> 133, 2020 > Summary


11 2021

The 133rd NZ issue is structured around two sections, whose themes are variously continued in several further articles.

The first section, “Federations without Federalists”, talks about formal or instrumental uses of federal state organisation, namely those occurring when this form of government is not supported by any meaningful political choice. The section opens with an editorial article that introduces the subject by problematising such gaps. “Which Federalism for Spain?” by the Spanish political scientist Enric Fossas Espadaler looks at constitutional controversies characterising post-Franco Spain, as well as at their inherent contradictions, which exacerbate the tension between the federal government and regions such as Catalonia and the Basque Country. An article by Andrey Zakharov and Leonid Isaev focuses on federalist experiments running through the postcolonial history of Yemen, sometimes leaving the country face to face with the prospect of disintegration, sometimes helping it to avoid total territorial collapse. The section concludes with a piece by the Canadian political scientist Michel Burgess, “Federalism in Africa: An Essay on the Impacts of Cultural Diversity, Development and Democracy”, an account of African countries' varied, sometimes negative, post-colonial experiences.

The section is complemented by two articles published in Culture of Politics section. John Lloyd, a contributing editor at the “Financial Times”, considers the pros and cons of Scotland's separation from the UK, concluding that “Scotland Does Not Need to Be Independent”. Polina Maksimova, a Russian political scientist, offers an informative analysis of cultural policies implemented by the British government in Northern Ireland. Her piece demonstrates how these measures, despite being intended to displace the traumatic memory of the history of opposition between the nationalists and the unionists, reproduce the tension that exists between them in a situation where a military conflict has merely been transformed into a conflict of identities.

An article by Maria Kugel, a Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty correspondent covering the Baltic states, titled “«Historical Justice» in Action: Denationalisation in Latvia and Its Social and Economic Consequences”, is to some degree another variation on the same theme. It talks about intertwined legal, economical, political and cultural issues accompanying the process of restitution, whereby property is returned to descendants of its former owners.

The Politics of Culture section features “Holy Rus”, in which the philologist and cultural historian Igor Smirnov attempts to reflect, from a philosophical perspective, on mechanisms behind national identity interpreted as a reaction to catastrophic events in a nation's history. The next section, “Soviet Economy: Between the Plan and the Black Market”, posits the issue of paradoxical analogies between working and decision-making patterns typical for the official and shadow sectors of the Soviet economy. A thorough conversation with Vladimir Kossov, a senior Gosplan employee, provides a glimpse into routine Soviet management practices. “Soviet Black Marketees: The Ethics of Shadow Economy Relations” by Marianna Zhevakina, a historian at the University of Hamburg, exposes quasi-legal models used to resolve internal conflicts between underground economic actors that used to conduct their business outside the Soviet law. In “Soviet Economy after Khrushchev: Who Planned It and How. Department of Planning and Finance within the Administrative Framework of the Central Committee of the CPSU in 1965–1985”, Nikolay Mitrokhin describes the process whereby management functions were gradually moved from the relevant ministries to the Central Committee.

Elsewhere in the issue, we publish a number of pieces linked to the above economic agenda. At the centre of Alexander Kustarev's column, Political Imaginary, is the historical pendulum that for the past century and a half has been swinging between the capitalist and socialist development models. Culture of Politics contains two further articles considering problems that arise at the intersection of economics and culture, where material forms meet symbolic ones. Fedor Nikolai looks into how late capitalism leaves its imprint on the chronological structure of everyday life. Vladislav Inozemtsev considers “the capitalisation of history” and various mechanisms by which the past is instrumentalised. Case Study features an article in which Yuri Zaretsky traces the history of the first Russian publishing house specialising in secular books, a venture founded in Amsterdam in 1698 by a former merchant, a supplier of Russian pine lumber for the ship-building industry. Also in this issue is another installment of Richard Marshall's interview series. His latest interlocutor is Daniel Kaufman, a professor of philosophy at Missouri State University, a writer and the editor of the online magazine “The Electric Agora”. The interview revolves around an idea advocated by Kaufman, who believes that philosophy should turn from problems solely related to humanities and social sciences towards those also concerning pop culture.

The issue concludes with Aleksey Levinson's regular column, Sociological Lyrics; the Russian Intellectual Journals’ Review by Alexander Pisarev; and a New Books section. The latter features Ivan Onosov's review of a volume published in Paris, the complete correspondence between André Breton and Paul Eluard, which provides a lot of new material on intellectual, political and ethical aspects of French surrealism.