“Destalinisation” as a Problem and Perspective for Social Ethics in Contemporary Russia
The concept of “destalinization” was primarily introduced to characterize changes in internal politics as well as social and cultural system of Eastern European countries, with the USSR as the first one in the list after the death of Joseph Stalin. My idea is that this term has rich potential as a category for critical analysis. Nowadays perspective interventions into social ethics should employ the term. That makes it a pressing issue. Today the term is still widely used in various discussions about ongoing changes in Russia, although its usage is restricted to culture and historical memory, including “historical politics”. There are only rare cases when “destalinisation” is applied in studies of power, state institutions, and social relations. Nonetheless, these institutions and relations are inherited from the 1930s and 1940s and are still intact in fundamental dimensions, although voices of those researchers who explore it, have zero influence in public discussions. In contemporary Russia we can now observe processes in action that might have worked years ago, but have not been performed then. What we currently see is a painful process in which long-existing imperial political and cultural systems are deconstructed and transformed. Sometimes they even strike back: we can recognize it in the recent rise of neo-Stalinism as an easy-to-grasp phenomenon of mass consumption culture and as the official politics of memory.
Mikhail Nemtsev is an assistant professor (docent) in Russian Academy of National Economy and Public Administration (RANEPA) in Moscow, where he teaches Russian History. He also works as co-editor of the website GEFTER (www.gefter.ru). He studied Siberian regional history and teaching, obtained his BA in education, and his MA and PhD (kandidatskaya) in Philosophy from Institute of Philosophy and Law in Siberian Branch of Russian Academy of Sciences (SB RAS). He also holds an MA in Gender Studies from the Central European University. His MA thesis was based on a study of early movements of sexual minorities in post-Soviet Russia. His main professional fields of research are social philosophy and intellectual history of the USSR. Mikhail Nemtsev also writes poetry and essays dealing with social memory and mass perception of conflicts in past and present. His main interests are the social ethics and the anthropological ground for ethical estimation and decisions, and the moral and ethical consequences of social transformation along with ideological consolidation in contemporary Russia.