Socrates in Russia, Part II

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In May 2022, while wrapping up edits on my contribution to Socrates in Russia amidst a stream of dreadful news from the Ukrainian front, I learned that the eighteenth-century estate where Skovoroda spent his final years, and nearby which he was laid to rest, was destroyed by Russian air strikes. Hryhoriy Skovoroda is still here, invisibly, in our cultural memory. Our world has once again become the one that Skovoroda despised, described as “flesh and whips and tears.” No to war.

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Socrates in Russia, Part I

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The story of Socrates has long been a vessel for interpretation. Philosophers, writers, and artists in Russia, Eastern Europe, and Soviet and post-Soviet space have actively participated in this process, creating their own Socrateses for their respective eras and environments.

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Propaganda, Political Apathy, and Authoritarianism in Russia



Russian propaganda derives its effectiveness from political apathy rather than its ability to persuade. Because citizens understand that their actions cannot affect the autocrat’s policies, they invest only minimal resources in acquiring political information or thinking about politics at all. This state of affairs, in turn, leads to a very superficial processing of information.

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Rethinking “The Archives” in the Aftermath of Russia’s War in Ukraine, Part II



Instead of giving funding for travel to archives in Russia, funding should be determined by the project itself. Scholars should be able to propose travel to a variety of places in the US or elsewhere other than Russia. The needs of the project would determine the places where research would be done. This would avoid fetishizing the Russian archives. Travel to Russia is not the main point. Collecting relevant material for a dissertation or other scholarly project is.

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How Will Our Scholarship On Nineteenth-Century Russian Culture Change In Response To Russia’s War On Ukraine?



On May 25, 2022, six scholars—all primarily Russia specialists—responded to the question of how scholarship on nineteenth-century Russian culture would change in response to Russia’s war on Ukraine. The present grouping of thought pieces, written by five of our six original participants, grew out of the online event. We are grateful to Ab Imperio for bringing these informal mini-essays to a wider audience in such a timely way, and we hope the articles will help advance our field’s urgent discussion of how best to move forward.

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Ukraine’s Post-Soviet Legion? Foreign Fighters from the Former Soviet Union in Ukraine



Foreign fighters hailing from the former Soviet Union are more numerous, and better incorporated into Ukraine’s armed forces, than ever before. Their language skills, experience of post-Soviet armed conflicts, and shared post-Soviet heritage make them far more manageable and effective for Ukraine than more diverse units populated by Western volunteers.

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Private or Public? Changes in the Use of Russian and Ukrainian Following the Russian Invasion



In my recent experience leading English classes for Ukrainian refugees, I have noticed students fluidly moving between Russian and Ukrainian. This phenomenon is well-documented across Ukraine, and there’s no need to rehash it here. I’ll admit, however, to being surprised: wouldn’t war with Russia, the symbol of the Russian language (and home of its institutions, such as the Pushkin Institute of the Russian Language), produce antipathy toward it, at the very least? And wouldn’t this antipathy lead people to abandon Russian en masse in order to assert their Ukrainian patriotism and difference?

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Paralysis of Complicity in Dmitri Prigov and Beyond: How to Do Things With Metaphors Now?



For many of us who feel complicit—through language, citizenship, or background—in the crimes Russia is carrying out in Ukraine right now, it feels necessary to reassess the metaphors we have been using in discourse and fiction. Do the figures of power that these metaphors represent preserve and prescribe the status quo (which does not even seem to be “just” a status quo anymore)?

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Do Russians Care About the War in Ukraine?



Polling in an authoritarian regime is a tricky business, all the more so when the country is at war. People are understandably wary of expressing an opinion to a random stranger. Nevertheless, the Levada Center has regularly asked Russians about their attitudes towards the “military operation.” They find a high level of support: 74% in April, 77% in May and 75% in June. Age differences are significant: more than 90% of respondents over 65 supported the war versus 36% of those aged 18-24. The May poll found that 44% expected the “operation” to last at least six more months.

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The Ukraine War and the Putin Succession



Putin is 69 years old. There has been much speculation about the state of his health. All we know for sure is that he will die at some point: that could happen tomorrow, or it could be 25 years from now. Putin has made no move to groom a potential successor. Such a step could lead to a palace coup and an involuntary and premature departure from power. Putin has structured his regime in a way that makes a successful coup unlikely to succeed.

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With Russia’s War in Ukraine, Aeroflot Faces Unfriendly Skies, Part II



Yesterday’s post addressed the new cold war in the skies, which has divided the West from Russia as a consequence of Russia’s aggression in Ukraine. Sanctions against Russia’s aviation sector and the country’s retaliatory measures have unmade many of Russia’s global air routes, which the Soviet Union began building in the mid-1950s. Yet this sector, I hazard to predict, will likely weather sanctions by recreating the illiberal regime of air travel that characterized Aeroflot in the Soviet era.

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