The 99th NZ issue is, to an extent, related to the previous issue of the magazine, where the problem of modernity was considered in its different aspects. This volume has four main sections, three of which can be said to concern modernity, each looking at it from its own angle: theoretical, culturological and gender.
The first section, “Time of Modernity”, is a foray into theory. It offers a short study by Viktor Kaplun, titled “Modernity According to Foucault: An Alternative Enlightenment Project”, where the author analyses the notion of modernité, introduced by Charles Baudelaire, discussing its actual meaning and comparing two concepts of it, one developed by Jürgen Habermas, the other by Michel Foucault. This theme is further explored in Oksana Timofeeva's essay “Modernity: The Time of Hell”, a response to the events of 17 June 2014, when a Malaysian airliner was shot down over Ukraine. Timofeeva does not, of course, investigate the tragedy, talking instead about apocalyptic consciousness and suggesting that one should not think of catastrophe as something about to happen, but rather as a fait acompli. The section closes with “Postmodernism, Laughter and Ontological Poetics”, where NZ editor Andrey Zakharov interviews the philosopher and literary scholar Leonid Karasev.
The “Archaeology of Modernity” section focuses on images of the future that characterise modern times. It includes three articles, opening with a translated chapter from Fredric Jameson's book “Archeologies of the Future: The Desire Called Utopia and Other Science Fiction”. Other images of the future, also linked to modernity, are considered in two further pieces, both inspired by late 1950s − early 1980s Soviet science fiction. Mark Lipovetsky analyses the role played by the “progressor” figure − essentially, an “agent of modernity” − in works by the Strugatsky brothers, while Irina Kaspe offers a similar take on “Andromeda Nebula”, a once famous novel by Ivan Efremov.
The next section, “Gender and Modernity”, contains an essay by the British journalist Juliet Jacques where she talks about gender transition, a process usually portrayed in the media as a series of “before and after” photos showing the results of medical procedures one goes through to change sex. “Agenderness Against Colonialism: On Escaping (Neo)Modernist Strategies”, by Nadya Plungyan, is concerned with perceptions of gender both in the times of classical modernity and in our cultural era, which Plungyan defines as “neomodernist”.
The issue's second major theme is also directly related to the question of modernity. It contains a number of articles linked in a certain sense to the current drama in East Ukraine, as well as to its perception in Russia and Europe. In fact, there are two subjects here: “federalisation” and “war”. The attempt to force the Ukrainian government to “federalise” the country, undertaken by Russia and its Ukraine-based supporters and met with a resolute refusal, is usually cited as the reason for the outbreak of today's large-scale conflict, in which Russia is immediately involved. Nikolay Mitrokhin (in Events and Comments section) gives a detailed reconstruction of the events that unfolded in the Donbass region between the spring and the late autumn of 2014. This piece is a rare attempt to bring together various events, find some inner logic in them and trace the dynamics of the crisis, determined by its constantly changing tendencies, over the course of 2014. Alexander Kustarev analyses “war” in his column Political Imaginary, describing it as a phenomenon somewhat untypical for modernity, while noting that the eponymous historical period witnessed two world wars and many other devastating conflicts.
“Federation as an Aim and a Means” is the title of a section dealing with the federal state model. It opens with an extract from “Exploring Federalism”, a book by Daniel J. Elasar, the famous American sociologist, one of the most prominent specialists in the field. The federal theme is continued in Andrey Zakharov's piece about the emergence of federalism in Brazil. Returning to Ukrainian affairs, the section closes with Georgy Chizhov's article about federalism prospects in this country.
NZ 99th issue has another major theme which, although not given a separate section, could be presented under the heading “Culture as a Political Resource” (Ilya Kalinin wrote about it in issue 98, concentrating on Russian matters). Culture of Politics contains two articles about culture's role as a vital political resource or, more precisely, about “religious” and “national” cultures attempting to take this role upon themselves. Responding to the recent developments in the Middle East, Leonid Isaev discusses a “new version” of the Islamic state that is being implemented by the region's extremists. Leonid Fishman analyses the concept of “Russian world”, so popular among the representatives of the Russian authorities and their satellite structures. In Politics of Culture, Elena Gapova turns to Svetlana Aleksievich's latest book, “Second-Hand Time”, to consider a specific Soviet variety of “dignity”, an ethical notion seen as an element of “happiness”, an equally peculiar Soviet notion in its turn, along with its post-1991 transformations. Finally, Old World Chronicles features “In the Caves of the Third Carthage”, an essay by another NZ editor, Kirill Kobrin; it gives several historical examples related to self-isolation of societies and states and discusses possible consequences of Russia's potential self-isolation.
Other articles in this issue include an interview with Sergey Pashin, a retired federal judge, one of the minds behind the concept of the 1991 judicial reform, who talks about the current state of Russia's judicial system. The New Books section presents Aleksandr Markov’s discussing the genre known as “conversation with a philosopher” in his review of a book by Richard Marshall, a collection of interviews with 25 British, Canadian, American and Australian philosophers.
The issue contains two more regular columns − Political Economy of the Everyday by the editor-in-chief Ilya Kalinin, and Sociological Lyrics by Alexey Levinson − and concludes with a reviews section.