. V. Shchipkov. The Death of Intelligentsi

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In recent years, the fate of the Russian intelligentsia is discussed few and far between. The intelligentsia has died as a social category: social stratification didnt get round it. The place of intelligentsia is occupied by yuppies and creative managers deprived of collective moral reflection. So, why does the thinking community keep silent? It seems to me that we can confidently answer this question already. In all appearance, the present time is not the only wrong time for this conversation. The inopportune moment will last forever. The public landscape has changed so much that the intelligentsia dissolved as a social unity and ceased to play any role in social processes.

The death of the intelligentsia has been discussed for a long time. However, it still were, as the saying goes, the subjective judgments of separate persons. There was no lack of poor prognoses. But today we have a completely different situation. Before us, there is quite a trustworthy criterion certifying death with medical accuracy: absence of the public interest. The interest has evaporated and reached zero degree. The very matter of dispute became an archaic phenomenon. It is excluded from the agenda.

The post-Soviet liberalization of Bolshevism launched the stratification of the intelligentsia. In the days of Boris Yeltsin, the Soviet monolith began tragically splitting into muddled ways. Some representatives of the former thinking class became swanky and glamorous. The rest merged with the mass of state employees despised by "real" representatives of the new Russian era. Those who were hired by the government left in the lurch those who stayed behind market reforms.

The Soviet intelligentsia should be discussed separately. Proclaiming itself as the opposition to the Soviet system by the mouth of its most privileged representatives, it had no idea that it cut its own throat. Yes, the Soviet system was filled with ideology and repressions, but it needed the intelligentsia, sometimes tame, sometimes oppositional. Directors, writers, actors were considered decorations of the governmental structure, a kind of chimaeras on cathedrals. They were made much of, they were coddled. However, under the dictatorship of the market there is no need for this eccentric social layer, which always saves the world culture and is eager to enlighten the masses. Why is it necessary? "Mirkult" (global culture), "dukhovka" (intellectual development), "kulturka" (cultural development) – all this is now sealed in tasteless plastic boxes.

The fact is that this very "mirkult" is a non-digestible food for the brains of post-Soviet inhabitants. Moreover, today there is nobody to enlighten them like it was under the old Soviet regime. On the contrary, the educational standard is cut, society is dumbed down by the education reform, the remnants of knowledge are driven to requirements of unified state tests. In addition to the above, former members of the intelligentsia often sincerely adhere to such changes. But in spite of all the previous and current plaudits to the new regime, the intelligentsia had to leave the stage of history.

The new society that is being built today is a society of commodity giants, clerks and window cleaners. Of course, there is no room for the intelligentsia. Cultural and political strategists are still needed – they have been instructed to maintain the government. However, these strategists do not form neither a social class nor a category. They represent a very small group of people who know each other by name and build up a small sect.

Let's look at the past of the intellectual class. It is no coincidence that it is haunted by the current social experts eagerly seeking for "new intellectuals". After all, many of these enthusiasts themselves "came" from the former Soviet intelligentsia. Did former intelligentsia decide to take care of itself? It seems so. Or, in philosophical language, it switched to a mode of self-description. This means that it switched to traditional intellectual questions: "What is to be done?", "Who is to blame?", "Who are you with, masters of culture?" and "What are we coming to?" It's time to add one more question, a main question: "What does the intelligentsia mean?"

Messianism. The intelligentsia appeared in a bureaucratic state, and immediately became a layer that consisted of so-called "unwanted persons". It was ready neither to serve the autocratic power nor to close the range with the people. More precisely, the populists tried to turn towards the people, but the 1905 year brought many of them down to earth.

The essence of the intelligentsia is in its eternal and noticeable difference from the rest of the society. A sort of "nihilism without faith", as noted by the authors of Milestones (collection of articles). The intelligentsia stewed in the juices of its own ideas, or rather, of misunderstood achievements of European intellectuals. Moreover, it made terms with the government: "Let us take the helm and we will serve hand and foot for that." The intelligentsia tried to teach both the government and the people how to live reasonably and in good faith. It tried to indicate what should be, in its opinion, the "modern society." However, the tone of the conversation was absolutely unacceptable to Europeans. The intellectuals did not want to be controlled, but wanted to manage themselves. It is no coincidence that the intelligentsia had favorite cultural values along with generally accepted ones. As noted by one historian, the Soviet intelligentsia had its own religion (the Strugatsky brothers), its own ideology (Andrei Sakharov), favorite books (I. Babel, I. Ilf and E. Petrov, A. Rybakov) and favorite theater ("Taganka").

Unclaimed messianism of the intelligentsia moved it more and more away from the government and the people. It was so until 1917, when the intelligentsia finally inherited the helm: for a short time, it became the government itself, until it was moved by the workers' and peasants' movement. But the intellectuals learned nothing. The sufferings of false opposition started again. The age-old mixture of devotion to the government and the imaginary opposition represent an extremely tricky phenomenon. It is no wonder that their collective identity rested on the system of myths invented by intellectuals themselves rather than on any social role.

The Opposition Myth. Bargaining with the government is the main occupation of the intelligentsia. It has never been a real opposition, though it wanted to be at the helm of state and have a preferential right to instruct the society. For example, men of the sixties in the Soviet era struggled for the right to be critics of the government and affiliated with the government. They got theirs. The government needed the "opposition" at that time. Such periods made everything happen under the consensus: the intelligentsia always fluctuated with the general line. The intellectuals called each "honeymoon" with the government a "thaw", and its termination a "freezing".

The fact is that the role of a self-proclaimed social mentor is impossible without the support of the government: no one would listen, otherwise. That is why the intellectuals secretly love the government. This love is an important condition for its survival. This is the main secret of the intellectual class. However, the representatives of this class sometimes "blab out", like Mikhail Gershenson, who said after the release of Milestones: "Whatever we are, we cannot dream of a merger with the people. We must be afraid of it more than of the political gambling. We must bless this government which alone with its bayonets and prisons still protects us from the fury of the people."

He was tormented for this phrase. Gershenzon was forced to leave the liberal "Vestnik Evropy." However, he was ridiculed precisely for the truth he inadvertently blurted out. The relations in the triangle "Government – Intelligentsia – People" are completely described by their formula.

The Enlightenment myth. The intelligentsia often represents itself as the class of enlighteners in a wild, underdeveloped Asian country. They always talked about the education of the people, but, in fact, they claimed the role of the new noble estate. In the opinion of the leaders of the intelligentsia, the government had to provide them with a special status (the right to "rule the nations") solely for their cultural and educational level. The purest messianism. By the way, the ultimate aim of the introduction of unified state tests and fees paid for secondary-level education, as well as reducing the number of universities, is just the removal of the people beyond this cultural and educational level.

The Freedom Myth. Freedom is not for everyone. It is only for us. It is a privilege rather than freedom. This is the way the intelligentsia understood the freedom. "Rights and Freedoms", or, more accurately, the privileges they called on the government for, were in fact the analogue of the Decree on Liberties of the Gentry.

Let us say that the minority of intellectuals gained the right to be in the press and speak on television after 1991. What does the freedom of others involve then – the freedom of the majority, who have no right to be in the press and speak on television? The intelligentsia did not care. This is the historical analogy clarifying the matter.

The first storyline. After the Decree on Liberties of the Gentry, the peasants decided that it was time for a decree on liberties of the peasantry. It was rumored that peasants in the southern provinces were already set free and given plots of land. But time passed by, and the Decree was not released. The peasants began to revolt, and joined the Cossack rebellion led by Pugachev. They paid with their life for that.

The second storyline. After the non-public decree on liberties of the intelligentsia released during perestroika, the people decided that it was time for a decree on liberties of the people. The people believed in perestroika, supported the new government – Boris Yeltsin and his team – and the coup in 1991. But the Central Committee was replaced by the liberal nomenclature, which appropriated the property owned by the Communist Party of the Soviet Union and destroyed the industry. The protests were suppressed by troops in 1993, and the public unrest was declared a conspiracy between Communists and Nazis. The intelligentsia supported the government in 1993 and wrote the famous and shameful "Letter of the 42" with an ardent appeal "Mr. President, squash the snake!" (B. Ahmadulina, D. Granin, A. Dementiev, V. Astafiev, D. Likhachev, B. Okudzhava, R. Rozhdestvenskiy, etc.). The intelligentsia did not want to share its freedom.

In general, the intelligentsia is extremely authoritarian by nature. Calling itself the "cultural layer" and "decent" people, it likes to introduce the eligibility criteria: what kind of people are worth a "handshake", and what kind of people are not. It is no coincidence that the Bolsheviks are squared intellectuals. The authoritarianism of Bolsheviks emerged from the tradition of the intelligentsia – the idea of civilizing activity in a backward country.

At the beginning of the noughties, a monument to the intelligentsia was unveiled in Moscow. It looks like this: Pegasus soars above an abstract composition of steel spikes. A monument is usually set up either posthumously or for a special status while alive. This monument to "itself" is the construction the Russian intelligentsia was engaged in throughout its whole history. Today, this monument reveals both qualities of the Russian intelligentsia. Firstly, it was historically defeated and died. Secondly, the selectness complex and messianism of the intelligentsia represent its monument to itself.

The death of the intelligentsia is logical. It could not pass the examination neither in intellectual eligibility nor in moral maturity nor even in adherence to itself.

In the early 90-ies, the intelligentsia ceased to be a single freedom-loving class that drifted in the USSR "between research institutes and the realm of freedom." The "market" conditions provided the final stratification and dissociation of the intelligentsia. The new government renamed the most part of it (non-swanky intellectuals) as state employees, equated them to fringe urban population groups and turned into the scum of society. The vast majority of the former Soviet enlighteners moved in three directions: emigration, trading and hard drinking. The chain of time was broken. The minority (swanky intelligentsia) started to serve for the government and glorify the new order. Neither part thought about freedom they talked so much about in old times.

So where can the new intelligentsia come from today? Who creates it and why?


In recent years, the fate of the Russian intelligentsia is discussed few and far between. The public landscape has changed so much that the intelligentsia dissolved as a social unity and ceased to play any role in social processes. The place of intelligentsia is occupied by yuppies and creative managers deprived of collective moral reflections. Apparently, it will last forever.

In fact, the phenomenon of new people is familiar to those who were born and lived in the Soviet Union. The Soviet ideologists were inclined to explain this process in a strictly scientific manner. However, modern professors of collective souls explained the birth of a new social class according to the rules of the cosmogonic myth: everything comes from nothing. So, who were the new gentlemen of intelligentsia before? Nobody. They are people mentally transformed on the rebound of "snowy" protests and mobile "maidans". Their morality was lurking in them before. But then there was Bolotnaya Square, Sakharov Prospect: the morality woke up. That's why they can now proudly wear the title of a member of intelligentsia. You may not believe it, but the lists of "shockworkers" of moral transformation were immediately compiled and published on the "Moscow News" website in the section "We introduce you." All in the nature of: restaurant owners, owners of laundry shops, social activists ...

The new intelligentsia, if we take into account the circumstances of its birth, cultural level and social ambitions, is similar to the proletariat rather than to the old intelligentsia. Firstly, the immediate task of the new intelligentsia as the former "hegemon" was political education and inspiration of ordinary people, as well as bringing them to political meetings. Secondly, they are united by an artificial origin.

At one point the "red" power created "hegemons" of the former peasants by separating them from their land and driving together into cities. Modern intelligentsia has no source to appear from. After all, the old intelligentsia – "unwanted people" and enthusiasts of research institutes today are destroyed as a class and cannot be reproduced anymore. One hope is for virtual technologies. For a creation of a media image.

It is not a mere coincidence that M. Bulgakov united the Soviet social experiment for the preparation of Sharikovs into one medical metaphor. Something like that was launched, apparently, in respect of the new-intelligentsia. Since there is monetary feudalism outside rather than military communism, we have the appropriate hegemon. Basically, this is the very office plankton. We live in the era of "modernization" (nano, twitter, youtube). Modern social technologists didnt become aware even of such a feather as the generation of new office and moral principles. They just awarded medium-level managers, hipsters and other social fauna with the title of "intelligentsia." With the epithet "new", just to cover the apparent discrepancy. That's that.

Someone once called Nazism the ideology of shopkeepers. Today's social Darwinism is the ideology of managers and experts in estimation of other people's money, ideas and products of labor. As well as the ideology of those (they are much more numerous) who would like to be like them. We mean managers in their spirit rather than in their name. Those who share this ideology are many times as more numerous than "office plankton". No wonder the whole service economy operates on the basis of this standard. PR agencies, distributors, developers, service providers, restaurant-keepers, bankers, merchandisers, designers, lawyers, experts and so on.

The most part of printed press and television, all noticeable "contents" are for managers. Weekly publications and "intellectual glossy magazines" – for managers. Ordinary glossy magazines and women's magazines, fitness, spa for a managers wife. Teenage fiction, gadgets, show business – for his children. Series showing the life of similar individuals, "stylish" cafes, lifestyle shops. As well as "smart fiction" represented by B. Akunin, L. Ulitskaya and others. With their eternal "intelligent" cuddling and reassuring backslapping: well done, dear reader, you do not forget the fundamental school curricula.

Thats just the structure we have. However, the real office plankton makes up less than 10% of the nation. But many people eat, read, watch all the same. If the minority finely pretends to be the majority, it is the hegemony. The "new intelligentsia" follows the same way. Or more truly, it is led the same way.

So said by a manager, so done by a manager. The office plankton was sewn a hypophysis – moral imperatives of the old intelligentsia in order to get something ennobled. For simplicity, they were explained that morality and ethics are when in case of election fraud they go out to squares and demand to cease this ugliness, being thrilled with their own civic consciousness. This makes them social leaders, the chosen ones, authorized to give moral appraisal to anything.

The liberal political writer Aleksandr Arkhangelskiy said frankly: "It is surprising, but earning money and public service ceased to be two incompatible things for the first time in Russian history. Who was Russian and Soviet intelligentsia before? They did not know how to deal with money and felt scorn for those who know how to earn it. Old intelligentsia served selflessly, that is free of charge. Now everything is different. New intelligentsia often finds itself in business" (A. Arkhangelskiy. New intelligentsia has no concept of "the people." Interview in "Moscow News" // This is the key phrase. Even today, the captains of business are included into the lists of members of new intelligentsia posted by "Moscow News."

Of course, this is an elementary substitution, an inversion. After all, you could start from the other end and say we now have a intelligent and morally responsible business environment. It is ready to build homes for orphans, donate to churches and social programs. But such statements are, at best, laughed at. Everyone knows what "Jurgens" and "Kudrins" do with our social sphere, and what do Russia needs charity for. By the way, at the beginning of the noughties the writer Tatyana Tolstaya announced a quite serious literary contest with a "businessman with a human face" as the main character. That is a socially responsible businessman. A storybook with such "characters" seems to have been published eventually. Almost simultaneously with the storybook about good and fair policemen.

The creators of the new layer rotate the problem by 180 degrees, like a chess board. Oligarchs? No, just that guy, well, that new intelligentsia ... a responsible one. Generally speaking, they do some business... Well, who is to say.


Without moral rhetoric, the birth of a new hegemon is not complete. We hear now and then the leaders say the government is a very cynical and corrupt society. But in society, where autocracy rules the money, cynicism pervades all classes. Business is cynical and therefore intends to wear the skin of the intelligentsia. The cynical humanitarian interlayer invents new intellectuals and blows out beautiful social phantoms from its pipes. A society that does not feel like a nation is doomed to cynicism. The arguments in the spirit of academician Dmitry Likhachev about the ecology of the soul, etc. would only induce laughter these days.

Fortunately, we have the experience of 90s. And deceiving us again will not be easy. Today, no one goes to the library for the "new world" in search of occasions for reflection and guidance. And we will not listen to the leaders of the "new intellectuals." Now these leaders talk a lot about political responsibility. We remember how they pushed the authorities to the massacre in 1993 and imposed a nomenclative redistribution of property on the country. Today, they have learned to abuse the power of being in power. In determining its course, the Ministers demand to urgently reduce the number of educated people in the country. How precisely one of the leaders of the left noticed how it is clear that those who acted as leaders of the protest were a protest against the usurpers was exactly the same as, in their view, the power was in relation to society as a whole. And maybe even to a greater extent, because the support of power in society was still higher than support of opposition leaders among their own supporters. This is what it is called. Ordinary cynicism.

But it's all part of morality. And what about the ideology?

This question is much more specific, and most importantly – urgent. After all, in order for the "angry citizen" to easily assume the proposed role, it is necessary to educate him properly in politics. Explain what is useful and what is harmful to society, something of which he, according to his new status, should think and care.

As you know, the official ideology embedded in the "new intellectuals" is the "theory of modernization". We more or less know what it is. It is the nanofilters in addition to a rusty oil pipe. This is capital amnesty. This is degradation of science, industry and army. This is a reformation of Orthodoxy plus sequestration in the world – free education and health care, retirement, parental rights. Well, and regular rallies.

If the experience is brought to the end, all of these "values" of the new hegemon need to be accepted and then forced upon us to accept. Therefore, we should say a few words about their origin.

After the collapse of the Soviet Union and the abolition of historical materialism arrived new social theories among the intellectually trendy. The theory of totalitarianism, the clash of civilizations, the end of history, and so on. Not least among these is the "theory of modernization". The essence of it, to put it briefly, is this: the developed countries show their way to less developed countries. The less developed countries assimilate their ideology and go past their stage of development – in general, they are "modernized".

This theory arose in the 1950s-60s and was used for the control of the former colonies. These same colonies, third world countries, achieved political freedom, but they had to be tied down as a secondary nation. Already economically. The period of discharging the "modernization theory" was finally recognized as frivolous and propaganda-like. The work of independent researchers have shown that the metropolis is not in need of new competitors and, therefore, use their influence while financial instruments, on the other hand, can hamper the development of outsiders. But after the collapse of the Soviet Union the "modernization theory" was again pulled out of the closet to be applied to the newcomers from the former Eastern bloc. That's the whole key. That's what we had to do earlier and have to do now. That's what we have to deal with in the future.

That "new intellectuals" are instructed to roll up the capsule in the "thick-thick layer of chocolate" consisting of humanitarian values. And these people will serve us as a moral tuning fork and arrive as miracles to our civilization. And we can only watch the "new intellectuals" force the government to accept it into service and receive a commission.

By and large, intellectuals from the time of Peter Chaadaev applied misapplications to European culture, calling it "Westernism." Or they developed the ideology of the ruling regime, calling it patriotism. And if the regime was liberal, the two functions were identical, presenting a more complete picture of public activity of the intelligentsia – hence the popular expression of the "liberal gendarmerie."

Strictly speaking, the Russias government taken at its highest point – this is "liberalism" for the upper classes and a dictatorship for the lower classes. Connect the two entities into one and explain that this is the "modernization" this is the main problem, which the authorities can deliver to the intelligentsia today if their service is called upon again. This is what writers seek when walking along the boulevards and calling themselves the new intelligentsia.


Right now, as the intelligentsia is returning to the past, much of its fate has become clear. The very concept of the "Russian intelligentsia" revealed its parochialism and tautology. Intellectuals therefore suffered a historic defeat because of the deep-soiled and provincial – despite their often ultra-Western views.

In Europe, as we know, the term "intelligentsia" refers simply to the educated people, intellectuals, and nothing else. In Russia it has long stood for a closed class of teachers with the ambition to benefit the nation and world culture. Incidentally, the latter circumstance strongly refutes the thesis of the intelligentsia leads about the intelligentsia as a creative class. Everything is exactly the opposite. European intellectuals are who created the notorious "spiritual values", each in its own national way. The Russian intelligentsia lived on what they tried to sell on the domestic market value created by these intellectuals, but was not able to digest them properly. That is there was no intellectual independence, it did not have it and was not going to buy it. I just drove counterfeit. The creative secondary was its main feature.

Thus, the intelligentsia and all of its modus vivendi was a deeply-rooted, local Russian a phenomenon. It has no European counterparts. Therefore, the more these "Westerners" were considered one kind or another group of intellegentsia (show me a "Westerner" in Europe), the more Pochvennik (a man who is keen on his people's traditions) they were de facto, no offense to the official Pochvennik.

Unsurprisingly, the postmodern era ate up the former "teacher of the nation" – in all secondary and did not have the skills of spiritual self-dependence. And what's surprising: after all, post-modernism is a dictatorship of the secondary and dissimulation. Did representatives of the intelligentsia have the will and spiritual resource for the resistance? The answer is obvious. On the contrary, it was not even close, they pretended to assume their former identity, so to speak, they marked presence. But in the end, even a pastiche has become impossible: social and cultural context have changed too much.

So the intelligentsia died in our country after the peasantry and the proletariat. Moreover, the gene's death was laid in its organism from the very beginning. The new political reality just activated it.

But as you know, a holy place is never empty. Where there is no claim to national leadership, even insolvent, there begins the direct manipulation of the consciousness of the masses. This will be the "creative class," which came to the take the place of the destroyed intelligentsia. What is it? A new primitive community, parasitic social stratum. Only it does not sell and impose an ideology on the masses like the mentoring intellectuals, but ready-made standards of consumption and behaviors inevitable in a conquering market fundamentalism. All this is being imposed in its pure form, without the intellectual side dish in the form of "spirituality." The anti-globalization circles poetically call this dish "the religion of the matrix."

Interestingly enough, the new reality quickly noticed and analyzed the leftist writers, not the conservatives and followers of "landmarks". For example, historian and sociologist Boris Kagarlitsky in his article The Mystery of the Creative Class correctly observes:

"In relation to society they (the representatives of the "creative class ") are a phenomenon of the same order like the financial and stock market bubbles are in relation to the economy. The main "production" of the creative class is its own lifestyle, tastes, preferences and entertainment ... Everyone must respect the creative class, including the bourgeoisie. All the layers and groups of society must bow to its creativity, and the bourgeoisie should even give it money. And they are doing just that, very generously.

This is all correct. At the same time B. Kagarlitskiy convinced that "this is not the old creative intellegentsia, not professional people, not professional experts, not scientists or researchers. The creative class is even in a confrontation with a bulk of the old intelligentsia.

But are there really no deep ties between the former intelligentsia and the current "creative"? Both yes and no.

The "Creative" are the successors of the intelligentsia in regards epigonism and consumer psychology. But if the intelligentsia performed this function within the cultural paradigm, then the "creative" implement it in commercial fetishes and symbols of glamorous lifestyle. But whatever it was, something happened. The social body of the intelligentsia was an exhibit of the historical Kunstkammer. Breaking copies around this fact looks quite tragicomic. It's time to bury the dead, with all the honors.

But before it comes to the funeral ritual, death should be explained as a medical fact. There are important formalities. This is not a whim and not a posture. Death is necessary to certify the official – this aim, in particular, pursued in this article. Without this formality the social body of the deceased still lives, while the biological body has hardened. Moreover, sometimes the social life is artificially prolonged. For example, a resourceful person can glue a new photo in the passport of the deceased. Sometimes, with their help it is possible to sell the rest of the living space of the deceased.

What is the "apartment" of the old intelligentsia? It is its social niche and eternal claim to the role of the new nobility. All of this by logic should be annihilated in the flow of history. But not everyone is satisfied with this situation. Others are prepared to use forgery to extend the life of the deceased on paper.

For example, leaders of the marsh. Deduced as "disgruntled citizens", they are specifically baptized the "new intelligentsia. That is, people with a mind, honor, and conscience. The mind, according to leaders of the opposition, is proof by how these citizens lived "creativity" – that is, for example, acted as office managers and copywriters, investing in these classes their God-given talents. Well, conscience and honor is much easier. For conscience and honor they had come to the center of Moscow with a white ribbon on they lapel. There are people similar to the kind Goodwin from The Emerald City (Volkov) handing out these moral virtues generously. With a view for future support. But advances were not justified. The "new intelligentsia" trend is not defined: the representatives of Middle-Class poorly absorbed subtle gradations of intellectual ethics. Even the protests were blown away as soon as the left-wing majority understood that the liberal leaders sought not a change of the system, but only a changing of the guard.

In fact, the intelligentsia cannot be resurrected. The new intelligentsia is impossible. And it is not needed. We need a new layer. A layer of organic intellectuals who respect national values, traditions, principles of social justice and moral standards, including Orthodox ethics. Only such a community can compete with the "creative" class, which lives on informational rent and generates a false consciousness of the Russian majority.

Aleksandr Shchipkov