in the modern Russia and the world. 2085 sounds so not true... it is likely to be viewed as the satire of the beginning of the 21st century. Russia was extremely lucky then (with oil prices and the configuration of the global forces as well as with the fact that it managed to avoid collapse at the moment the power was being transferred from Yeltsin). But how long is this streak of luck? One can not turn the blind eye to the bulk of the practical difficulties — both now and in the future — so that we can find the way out of the stalemate.

The Last Tower of Troy represents sort of an illustration of the theory of the Russian System being elaborated by Yury Pivovarov and Andrei Fursov. Here is what Pivovarov writes himself: “We saw Russia having undergone another fundamental social upheaval in its history... and nothing changed. We came back to ourselves (however, this is why it is an upheaval). It is true that at the end of the 21st century a Russian man obtained freedom i.e. an opportunity of the self-realization. The result is known: shameful and pitiful social order (social disorder, to be more precise). The self-destruction of the country, culture, individual... We have shown and proved — irreversibly — both to ourselves and to the whole world: in Rus nationalization and denationalization have the same effect: plunder of the people. To put it more accurately, selfplunder of the people. We have also demonstrated and proved: in Rus, in its essence, the form of the ownership, the type of the power regime, the dominant spiritual (anti-spiritual) and ideal values etc. do not matter. The essence of the Russian life is unchangeable: the contempt for a person, one or another variant of the violation of a person and finally enslavement, stealing (both in the traditional Russian as well as modern sense), the ability to self-organize only with some bad intentions... Some 20 years ago the Russians still had a hope: if the communal-peasant history failed, then the democratic, non-totalitarian, with human rights, private property and law state will succeed... and so what? “Russia is in failure” — added Solzhenitsyn”24 Pivovarov 2004: 99—100.24.

The keen fantasts note that the enemy number one for the Russians most often has been their own state, the Russian bureaucracy. However, we do not totally agree that this state is ours. During the last centuries it continually appeared to be not ours. Valery Solovei convincingly described this phenomenon in the article with the illustrative name Russkie protiv imperii [Russians against the empire]25 See Solovei 2002: 12.25. In the Russian System there is no mystery, the “miracle of the endless return” etc. The modernization of the state and economy came late and takes shape of a simulacrum; the obsolete archaic forms continue to dominate. The Russian System with its uncertain imperial leftovers vis-à-vis its own people might provoke Chaos. Unless there is a democratic national state in Russia (in a sense of the civil nation), the situation will not change. Since the chances for such scenario are too small, the conclusions that one can draw from Oskotsky’s novel are rather obvious. The Russian political and economic system without the institutional restart is doomed to failure. If nothing changes, we can not choose but stoically wait for the final outcome as waits on the icy road the hero of the Troy condemned to death by the state monster.

The book by Kirill Benediktov Voyna za Asgard [War for Asgard] being one of the most impressive science fiction novels of the last years is antiutopia as well. In this book the West is again the winner, however, this time without any political correctness. Its victory is encouraged by the movement White Revival. The world suffering from the radiation and shortage of clean water is roughly divided into some elects and the “other”. The latter are exiled into the reservation, the huge concentration camp, but this is not the whole story. The experiment is being prepared with the aim of transferring the prisoners behind the Wall into another time, expel them from the current reality so that they will not inhibit the life of another embodiment of the Beautiful New World. The Russian super-terrorist finds the way towards the “Asgard” in order to scuttle the experiment. In the novel by Benediktov Russia is in plight. The territory and population have been substantially reduced; the people who remained have retrograded and now suffer under the arbitrary treatment of the severe masters. (However, it is already the everyday reality in many parts of Russia rather than a science fiction.)

All in all, even the dominance of the West turns out to be one or another variant of utopia. One can forever forget about the ideals of Freedom, Equality, and Brotherhood. The reverse movement is gaining momentum in the West: the notorious political correctness and “multiculturalism”, mass immigration carrying with it anti-liberal values and images, leaders behaving inadequately and unpredictably, the deep split within the elites, authoritarian constructions and double standards — all of this has in many respects discounted the previous accomplishments of the liberal democracy. If the Western political thinkers are now in the process of the “Enlightenment’s Wake”26 See Gray 2003.26, it inevitably begs the question whether it will be followed by the new long night of the Dark centuries.

The notorious “third wave” of democratization emerging in the last quarter of the 20th century is both triumph and tragedy of the usual democratic model. The democratic spread over tens of new countries is obviously contrasting with the mass poverty and the gap between the rich and the poor. What can “democratization” mean for the states that are bogged down with their economic and social problems? Nothing else but interference in their domestic affairs and infringement of the sovereignty. It is natural that such “neocolonial democracy” provokes protest and response reaction. As long as the global manipulators manage to reprogram the process and direct its energy into something that is beneficial to them (in particular, the all possible “color revolutions”) thereby encouraging the global political hypocrisy. There is nothing new about the crisis of the liberal democracy. Under the democratic make-up there is the unattractive face of the corporate-authoritarian rule, in which the dictatorial features are increasingly showing through. If the manipulation of the consciousness appears to be inefficient, our future will turn into the global terror similar to what Z.Oskotsky and K.Benediktov described. In Russia itself the functional overload of the power “vertical” and lack of the deep values’ consensus lead to the fact that people hate the authorities, whereas the ruling elite plays a risky zero-sum game (“all or nothing”) considering their competitors as being deathful rather than just rivals. Last, it is important to say about the permanent fruitlessness of the so called “elites” and that not only conscientious intellectuals and patriots that the present Russian Leviathan turned into the poor marginals, but also the holders of power live “not feeling their country behind them”. Is it not the same situation described by Carl Schmitt? “But, when public power wants to be only public, when state and confession drive inner belief into the private domain, then the soul of a people betakes itself on the “secret road” that leads inward. Then grows the counterforce of silence and stillness. At precisely the moment when the distinction between the inner and outer is recognized, the superiority of the inner over the outer and thereby that of the private over the public is resolved is decided”27 Schmitt 2006: 200.27.

The overall alienation can not fail to cause any repercussions. The new “attack” of the Russian Chaos is probably unavoidable: Putin’s epoch is maximum stability and wealth that are possible under such structure of the property’s distribution and cultural politics. It will be getting only worse, and soon we will be grieving about our present days. Being normal citizens we, of course, are afraid of that and do not want the stability to end, but similarly to some analysts are mostly inclined to agree with the forecast of V.Solovei: “From the perspective of the mass opinion the modern Russian society is based on the figure of the popular sovereign and negative “social contract” with the country’s population: people are conventionally loyal towards the power and turn a blind eye to the authorities’ not carrying out their basic functions unless the power does not put excessive pressure on them. For now the main social groups are holding the pause in their relations with the power that is caused by the favorable economic conjuncture, the retained sovereign’s credit of trust, psychological and ideological tiredness, the lack of the political alternative (“parties of the new type”). In the situation of an acute crisis the last condition although making the revolution in Russia impossible will stimulate chaos. It is highly probable that its development will take shape of the many conflicts of different nature, character, and intensiveness. The fundamental difference between the new Chaos and the old Russian states of Chaos lies in the fact that it takes place in the situation of the Russian ethnical crack”28 Solovei 2005: 207—208.28.

During this possible crisis we will have nobody to look at — we will have to look at ourselves. The question is likely to be defined as follows: how should we structure Russia in the situation when the relations between the society, economy and politics differ from what we have in the West? We can not just import the Western model since the starting conditions are different, and therefore we will act differently. Russia being the part of the global context of the anti-enlightenment and anti-humanism is facing the same looming new Dark centuries as the rest of the world. Only miracle can save the world. This might be the revival of the country and the world after some type of the global cataclysm.

As paradoxical as it might be, all of this gives a chance for another futurological alternative i.e. communist one.

The communist future of humanity: beautiful dream or anti-utopia?

Broadly speaking, after the defeat of the socialist bloc in the Cold War such phrases as “communism and future”, “socialist destiny of humanity”29 The names of the works mentioned above by the Soviet futurologist G.Shakhnazarov.29 etc. seem strange and even absurd. However, it is only from the first sight. It is impossible that the idea that is thousands years old will die! Due to the division of the society into the rich and the poor, exploitation, social injustice etc. it will exist to the end of time, at least in the world that we know. Nevertheless, due to the famous events the desire to reify this idea even within the pages of the science fiction novels has substantially waned. However, before considering the “left”, “red” version of the future, let’s deal with the question about the forms and ways out of the present state since the continuation of the current tendencies is destructive (in that we totally agree with the author of The Last Tower of Troy).

The writer and publicist Dmitry Volodikhin who writes both science fiction and about science fiction offers a curious classification of the possible “ways out”: “Only four scenarios of the accomplishment of the acceptable state of Russia i.e. if not that of the super-power, then at least decrease in the level of criminalization, increase of the Russians role in the public administration, accrual of the overall wealth of all citizens, emergence of the true independence in the foreign policy issues are suggested: a) Overturn by the military command (Demgorodok [Democratic Town] by Yu.Polyakov, Ukus angela [Angel’s Bite] by P.Krusanov, to some extent R.Zlotnikov)... is the most plausible one, but most unpredictable in terms of its results. b) Creation by the government initiative of the intelligence structure being independent from the corporate interests of the modern bureaucratic management (in the first place of the corrupt apparatus of the Ministry of the Interior) and thus being capable of a sweeping “cleansing” of the guck (the novel by O.Divov Vybrakovka [Cull], the novel by S.Chekmaev Anafema [Anathema], the novel by V.Kosenkov Novyy Poryadok [New Order])... c) Putting all efforts to preserve the cultural independence, taking care of the propaganda of the language, literature, history, faith and gradual penetration into the all country’s administrative structures for the sake of the future turn towards the Orthodox version of the conservative revolution (D.Volodikhin). The systematic flaw is the extremely long duration of such process. This is the tactic of the run for the very long chronological distance. d) Subdue the country to the external influence of the civilization other than Euro-American (A.Stolyarov, V.Mikhailov). Nothing could be worse.

No one suggests the social revolution. And thanks God”30 Volodikhin 2005.30.

D.Volodikhin is wrong. The scenario of the social revolution is still being described by the national fantasts. Moreover, this revolution possesses the classic features of the Modernity epoch revolution with conspiracies, underground activity, mass movements, barricades etc. In the novel by Sergei Norka Rus okayannaya [Cursed Rus] the people spontaneously come out to the streets of Saint-Petersburg raising the revolt against the capitalists-oligarchs and corrupt bureaucracy, and the underground structures are hand in hand performing their activity liquidating the most presumptuous representatives of Yeltsin’s regime.

The communist ideas as such in the present Russian science fiction are represented rather scarcely and hold the marginal position. Some works might still be out of our eyeshot. However, after having a long search in the Internet we have found a rather representative example — the novel Torzhestvuyushchiy razum [Triumphing Mind] written by the left political activist Vasily Koltashov.

We will refrain from discussing the literary merits, or to be more precise, the flaws of this opus, but it was rather hard to grasp its content. As long as we understood, the main hero (it is not clear for which achievements, probably, for the commitment to the communist ideals) was awarded the contact with the highly developed civilization. Supported by his friends, the hero intrudes into the underdeveloped planet where he helps to conduct the early bourgeoisdemocratic revolution. He is also shown the society where body and mind are free and where beginning with childhood free development of each person is the prerequisite for the free development of everybody. In terms of the novel’s content the novel by Koltashov is trivial: youthful dreams about a perfect and fair society, powerful representatives of the more developed civilization, love to a wonderful alien woman etc. — all of this is the clichés within the genre that the fantasts from the countries of the socialist camp employ. The author of this article read a lot of such works in his youth (for example, the novel by A.Lomm “Drion” pokidaet Zemlyu [“Drion” leaves the Earth] that was published by Pionerskaya Pravda and came up with something similar when he was fifteen). This somewhat pale expression of the communist utopia with the retention of the well-known matrix and plot scenes is interesting only in terms of the fact that Triumphing Mind was written not in the socialist times, but rather in the 2000s, in the epoch of the new Russian capitalism, predatory and inhumane. In the book the hero returns from the ‘beautiful far away” to Moscow, continues to participate in the revolutionary struggle, confronts the renegades-opportunists (in which one can easily recognize the CPRF activists). At the end of the novel a social new revolution seems to occur, and the representatives of the universal triumphing mind cheerfully welcome those Earthlings who dared to rebel against the bandit capitalism and flip the ash of the old world off their feet.

It is funny. Taking into account current political apathy and disappointments in the ideologies, including the communist one, the concept described above looks absolutely unrealistic. However, in order to understand why the citizens of the first socialist state and cosmic power in the world overall preferred beer and “Star Academy”, it seems useful to make an excurse into the history of the communist science fiction. This science fiction in its brightest manifestations was often at odds with the practice of the “real socialism” and attitudes of the communist government. “Within the socialist consciousness the principal reduction of utopia to the level of reality was implemented much more gradually than that of the liberal idea”, — noted Mannheim31 Mannheim 1994: 2005.31. The attempts to describe in their works a new world that is in sharp contrast with the existing one were the way to criticize the socialist practice and may be to escape from it. The authorities were patient, but treated such fantasies with caution. There was time when one was only allowed to fantasize for no more than the next 2 five-year plans (the so called fantasy of the “short-range sight” is embodied, in particular, in the novels by Vladimir Nemtsov Posledniy polustanok [The Last Halt], Zolotoe Dno [The Golden Bottom], Oskolok solntsa [Piece of the Sun], Sem tsvetov radugi [The Seven Colours of the Rainbow] and Teni pod zemley [Shadows under the Earth]). One can find the pictures of the far communist future in the works of Sergei Snegov, Alexander Kazantsev, early Strugatskies, although this was by no means the most interesting by these authors. After the disappointment in the communist ideas Strugatskies obviously already thumbed the authority’s nose behind its back, which was one of the reasons for theirs being so popular among the local intelligentsia holding discussions in the notorious “kitchens”. Their reflection of the Soviet practice frequently took grotesque shapes. Konstantin Krylov, for instance, has drawn a shrewd parallel between the “stalkers” and black marketers: both were risking in order to find some wonderful things that were beyond the reach of the ordinary citizens32 Krylov, s.a. (b).32.

The greatest contribution to the communist ideal popularization through the science fiction genre was made without a doubt by Ivan Yefremov. The breakthrough in the consciousness of the Soviet society that was made by this writer, scientist and thinker with his Tumannost’ Andromedy [Andromeda Nebula] was just sensational. It is to say that in the Soviet Union the ideas of communism were developed by I.Yefremov rather than the professors of Marxism-Leninism from the respective departments and even less by the ideologists of various party committees. The best pages of his works about the far future (Andromeda Nebula; The Heart of the Serpent; The Bull’s Hour) as well as his contemporary times (Razor’s Edge) or even about the past (At the Edge of Ecumene; Thais of Athens) are dedicated exactly to the literary embodiment of the ideals of a “new person”.

The results of these efforts and, what is more important, the authorities reaction were ambiguous: ranging from the absolute excitement regarding the Andromeda Nebula (the novel with graphical descriptions of cosmic journeys and everyday life of the communist Earth successfully met the beginning of the cosmic era and promises of the fast construction of communism in the Soviet Union) to rather cool attitude towards Razor’s Edge and practical banning and taking out from the libraries of The Bull’s Hour. If Andromeda Nebula is mostly beautiful utopia33 Of course, many pages of this novel can be interpreted as anti-utopia. In the first place, it regards the idea of the overall psychological control that can be easily ascribed the totalitarian understanding. Such feature of the “perfect society” as upbringing of children in the boarding schools without their parents is also rather odious. However, from the perspective of the social logic Yefremov is absolutely right: the communist order requires creating equal starting conditions and socializing children in accordance with the united communist ideal. As long as there is a traditional “cell of a society”, this can not be accomplished.33, in The Bull’s Hour the features of anti-utopia and criticism not only of the “gangster capitalism” that poses to the planet a threat of the nuclear war and ecological catastrophe as well as the Chinese “ant false socialism”, but also of some aspects of life in our country, are already clearly showing through. So the worldview of the Soviet fantast number one changed substantially, not least under the influence of the socio-political reality. Having compared two novels by I.Yefremov, Rustam Vakhitov concluded that Andromeda Nebula is the hymn to the heroic deeds and achievements of the generation of the winners in the Great Patriotic War, whereas in The Bull’s Hour one can feel the tiredness of the generation of the future “betrayers of socialism” who were disappointed in the communist ideals34 Vakhitov 2007.34. It is indicative that the traditions of the Andromeda Nebula never received their continuation in the Russian science fiction. The attempts to write about communism turned out to be caricature. Both the Soviet practices and official ideology exerted an impact over the communist ideal, which itself was inherently contradictory, as “dead water”.

It is worth noting that even in the epoch of “stagnation” there were attempts similar to ours to use the analysis of the science fiction genre works in order to defend these philosophical and/or socio-political positions or other. In this sense the book by the Soviet philosopher Evald Ilyenkov contrasting the “dialectics” of Lenin’s Materialism and Empirio-criticism with the “metaphysics of positivism” of the prerevolutionary novel by Alexander Bogdanov The Red Star35 See Ilyenkov 1980.35. In Bogdanov’s Red Star (and Engineer Manny) he tells about the communist society on Mars36 While in the “Aelita” by Aleksey Tolstoy one of the representatives of the lumpenprole with Mauser pistol Gusev “exports” revolution to Mars, in the novel by Bogdanov it is vice-versa, “Martian comrades” decide whether to help to the earth proletariat or to liquidate all the Earthlings, thereby empting the planet for the representatives of the more developed civilization.36. This is quite a “banal utopia” with rather boring description of the labor organization and household in the barrack-communist sense. In terms of the literary accomplishments the novel is rather weak, although it contains a lot of challenging forecasts, for example, the problem of the overpopulation and exhaustion of the resources as a result of plundering. Why would Ilyenkov who obviously differed from the overwhelming majority of the “ideological nomenclature” of the Soviet “philosophers” need to have referred to Bogdanov? The Red Star was practically forgotten37 In the late Soviet period “The Red Star” was published in brief version in the collection “Vechnoe solntse” [Eternal Sun] (Vechnoe solntse 1979).37, and Lenin’s text that was known to every Soviet student surely did not need “defense” from the novel’s author. However, the killing pressure of the official ideology blocking an opportunity for the content debates (and the development of the same Marxism in our country) made thinking people search for at least some lacunas for the vivid thought even though by resorting to science fiction of the disputable literary merits.

All in all, in the period of “stagnation” the communist idea loses its “energetics” becoming unattractive for the “builders of communism” themselves. The agony came in the period of “perestroika”. The calls for the socialism with “human face” as well as the attempts to clear the communist idea of Stalin and Brezhnev’s perversions failed.

The communist ideal is gone to the periphery of the social consciousness retaining among the small groups of enthusiasts38 See http:// www.2084.ru.38. Is it possible that it will regain the science fiction popularity it once enjoyed? We think that the activity of the left intellectuals, in particular alter-globalists, leaves some room for that. However, it is pointless to hope that the communist revolution or some type of the “middle class rebellion”39 See Kagarlitsky 2003.39 will help to overcome alienation, establish a 6-hour working day and create conditions for an individual comprehensive development... The Western “socialism” of the “welfare state” was possible until the “bear” of the Russian communism was alive: the masters of the world who gave (had to give) “welfare” to the middle class are now taking it back — gradually, but inexorably. It is hardly possible that in the future Yefremov’s beautiful utopias will be realized. However, we are by no means denying that communism might come back. The question is only how it will happen. The first attempt to reify the communist idea was undertaken after the Franco-Prussian War. The historical communism was the result of the World Wars I (Soviet Russia) and II (socialist camp). Under the usual, “normal” conditions it can not break through. The next world cataclysm might lead to another “reincarnation” of the communist orders — this time universally as it was designed by the classics of Marxism. The impetus to the revival of these orders is likely to be the shortage of the exhausted resources. Then what has been repeatedly described in science fiction might come true: the centralized and severe distribution of the remained means of subsistence, universal dress code, soldering of the synthetic food, breathing apparatus, atrocious control over behavior, thoughts, feelings. Were there any other dreams?..

Disintegration of USSR — fantastic shock

The crash of socialism in the USSR, oddly to say, for now does not inspire fantasts to create the alternative versions of history, for instance, related to the interference of the world mind and “supermen” who support the GKChP i.e. the State Committee on the State of Emergency (here one should probably read Sergei Kurginyan’s books that are also sort of a science fiction derived from the political science). At the same time, such plots are not totally forgotten. Let us recall Boris Akunin who trying to prove that he is good at all genres wrote the novel “Science Fiction”, in which the shadow power is going to send the hero, who after the interaction with the alien artifacts obtained supernatural physical capabilities, to help the “putschists”. However, after that the order is cancelled; the collapse of the Union is more beneficial for the Moscow “backstage” than its retention. The new unprecedented opportunities for profits and marauding are at hand now. Well, it is very realistic.

However, there are other versions of the collapse of the USSR and Russian defeat in the Cold War. The most interesting ones can be found within the so called “nonfiction science” that we have already talked about in the first part of the article.

Sergei Pereslegin writes: “The contradictions between the layer of the ludens and the rest of America support the development and the very existence of the society. The nation pays for this with the catastrophic stupidity of its most population and inability to survive without being overseen and helped by the ludens. Nevertheless, “the people” is the carrier of the idea of the American greatness that was not created by this people and lives at someone else’s expense (to put it strictly, most of the people only bother the ludens — who constitute America — but their existence is necessary for the ludens so that they themselves can flourish, whereas the degradation of the people is necessary for the further evolution of the ludens. The ludens and the people together constitute two poles of the social engine...

The anti-Sovietism of the ludens, their diversion of Azimov’s plan into their own opportunities and succeeding in its fulfillment can be explained by the atavistic motives (all in all, the ludens emanate from the American nation and culture and howbeit America’s enemies are their enemies) as well as the motives of the self-preservation (since the ludens are mortal and they do not plan any serious war with the application of the weapon of mass destruction, they solved the problem radically and swiftly having eliminated one of the parties to the conflict, of course, not “their own”, with the least possible mutual losses)”40 Pereslegin, Pereslegina 2001: 643.40.

Another quotation, “on the contrary”, is excerpted out of the science fiction novel by James Schmitz The Demon Breed: “They now had a rationalization of the past disaster, and it restored to some extent their shattered pride. To have been bested by a foe of abnormal ability whose existence hadn't been suspected, that could be accepted. The human species as such was inferior to Porad Anz. Its apparent strength lay in the fact that its vast masses were directed and controlled by these freakish monsters”41 Schmitz 2002: 286.41.

The thing is that according to S.Pereslegin, who is famous in the Internet as Cachalot, the US won both the Pacific War with Japan and the Cold War with Russia because they are driven by the “ludens” that A.Azimov in his Academy hint at.

No chance to contradict. It is somewhat inappropriate to argue about how many ludens live in the US and which role they play in politics in the framework of the scientific discourse!

However, within this genre (science fiction is a great genre and one of the most impressive achievements of the Modernity culture despite the ocean of the stupidity!) there is always a noteworthy answer. As a distance response to Cachalot and “member of the general staff” (S.Pereslegin suggested that some type of the “general staff” should be created for planning our future: the youthful verdure of the soul, or he didn’t play at soldiers enough, did he?) the collisions of the mentioned novel by Schmitz are to the point.

In the Demon Breed the evil pangolins intervened into one of the planets colonized by humanity, and pangolins can not grasp why they fail to win over such disorganized and atomized people. The conquerors possess the strict discipline and the highest level of organization based on the painful exercises, their logic and theory seem perfect and impeccable (any associations?). The pangolins explain their defeat by the fact that the gathering of raunchy and underdeveloped people are guided by the secret creatures “tuvels” (or “ludens” in the term of pereslegins-kalashnikovs), whose consciousness was marked with the lasting impression of the totalitarian epoch exerting influence — both directly and latently — over their way of thinking.

The shock from the global defeat is extremely deep; the fact that some see the reason in the “tuvels” is of no surprise. May be it is more about freedom, external and internal, the ability to control it and/or the attractiveness on the ideas of freedom although being utopian, isn’t it? “The omnipotence of America lies in the utopian project that it is based on and not in its politics and economy as such or even military might or mass culture. This utopian project is shining behind them as a “background” — notes Vadim Shtepa42 Shtepa 2004: 14.42. Although the work quoted above was edited by the publishing house of the dead Ilya Kormiltsev Ultra-Kultura [Ultra-Culture] with its motto “Everything you know is a lie”, and Shtepa himself in the search for alternatives “presses all the keys at the same time”, his book lacks the version about the ludens.

Let’s turn to the works of another author who is also creating within the “nonfiction science”. By no means does he call for the realization of the communist utopia, but rather for the construction of the USSR-2 taking into account the fatal mistakes that were made within its first version. “Now it’s high time to make the third leap out of the clutches of death and desolation. But this time without millions of prisoners and NKVD, and not at the expense of famine and demographic losses. In this sense the unusual technologies and bold projects as well as the atmosphere in the contemporary world, in which the miseries of globo-capitalism are being manifested again, should help us. Let’s throw away the stupid hopes of those oppositionists who are just taking it easy thinking that they can win the fight with the old methods, such as introducing the ration card system to the people, counting on the fact that even in the plundered country there will be oil, gas, and atomic bomb. We will, our comrades, opt for another way. The highly technological way... It might have a disappointing affect on many of you, but we should be honest: nothing but a miracle can save the Russians in this century. To be more precise, the whole program of miracles”43 Kalashnikov 2003: 207—209.43. Isn’t it the fairytale-fantasque approach? We quoted the extremely fruitful journalist Vladimir Kucherenko who is being published by the eloquent pseudonym Maxim Kalashnikov. In each of his opuses (sometimes co-authored with Sergei Kugushev, Yury Krupnov and others) he focuses on the same thought: the Soviet Union collapsed due to the failure of its elites: Stalin never had decent successors. The Modern Russia is in the total decline and does not have any prospects. If it continues the same way, it will not survive! One should provide new technologies! The USSR-1 had already once possessed them, but failed to manage them. At first, Kalashnikov mostly talked about the military technique44 Kalashnikov 1998, 2000.44, but after that (probably, under the influence of Mikhail Delyagin45 See Delyagin 2000.45) he began to propagandize a wider range of new technologies, in the first place the technologies of management of the consciousness being able to provide for the “breakthrough into the neuroworld”. The future belongs to the Russian ludens, whose imperfect precursor was Adolf Hitler. In his other technothriller Vtorzhenie iz buduschego [Intervention out of the Future] Kalashnikov analyses the lessons of the past and describes the military successes of the main terrorists of the 20th century: Hitler, Stalin, Begin. In relation to the activity of the latter, he wrote: “Till the 80s the Israeli policy was determined by the former fighters and terrorists. What a progress they’ve made!”46 Kalashnikov 2006: 428.46

The admiration of the German fuhrer and the Soviet chief, whose exploits ended up with the huge victims among our people and led to the extremely hard, and in the Russian case may be insurmountable destructive implications, is at least strange for the patriot and proclaimer of the “super new Russia”. The “miraculous technologies” described by M.Kalashnikov are thousands years old, such as to assault suddenly, frighten, and deceive — the difference is only in the technical level. Let us draw attention to another idea of M.Kalashnikov, i.e. upbringing of the new elite. The author views the teaching and educational institutes of the SS as the respective example to be followed. “...It is easy to imagine which affect the alumni of such schools might have in the today’s relaxed world of the “tolerant-politically correct euro-leaders”... They themselves will turn into the pack of wolves among the herd of sheep. Among these coddled, feeble, and atomized individuals such warriors will achieve everything they want. It is my deep belief... that the Russians should construct such schools. Based on the new ideas, but keeping the same methods”47 Ibid.: 384.47.

The whole world has such schools. Their center is in the spiritually revived America. This is, however, a totally different book... As it was already mentioned before, the ideological and political alternatives are represented in science fiction rather broadly, and one can find a work of any taste, with the complete set of “pros” and “cons”. Sometimes one does not have to purposely look for that. It happened so that right after the “faschizoid” The Intervention out of the Future by M.Kalashnikov we came across the “orthodox-science fiction” novel by Yana Zavatskaya Likey [Lyceum] (the series Romanmissiya under the edition of Lepta; the brutal Mechet Parizhskoy Bogomateri [Mosque of Notre Dame de Paris] by Elena Chudinova is also published within this series).

In Lyceum the American girl Jane with the Russian roots having graduated from this school and undergone the “way of a warrior” (the virtual test related to the search for the ways out of the intractable situations) comes to Saint-Petersburg to work in the genetic consultative agency and to carry light to the civilization of the aborigines bogged down in laziness and poverty. The liceists have to live in such darkness, and their attempts to improve the environment are not that successful. The liceism itself with its established orders, with the book’s plot developing, becomes the subject to the decisive debunking. The targets that the novel’s pathos is directed at are rather recognizable: family planning leading to the deep fall in the birth rate, debilitation of the population through the mass culture, profanation of education and unlucky fate of children going to the schools with the “facilitated program”, and what is more important — godlessness disguised by the synthetic cult and meditations that can make a person mad.

However, she did not go to details that much. Zaretskaya wants to tell her own, woman’s thing. Jane meets Aleksey who voluntarily abandoned Lyceum and turned to Christianity. Inside this man and afterwards inside the young woman as well who desperately fell in love with the mysterious Russian pilot, a man wins over a superhuman. Although our hero was brought up as a warrior, at the end of the novel she rejected the way of the elects. Having been excluded out of the ranks of liceists, Jane is pregnant with Aleksey’s baby (who in his turn married the pie-eyed aboriginal woman) and is going to live a hard life typical of the Russian citizen. It appears that the perfectness of the elects is a vice; its price turns out to be too high: they are surrounded by poverty and diseases of the marginals whose life is nevertheless more “natural”.

Along with that Zavatskaya exerts criticism over many others: antroposophers, Daniil Andreev (there is no point in looking at what appears before the inner look and writing it down and keeping it with high risk and patience!), our prophet Alexander Isaevich (Jane still being a liceist delivers a lecture on the new cults in the Solzhenitsyn gymnasium) etc.

Why do we, comprehending the simplicity and sometimes awkwardness of the Lyceum, still sympathize with its main idea? Is it because already now the substantial part of our citizens is brought down to the marginal position being very close to the windows made of the bull’s bladder? New “ludens” seek to turn most of human beings into marginals. The world structured according to PR and Management rules will appear to be paradise for supermen and hell for the other. It is not likely that we will become supermen. Being weak, imperfect, retaining humaneness — this is so to say our mission. Overcoming the human — is it not the Antichrist’s temptation? M.Kalashnikov seems to be lacking understanding that we are fighting and if we can, we win in our own way: unhappy, half-starved, with the “last grenade” against tanks and supermen raised in the wonderful schools on the lakes’ shores...

Despite the fact that the moral pathos of the “orthodox science fiction” helps to preserve hope, the Russian realities of the 22nd century are just horrible. The population and territory of the Russia described in the Lyceum are substantially reduced: for instance, Moscow is no longer its part. The life in this same Russia is permanently accompanied with poverty and diseases. The soul was taken out of the people, and the latter extremely retrograded. The only way to salvation is through the Faith.

It is unequivocally clear that the literature reflects the shock from the “catastrophic perestroika” and aftermath events that could not have failed to leave its scar. The works created after the “greatest geopolitical catastrophe” (as Putin frames it) are marked with those shocks. The anti-utopia by Zavatskaya projects the collapse and degradation of the once great power for two centuries ahead. There are similar motives within the fantasy genre. Let us cite as an example the excerpt out of the novel by the genre “stars” Sergei Lukyanenko and Nick Perumov Ne vremya dlya drakonov [Not the Time for Dragons]. Within the novel the teenager-witch takes the hero away from reality into the world that is dominated by the magic. Those who found themselves there view our reality as the Seamy Side. Here is the conversation of two Russians:

“Victor treated himself with another glass of beer — frankly speaking, it was likely to be the superfluous one since he’s already gone heavy due to the heat and booze.

— You are probably interested in what is going on at home? — he asked Nikolai.

— Home? Well, everything is all right there. The wife is taking care of the house, the kid is probably feeding piglets at the moment...

— I mean the Seamy Side.

— Oh... the Seamy Side... — Nikolai gulped another glass of beer. — Well, I don’t know... Why would I? I am not going to come back, even if I could. You don’t know anything about my family anyway. But... at least there is now war, is there?

— No.

— And... the captain pondered — well, has something interesting happened? Like you caught a flying saucer, or found out medicine for AIDS, or...

He thought hard and gave up:

— I don’t want to know anything, Vitya. And I don’t want to think of the Seamy Side. And I recommend the same to you — don’t give a damn about it and forget it!”

“Don’t give a damn about it and forget it” — this is the motto of the mass person in the post-Soviet reality. The credo of the “person with a Soviet upbringing” who in the epoch of “democratization” messed up his demand for meat with his thirst for freedom and now regrets about it. The world is hostile, and it is by nature impossible to improve it. We have nothing else to do but live our life and enjoy what we have: beer, housekeeping, family; even the world sensations are not really of interest. This is how the people exist after the catastrophe, they are concerned with the survival, and there is no room in their lives for any social prospects. It is survival rather than development that has been the main component of success in the Russian politics in the last years. This is the reason for the notorious president’s ranking and the so called “national projects”.

Of course, there are people who disagree with that. Other works might be tuned differently. In the story Teni snov [Shadows of Dreams] by S.Lukyanenko there is a naggingly sad, nostalgic thread. He described the colony of the Earthlings who are thrown away onto the far provincial planet. Its few dwellers, who are boringly living out their days, are the only thing being left after the Russian civilization and the Russian people. However, when the cosmic ship fallen out of the space-and-time made an assault, some of the Russians revealed the heroic features of their character...

The Russians still can fight and revive, can’t they?

Symphonies of Asiopa

The Russian future is problematic since the very existence of Russia is under question. It can die, or it can revive. But how, at which price and which implications? The representatives of the science fiction genre are working hard to answer these questions. They play out the all possible scenarios. If one does not like the position of periphery or semiperiphery of the West (we cited the samples of the similar scenarios above), he can join another powerful global force and even dissolve in it. In the novel by Vladimir Mikhailov Variant-I Russia strengthens its position thanks to entering the Muslim world so that they can together confront the insidious West. On the contrary, in The Mosque of Notre Dame de Paris by E.Chudinova the Islamic expansion is shown as a horrible anti-utopia. The Western Europe is entirely enslaved by the Mohammedans; the attack of crescent and green banner that was blunted in the Middle Ages this time is crowned with success. The dissenting French are brought to the underground and are being engaged in the unequal fight with the invaders. Some of the Russians possessing a certain experience in the battles with the Muslims in Chechen and Yugoslavia help the Christian Resistance to organize the rebellion and again turn Notre Dame into the Christian temple. However, according to E.Chudinova, the Europeans will suffer such fate because they lost the Christian faith. In their turn, Russia as well as Poland became powerful and independent states due to strengthening Orthodoxy and Catholicism, correspondingly. This is the variant of “anti-I”.

However, it is possible to preserve the faith, but at the same time lose the political subjectivity by entering the more powerful Eurasian empire, for instance, the expanded Celestial or the revived Horde. Such scenario is described in the series of the novels Evraziyskaya simpfoniya, ili plohih lyudey net [The Eurasian Symphony, or No Bad People] by Holm Van Zaitchik. Having read 7 books of this “symphony”, sometimes boring and sometimes funny, one can not help but point out the references to the political obstacles of the recent past and present (the problem of the Ukrainian independence, the moral-political viewpoint of the academician Andrei Sakharov and Yelena Bonner and others).The novels’ plots are built around the adventures of the two friends being the “guards of humans” who commit exploits preventing the foil schemes of the enemies of the order, peace and harmony reigning in Ordus.

Vyacheslav Rybakov, the author of the sensational Gravilet “Tsesarevich” [Graviplane “Crown Prince”], in the 1990s, at the height of Yeltsin’s chaos and “mess”, published the novel Na chuzhom piru [On the Feasting of Others], in which one can discernibly feel nostalgia of stability and order in the suffering Russia. In his satiric novel Na budushchiy god v Moskve [In the Next Year in Moscow] Russia does not exist anymore, but there is a strong spirit of the Soviet patriotism. The author openly criticizes the absurdities of the triumphing “democratic schizophrenia” supported and guided by the globalizators. However, today when the “old order” in the country is rapidly taking its revanche, the denunciation of the “new world order” seems rather strange.

The orientalist V.Rybakov48 See Razgovor 2007.48 probably giving up hope that we can establish order with our own efforts in the co-authorship with I.Alimov (it is this duet that is concealed under the pseudonym Holm von Zaitchik) constructed his own version of history, where Russia is Ordus that in the 15th century joined the Chinese Middle kingdom, where the friendship of the Asian peoples is flourishing, where Saint-Petersburg is called Alexandria on the river NevaHe etc.

Actually, this type of “Eurasism” (Asiopa, as P.Milyukov seems to pun it) provokes the deepest hostility, although it is suggested as the way out for our country. The banal statement that Russia is torn between the “East” and the “West” is unfortunately supported by the directions of the modern ideological searches. 20, 15 or even 10 years ago the Western vector had an indisputable advantage. The words “democracy and market” (of course, in the European or North-American version) had a magic effect. However, already at the dawn of our rose hopes the famous political scientist Adam Przeworski very symbolically ended his book on the democracy and market: “The bare facts are that Eastern European countries are embracing capitalism and that they are poor. These are conditions Eastern Europeans share with masses of people all over the world who also dream of prosperity and democracy. Hence, all one can expect is that they too will confront the all too normal problems of the economics, the politics, and the culture of poor capitalism. The East has become the South...”49 Przeworski 1999: 299—300.49

The attempt to live “as in the West” turned out to be another historical defeat of Russia. Regarding “democracy” as well as the “market”. Of course, we have to blame ourselves, but our Western friends are also not that innocent. The West substantially contributed to the failure of the democratic reforms in Russia (how else can we interpret its support for Yeltsin’s regime?). Now it is obvious for many thinking people in Russia that the West is not our enemy, but nor it has ever been and will be our friend. The Western rusophobia is inescapable, and our “all-human love” for the West will always be an unshared feeling.

What is the alternative then? Falling in love with the East? Or South? Uniting with it against the West in order to punish the insidious deceiver? The former version of the orientation “towards Turan” became popular among the Russian emigrants in the full swing of the previous Chaos, after the crash of the historical Russia in 1917. The history of Eurasism is an intellectual drama and a great human tragedy. Let us recall at least the security officers’ provocations (for instance, the operation Trest) or the fate of Lev Karsavin who dreamed of the “symphony” of the power and the people and died in the camp even without human burial. All of this represents the clear evidence of which part the power is playing within this “symphony” lacking the “boring” control of the society. The members of this society are treated worse than cattle.

In the political, or better “geopolitical sense”, this project is leading to the deadlock. This was almost straight away realized by the great Russian thinker Ivan Ilyin. “This recipe, — he notes, — by no means contrasts the Russian uniqueness with borrowing; it rather contrasts one borrowing and imitation that are not being approved to another borrowing and imitation that are being praised: down with the servility to the West! Long live the servility... to the East! Let us stop being semigerman, semifrench! Let us become the true Russian Tatars! Why would we do that? Is it not senseless? If this absurd idea succeeded, Russia would indeed entirely and irreversibly lose itself”50 Ilyin 1992: 62.50. I.Ilyin seems to be mentioned a lot today, but rarely comprehended. His philosophical-political legacy still evokes vehement discussions51 See Kovalev, Tsygankov 2006.51.

Apart from eccentricity and attempts to set one’s own unique ideological niche, there are more sound reasons for being infatuated with Eurasism, the ones that Ilyin pointed out at his time. The ideas of Eurasism that prospered among some Russian emigrants, the views of Nikolai Trubetskoy, Peter Savitsky52 See, e.g., Klassika geopolitiki 2003.52, the same Karsvain (up to a certain time period) can be explained by the greatest catastrophe, which the historical Russia fell a prey to. The Eurasianists viewed it as the result of the wrong (Western) orientation that the country has been supporting since the epoch of Peter I. It is easy to understand the desperation of people who lost their motherland. However, now we are trying to make a different point: it is about the final elimination of our sovereignty and uniqueness, about turning into the “muck of the history” for a new Turan. Furthermore, the role of the latter might be assumed by China or the Muslim world as well as any other force that is against the “Western shaitan” using the Russian resources for this purpose. Such projects are being played out in various forms, as we can see, within science fiction as well.

However, how Russia itself will be affected by that? The action in Oprichnik’s Day by Vladimir Sorokin takes place in 2027 in Russia that cut itself off the West and reoriented towards China; the monarchy and oprichnina are restored. The main hero deals with the enemies of the state, settles the ideological issues and resolves (not on the gratis base) problems of the “culture’s masters”, performs the delicate orders from the queen, defends the interests of its agency against other “siloviks” (security officers)53 On this topic see, e.g., Latynina 2007.53, strengthens the “ties of friendship” with the colleagues, indulging in buggery. After the first reading of Oprichnik’s Day we hesitated how to interpret this work: as a satire, anti-utopia or just a “rusophobic pasquinade” in the same spirit as Moscow 2042 by Vladimir Voynovich? The destiny of Russia is endless dependence. Who is happy in Russia? The one who licks master’s boots and is ready to kill anyone who is against the “symphony” of bootlicking between “the people” and the power. We were taken by a surprise when the Internet started to be filled one by one with the positive reviews about the book’s plot as a good ideal rather than satire-warning. According to these reviews, the present situation is rejected for the sake of the future. Such future! The explanation of such phenomenon might be found in the writer’s own comments. Answering the question why he and others are so much attracted by the future, he noted: “This thirst is rather natural and reminds me of the times of Chernyshevsky when it is fantasizing about the future that was the easiest thing to do. Because the present in Russia is always clear and hopeless. Probably, this is the reason... Actually, we have not learned how to live in the present yet. We are balancing between the past and the future, and our metaphysical legs are sliding apart. We are being torn. It is what probably constitutes the foundation of the Russian metaphysics. And I believe that there is enough of such “sliding apart” for our century”54 Bavilsky 2006.54. It means that even in the foreseen future we will not be able to get out of the vicious circle of the lack of freedom, when the state of the stupid apathy is suspended only through the riots being senseless and savage. Does overcoming the consequences of another “perestroika” imply a new Oprichnik’s Day? So the rational, positive, free, and wealthy structure of the present is not our style, is it?

Let us remind you that in Sorokin’s book there is a wall between Russia and the West; Russia cut itself off, but since the autocracy is impossible it had to redirect itself towards Asia, China, which is utterly in the Euriasianist sense. Again, we are dependent on someone and can not obtain the decent standing in the world, but we want it so much. Can the empire or the Empire with a capital letter be of help here? It is worth noting that the authors who are against such scenario and fiercely criticize the “imperial syndrome” have already drawn their attention to science fiction. At the conference of the foundation Liberal Mission dedicated to the problems of the empire Emil Pain anxiously argued that “anti-utopia”, this literature of the epoch of fear, became today very popular and cited as the representatives of such sentiments those who write about the imperial future of Russia (E.Gevorkyan, O.Divov, Holm van Zaitchik, P.Krusanov etc.). E.Pain is extremely concerned with these tendencies and thinks that “further stiffening of power is highly probable since the manifestations of dissatisfaction in the mass consciousness with the present regime are related more to the fact that in the country it is considered to be one of its “weaknesses”55 See Pain 2007: 111—113.55 than to the decrease in the political freedoms. The power has dangerously weakened, and it needs being strengthened. V.Sorokin demonstrated how it can be done. It is no coincidence that many view his satire in a positive sense, although the dogs’ heads and the very name “oprichnina” might be superfluous since they have a scaring effect. As regards the “political freedoms” etc., it might be even good if they are absent. Who cares about these freedoms if the “outburst of democracy” entailed the unprecedented geopolitical retreat of the state in the international arena as well as the sweeping criminalization inside the country?

We are very SERIOUS posing this question and are not doing it for the sake of rhetoric. What should we do concerning the influence of the criminal structures over all spheres of the social life? Under the Russian conditions it is by nature impossible to succeed in fighting them within the legal framework. The conversations about the “the rule of law” lost their relevance long ago since within the legal state power is subject to law, but in Russia it does not want to be like that and no one can make it comply with the law. May be instead of racking our brains over the political freedoms it is better to combat the “superfluous” (for the authorities) criminality with the same criminal methods, isn’t it? As Oleg Divov wrote in Cull, just shoot the representatives of the deviant behavior ignoring the screams about the “human rights”.

Imperial Syndrome

Here the external and internal reasons for our “endless stalemates” and avalanche-like defeats after triumphs, for the sake of which a lot of sacrifices were made, are closely interwoven. Why is everything in Russia “as always”? “The thing is that it is not us who created the world that Russia was surrounded with. We always had to adapt to it warping our own national topos”, — write M.Kalashnikov and S.Kugushev in the Tretiy Proekt [The Third Project]56 Kalashnikov, Kugushev 2006: 27.56. In general, we can agree with that, although it would be great to know how we can structure our own world. Is it the way suggested by Kalashnikov, by creating a Russian superhuman? In this case, what will the world around us be like?

We should understand on our own what we need and what we do not. Why, e.g., did the attempt to democratize the political regime in our country appear to entail such destructive implications and end so ingloriously? Is it because we used someone else’s recipes, or there had never been any serious democratic project, whereas “democracy” was just a disguise for redistribution of the “socialist” ownership? Now we lean towards the second variant that actually does not deny the first one.

Russia still can not find its niche. Despite all the screaming about the “sovereign democracy”, the Russian policy, both domestic and foreign, is deeply non-sovereign provided that by sovereign we mean the people rather than another ruler being raised to power. However, the seduction of the “strong state” continues to dominate over the “national topos”.

What do we really want? “What do the tens of millions of people want in our country and what are they not allowed to receive? The wealthy life, interesting occupation, order, respect, ability to safely confess their own faith and justice. If there is no justice, it is not a big deal. They will be satisfied with mercy instead. What do they dream about? About the revival of the Union? The Russian Empire? Moscow state? It does not actually matter how it will be called, the point is that it should be one’s own state, the native one”, — Dmitry Volodikhin claims57 Volodikhin 2006.57. He suggests his recipes for such accomplishment, such as through the gradual grasp of the power in the country, or the unnoticeable overthrow. The motives of overturn are also present in the works of Divov, Krusanov, Zlotnikov... However, Maxim Zhukov, the author of the novel Oborona tupika [Defense of Dead-End] is considered to be the king among the “literary conspirators”. This book described the overthrow and total deactivation of the former political elite as well as the first steps of the new elite. Zhukov suggests we should employ those forms of political order that have been established by now with the choice-making procedure obtaining simulative features. The whole system of the authoritative bodies is being ruled from behind the scenes by the community of the “ideological Advisors”.

We became interested in Maxim Zhukov’s version of the future. So the conspiracy of the Advisors proved to be successful, and they come to power. How does the Russian population live under their leadership? The answer would probably be “well” since Russia assumes the hard position vis-à-vis the West and is getting new technologies in exchange for the energy carriers. The global fall of temperature that starts despite the now so-much-talked-of global warming also contributes to that. The oligarchs were partly shot and partly expelled out of the country, the threat and expansion of the South is stopped; the US are again in self-isolation from the Old World. It seems like one has nothing else to do but to live and enjoy the life. But this is not the case. The bitter skirmishes break out in the middle of the cities; the NKVD agents of the future alertly scrutinize the bars’ visitors within another check of the documents. All in all, the closer to the ideal, the more intensified is the “class struggle”. There appear to be real werewolves among the Advisors themselves. They succeeded in revealing and eliminating them at the expense of the numerous victims: upon reading Zhukov one begins to realize that comrade Stalin did have a really tough time. The number of the enemies is increasing: humans-ludens from the future, cosmic witches from the past. The Russian task group “cleans” Hamburg, but the enemies contaminate new millions of people with the counterrevolutionary madness. “One can not isolate himself from it. It is like an infection. Recently we had to burn down Samara and a just restored Saint-Petersburg...” Well... What is the purpose of the “overturn? To provide people with an occupation, the good, loved and beneficial one... And after that with the wealthy life, safe confession, justice, mercy and many other derivatives, — Volodikhin praises Zhukov. — The overturn in Zhukov’s sense is a painful prick that will make Russia utter a scream, but it should be by no means turned into the hammer blow that will flatten the feet bones. Accurately. Tenderly. The organizers of the overturn are totally aware that each death is another sin of them...”58 Ibidem.58. All of this reminds of the Soviet considerations about the “bloodlessness” of another overthrow, the October one that was called then The Great October Socialist Revolution. It is true that when the Winter Palace protected by the women battalion was assaulted, only a few people from both sides died. However, after that they started to count victims by tens of millions.

However, M.Zhukov might be just an inexperienced beginning writer, and our impression of his novel is wrong, moreover Defense of Dead-End is his first book. Let’s then turn to a serious man being the true Police Lieutenant Colonel and venerable author that has written a lot of books within the science fiction and fantasy genres. His name is Roman Zlotnikov. In relation to the topic being studied we are interested in his dilogy Imperia [The Empire]. In the Russia hurt by Yeltsin’s chaos a group of probably immortal ludens rather than just people emerged. They used to know not only Schickelgruber, but also other great leaders of the past. Their leader before the numerous audience of his adherents is showing hocus-pocus: he cuts his arm in public and calms the horrified youth — there will be another one soon. However, this superhuman was able to get support among the Russians only after the long-lasting and tedious preliminary work with them. The special Foundation that in contrast to its Western analogies deals with the state, or the future Empire’s wealth rather than recruiting agents of influence and organizing ‘brain drain” was created and is now developing. Thanks to the unlimited financial opportunities and perfect management the Foundation in a while is obtaining great influence that allows it to start the implementation of the full-scale reforms. The complex of these reforms seems rather impressive: rise of the national production, new wonderful technologies (the author’s knowledge of the works by Maxim Kalashnikov is evident: we also read about the string transport and new power facilities within the Third project and other books), but what is the most important is that Russia is changing both as the state and as the society. The system of the elite education is being reformed; the so called Terransky University is opened, after which the military forces also undergo reformation with the help of its graduates who go to the army as sergeants. The army being the criminal structure, where generals steal, officers make money on the side as loaders, soldiers suffer humiliating treatment and commit suicides, turned into the real great power being able to fend off any aggressor. Moreover, the terrans manage to make bureaucrats treat the needs of the ordinary citizens responsibly and wean the policemen from taking bribes. The punishment of the criminal elements (an assault with intent to rape is also among the crimes being subject to death penalty), including the gypsy drug dealers, is implemented promptly and severely. Within the process of these reforms the main super-reformer Yaroslavichev assumes the title of the Emperor and is crowned on the day of the murder of the last Romanov tsar. This is the end of the novel Vivat Imperator! [Vivat Emperor!].

We could stop here, but there is also the external political factor: many in the world do not like the strong, revived Russia. Probably, this is why the adventures of R.Zlotnikov’s heroes continue in the novel Armageddon. Russia has to fight (it is not for nothing that the army was reformed!), and what is more, on two fronts. If the march of the NATO tank columns on Moscow ingloriously failed, the war with China being close to the victorious ending entailed the application of the nuclear weapons. The “nuclear winter” embraces the world, but this is not the end of the word yet (sic!), the humanity was able to survive even through Armageddon!

The power of the Empire is spread all over the world and saves it. America is defeated and punished by the fact that...it preserves the semblance of the sovereignty. It was declared: “You, Americans, are making a fetish of the word “freedom”. It can be understood. Till now the freedom, your own one as well as the so called freedom for others championed by you, but only for those whose “struggle for freedom” was weakening your rivals, was bringing you only profits... Live as you wish and as you can... But are you aware of why the Emperor did not make any attempt to persuade you to accept the Crown Agreement? Because at least several states should be left on the planet that will make each citizen of the Empire realize the simple truth: it is so great that I live within the Empire!..” While those who live outside have nothing else to do but envy. At the end of the novel an unhappy American is happy that he managed to sell at several rubles (!) whiskey miraculously saved.

However, this streak of luck was not limited by that. The Russian shared with him his aromatic “Yava” cigarette and told about the life in the Empire:

“The products are still based on the ration cards... Hopefully, at the beginning of the next year these ration cards will be banned (thanks to the harvest in the African and European provinces)... So it is easier for us than for you. Plus we are used to that... we have the Emperor and terrans...”

Now we can close the book with the feeling of the deep moral satisfaction. The geopolitical poles changed. The Americans got their pennyworth for the export of democracy, for our national humiliation, the expansion of dollar, popularity of “Marlboro” and many other things.

However, should we seek to assume the same role in the world that the US are playing now?59 In October 2007 Gleb Pavlovsky holding speech on the TV channel “Kultura” claimed that the mission of Russia is to counteract against the expansion of the American imperialism (the program “Chto delat?”, 7.10.2007). However, there is also the Islamic jeopardy and Chinese threat! Should we launch a challenge against them separately and fight with them all at the same time as in “The Empire” by R.Zlotnikov? It is to remember that we are the not rich country with the decreasing population. With such scenario we can not do without the super-chief; dreams about democracy should be abandoned as a mischievous, relaxing illusion.59 What shall we do with the “nuclear winter”? Why are the fantasts being so much fond of drawing troubles upon themselves as well as upon us?

It is true that a lot of forces, including those within Russia itself, are against its revival, and if we make a real bid to stand on our feet, they will fiercely resist it. However, defending your freedom and independence, fighting for our own way of life, culture and ability to control our own resources is one thing, whereas the project of the Empire, its expansion outside, if not under the red banner and with the help of the Comintern, then headed by the Emperor and with the help of the “terrans”, is totally different. The imperial politics, whether American or Soviet, whether real or fictitious, might involve huge problems. As Vladislav Inozemtsev notes, “the imperial politics is the politics of the absolutely vulgar, superfluous, demagogic use of rhetoric without any substantial meaning. The imperial policy is being conducted by America, but the latter is not the empire, although it can deliver a strike against any part of the planet. Nor is Russia the empire. In both cases the imperial project is just the means of the ideological struggle, and moreover, the present imperial ideology is so helpless and untenable that the disappointment in it will be rapid and universal. Today it is the only thing that is capable of discounting any normal start”60 Inozemtsev 2007: 181.60. However, if the imperial claims intensify and turn into something more than just demagogy, the situation will be even more dangerous.

The resistance against the empires is growing in all parts of the world. It is especially strong in those regions where the historical time is significantly different from the time of the carriers of the imperial expansion. That is why there are “witches” of the past and “humans” of the future. They can defend themselves and attack, but the counteraction against the empires is aggravating. It seems that there is a sort of historical-civilization barrier on Earth that prevents global expansionism from the final victory. The diversity and complication is the necessary prerequisite for the survival of the Earthlings as the civilization and people as the species.

However, the mirages of the Empire continue to lure. Even if there is Armageddon, we will get the geopolitical revanche! “The products are still based on the ration cards”, but we have the Emperor and the strong imperial state. It is obvious that the imperial projects, even the most fictitious ones, take the discourse of the strong state for granted. No doubt that hypothetically, the powerful empire might be prospering. There is a good deal of such works, for instance, the novel Ubit mirotvortsa [Kill the Peace-Keeper] by the same D.Volodikhin. What if there is ill luck, and a certain project that all the efforts are put into will fail? There are a lot of known cases when the policy of the “strong states” appeared to be, to put it mildly, unsuccessful. How should one overcome such policy? “In order to attach importance to the current political events the systematic-communicational logic that vests a (strong) state with the attributes of being the only meaningful subject of politics is used, and as a result, the concept of the “strong state” created by the authoritative discourse is set as an inalienable component of all the political projects proposed by the political parties claiming the influence on the federal level. The discourse created in this way is a legitimization of the power hierarchy among the heterogeneous social networks with the discourse of power being the only thing that is of interest to the social networks themselves. The attempts to reorient the meaning of discourse are doomed to failure since this meaning is monopolized by the power. Its erosion might cause weakening of the power itself; therefore, maintenance of the monopoly over the discourse’s meaning is the main task of the power. It is the strong state that for sure constitutes the subject being able to suppress any alternate interpretations of its position. Which policy can one implement on the base of the monopoly over the meaning of its key components? The answer is single-minded: any”61 Petrov 2006: 181.61.

Consequently, the dwellers of these “empires” have to wait for a miracle and stay patient, even if the new “imperial elite” again led them (us?) to a dead-end lacking the way out. Is it worth taking such risks in the future? This is the question that has been torturing us since we learned the samples of the “imperial” projects in the national science fiction. Neglecting a free and independent individual is the inalienable feature of the imperial etatism. Even such strong and outstanding people (as “terrans”) are just the state’s servants, the slaves of another ideocratic or “imperial” project.

To our fortune, such projects although being very popular do not dominate. May be, for Russia to reach the true democracy, one has to not only make up and aftermath criticize authoritarian anti-utopias, but also fantasize more about freedom.

Instead of Conclusion

This overview covers only a small part of the Russian works in the science fiction genre that are of socio-political interest. By no means do we claim that our interpretations reveal their true meaning. “Even the most attentive reading of the text, — Quentin Skinner argues, — does not guarantee the right interpretation of its meaning. In order to comprehend the text, studying its content is not enough”62 Cited in Roshchin 2006: 150.62.

Apart from the text’s content, there is also its context that lies in the surrounding cultural and political practice. It is this reality that is reflected on the pages of science fiction books. It is ridiculous to search for the reliable forecasts in them. Moreover, the very possibility of such forecasts — even for some decades ahead — is rather doubtful. It is quite easy to find the realized forecasts and the people who made them post factum. However, there are many more other forecasts, the false ones. This is inevitable. In contrast to the trajectory of the missile flight, predicting the path of the social development till the end of the process is practically impossible. The people from “below” and “above” do not pay attention to the prophets not only because they are stupid and ignorant (although this is also the reason), but also because it is rather difficult to determine Cassandra among hysterical women.

We are elaborating forecasts, writing scenarios by projecting the present tendencies over the future. However, the trend might rapidly change under the impact of some factor X that was absent and we did not notice it. Some did, but who they are and which factors we should have taken into account, can be figured out only post factum.

Now it would be reasonable to turn to K.Mannheim again: “...It is inevitable that after such an analysis we should ask ourselves what the future holds; and the difficulty of this question lays bare the structure of historical understanding. To predict is the task of prophets, and prophesy of necessity transforms history into a purely determinate system, depriving us thereby of the possibility of choice and decision. As a further result, the impulse to weigh and to reflect with reference to the constantly emerging sphere of new possibilities dies away. The only form in which the future presents itself to us is that of possibility, while the imperative, the “should”, tells us which of these possibilities we should choose”63 Mannheim 1994: 217.63.

Another item is also important. It is true that science fiction is just a fiction, but it helps to seek for the future by no means predicting it. It is easily notable that upon the more attentive reading, the samples of the science fiction works presented in this article, despite their attractiveness to the ideological associates of one author or another, turn out to be the terrible anti-utopia. “Drawing utopias seems pointless. But their rejection means denial of the future, or of the hope to overcome the Anti-utopia of the present timelessness”, — these words are put onto the first page of the book by the unique Karelian philosopher V.Shtepa64 See Shtepa 2004.64. We totally agree with them.

In the 19th century when the inadequacy of the political superstructure for the goals of the country’s development again became obvious, some suggested Russia should be “frozen a little” in order to thereby stop the process of “rotting”. We know the result: giving up the modernization of the power, the ruling class of the Russian Empire plunged itself as well as the society into the abyss of misery. At this moment one of the stories of Edgar Poe where he describes the story of a sick man who was with the help of “mesmerism” put into a hypnotic sleep65 See Borchers 2005.65 is coming across our mind. The sick man was long in the hypnotic sleep, and everything seemed all right until they’ve tried to awaken him, “for what really occurred, however, it is quite impossible that any human being could have been prepared.

As I rapidly made the mesmeric passes, amid ejaculations of "dead! dead!" absolutely bursting from the tongue and not from the lips of the sufferer, his whole frame at once — within the space of a single minute, or even less, shrunk — crumbled — absolutely rotted away beneath my hands. Upon the bed, before that whole company, there lay a nearly liquid mass of loathsome — of detestable putrescence”.

This is by no means to be compared with Russia (God save us!), but rather with the political regime that inhibits its free life and search for the paths of the further development. The “mesmerism” emerged at the beginning of the 2000s suspended the process of the political dialogue about our future development, about how Russia can become the country-for-itself rather than the “zone” for the enrichment of the oligarchy, both security and non-security one. This “zone” appeared due to the attempt to stop socialism, which in a broader sense implied an attempt to get out of the vicious circle of the Russian System, to start a new life.

Despite being so risky, controversial and rough, this path still secured hopes for the disposal of despotism of deadlockness, for the search for alternatives without being interrupted by chaotic periods as well as for their free political discussion. It failed again, and the discourse of the “strong state” (and its submissive society) again prevailed. Other suggestions and applications as the saying goes are no longer accepted. The modern Russian science fiction in the name of its socially and politically oriented representatives in the “transmuted” form continues its heated debates on the present and the future, thereby proceeding with the preparation of the advent of something new. Of course, it would be better if it is done differently, with the help of the democratic institutions, but choosing the platform is beyond our control today. If science fiction stays relatively free, its discourses are political ones, and it is within these discourses that the debates of those who are dreaming of something else and managed to overcome fruitlessness of stability are taking place. If their consciousness generates mostly anti-utopias, it means that we have to put our efforts to avoid them. However, many authors present rather sober and useful ideas that can be of help to Russia. This is already a call for action, including the political one. The scenarios being actively worked out and picturesquely described one way or another make us take them into account already today, sometimes changing the course of the current events. The boisterous, extremely controversial “emission” of the Russian scenarios of the future, both anti-utopias and utopias, is the indirect evidence that the present pseudo-stability in Russia will not last long.

Discourse battles have already started!

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