The March–April, 2018 issue of Krytyka opens with an article on “Why Fascists Took Over the Reichskanzlei, But Have Not Captured the Kremlin: A Comparison of Weimar Germany and Post-Soviet Russia” by Steffen Kailitz, Associate Professor and Senior Research Fellow at the Hannah Arendt Institute for Totalitarianism Studies, whose research focuses on autocracies, democracies and political extremism in the past and present, and Andreas Umland, Senior Research Fellow at the Institute for Euro-Atlantic Cooperation in Kyiv, and editor of the book series Soviet and Post-Soviet Politics and Society published by ibidem Press at Stuttgart and distributed by Columbia University Press at New York. The paper is part of a longer paper previously published in the Working Paper Series of the Higher School of Economics in Moscow. Kailits and Umland claim, that like in Weimar Germany, in today’s Russia, fascist actors are present, and nationalism is widespread in the population. The post-Soviet Russian situation is, however, distinct from the inter-war German one in that the party system is heavily manipulated and the Third Sector remains underdeveloped. Fascists have thus neither had a chance to use elections nor did they have the opportunity to penetrate civil society in order to build up political support. The continuing presence of a resolutely authoritarian, yet non-fascist ‘national leader’ (Vladimir Putin) is a hindrance for the country to become a liberal democracy. Yet this situation makes it, for the time being, also improbable that the Russian regime will transgress towards fascism.
Jeremy Adelman is the Henry Charles Lea Professor of History and Director of the Global History Lab at Princeton University. He devotes his essay “Why the Idea that the World is in Terminal Decline is so Dangerous” (which was first published in the digital magazine Aeon in November, 2017) to declinist messages, that share the following traits: they have more purchase in times of turmoil and uncertainty; they are also prone to thinking that the circles of hell can be avoided only with a great catharsis or a great charismatic figure; but most of all: they ignore signs of improvement that point to less drastic ways out of trouble. Why go for partial and piecemeal when you can overturn the whole system? The problem with declinism is that it confirms the virtues of our highest, impossible solutions to fundamental problems. It also confirms the disappointments we harbour in the changes we have actually made. This is not to say there aren’t deep-seated problems. But seeing them as evidence of ineluctable demise can impoverish our imaginations by luring us to the sirens of either total change or fatalism.
Dmytro Shevchuk, Doctor of Philosophy Sciences, Vice-Rector for scientific and pedagogical work at The National University of Ostroh Academy, who investigates the problems of modern political philosophy and socio-cultural processes in Central and Eastern Europe, writes his review, “How to Curb the Tyrant,” on Timothy Snyder’s new book On Tyranny: Twenty Lessons from the Twentieth Century (New York: Tim Duggan Book, 2017). Tyranny is not a political regime exclusively of the past. Its threat today is just as real as in ancient times. Many modern intellectuals have noticed that democratic societies can implement totalitarian practices, limiting the freedom of their citizens or unjustifiably forcing them to take certain actions.
“Life after the Death of Stalin” by Ihor Andriichuk, Master of Philosophy and editor at Kyiv International Film Festival Molodist, and Halia Vasylenko, translator and editor, who investigates the culture of historical memory in Ukraine, in particular the memory of historical traumas, reviews the political and satiric comedy of the Scottish director, Armando Iannucci, The Death of Stalin (2017). They assume, that neither Iannucci nor the majority of spectators believe that the movie might turn out to be true. Sometimes, by juggling facts, the director could invent probable scenarios for various events. But in this case, he enters upon territory where the Soviet authorities have already invented everything long before him.
In her “The Ukrainian Migrations in the Global World: a Picnic on the Road” Svitlana Odynets, a social anthropologist, researcher of Ukrainian women’s migration to EU countries, essayist and researcher at the Institute of Ethnology of the Ukrainian National Academy of Sciences, reviews Exodus: How Migration Is Changing Our World by Paul Collier (Oxford University Press, 2013). The book is clearly relevant for a Ukrainian audience: Svitlana Odynets focuses on Ukrainian migrations after 1991, and also on the question of how migration can develop in the future.
Every literature, arguably, has its main urban text, which need not, however, focus on the capital. Inna Bulkina, philologist, literary critic, University of Tartu PhD, argues in her essay “Lemberg, Lwów, Lviv: the Urban Text of Lviv” that in Ukrainian literature, this text is Lviv. She deals here not only with the history of the text, but also with the history of the concept. The present concept seems to be determined by multilingualism within one city which is undergoing a shift to monolingualism.