Thursday, May 24, 2018

Young Russians Offered Numerous Soviet and Imperial Utopias but No Liberal Ones

Paul Goble

            Staunton, May 24 – Many explanations have been offered for why young Russians seem even more committed to the imperial and archaic nature of the Putin regime than their parents, but one seldom mentioned is that young Russians are routinely offered Soviet and imperial utopias in books and films but no liberal ones, Gleb Yevseyev suggests.

            In today’s NG-Ex Libris, the critic says that “in present-day Russian fantasy, two images of the future are competing … the USSR-2 [which posits] a ‘Red Renaissance’ in our society and … a Russian Empire 2.0, more a ‘white’ project with clearly expressed features of monarchism” (

                “It is curious,” Yevseyev continues, “that not even the palest and simplest utopian project of a liberal future has yet appeared in our fantasy literature.” 

            According to the critic, “the ‘white’ platform is expressed more clearly and distinctly than the ‘red.’” Since 2013, there have been four collections of Russian Empire 2.0 issued to popular acclaim. A fifth has been announced for later this year.

            In the latest of these books, the editors are quite clear in what they want to show: “Our Russia of the future,” they say, “is a star Empire with a monarch at the head together with the Church but with a highly developed scientific, technological, and poerful economy. This is not a paleo-empire; this is a future-empire.” 

            The writers in the collection, Yevseyev says, “show an Empire not in static form but in a dynamic one: it engages in constant expansion in all directions. It establishes new cities and colonies in the cosmos, it takes under control planets at various ends of the galaxy, it explores the ocean depth and, if needed, defends its interests with the help of armed force.”

            These “’builders of the future,’” the critic says, “try to present Russia in the form of a living and what is most important developing organism, engaged in a harsh competition with other social systems which reflect a different path of development than our own.” The result is a constantly changing “kaleidoscope” of developments.

            Yevseyev says that many will and should read these fantasies for what they say about reality, one that he says either confirms or disconfirms Count Benckendorf’s observation that “the future of Russia exceeds any imagination.”  But those who are writing about it may be closer to the facts than even they suspect, the critic concludes.

            They’ve decided to call their forthcoming volume “Coronation Day.” 

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