|Who Is Called A "Sovok"
Alexander Zinoviev is a writer, sociologist, logician, artist and poet,
of gigantic capabilities that are still to a great extent underrated.
many adherents, but even more opponents. Zinoviev spent twenty years
West in forced emigration.
Alexander Zinoviev received his degree in philosophy from Moscow State
in 1951. He soon became one of the more prominent researchers in logic,
received a Doctorate of Political Science.
Many of the works of this talented academic created a sensation in the
world. These were "Philosophical Problems of Multifold Logic", "The
Science", "The Logic of Expression and the Theory of Deduction", "The
of Physics". He was elected to the Finnish Academy of Sciences that
at the time
was one of the main centers in the field of logic.
Following is an excerpt from his new book which is still in the process
George Shenkar, Detroit, USA
Translation from Russian.
CONFESSIONS OF A "SOVOK"? NO, OF A SOVIET INDIVIDUAL!
By Alexander Zinoviev
The Russian bastardized word "sovok" (sovokopniy=cooperative
or a collective
person – GS) is now used for the representatives of the
generation that were
born and lived for a more or less significant part of
their lives during the
Soviet period. Some people now use this word as a term
of derision towards the
USSR epoch and to the people that this period has produced.
I belong to the many such "sovoks" whose silent acquiescence
destroyed the Soviet
Union and the Soviet socialist structure in Russia and
in other parts of the
former Soviet Union. Until the present day I was afraid
to admit this to myself,
analyzing and imagining all kinds of excuses for that
which occurred during
the Gorbachev and Yeltsin years. And yet, in the Institute
where I worked for
over thirty years, they told me that as a result of privatization
reorganization my services were no longer required. I
had known that sooner or later this would happen. I was waiting for that
moment. And naturally, I was prepared for it.
But, when they officially notified me of this, it sounded
to me like a death
Unemployed! For me as for all the "sovoks," in all of
the years of my life in
the Soviet Union, it never ever entered my head, even
hypothetically, that I
could be unemployed. Now I accept this word as a diagnosis
of an incurable
illness. A special type of illness; a social illness.
Against it there is now no cure.
In a condition of petrifaction, not even seeing my friends,
I left the Institute.
It was as though I have left an entire epoch. Did this
indeed occur in reality,
and not in a sick delirium?! How and why did this happen?!
Who was responsible
Walking halfway to my residence, I finally achieved the
capability of logical
thinking. You, yourself are responsible for this. How
did you react to Gorbachev
s "perestroika?" You welcomed it? How did you react to
in August of 1991? You welcomed it? How did you react
to the shooting and
bombardment of the Supreme Soviet in October of 1993?
You favored it? And so you got that which you were fated to receive for
all of your foolishness, thoughtlessness,
irresponsibility, if not to say even more about your
conduct – for your treason,
or at best, fore your tolerance of treason. What you
sow, so shall you reap!
LOSS OF A COLLECTIVE
Having left the Institute on the day that they announced
my dismissal, I suddenly
understood that I lost not only my accustomed place of
work and source of income,
but something even immeasurably greater: the collective.
I dare say that this
is the greatest loss for a "sovok". It is easier to survive
the loss of friends
and relatives than the loss of a collective. Only now
have I understood (actually
realized) that the soul of a "sovok" is in his association
within the life of
a socialist collective, in all aspects of its existence
– that is what, it turned
out, was the basis of our socialist life. And now, this
of the Soviet era no longer exists!
I began to notice this while I was still working at the
Institute. With the
beginning of Gorbachev’s "perestroika" there began to
occur in the life on the
Institute something that I could not describe. There
was some type of decay.
There were the same premises, the same students, the
same teachers. Everything
was the same as previously. But the most important thing
organization of people in a united collective, a socialist
collective consciousness, a
collective psychology, a collective behavior. There was
a sense of a loss of purpose in
the Party and the Komsomol organization, in meetings,
in conferences, in reports
and in other components of the undivided collective.
There still remained the
hope of Soviet collectivism, still a dim hope that this
condition was temporary,
that soon a miracle will occur, that we will be gathered
in an assembly hall,
and that there will be read some kind of announcement
from a superior court
– and everything then will return back "to our daily
rounds". But alas, nothing
of this sort occurred. Hope was lost. The thin thread,
tying me to the past,
The basic support of the lives of "sovoks" consisted of
all that they did within,
through, their primary collectives. We did not attach
unfortunately any importance
to this, as we considered this to be self-evident and
unshakeable. Many former
Soviet emigrants admitted that they had suffered when
deprived of the Soviet
collectives. But here, something dreadful occurred: the
people remained at home
and not abroad as emigrants, while the Soviet collectives
emigrants had been surviving their own personal drama.
But now there occurred a tragedy of an entire nation: they were all excluded
from the basic conditions of their
existence, their natural medium of existence... Something
was done to us similar
to a fish being hauled out of the water onto dry land
and told: here you are,
free from the Communist water, enjoy the Democratic dry
land! Well, we are now
I walked past innumerable establishments after I was let
go from my job,
factories, enterprises, business-cells of post-Soviet
Russia. People were working in them. But they seem no longer collectives,
such as they were during Soviet times.
These were isolated business machines, cleared out of
everything that constituted
the essential life of "sovoks". The people in these private
to me only phantom people, and their movements seemed
to me only imitations
of human life. To me the city looked like a cinematoscopically
The destruction of Soviet collectives was the greatest
illness of our nation.
It was astounding that it proceeded with little resistance
inconspicuously. It entered hardly anyone’s mind that
this would become the basis for everything else that occurred without limit.
The individual was freeing himself from control, but likewise from control
of an intimate environment. Only now do I realize
that the whole undertaking of privatization was actually
aimed at the destruction
of all collectives and of collectivism. The organization
of collectives and
communes has been killed. It is terrible that all of
this occurred before my
own eyes, and I did not lift a finger to interfere with
It seems that what we had we did not appreciate it and
we do not feel sorry
for it, but when we lose it, we weep. How amused we were
at the scenes of our
collective life! We somewhat strove to avoid meetings,
volunteer work - GS), and other state activities. And
now I think about
participating even in one such activity, to feel myself
as one member of a gigantic family
- a collective. To participate in all activities as we
did during Soviet times
and to feel that you are part of a loving collective.
Lord, has all of this indeed disappeared in that summer,
never again to return?
What idiots we were to have let everything go by!
War heroes like these are called "sovoks" and are persecuted
and jailed! Will
President Putin call his father, who fought against fascism,