Dialectical Identity and Destiny:
A General Introduction to Alexander Zinoviev's
Theory of the Soviet Man
University of Denver
Alexander Alexandrovich Zinoviev, formerly head of the Logic
Department at Moscow University and now exiled and stripped of his
Soviet citizenship for "behavior damaging Soviet prestige," has
authored numerous books, lectured at international conferences, and
is considered to be one of the most provocative thinkers of our time.
Ranging from a satire that depicts the practices of Communist ideology in the Soviet Union to the sociological descriptions of a new type
of man (substituting Homo Sovieticus for Homo Sapiens), his publications appear to be unorthodox analyses of contemporary Soviet life. In
spite of his controversial conclusions, Zinoviev refuses to call himself a
Soviet dissident and emphasizes that he is, first and foremost, the
Soviet Man par excellence. He says: "Soviet people cannot shed their
identity. They may be dissidents, they may live abroad, they may be
anti-Soviet from head-to-toe: their Soviet character will stand out in
everything they write and do" (A Dissenter 35). Yet, when speaking of
the Soviet Man, he says: "I respect him and I despise him. I am
delighted with him and I am appalled by him. I myself am a Homosos.
Therefore I am merciless and cruel when I describe him" (Homo 5).
This paper is directed to those who wish to be acquainted with the
intricate undercurrents found in contemporary Soviet life. It attempts
to introduce the literary world of a highly educated Soviet thinker
while, at the same time, identifying the major traits of his remarkable
protagonist - the Soviet man.
Method and Theory
Zinoviev views Soviet society from the point of view of a dialectic
materialist who stresses certain generally neglected logistic points.
First, he furnishes himself with dialectical methodology as a "totality of logistic approaches toward understanding complex actuality"
(Kommunizm 41). He stresses that the Soviet Man behaves differently
when in isolation from a collective than when within a collective. In
the former, the Soviet Man may denounce decisions made by the Central Committee of the Communist Party or by its General Secretary,
whereas in the latter he may applaud them. In the first example, the
Soviet Man's judgment is abstract, in the latter it is concrete. Zinoviev
claims that Marxist apologists and critics have equally failed to accept
dialectics as a totality of logistic approaches. As a matter of fact, he
says, the dialectical method inevitably produces results which contradict the image of Communism (41).
Second, Zinoviev endorses wholeheartedly the materialist theory.
He believes that an accurate cognitive method must necessarily imply
recognition of the objective social laws and historical tendencies.
However, power and determinism of these objective laws are irreversible. For example, a person who has mastered the objective laws of a
Communist society must conclude with absolute certainty that Communism with democratic freedoms cannot exist as a normal state of
affairs. Such knowledge, Zinoviev claims, is important: people who
conform to objective laws will not waste their energy on some "third
way" and will "seek realistic fighting ways in order to meliorate their
lot" (Ni svobody 25).
Third, in order to understand a Communist ideological society, one
must examine the social relations within the actual "accumulation of
a large number of people for joint life and activity" (Kommunizm 46).
This means that in the practical application of dialectical and historical materialism one must begin by drawing from the actual everyday
human relations existing in the widely spread collectives.
Fourth, there is only one power which can weaken the fetters of
ideology, even if only for a small number of people. It is literature as a
form of comprehension which presents a merciless analysis of the significant events that have occurred. Zinoviev believes that true literature should ultimately remove the illusion that human beings can be
saved by history and the hope that someone will be coming to their
rescue. Such a literature places the responsibility for each event upon
its participants and mobilizes their moral and spiritual powers. Zinoviev feels that literature must reveal to human beings the foundations
and mechanisms for their existence and at the same time point out
that "if you want to get rid of your enemy, then here is your weapon
- fight it out yourself" (Ni svobody 54).
Fifth, Zinoviev accepts Marxist works as valid phenomena, rather
than as a science. Marxism is nothing but an ideology, he claims. He
stresses that such a Marxist work as Stalin's About Dialectical and
Historical Materialism is not "banal nonsense," but rather a work
that has played an important role, "which may be compared with that
of the New Testament," and for the first time it has created "an irreligious and purely ideological society" (Nasej 100).
Sixth, Zinoviev affirms that an ideological society does not allow one
to be the Genuine Man, one who does not seek his own everyday happiness, but prefers to serve, to keep his word, to defend the weak, and
to lead a good life. "I have come to understand," he says, "that in our
society one must learn to cleverly grab all that one can, to be evasive
and shrewd in order not to get hurt" (Nasej 75). To preserve his own
personal ideals, Zinoviev claims to have developed his own personal
philosophy of "reasonable adaption to existential conditions" (75).
Like others around him, he has gradually developed the habit of playing the expected social role naturally and easily, changing his position,
even to an opposite viewpoint. The theory and practice of dialectical
materialism in a new ideological society have molded him into a
resourceful, elastic, and adroit operator.
Zinoviev deals with the Soviet Man in every one of his works and
analyzes him from all possible angles, i.e., geographical, historical,
social, political, psychological, ethical, and spiritual. In his major literary works we may identify three basic prototypes of the Soviet Man -
the Ibanskian Man, the Educated Moscovite, and the Exiled Agent.
The Ibanskian Man
Zinoviev's plotless satirico-sociological work entitled The Yawning
Heights depicts the Soviet Man in a quaint manner. The book evokes
comparisons with Rabelais, Hobbes, Swift, and Voltaire (Pritchett,
Books). In it the Soviet Union is known as Ibansk (a double pun
derived in part from the name Ivan and in part from an obscenity). Its
inhabitants bearing the same name, Ibanov, are distinguished by nicknames (Schizophrenic, Slandered, Shouter, Chatterer, Dauber, etc.),
names given to them by the hostile system when they are in opposition, or by venerable epithets (Thinker, Sociologist, Scholar, etc.),
when they are loyal to the system at great profit to themselves. Readers tend to picture these characters as historical stereotypes: the
"Master of the House" is a caricature of Stalin; the "Seeker after the
Truth" represents Solzhenitsyn; the "Dauber," Neizvestny; and the
"Pharisee," Sinyavsky (Ssachno, News 84). They reflect both specific
and general personality traits, constantly emerging and disappearing,
uttering meaningful and ridiculous ideas about the fate of the country
and human existence. Two languages are used, the official one, hypocritical and literary, and the everyday one, colloquial and commonsen-
sical. They intermingle as fiction and reality. The whole society, in
which the ideology "Ism" has replaced science, and fiction has
become more important than reality, endures periods of disorientation, perplexity, and prosperity. This lengthy work, saturated with discussions and dialogues, parodies and ironies, and written without
paragraphs and quotation marks, gives the author a powerful instrument that enables him to concentrate on the essence of society and
The Ibanskian society has its own imperatives indeed. First, mediocrity is allowed to dominate, and every Ibanskian person who stands
outside or above it is considered dangerous; consequently, moral integrity is automatically subjected to persecution. Second, employment
must be maintained at all costs, even though a job, in reality, might
require a limited number of hands; therefore, the Ibanskian only pretends to work. Third, Ibanskian leaders are decorated for being leaders and then decorated again for being decorated; consequently,
whatever they achieve is accomplished in spite of themselves.
Considering the role played by Marxism in the political arena, the
author distinguishes its impact upon religion, science, and ideology.
While religion is based on belief and science on truth, the existence of
an ideology depends upon its acceptance. Hence, it is not necessary
for the Ibanskians to believe in an ideology - it is only necessary that
they accept it. Marxist ideology is, on the whole, ideally suited for the
Ibanskian society, since it is easy to adapt to it. In time, even the most
honest Ibanskian citizens can learn to manipulate Marxist phraseology
skillfully, so that eventually it is difficult to differentiate between
them and a classic Marxist. Subjected to the general laws of the communal life, the Ibanskians appear to be permanently "trampled and
crushed, an ideal defiled and stained with blood" (Lert 91). They do
not live nor do they work in the real sense of these words, but they
carry out "epoch-making experiments." Their society is stable, everything is within the norm, because sickness has become the norm. All
Ibanskians are sick and, consequently, they are all healthy. When they
shout at the top of their voices that they are only thinking of the welfare of others, they are only thinking about what is good for them;
when they insist on sacrificing, they are, in fact, trying to get their
hands into everything they can.
The book ends in an atmosphere of gloom overpowering the morally
castrated and spiritually dead Ibanskian Man. Religion has been wiped
out and a vacuum exists in its place. The desperate consensus is that
ideology presents a complete and impenetrable whole. The overwhelming desire for physical death - according to the Ibanskian Law
of Death permitting citizens to commit suicide when they reach pensionable age - is no surprise. Every eligible Ibanskian Man, without
exception, expresses his desire for cremation and endures lengthy
bureaucratic red tape when requesting it. The entrance to the crematorium bears the inscription: "Remember! No one and nothing is forcing you to take this step." Another inscription reads: "As you leave,
take the urn containing your ashes with you!" (828).
The book's final words are "And he ceased to exist. And that was
the end of everything" (829).
The Educated Muscovite
The second prototype of Zinoviev's Soviet Man is presented in the
book The Radiant Future which seems to be a gloss on Julien Benda's
La trahison des clercs. J. O. Tate sees it also as a dystopia like 1984 or,
more appropriately, like Zamyatin's We, with the difference being that
Zinoviev describes a "glorious present" (299). In dialectical colloquies
which would seem idiomatic to Lucian, Rabelais, Swift, and Lewis
Carroll, this non-novel novel, with a thinly allegorical fiction, lacking
individuated characters and with scarcely a plot, built more or less
absurdly out of miscellaneous small sections, mercilessly ridicules
Soviet practices. While The Yawning Heights draws on Russian satirical
tradition that goes back at least as far as Saltykov-Shchedrin's The History of a Town, the earthly paradise of The Radiant Future is called
neither Glupov (Dumbtown), nor Ibansk (Fucktown), but Moscow. Its
symbol is an immense concrete structure that supports stainless-steel
letters spelling out the slogan LONG LIVE COMMUNISM - THE
RADIANT FUTURE OF MANKIND. This slogan erected in Cosmonaut
Square is meant to inspire the proletariat while, at the same time,
concealing from foreign visitors the ugly vacant lots behind it. The
letters are always breaking away and irritating everyone but the
drunkards, lovers, addicts, and whores who find refuge among the
steel. Within this single succinct image, Zinoviev captures the Soviet
society's obsession with high flown words and its failure to cope with
the social needs of its citizens.
At the end of the book, the narrator, a typical representative of the
liberal Soviet intelligentsia - a doctor of philosophy, professor, member of the editorial board of the leading philosophical journal, member
of countless committees, commissions, societies, author of six monographs and hundreds of articles, Department Head of the Theoretical
Problems Section on the Methodology of Scientific Communism -
wanders off along the avenue that leads from the Institute to the steel
structure. He thinks out aloud about his former director: "God, when
will someone decide to get rid of all these idiots and replace them with
worthwhile people?" And continues: "Yet we will build it. We will
build Communism" (287). He is afraid that passers-by will laugh at
him. But no one pays the slightest attention.
At first glance, as Clive James notes, the narrator is ideally equipped
to thrive in the Soviet academic system: he has no interest in the subject he researches beyond the fact that it offers advancement (usually
by suppressing any sign of originality in others). It is no doubt intentional, as Gordon Clough points out, that in Zinoviev's rendition this
Department Head of an important Moscow institute has no name, no
face, no spine, and no existence, since - and this is one of the
repeated theses in the book - incumbency in such a post is, in itself,
an evidence of nonentity (38). While he entertains dreams of becoming a Corresponding Member of the Academy, the narrator enjoys
what perks come his way. He takes pleasure in promoting the careers
of his children and friends, he can afford a privately rented room for
sessions with his mistress, and he envies the greater luxuries of those
careerists who are more adroit than he. Although he feels his dignity
somewhat compromised when others see him queuing up for rotten
potatoes, he has no qualms about rushing out with his entire family to
a store that has received a new shipment of generally unavailable toilet paper. He is the unacknowledged author of most of his superior's
articles and speeches, and believes nothing that he or any official says
or does. He is a Soviet Man.
The narrator exists as a stereotype of the educated Moscovite, a
Soviet Man, who is destined never to rise to any social or political
height. He is a triplex man - he thinks one way, speaks another, and
acts in a third way. In his thoughts he laments: "In the past the Russian man was known for his kindness. But now no trace of any kindness exists. The dominant attitude of the Russian man towards his
fellow men is now made up of malice, intolerance, envy, Schadenfreude, hatred and so on" (116). When previewing the book of the
institute collective he heads, he thinks:
Yet our book is to devote a special chapter to the character
of the Soviet Man. What shall we write in it? The usual waffle about the elevated moral and other qualities of Soviet
Man and his superiority over the denizens of bourgeois society? If we were to attempt even the discreetest hint at phenomena which do not even derive specifically from
socialism, but from the mere fact of a surplus of people and
a shortage of goods, we would be putting our heads on the
The fate of the Educated Moscovite in The Radiant Future is boredom, hypocrisy, cynicism, mediocrity, and plain filth, and it accumulates so many contradictions that transformation of their quantity into
new quality necessarily must take place. When the narrator is denied
the nomination as Corresponding Member of the Academy and, herewith, access to the privileged class in the Soviet Union, his family as a
unity of opposites falls apart. His outspoken second wife, Tamurka, a
materialist and opportunist, begins divorce proceedings and with the
aid of her mother - a typical Soviet pensioner and thus an unqualified
supporter of the Soviet system - demands division of their apartment. His sensitive daughter who has called the Academy a black
sheep and has constantly derided the hypocrisy of all the Soviet society, including the Komsomol, commits suicide. His mistress, Svetka,
disappears. His department at the institute is completely reorganized,
its name changed, and its staff members dispersed. He eventually
finds a research position at a little back-street institute.
The Exiled Agent
The third prototype of Zinoviev's Soviet Man appears in Homo
Sovieticus, where the narrator is an unknown Russian exiled in Western
Europe. He introduces the nature of the Soviet Man in these words:
Those who chucked me over here wanted their action to
mean this: Look at this man. He is intelligent and educated.
Nobody was bamboozling or intimidating him, nobody was
corrupting him. Quite the contrary, he did it himself to
other people who do not, however, regard themselves as
bamboozled, intimidated or corrupted.... It is their nature; and therefore they enjoy doing it both to themselves
and to others. They represent a new and more advanced
type of thinking being and offer this model to others.
The narrator presents himself as a healthy Soviet Man. When three
million people in Cambodia are killed, he exclaims: "Fine! That'll
show them what Communism brings you .... Why is this? Well
because a healthy Homosos is a genuine internationalist and regards
all men as brothers. And there's no need to stand on ceremony with
one's brothers, is there?" (38).
The narrator tells his readers that it is absurd to require sincerity from
a Soviet Man. "He would be glad to be [sincere], but he can't, because
he considers that he is always sincere in one respect or another. So if he
is ready to change one sincerity into another from one minute to the
next, this isn't a sign of insincerity" (53).
Morally, the Soviet Man does not see himself as a KGB collaborator.
He only participates in power. The narrator travels abroad frequently
and upon his return he always presents, as expected, a detailed report
to the Presidium of the Academy of Sciences of the USSR. He knows
beforehand that his report will go to the KGB. But he does not care.
For him there is no difference between the Presidium of the AS USSR
and the KGB anyway. He only does his duty as a Soviet Man. He does
not see anything immoral in it. Morality is good for people who can
But if a man finds himself below the bread-line, beneath
the minimum that is indispensable if moral norms are to be
considered applicable in real life, then it is senseless to
apply moral criteria to his behavior. A man in such a position is not only free ipsofacto from moral norms, he is freed
from them by these moral concepts themselves. It is
immoral to expect a man to be moral if he lacks the minimum living conditions that permit society to demand morality of him. (54)
The Soviet Man is no less moral than a Western man: in fact, he is more
sensitive to the fate of his fellowmen. He shows more sympathy not
because of his moral principles, but because of his higher level of collectivism. "Which is better," asks the narrator, "to be indifferent to
your neighbor's fate in a moral society or to be concerned about it in
an amoral society?" (56).
Psychologically, the Soviet Man is plastic, flexible, adaptable. A bad
deed as such is not experienced by the Soviet Man as bad, and since it
is not experienced by him as an isolated phenomenon, it is only an
element of a more complex whole (a block) which is not bad as a
whole. "A drop of poison in a complicated life-saving medicine
doesn't act as a poison" (55). Moreover, the exiled Soviet Man puzzles
the Western world, including authorities and intelligence officers,
when he sequentially takes diametrically opposed viewpoints on various issues and in dialectic word manipulations proves his point. Ultimately, he addresses the reader in these words:
. . . what I am saying here does not express my
convictions.... I haven't got any convictions.... If a
man has convictions it is a sign that he is not intellectually
mature.... more often convictions have no effect on people's behavior. They merely beautify vanity, relieve unclear
consciences and cover up stupidity. (11)
The narrator as a professional man is proud to know that "... indeterminacy, fluidity, mutability, block- and multi-think are peculiarities
of Soviet society ... a society of chameleons" (74).
Intellectually, a contemporary society is more than saturated, claims
the narrator. Members of the intelligentsia have often played an outright reactionary role in Soviet society. Stalin's repressions would not
have been possible without the intellectual elite which projected, calculated, created, and started the whole process. The narrator says
that more than ever before the Soviets are using the Western intelligentsia and gives one of many thousands of examples:
A book critical of Soviet society has appeared in the West.
Simultaneously the translation of a book by Academician
'N' comes out in the same country. An official of our
embassy finds out in advance who will review these books.
For this sort of thing we have innumerable and unfailing
sources of information which don't cost us any money at
all. It also happens that we ourselves recommend suitable
people, and the publishers willingly meet us half-way. A
meeting, on the face of it accidental, occurs between one of
our diplomats and the reviewer-to-be. The diplomat hints
that they are intending to translate Reviewer's book into
Russian. The rest happens automatically. A bad review
appears of the book criticizing the Soviet regime and a
splendid one of the book by the Soviet academic. What
these books are really worth, you know yourself. (185)
The Soviet Man contends that ordinary people, though regarded by
intellectuals as ignorant and idiotic, have the intellect to solve the
problems existing in Soviet life. Therefore, it is only proper that they
take charge of Soviet matters. On the other hand, if the intellectuals
would take over the leadership of society, the result would be much
worse because they lack the feeling for reality. Not having life subordinated to them is distressful to the intellectuals, but the Soviet Man
contends that in the long run what makes intellectuals dangerous is
that although they appear wise, in reality, they are only professionally
Historically, the Soviet Man is a new type of man and not necessarily
a citizen of the USSR. There have been events where the Soviet Man's
inherent traits have surfaced in different epochs and countries
throughout history. Conditioned to exist under relatively bad circumstances, constantly expecting situations to worsen, accustomed to
subjection to a despotic power, generally such people approve the
actions of those in power, denounce the actions of dissidents, disapprove of those who disturb the established behavioral forms, exhibit
solidarity with fellow citizens who are sanctioned by those in power,
and support their leaders by possessing the standard ideologized consciousness, the feeling of responsibility for their country, and the preparedness to resort to sacrifice. However, for the first time in history,
the narrator claims, the Soviet Man has appeared in Russia:
Up to now the Soviet people who have achieved the qualities of the Homosos of maximum maturity are the ones with
a comparatively high level of culture and education and
also those in the most socially active part of the population
(especially people in management, science, propaganda,
culture and education) .... The virus of Homosossery is
spreading apace over the entire globe. It is the gravest disease that can afflict mankind because it reaches to the very
essence of the human being. (199)
To be sure, a Homosos does not exhibit any debasement in man:
On the contrary, he is the highest product of civilization. He
is superman. He is universal. If need be, he can commit any
frightfulness. Where it is possible, he can possess every virtue. There are no secrets which he cannot explain. There
are no problems which he cannot solve. He is naive and simple. He is vacuous. He is omniscient and all-pervasive. He is
replete with wisdom. ... He is ready for anything and anyone. He is even ready for the best. He awaits it, although he
does not believe in it. He hopes for the worst. He is Nothing, that is to say, Everything. He is God, pretending to be
the Devil. He is the Devil, pretending to be God. He is in
every man. (199)
Spiritually, the Soviet Man is a secular materialist existing sub specie
vanitatis. The temporal horizon is the only thing for him, and yet it is
senseless. Looking at the world telescopically, a human being, in the
final analysis, is nothing but an ephemeral beast. The melancholic
author advises his reader on how to live his existence: "Do not trust
anyone.... Remember, the more you trust, the more cynically they
will deceive you." "Do not worry about posterity. Posterity is indifferent to our fate. Our descendants will interpret even our best intentions as attempted coercion and our finest achievements as absurdities
and rubbish." "Spit at friendship." "Don't love" (202-03).
And yet in Homo Sovieticus one finds this passage:
There is only one bright spot in the dark horizon of my life (I
am beginning to express myself really beautifully; this is
symptomatic): it's my Edifice. It is especially beautiful early
in the morning when the sun comes up. It becomes so radiantly joyful that I want to weep from ecstasy. It will, of
course, be the Temple of a new and clean Religion. Within
its portals a young triumphant God will dwell. (161)
Politically, the Soviet Man is an ASS (Agent Sovyetskogo Soyuza -
Agent of the Soviet Union). He does not see anything good or bad in it.
"It's simply an objective fact," he notes. "A rather sad fact and rather
comical fact, but in no way tragic. It's banal rather than anything
else" (47). There are so many agents expelled from the Soviet Union
today that even the KGB does not remember who they all are. The
narrator himself is an ASS. For the time being, his function is elementary, i.e., he plays the role of an experimental unit cast into an alien
environment. His KGB instructor has told him to look at himself as if
he were an observing instrument at an unknown planet: "We need to
know everything that you see there .... Great Things are ahead of us.
We are making a Great Attack on the West. You are a particle of these
Great Things, of the Great Attack. Do you understand?" (27).
The conquest of the West is one of the narrator's favorite themes. At
a Western university meeting, the narrator is delighted when an
unfriendly audience attempts to denigrate him by calling him a Soviet
Man. He quickly retorts:
I am flattered by the characterization you have given us. In
reality, gentlemen, we are much worse. We were clever
enough in our time to destroy a mighty state created by representatives of the highest race, homo sapiens, and to create our own mighty state from fear of which you here, if
you will excuse the expression, have long since dirtied your
trousers. We, gentlemen, are altogether more dangerous
than you think. And do you know why? We are not such
idiots as you would have us be. And the main point is that
we are capable of losing things not only at others' expense
but at our own expense too. (92)
Curiously enough, in the chapter entitled "A Candid Conversation,"
the Soviet Man concludes that the expected war between the Soviet
Union and the West has already been in process through the peaceful
infiltration of numerous Soviet immigrants into the West (152).
In reviewing Zinoviev's literary work, one may conclude that the
author presents the Soviet Man basically in three prototypes - the
Ibanskian Man, the Educated Moscovite, and the Exiled Agent -
which are corroborated in a multitude of variations. Their common
denominator - Homo Sovieticus - is not by any means an enviable
species superior to Homo Sapiens, but is rather a grotesque, vain, and
absurd walking cadaver.
Thus, Zinoviev's fragmented, atomized, reified, alienated, exploited,
and dehumanized Soviet Man refutes Marx's concept of the ennobled
selfless human being that allegedly arises in a classless Communist society. Zinoviev realistically illustrates the Soviet Man's capacity for irreversible submission, enslavement, aggression, and destruction.
Communal existence has not produced solidarity and equality, but
rather a group egoism which is simply a cover-up for an unmitigated
private interest rationalized in terms of the public good. Zinoviev seems
to feel that there is no way out of the Communist trap where collective
ownership, lethargy, fickleness, and inability are the norms.
The ideologized Soviet Man as homo triplex along with his sterile
economic, social, political, and cultural milieu represents a dangerous
social malaise. The total subordination of his ethics to political calculus and the absence of a critical culture constitute a major threat not
only to Soviet development, but also to the security of the international community. Sakharov emphasizes the global connection
between democratization and detente, Solzhenitsyn stands for moral
regeneration in both the Eastern and the Western worlds, and Medvedev outlines a realistic democratization of Soviet society based on
existing structures and societal dynamics. Zinoviev's homo sovieticus
as an allegedly higher species, on the other hand, refrains from recognizing the urgency for cultural changes in his established society. As
Radoslav Kostic-Katunac points out, he has neither the moral stamina
nor the spiritual depth to challenge the onslaught of a totalitarian
regime's materialistic theory and dialectic method that twist the
human spirit and suppress truth, justice, compassion, and love. In the
contemporary world where Communism expands, the Soviet Man has
become a truly international phenomenon. One feels justified in being
concerned about so many peoples of the world who once were raw,
but proud; uneducated, yet noble; shy, but righteous; and now seem
crippled, shackled by fear, adrift without a moral or spiritual anchor.
One has to share Oskar Gruenwald's conclusion, that in the lengthening shadows of an aging twentieth century, people have arrived at a
fateful crossroad. Either they will affirm the humanity of the human
race and assure the survival and growth of the species commonly
known as homo sapiens or they will fritter away their evolutionary
chances in a tragic struggle against themselves, their fellow human
beings, and nature. The essential conflict in Communist countries
today is religious, rather than political; in essence, it is the struggle for
the liberation of the human soul and of individuals themselves. Obedient to the nomenklatura (delineated by Michael Voslensky as a class of
privileged exploiters who acquired wealth from power, not power
from wealth), Russian intellectuals like Vassily Aksyonov conclude
that the Soviet Man has only one weapon for his liberation - the personal Christian tradition of Tolstoy and Pasternak.
Zinoviev avoids taking a stand on this issue because of his Hegelian
dialectic method which in Marx's system abandons the rules of formal logic and thrives on collapsing mutually exclusive categories into
a unity of opposites. Thus, he can describe Soviet society both as a
normal and an abnormal phenomenon, both as a permanent whole
which is destined to conquer the world and a temporary unit which
is inevitably doomed to fall. In one of his last interviews, however,
he states: "I cannot predict the time-frame, but one thing I can say,
the Soviet Union will be the initiator of any future World War"
(Zinoviev, "Portrait" 24).
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New York: International Publishers, 1928. 591-618.
Tate, J. O. "ONG VE COM NISM!" National Review 20 March 1981: 299-300.
Voslensky, Michael. Nomenklatura: The Soviet Ruling Class. Trans. Erik Mos-
bacher. New York: Doubleday, 1984.
Zamyatin, Evgenii Ivanovich. We. Trans. Bernard Guilbert. London: Cape,
Zinov'ev, Aleksandr. Kommunizm kak real'nost'. Lausanne: L'Age
Nacej junosti polet. Lausanne: L'Age d'Homme, 1983.
. Ni svobody, ni ravenstva, ni bratstva. Lausanne: L'Age
Zinoviev, Alexander. Interview. "A Dissenter as a Soviet Man." With George
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.Homo Sovieticus. Trans. Frank Hanson. New York: The
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With George Urban. Encounter April 1984: 8-24.
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. The Yawning Heights. Trans. Gordon Clough. New York:
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Read excerpts from books
- Introduction - by P.Hanson, M.Kirkwood
- Ideology in the Works of
A.Zinoviev - by Michael Kirkwood
- Alexander Zinoviev's Theory of the Soviet Man - by L.Brom