Soviet Hegemony of Form: Everything Was Forever, until It Was No More Author(s): Alexei Yurchak Source: Comparative Studies

in Society and History, Vol. 45, No. 3 (Jul., 2003), pp. 480-510 Published by: Cambridge University Press Stable URL: Accessed: 20/10/2010 10:34
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Soviet Hegemony of Form: EverythingWas Forever, Until It Was No More
Universityof California,Berkeley Untilthemid-1980s, never it to that could evenoccurred anyone in ourcountry anything Neither children to adults. to was that There a complete nor change. impression everyAndrei thingwasforever (songwriter Makarevich).1

This paperwas promptedby a personalquestionthathas puzzled many former Soviet people, myself included,since the late 1980s: How to make sense of the suddenevaporation the colossal andseeminglymonolithicSoviet system and of way of life, in which we grew up and lived? What was it aboutthe Soviet system that made its "collapse"appearcompletely unimaginableand surprisingly fast not only to most WesternSovietologistsbut also to most Soviet people?The of experienceof the unexpectednessand abruptness the collapse is reflectedin diverse materialsI have collected in Russia in the past ten years.This question is not aboutthe "causes"for the collapse but aboutits "conditionsof possibility": what conditions made the collapse possible while keeping that possibility invisible?To begin addressingthis question,we must analyze how the particular "culture" Soviet socialism invisibly createdthe conditionsfor the collapse of and at the same time renderedit unexpected.The periodwhen these conditions emerged,the approximately thirtyyearsprecedingthe beginningof perestroika (the mid-1950s to the mid-1980s), I shall call Soviet "LateSocialism." Late Socialism as a period in the history of Soviet state socialism was distinct from all previous and later periods in its "discursiveregime" (Foucault the 1972; Dreyfus and Rabinow 1983:44-78)-in particular, relationshipof the subjectto the hegemonic discourse of communistideology and the meanI wishto express comments sugand to who and gratitude friends colleagues provided generous on of Steven Gil DavidBrandenburger, Collier, Eyal, DianaBlank, gestions thedrafts thispaper: Alaina MelanieFeakins,ZeynepGuserl,Bill Hanks,Caroline MarcoJacquemet, Humphrey, Tara Rivkin-Fish, Lemon, Mamut, Ries,Michelle Irina Oushakine, Paperno, Tatyana Sergei Nancy at Katherine reviewers CSSH. and Michael Sinclair, Urban, twoanonymous Verdery, 1 Interview theprogram on 24 Ostankino television, June1994.See alsoMakarevich Vzglyad,

0010-4175/03/480-510$9.50 ? 2003 Societyfor Comparative Studyof SocietyandHistory




This periodbegan ing inscribedin ideological performanceandrepresentation. with a majorshift in the discursiveregime from a "semantic" a "pragmatic" to model (Mertz 1996) of ideological discourse. That is, the acts of copying the became more meaningfullyconpreciseforms of ideological representations stitutive of everyday life than the adherenceto the literal ("semantic")meanIn ings inscribedin those representations. the Soviet case, this emergingreladid not necessarily preclude Soviet people from continuing to be tionship invested in the ideals and ethical values of socialism. It ratherimplied a more complex and shifting relationship to Soviet ideological form, a form that claimed andwas once seen to representthese ideals andvalues, but duringLate Socialism decoupledfrom them. It was throughthatdecouplingthatthe conditions of possibilityfor the collapse of socialism, as a social system but not as a set of values, invisibly emerged. This copying of textual forms from one context to the next2 was unique in three respects: First, ideological forms were not just copied but perfectly replicated,which made them "frozen"and context-independent.Second, this replication was accompaniedby a transformationof the meanings for which ideological forms stood in different contexts. Third, this process took place not only at the level of ideological texts, but also in other discourses of ideology: visual (posters, films, monuments,architecture),ritualistic (meetings, of reports,celebrations)and in centralized"formalstructures" everydaypractice (De Certeau 1988:xv).3 To account for such broad process in which the form of representation replicatedbut its meaning is changed, this paperprois a concept of "heteronymousshift."4The Greek term "heteronym"-a poses word of the same spelling (written representation)but different and unrelated meaning than anotherword5--is used to emphasize that the meanings, for
2 Copying of textualforms between contexts is known in linguistic anthropologyas "transduction" (G. Urban 1996: 30). 3 In the 1960s, the following changes took place in public representation: Ideological rituals: the Partyunited various public ritualsunder one centrallyorchestrated "system of rituals"(Lane more formulaicand analogous(Glebkin 1998:130, 137). Visu1981:3, 46), makingtheir structure al propaganda: images of Lenin in monumentsand pictures became more formulaic and analogous, with fewer available poses, details, textures, and colors (author'sinterview with artists at LeningradWorkshopof Visual and Decorative Arts, KZhOI). Documentarynewsreels: regular Newsreels (Kinokhronika) aboutcurrentevents in each region of the countrybecame more formulaic, and spontaneousand unusualevents were edited out and often the same footage was used repeatedly to representdifferent events (author'sinterview with film directorYurii Zanin, St. PetersburgDocumentaryFilm Studios). The increasing replication of the "'formal structures'of everydaypractice"was the subjectof the famous Soviet comedy of the late 1970s, Ironiia sud'by (The irony of fate). 4 In postcolonial theory,transformation ideological signs is theorized as "metonymicslipof page" (Bhabha 1984; 1994), "hybridizationof codes" (Hanks 2000), covert ridicule (Mbembe 1992:5; 2001:104), etcetera.In these theorizations,however, it is the form (signifier) of ideological signs thatis changed,while in the Soviet context the formremainsintactandthe change occurs at the level of meaning. the 5 In English heteronymsare numerous.For example, bass (stringinstrument; fish), lead (to guide; metal), minute(sixty minutes;tiny), and tear (to rip; teardrop).

) but not necessarily at the level of its "literal"meaning (e.g." 7 For a discussion of the assumptionsbehindmodernbinariesin general. such as tape-recorders. in the "economy of shortage"(Kornai 1980 and Verdery1996) the fulfillmentof the plan's form was often predicatedon the non-fulfillmentof its literal meaning.truthand dissimulation. Homo Sovieticus could never be more than a mouthpiecefor the Party'sideas and slogans. common sense. statistics. oppressionand resistance.see Mitchell 1990. such as the Partyand the people.official economy and second economy. and in the socialist context. etc. obviWesternprovenance. totalitarian language and self and privateself.. See Lampland(1995) on the "fetishof plan. Epstein 1991.482 ALEXEI YURCHAK which replicated ideological forms stood. official cultureand counter-culture. 6 An illustration of heteronymousshift is the slippage between the form and meaningof an imTo portantconcept of Soviet ideology-the industrial"plan. Thus. Schooled in such a climate. anddecency areassaultedoften enough.6 This study addressesa relatedconcern:thatmuch of the academicandjournalistic writing about Soviet socialism and post-Soviet transformation built is on assumptionsthat socialism was "bad. The same assumptionsare presenttoday in the terminologyused to describe socialism-for example. .in a manuscriptor on a tape recordingpassed aroundfrom personto person . for John Young.who "counter deceptionsof government settingforth 'the by facts' in contrastto official falsehood"in "conversations with frustrated friends behindclosed doors. More recently. Wierzbicka 1990. Kupina 1995. 1995. FrancoiseThom argued that in the Soviet Union linguistic "symbolscease[d] to work properly. Moreover. Soviet citizens are "non-conformthe ing"dissidents. in sign languagedevised by family memberswho suspect the secret police have bugged their apartment. came to involve an element of unpredictability. andthatSoviet languagewas a "politicaldiglossia" between official Partylanguageand privatepeople's language(Zaslavsky and Fabris 1982. repressionand freedom. and that the collapse of the Soviet system was predicatedon that. Jowitt 1992). a satisfaction of some social need).fearfuland deprived of any intellectual initiative.and human intelligence disintegratesor is warped. not so much a humanbeing then." making it "a world without meaning.public of ordinarySoviet people used to "hide things.thenpersonalityis crippled.These assumptionsused to be manifestedin persistent referencesto Homo Sovieticus.." variousactorsinvolved in Soviet industryit was crucial that the plan was successfully fulfilled at the level of form (in numbers. since they were associated with resistance to the ously regime"(Humphrey1995:57).""immoral.figures. (1991:226)." and "imposed.The barrierbetween truthand lies is effectively destroyed. without events and without humanity" (1989:156)... Yurchak2002a.7 For instance.FrankEllis went further:"Whenreason. In the late 1980s. Inic 1984.. as a receptacleto be emptied and filled as Partypolicy dictated"(1998:208).it is claimed that people's language. reports."and/or was experiencedas such by Soviet people. in referencesto the "Soviet regime"(how often does one hearaboutthe "American binariesto regime"?)and in the use of particular describe Soviet reality.

meaning theperson's orfalse ("disuatedfor its "truth conditions"-as eithertrue("real" support) of simulation" support). inas of Western-centered sovereign understandinga normal person a bounded.or "real" "dissimulated" voices.SOVIET HEGEMONY OF FORM 483 of in Thebinary modelis alsoreproduced theories splitsubjectivity (Kharthe In khordin and"socialschizophrenia.Oushakine of (1996)brilliant critique Scott'smodel.10 182)."if the abilityto effect changein the worldand in oneselfis and 'change' historically culturally specific(bothin termsof whatconstitutes be and andthecapacity whichit is effected). thenits meaning sensecannot by 8 See Gal's 1994. theories coloof of in Havel'sconcept "living thelie"[1986]).theyimsplit is "fullydefined in that state" in is ply thatmeaning discourse a "psychological Eventhough thespeaker's mindbefore actof speaking" the 1993:25). 2000: dividual Strathern 1988:57)with a "unitary ego"(Hanks (M.g." a recentaccount. eventsin termsof "truth discursive pretconcrete is underrituals act of shouting sloganof support state-orchestrated a during stoodas a "constative (Austin1999[1962]." whichthedominant subordi(2001)proposes alternative natebelongto thesame.see also Humphrey and in an modelof "mimetic resistance. discursive 1992.andmorerecent to resistance dominant hidden nialandpostcolonial that subjectivity emphasize that norms. countof theauthoritative in President rule a and "asif" allowsindividuals keeptheiractual "to private" sustain thought and "gap.Searle1969)thatconveysthe act" evalact That is therefore "literal" for of support thestate. moralcritique people's"conformity" the state-socialist with of regime(e..Mahmood argues. see toForanthropological of subjectivity. speaking Thesemodelsinteror voice canbe hidden revealed. between performance belief"(1999:82). (1992:5." the where artof acting Asad'sSyria. fields. 1999:357.8 An epistemological in modelsis thatby distinguishing problem thesebinary and between bounded psyches.. alsoHillandMannheim critiques 1997. 11 See alsoMbembe . fact.SabaMahmood of and to assumptiquestheWestern theory's tendency makethislinkforits implicit In tionthata particular of Western conception agencyis universal."1 of Another in is problem theseapproaches theirtheorization agency-they crilinkagencywiththe resistance subversion norms.suchas JamesScott's(1990)modelof socialinteraction proceeds acandLisaWedeen's in two distinct"transcripts." Strauss critique "fragmented 2001:104).ironically. ject is defined a dichotomy and the of thepractice "dissimulation..9 (Duranti the thesemodelsdescribe subject is "split.whoseauthentic the for conditions": example." where "hidwhichis sustained through or denintimate" is only "available the gazeof the closestfriends famito self and secretevenfromthem" can"bespotted" but ly members sometimes kept their let go onlywhenthesubjects "suddenly theirstrictself-control andbreak to Thesemodelsarerelated dissident utmostsecrecy" 277)." that a reproduce they. Sovietsub1999) intimate" and between "official" "hidden as selves.notdifferent. 9 Duranti See of Searle's 1983theory meaning. (ibid." and "official" "hidden.

they arguethatsuch "interweaving" to some extent complicit in the system of patronage. .implicitly reproducesan underlyingassumption: socialism involved a complex web of immoralitiesthat are calibratedas such againsta moral system. hedging.484 ALEXEI YURCHAK fixed a priori.12 Russian sociologists Uvarova and Rogov (1998) arguethat the emphasis in the analyses of Soviet cultureon a dichotomybetween the official and unofficial originatesin the "dissidentideology" of the membersand friends informedon each other"(ibid.:51). and and duplicitythroughwhich the system operated. [Forexample. theft. fact Whatmay get lost in these accountsis a crucialandparadoxical thatgreat valits numbersof people living in socialism genuinely supported fundamental ues and ideals. andchs.' therewas a ubiquitousself-embeddingor interweavingof these categories" meantthat"everyonewas (2000:51).. 3 and4). The particular knowledge about Soviet socialism that privileges its divided.. Thus. ."but critiques Butler's association of agency with resistance (2001: 212). the emphasison the dichotomyhas deeperroots: it is linked to Cold War and colonial "regimesof knowledge" within which such entities as "the West. This critiquealso problematizesNancy Ries' suggestionthat"resistant" "genresof suffering" in Soviet women's discourseduringperestroika"unintentionally valorizedor empoweredthe very structures (Ries 1997:40.] agentivecapacityis entailednot only in those acts that result in (progressive)change but also those that aim towards continuity."the Second. and stability .and a real text could only be published in samizdat [unofficialpublication]or tamizdat[forIn eign publication]. 12 Mahmooddraws on JudithButler's (1993) Foucauldianpoint that "the possibility of resistance to norms [is located] within the structure power itself ratherthan in the consciousness of of an autonomousindividual. and the ThirdWorlds are produced. The emphasis on as such ideas as duplicity. " (2001:212). Kligmanand Gal provideda brilliantcritiqueof some binarymodels of socialism:"rather thanany clear-cut'us' versus 'them'or 'private'versus 'public.. On critiqueof "resistance" duringearthey subverted" lier stages of Soviet history see Hellbeck 2000.pointing as it does to a moralquandary centralto the system and people relations.critiquing isolated binariesdoes not necessarilydeconstructthe underlyingassumptions.lying. .14althoughtheir everyday practicesmay appear"duplicitous" because they indeed routinelytransgressedmany norms and rules represented in that system's official ideology." formersocialistcountriesthis binaryview is closely implicated in personalpolitics today: since the late 1980s it has been importantfor membersof the intelligentsiato deny thatduringsocialism therewas any "mixing [of] the languageof power with theirown language"and to portraythe latter as "a free space to be extended throughstruggle"(Seriot 1992:205-6)." often even "intimates. 13 For important critiquesof the binaryof public andprivatesee Lampland(1995:273-75. 304). In fact. 14 Perhapsthis was more so in the Soviet Union thanin EasternEurope. stasis. and Humphrey (1994:25).13Yet.Therefore. perhapsWesterndemocracy. which held that "nothing good could appearin an [official] Soviet journalin principle.

and "normal" life that it representedto millions of people. 17 LaurieEssig. Holquist (1990: 175).'In this sense.However. to expose the language of biin which knowledge aboutsocialism is articulated. static.but also for "pragmatic" meanings that emerge in discourse as situated activity.argues that in post-Soviet Russia. Dispesh thatin "theacademicdiscourse of history. 16 See also Brennan (2001:62). 1990:137). we would need to replacethe conceptionof knowledge implied in the binarymodels as objective. In Provincializing Europe. " (Bakhtin1984:75). that assumes certaincategories and uses particularterminologies to language communicatethem. Hirschkop(1997:59-60). 2000. There is a peculiarway in which all these other histories tend to become variationson a master narrativethat could be called 'the history of Europe. Duranti1993. For this. Komsomol meeting invariablyled to a unanimousraising of hands in an affirmative gesture. aspectsof Russiandiscourse.'and so on. . 2003. "Western" Europe15-for example. For inthe question. 2002b. theoreticalsubject of all histories. is producedin the language and categories of "Western" knowledge.see Yurchak 18 For an analysisof performative 19 See also Bakhtin (1994:304-5.."but rather"heareach otherconstantly.with a conceptionof knowledge thatis always-already partial. be compatible with the view of discourse as situated activity (Gal 1994. unlike the United States.16 To avoid positing binarydivisions we may insteadquestionhow Soviet peothe ple in fact interpreted lived ideology and reality of socialism.and divided into spheres.and actively produced(HarFabian2001:24)..SOVIET HEGEMONY OF FORM 485 oppressive or immoralnatureand de-emphasizesthe values. see also Tuller 1996). also Lampland'sdiscussion See of socialist history (1995:336). including the ones we call 'Indian. can only articulatesubalternsubjectpositions in one the name of this history" (2000:27). Western"master" as naries. similarlycritiquingthe Westernconceptof a boundedsovereign subject. Chakrabarty's(post)colonial critique should be brought to the analyses of (post)socialism to provincialize. Gardiner(1992:73).call back and forthto each other...bounded. 'Europe'reChakrabarty argues mains the sovereign. "do you supportthe resolution?"asked during a Soviet stance. more specifically.''Chinese. and are reflected in one another. 'Indian'historyitself is in a position of subalternity. the "strictboundary" between homosexuality andheterosexuality"existsto divide not personsbutpractices" (Essig 1999:292-93. to participants was usually an act of recognition this of how one mustbehave in a given ritualisticcontextin orderto reproduceone's 15 See DonaldMoore's (2002) brilliantcritiqueof Chakrabarty.19 This dynamicconceptionof knowledgeaccountsnot only for "semantic" (literal) meaningsfor which ideological discourse supposedlystands.' 'Kenyan.17 This conception of knowledge should away 1989:190-91. That is. speaking implies inhabitingmultiplevoices thatarenot "self-enclosedor deaf to one another. ideals.situated.Lampland1995:360)18andof the speaking/writingself as Bakhtin's "voice"that is never isolated or split but always dialogized.

Clark 1995:40. "areyou the kind of soand cial actorwho understands acts accordingto the rules of the currentritual. 24 Velimir Khlebnikov and other Futuristpoets worked on a new neologism-based language. Woolard 1998.20The materialsused for this analysis are diand vided into two groups.the latter include accounts about late socialism producedafterperestroikabegan in 1985 (interviewsand conversationsthatI conductedand analyses and memoirs that have been publishedsince the change began)."cohortanalysis.Sovetsk. ideological reports.By focusing on the temporaldimension. Gal 1994.21 and official Soviet publications).but was also developed with greatenthusiasmby diverse The unartisticand political groupsover whom the statehad limited control. and Lemon and Reis 1965. Guilhaumou1989. 23 On the poor public comprehensionof the Bolshevik language see Gorham(2000:138-39).S. personal diaries. and Yakutsk. with its connection to the larger system of power relations and previous contexts of this type?"To analyze this act only for its truthconditions-as "real" 1999 and Wedeen of supportor "dissimulation" support(as do Kharkhordin 1999)-is to miss the point. Frey 1925).Moscow. Petersburg. I draw on two traditions:U.22 SHIFTING LANGUAGE IDEOLOGIES Stalin's UncannyParadigm Shift As in France (e. linguistic anthropology (Hanks 2000.contemporaneous retrospective.486 ALEXEI YURCHAK status as social actorratherthan as an act conveying "literal"meaning..this approach views of cultureas dynamic. Fairclough 1989.g. and and Ryazanova-Clarke Wade (1999:15-18). Kaliningrad.Many new words borrowedfrom otherlanguagesor inwith great difficulvented anew were so unusualthatthey were "appropriated the people not accustomed to foreign phonetics" (Selishchev 1928: ty by by languagewas not merelyorchestrated the 166). 22 Analyzing ideological meanings in discourse. the first years in Russia were markedby extremely dynamic experpost-revolutionary iments with language. It focuses on the people who were born. see also Rudy 1997:xii. 1993. photographsfrom people's private collections.came of age.this revolutionary emergingSoviet state. . Novosibirsk. letters. Duranti 1997a.The formerinclude accounts produced during Late Socialism (official speeches. In this sense.contested."has occupied a prominentposition in anthropology. seeing it as a "powerfulsource of new meanings for both literatureand life" (Grigor'ev 1986:243. Hill and Irvine 1987. the raised hand was a response to the question. family films. written notes.23Initially.andnon-homogenous fits well with currentanthropological (Rofel 1999:22). 1979. Jameson 1972.24 20 The analysis of changingculturaldynamicsamong generations. 1992). 1996. 21 The materialscome from St. and startedtheiradultlives duringthatperiod-the last Soviet generation. zaum '. de Certeau 1975. 1993) and British critical discourse analysis (Fowler et al. 1997b. This paperuses this dynamic conception of knowledge to analyze what Soviet ideology meant to Soviet people duringLate Socialism.

and thereforeas part of the base. Clark(1995:201-223). Linguisticformulationswere evaluatedby Partyexperts. and carefully and protectedfrom whateverkind of contamination slightest spoil" (Kondakov 1941: 14).Woolard1998) to avoid confusingthe latterwith my concepts of "Sovietideology" and "ideological discourse." .implied that there existed an outsider position to language from which one could verify how adequatelyit representedreality and how it should be adjusted accordingly (Seriot 1985). 27 I use the term"modelof language"insteadof a useful term "languageideology" (Silverstein 1979.:123). 142). Gray 1993.SOVIET HEGEMONY OF FORM 487 familiarwords and sounds of this languagewere meantto serve as a "tool"for revolutionizing consciousness. In 1930.linguist. in a and Marxistevolutionisttradition. and archeologist Nikolai Marr. who argued. .26 However.25 in linguistics and philology the Formalistand other modernisttheories of language were replacedby the New Theory of any tool.Duringthe editing of the first volume of Istoriia grazhdanskoi voiny (The history of the civil war). While the "modernistexperimentation"and "verbalchaos of the early 1920s"may have suitedthe spiritof revolution.27 A 1941 practical reference is book with a circulationof twenty-five thousandinstructed: "Language a tool of developmentand struggle. Slezkine (1996:842). linguistics as Partypracticetreatedpolitical language as a tool of production.they "offeredlittle hope in the way of state building"(Gorham2000:140. 142). political languagecame underincreasinglystrict andunifiedPartycontroland"thefeaturesof a Soviet-Russianlanguageof state Withbeganto emergefromthe confusedlanguagecultureof the day"(ibid.. Language.among whom Stalin was the chief expert.. the writerMaxim Gorky suggested in a pri"a vate letterto Stalinthatthe leader'swritingrepresented model of properwritand requesteda piece for Gorky'sjournal. This lattermodel of language.). the Chief EditorialBoardheaded by Stalin himself introducednearly 700 correctionsin the text.developed by the Soviet ethnographer. so that it may be used "to inoculate (privit') the readerswith concrete slogans and phrases"(ibid.Literaturnaiaucheba (Literary ing" 25 For a similar discussion see also Ryazanova-Clarkeand Wade (1999:18) and Rossianov (1993: 451). In the late 1920s andearly 1930s..thatlanguageis partof the superstructure its transformations follow changes in the social base (Marr1977:31). needs to be perfected.polished. . sharedby the Party leadership. 26 For a discussion of Marr's views see also Gorham(2000:140. that were discussed publicly (Kondakov 1941:122). while linguistics as scientific theory in the 1930s and 1940s was dominatedby Marr'steaching about the natureof language as superstructure. With the help of that tool the Partyarmsthe toilers with its greatideas thatinspire one to strugglefor the cause of Communism. The Partysaw its role as producingand widely circulatinga public metadiscourse(Silverstein 1993) thatprovidedcritical commentaryon ideological language and evaluated concrete ideological texts and formulations..

."30 critiquedMarr'sview of language as part that of the superstructure still dominatedSoviet linguistics.theU. July1950. We must learn from him the economy.p.. while language creates nothing or could creatematerialgoods then chatterers if 'creates'just words. 29 The"principal" responsibility a text(e.president).publicly announced:"If you asked me who knows the Russianlanguagebetterthananyoneelse. da.a spokesperson). language would be the richest people in the world. to 31 "Tovarishcham i PravD. in and D.g. "author" (Goffman discourses Rossianov scientific of was Stalin alsothe"principal" various 1993).the newly establishedjournalVoprosy Russian the and 28 Quoted "Beregiteizuchaite velikiirusskii in i (Safeguard learn great iazyk" 2 Komsomol'skaia Pravda.g. Belkinu S. its political manipulationwas not the way to produce Communistconsciousness."28Stalin performedthe role that Erving Goffman would call the of "principal" discourse-someone who stands outside of discourse. 32 "Knekotorym E. Communistlanguage. Otvet [On voprosam iazykoznaniia. Stalin initiateda paradigmshift in the Stalscience of languagethat.."31 the same time] "thereis a profounddifferencebetween language and tools of production. from Sovietscholarship anexcessiveecobut freednotonlylinguistics "much 33 Thiscritique nomic determinism" (Clark 1995:221). and suggests how to improveit (1981:144). ticle in Pravda (1950). Mikhail Kalinin. calling it "idealist" for its treatmentof language as a reflection of thought. E. argued Stalin. Furer]. July1946.S.that for people who know a language there can be no naked [At thought that is disconnected from language if thoughtcould exist outside of language..i.e. 2 Aug. had to be understoodand managed according to "objective scientific laws. Pravda.a speechwriter) and 1981:144)."34 iazykozFollowing this critique. language). 34 A similarshift from "vulgarMarxism"to "objectivescientific laws" occurredin Soviet sci- . tovarishchu Krasheninnikovoi" some 4 to issuesin linguistics.33 Instead. Stalin also attackedthe view of language as a tool of production. in 1950. and crystal purity of language..488 ALEXEI YURCHAK of training)(Gorham2000:149). languagecould not automatthe revolutionaryleaps promisedby Marr. (see 30 See alsomaterials Stalin1950and1954. since language ically undergo was not a tool of production. See alsoBlinov(1948:15).destroyedthe position of "principal.ironically. In 1935. tools of productioncreate materialgoods. reads "animator" the for takes the creates text(e. Stalin furtherclarifiedhis position in several responses to Pravda readers:"I insist that thought can appearonly on the basis of language material. as partof the base. I would answerStalin. the view that was still dominantin the ideological work of the Party organs. lucidity.g.1950. 1." in publicly attackedtheoretical schools in Soviet linguistics on the pages of He Pravdafor "vulgarMarxism. Response Comrade Krasheninnikova].and."32 Two implicationsfollowed from Stalin'sinterventioninto linguistic science: since languagewas not partof the superstructure. the Chairman the CentralExecutive Committeeof the USSR. text(e. publicly evaluatesit.29 It was in this capacity that.. Fureru" [Response Comrades Belkin S.. Stalin arguedthat language is completely After his original aroutside of the whole dialectic of base and superstructure.

p. quantifiable fashion"(Mertz 1996:232).remarked the margins:"Ha-ha-ha!!! on And what aboutmathematics? And what aboutDarwinism?"(Rossianov 1993:443).These issues concernresearch on the connection between language and thought .. towardone basedon "objectivescientific laws"anonymously statedandnever publicly contestedor discussed.echoing Marr. When in a 1948 speech Lyssenkoargued. for the class natureof all science.but on some 'objective' laws of nature" (Rossianov 1993:451-52). independent and of context. . Stalin's works]. transparent. 1.The only publicly visible position remainedwhat Goffmanwould call the "animators" of ideological discourse-Party and Komsomol Secretariesof different levels who publicly enunciatedthis discourse without engaging in its evaluation.and others)on the developmentof the vocabulary. The Post-StalinistSemanticModel Withthis shift all discussions aboutcorrectandincorrectlanguagedisappeared from the public eye.ideological literacyincreasinglybecame seen as a technicalskill of reproducing preence.g. In the 1960s. philosophical. 4. meaning. Stalin."35 This appealmarksthe beginning of the gradualtransformation the model of to which Soviet ideology was evaluated for scientific accuracyaccording from a model based on the subjective opinion of a "principal" who publicly evaluatedformulations. the context of Soviet discourse.non-linguistic forms of ideological representation (see fn. the connection between the developmentof thoughtand the perfectionof the grammatical orderof lan. After 1948. in secondaryeducationin the United States)the concept of "literacy" understoodnot as one's ability to inis but ratheras a technical skill of finding within texts their "literal terprettexts. ElizabethMertz argues that in the institutionalcontexts where the semantic model of language is dominant(e. [and] the influence of the base and ideological superstructures guage (political. "discuss[ed] their professionalproblemsbehindclosed doors"(quotedin Han-Pira1991:21).This was a majorshift of the Soviet "discursiveregime"-one that marks the mid-1950s as the beginning of the epoch of Late Socialism. Voprosy iazykoznaniia no. the productionof Partytexts became almost completelyhiddenwithinthe CentralCommittee(CC). have not yet begun proached its concrete andprofoundMarxistinvestigation. Now "specialistsin ideological linguistics.. The discursiveregime shifted to a "semanticmodel" of language. V.SOVIET HEGEMONY OF FORM 489 naniia (Issues of linguistics) appealedin 1952 for a thorough"renovationand reconstruction" Soviet linguistics: "Soviet linguists have not yet closely apof some crucial problemsin the study of language. A similar shift toward"objectivelaws" happenedin other. 3). "5 "Zadachi sovetskogo iazykoznaniia v svete trudov I.." Soviet linguist Kliamkin later wrote. 1952.aesthetic. V.. Stalina" [The tasks of the Soviet linguistics in light of I.who readthe draft. science "wasconsideredto dependnot on class interests. in which the meaningof texts is seen as fixed inside them."the skill thatcan be measured"in context-independent.

squeezed out any literariness(literaturshchina). Only occasionallyhe would say: "Andnow allow me to diverge from the text" (a teper'pozvol'te mne otoiti ot teksta).surrounded the membersof the CC.Everyonein the leader[among the General Secretary. A joke from the 1960s illustratesthis progressive discomfort. which made CC secretariesand speech writers tially compulsively comparethe form of theirtexts with that of everyone else's. However. Brezhnev waits for a minute. The phrasewith the dash became fixed and repeatedfrom text to text. because. As for Brezhnev.Most texts at the CC were now written and edited collectively. "Marxism-Leninism inalreadyis proletariat ternationalism" "opposingone to the other"by the use of "and"could creand ate unnecessaryconfusion (Burlatskii1988: 188). the Party leaders could only look to others' texts to calibratetheir own.and later Brezhnev's CentralCommittees.and combined several sentences into one paragraph-long sentence by adding commas and obliter- .a speech-writerin Krushchev's. Similartypes of editing occurredin all key publicationsof the CC."the main problemfor the new leaders. including their discourse. Burlatskiiremembers:"WhenKhrushchevmade a speech he always readit from the writtentext.Ponamaryovand otherCentralCommitteeSecretaries. he well realized that this was a divergencefrom the norm and triednot to overuse the absence of an ultimateauthorityon the canon. is shown arounda by Soviet artexhibition. official Partyspeeches and documentsbecame subjectedto increasinglymeticulousand publicly invisible editing with the goal of producing texts without "a single step sideways from the norm (nikakogootstupleniiaot normy)"(Burlatskii..490 ALEXEI YURCHAK fabricated"blocks"of discourse. .author'sinterview).But let us hear what they think at the top. then declares: "Veryinteresting. to not repeatthe precise Partylanguage"(author'sinterview). with predetermined context-independent and "literalmeanings"attachedto them.the CC memberscautiouslygatheraround Brezhnev to hear what he thinks. such as Andropov." A resultof this shift in the languagemodel of the leadershipwas thatthroughout the 1960s.The General SecretaryBrezhnev.he never diverged. . He was afraidto step outside the limits of the acceptednorm. The editorsat thejournalKommunist unusualwords with the usu"replaced al ones.. he figured.Any text could potenbe seen as a deviation. the Secretaryon Ideology..became to avoid committinga political mistakeby saying or writingsomethingthatcould be consideredinappropriate was likely to raise an objection and irritation and othersin the leadership]" (author'sinterview). Ideological discoursewas no longer publicly evaluated.After the tour. In the clich6 "Marxism-Leninism proletariatinternationalism" Suslov insisted on replacing the conjunction"and" with a dash. According to Fyodor Burlatskii. One of the most stringent editors was Mikhail and Suslov. which led to a of progressivelyform-centerednormalization language. .now felt continual nervousness about ship. He would startspeaking in the working class languagethat he learnedduringthe Party discussions of the early 1930s.

" style explains the speech-writer.and increasinglycumbersomenorms-ideological discoursebecame hyper-normalized. "wouldhimself sit at the head of the table with all the consultants. He would read a phrasealoud and say: 'Somethinghere is wrong. and at the final stage of editing. We need to find a differentformulation.SOVIET HEGEMONY OF FORM 491 ating verbs"(Burlatskii.We would edit the final version. Then Andropovread it to us again. 1979. Then anotherperson would suggest another word.'Someone would suggest a word. You could read these texts top to bottom and bottom to top with similarresults"(Burlatskii.six or four of us. He liked to have many consultantstogether. 37 Spravochnik sekretaria pervichnoi partiinoi organizatsii. then again.In many cases the form of blocks became more meaningfulthan any meaningthey were designed to convey.they specified exact phraseology(essentiallyarguments forms and instructedall to replicatethem word for word."consisted not only of single phrases but also of whole paragraphs.'sinterview). He would write it down. made his consultantsre-writespeeches endlessly. A "ReferenceBook for the Secretaryof a Primary PartyOrganization" critiquedthose lecturerswho still allowed themselves to speculateon ideological issues in their own terms.36 TheLate-SocialistPragmaticModel The emergingdominanceof block-writingindicateda shift from a semanticto a pragmaticmodel (Mertz 1996) of language. pushing ideological texts in the direction of greater anonymity."37 Thistransformationan example GregUrban's of is of on theory therelationship powerreis codedas "entextualization" "replication"discourse: more and in discourse overtly "The garding that but nonpersonal. is.'sinterview).YuriiAndropov. We kept changing formulationsuntil they soundedright"(Burlatskii.themoreshareable is"(1996:40). it it. The fixed "blocks. Then anotherperson. an act which invariablyled them to slip into "superficialpseudo-scientificlanThe only structural elements of discourse in which experimentation guage. 36 . The process of collective writing and cross-imitationcanceled out individual styles. We rewrotethe speech collectively. notas something by generated theoriginator astransmitted'sinterview). CC writershad their own slang term for the new The of composition-"block-writing" (blochnoepis'mo). Then the text was returnedto the typist. pp.eventuallyit became of secondary importance. aroundhim. morelikelywill thecopier and the to replicate hence. Since literarymeaningwas seen as embeddedin linguistic form (semanticmodel of language). 8-17.with the form taking precedence (pragmatic model). by andtheless it is linked a present be to context circumstances. but instead of comparing correct and incorrect aboutliteralmeaning). Innumerableand widely circulatedbrochuresfor local propagandists continuedto stress the importanceof precise ideological language in the construction of Communism.A CC Secretary. quoted in Kommunist no.

studentslearnthe skill of "recontextualizing" meaning:in each new legal case new meaningsmay be "fixed"and "new interpretations be forged. In most meetings people took a combinationof these two stances.This new "pragmatic model"of languageis comparableto how languageis viewed in AngloAmericanlegal practice(Mertz 1996:234). where the interpretations prosecutionand de"pragmatic fense are treatednot as "literal"meaningsbut as techniquesallowing the jury to arriveat the best approximation justice."which may allows "attorneyadversariesin practice [to] argue vastly differentinterpretations" of the same texts (Mertz 1996:234-35). in the pragmaticmodel the meaningof texts is neitherliteralnor final-it proFor foundly depends on the context and on the reader-interpretation. gesticulation. was also important pay closer attentionto the discussions. It is as important to confuse this type of activity with dissimulation.simply reproducingone's identity as someone who competently monitorsand recognizes the pragmaticflow of the proceedings.S. U.Unlike the semanticmodel in which texts arebelieved to convey context-independent literalmeanings(see above). example. attorneys'ability to argue vastly incongruousinterpretations of the same text as not imposture(Mertz 1996). of 38Thesemarkers a particular of Gumperz' of are case "contextualization cues"-any "feature (1987 [1982]:131). andyou raisedyourhandautomatically" 1997:172). etc. eye-contact. he paid very little attentionto the speeches. octo casionally.However. As a result. "who is in favor?. when the vote on a resolutionwas announcedby the question.the same intervieweeremembers. but because American legal ideology is based on a of model" of justice.492 ALEXEI YURCHAK was encouragedwere some technical aspects of delivery-volume of voice.Frequentlyit was (Yurchak more relevantto engage with the ideological meetings at the level of pragmatic markers.).S. readingthe meaning of events and phrases for their "literal"meaning.38By learningto identify these markers. linguistic form thatcontributesto the signaling of contextualpresuppositions" . law schools trainstudentsto readlegal texts for specific "technicalterms" that serve as pragmaticmarkerslinking texts to concrete contexts (a given legal case. and instead read a book.. relevantpreviouscases.While attendingthe Komsomol meetings in the 1970s..""a certainsensor would click in the head . The spreadof this "pragmaticmodel" of ideological language to everyday contexts is illustratedby one of my interviewees. most Soviet people learnedto worryless aboutthe literal meanings thatideological languagewas supposedto it not is to recognize U.and "a little bit of humor"(Leont'ev 1975).being involved in a relationshipof heteronymousshift with the unfolding discourse of the meeting: althoughthey meticulously reproducedthe visibleform of the ideological signs (by making speeches and voting in favor) the they actively reinterpreted meaningsfor which that form stood. The attorneystake opposing stances to the same case not to dissimulateseeking justice or take advantage of the system.

This does not necessarilymeanthatsuch phraseswere replicatedwordfor word from one text to the next.their richest collective experienceand political reason. comparativeand superlativedegree).. according these principlesmay be called "generative principles"of ideological discourse.A more detailed discussion will be includedin my forthcomingmanuscript.g. 41 For a discussion of modifiersin Soviet ideological discourse. but also thatit can be measuredcomparatively."42 The latterclaim masks the formerone. degree (rich. but also that it can be measuredcomparatively.ikh bogateishii kollektivnyiopyt i politicheskii razum s iskliuchitel'noipolnotoi proiavliaiutsiav dni vsenarodnogoobsuzhdeniiaproektakonstitutsiiSSSR). by 39 With a circulationof eleven million (Roxburgh1987:55).39These discussed some aspect of the Soviet experience. Pravda was the newspaperreadily accessible to the widest Soviet audience."the double-modifier"highlevel" conveys not only the claim that the Soviet toilers' consciousness exists (to be high it must exist). 1977). but thatmost instancesof ideological discoursecontainedphrasesbased on complex modifiersthatwere constructedaccordingto two generativeprinciples:the use of multiple modifiers and the use of modifiers of degree (e.see also Humphrey (1989:159)."the complex modifier"richestcollective" suggests not only thatthereis a sharedentity of "toilers'experience"(to be rich it must exist). of the CC newspaper the phrase"deep-seafishing" the fact thatthe sea is deep is presupposed(treated as a known and incontestablefact).Similarly. differby ent "levels. .peredovitsa.41 The first sentence in the Pravda text reads:"Thehigh level of social consciousness of the toilers of ourcountry. July 1. "thehigh level of consciousness of the the daily example being the front-pageleading article. therebymaking it harder to question directly and renderingit more natural. I will limit this analysis to two generativeprinciples of block-writing:the principle of complex modification and that of complex nominalization."I have italicizedphrasesthatarenounswith complex modifiersthatfunctionas "buildingblocks" of ideological discourse. "TheIdeological Conviction of the Soviet Person"(Ideinost'sovetskogo cheloveka.SOVIET HEGEMONY OF FORM 493 THE ART OF IDEOLOGICAL WRITING GenerativePrinciples of Block-Writing Soviet mediaprovidedendless instancesof ideological discourse. By analyzing some of the fixed principles examples from a leading articleI will demonstrate to which any number of proper linguistic blocks were generated. In the first phrase. 40 Due to lack of space.manifestthemselves with an exceptionalcompletenessin the days of the all-peoplediscussionof the draftof the Constitutionof the USSR (Vysokiiuroven'obshchestvennogosoznaniatrudiashchikhsianashei strany. were collectively writtenby professionalCC writersand were never signed. The following examples are taken from a 1977 leading article.40For considerationsof space. 42 Similarly. "theirrichestcollective experience. while in the phrase "the sea is deep" it is treatedas contestablenew information. this analysiswill be limitedonly to severalgenerativeprinciples.

Another principle for composing blocks was based on the use of nominal in PatrickSeriotshowedthatnominalstructures Sophrases. making it harderto challenge. and therefore rendering them less subject to scrutiny or multiple This nominal chain can be deconstructedinto several correinterpretations.presentingideas as pre-establishedfacts. "exceptionalcompleteness"performs a similarfunction." atorpossesses a spiritualimage. With the shift duringthe 1960s and model of discourse.In the excerptfrom the same 1977 leadis ing article.v povsedstroitel'stva peredmirom raskryvaetsia nevnykhbudniakh kommunisticheskogo vo vsem velichii i krasote dukhovnyiobraz bortsa i sozidatelia.i v zhivoi deistvitel'nosti. like most genres of political discourses." etcetera.494 ALEXEI YURCHAK richer. maskingthem behindother ideas.the 1970s discoursewas 43 On the use of superlativesin Soviet discourse. Of course. Converting these verbal phrases into one nominal phrase converts claims into presuppositions. viet ideological discourse were used with much greaterfrequencythan in other genres of Russian discourse (1986:34). These complex modifiers allow one to convey ideological claims while minimizing the exposure of one's voice to critical scrutiny. editors' strategyfor creating long phrasesby eliminatingverbs." "the spiritualimage is great and beautiful.the italicizedphrase(which in Englishtranslation brokeninto two is a block of multiplenominals44: "Thespiritualimage of thefighter and parts) creator of the citizen of the developed socialist society reveals-itself to the world in all its greatness and beautyboth in the chiseled lines of the outstanding document of the contemporarytimes.the richest).43 The latterclaim again masks the formerone. The complex modifier. 44 See the Kommunist . and in the living existence. The use of multiplenominalsin one long chain masks some claims (expressedin earlier partsof the chain) behind otherclaims (expressedin laterparts).However. the use of nominal 1970s toward the hyper-normalized structures increasedand new long nominalchains were created.For example." The proliferation such constructionswas againan effect of the writers'atof to minimize potentialdeviations and ambiguitiesof their texts: nomitempts nals allow one to renderideological claims implicit.nominalizations. The use of such complex modifiersincreasedas pressureon CC writersto produce texts with minimumpotential deviations and ambiguitiesintensified (see above). in the everyday reality of the communistconstruction(I v chekannykhstrokakhvydaiushchegosiadokumentasovremennosti. see Steinvand(1955:82). above.This increased the circularityof ideological discourse. grazhdanina razvitogosotsialisticheskogoobshchestva). verbal phrases.each containingone idea (Seriot 1986): "the citizen sponding "thefighterand creof the developed socialist society is a fighterand creator. the idea that the citizen of the developed socialist society is a fighter and creatoris veiled behindtwo otherideas mentionedin the verbalphrasesabove. the Bolshevik discourse employedmanynominalsfromits inception.

prepared sent from the CentralCommitteein Moscow. with the sole purposeof turningthese long chains verb. phrases. words.In addition. inMasha. giving ideological discourse its popularslang name. quotes. the Komsomol Secretaryof a researchinstitutein a city district of Leningrad that Sasha supervised.To be trainedfor thejob he attended Higher PartySchool.whose practicesI discuss in this section.and interpreted people locally.I copied phrasesthatwould be useful in the text and then wrote the text. solidifying form andmaking"manifestintertextuality" (Fairclough1992: 104) a centralprincipleof block-writing.Masha (bornin 1970). at work.all instancesof ideological discourseconstantlyquotedand sampledprevioustexts. At first. even when speakingabout some local event.." However. and of 'unebbingsignificance'(neprekhodiashchee znachenie)insteadof 'greatsig- ..She explains:"Itook a newspaperandcopied sentencesfroman appropriate editorial. colleges.and so on.. a high school Komsorg(Komsomolorganizer)in the city of Kaliningrad..SOVIET HEGEMONY OF FORM 495 long nominal chains and only one special: its sentences containedparticularly often simply a copula. of nominals into a sentence.explainsthatshe learnedto use "special"constructions of 'depth-level stead of "common"ones: "It was always importantto speak meaning'(glubinnyismysl) as opposedto 'deep meaning'(glubokiismysl).encounteringit daily in schools."Studentsin the course were explicitly taughthow to write ideological texts by using prefabricated blocks-lists of key words.Sasha. Most membersof the last Soby viet generation.. and grammatical constructions. in the media. These were usuallywrittenso well thatwe could simply insertthem into our own texts. After graduation. and quotes from Party leaders.With experience one figured out some generative principles of block composition. Sasha. who was born in the mid-1950s. "oaklanguage"(dubovyi iazyk). wherehe took such coursesas "TheBasics of Marxist-Leninist Rhetoric. grew up with this model of ideological discourse. copying was not the only technique of text production." Sasha was more explicitly trainedin the artof block-writingthan most people of his generationwho occupiedlower positions in the Komsomolhierarchy. as a Secretaryon Idetexts of documentsand speeches and received regularcirculars ology. Andrei (bornin 1954). Local Reproduction Ideological Discourse of To understand what ideological texts meantto Soviet people we need to go beyond discourseandanalyzethe practicesandcontextsin which it was produced.for example. . in the Komsomol organization. disseminated. phrases. wrote her reportsand speeches for the regularKomsomolmeetings by copying whole passagesfromnewspapers. He explains: "they stated what had to be mentioned-which figures. wrote most of his ideological speeches and texts simply by copying whole passages from old speeches the previous Secretarieshad left behind in the Committeearchive.This style createda notoriously"wooden"sound. was a secretaryat the local Komsothe mol Raikom(DistrictCommittee).

Everyone. one claim (that some event has "meaning"or "significance")is masked and thus naturalizedbehindanotheridea-that it can be measuredby comparativeor temporaldegrees. The weight of meaningin this discoursehad shiftedfrom literalmeaningto linguisticform. however." conveys notjust significancebut its temporaldimension. or.Andrei.such as voting in favor durmarkers signaledideologicalconthat ing meetings)playedthe role of pragmatic texts but usually did not have to be readon the level of literalmeaning. Accordingto Masha." Masha and by becauseof their and hercontemporaries texts sounded"precise" "impressive" the architecture-these textsusedprecise generative principlesandblocks pragmatic functhe of ideologicaldiscourseand thereforerigorouslyperformed pragmatic tion of markingideologicalcontextsin everydaylife."In otherwords.and Masha."unlike "great. who often paid more attentionto the pragmaticas45 The adjectiveglubinnyi(depth-level)emphasizesa greatlevel of depth. The "referential function" emphasizes the "mes- sage" (meaning)itself (Jacobson 1960).conveys not simply the concept of depthbut its comparative(superlative)degree. a child I was always impressed To these serious and unclear(ser'eznye i neponiatnye)phrases. Considerone example (nominalchains are italicized): "Theunebbingsignificance of the victory of the working class in the GreatOctoberSocialist Revolution(or for a differentevent:of the Soviet people in the GreatPatrioticWar)is impossible to overestimate(Neprekhodiashchee znachenie pobedy rabochego klassa v VelikoiOktiabr'skoisotsialisticheskoirevoliutsii(Sovetskogonarodav VelikoiOtechestvennoi voine) nevozmozhno pereotsenit'). to conclude that such Komsomol membersas Sasha.Such statementsinclude long chains of nominals. for the new pragmatic ductionand interpretation ideologicaldiscoursethe generativeprinciplesand of lexical blocks (like the block of ritualisticpractice. how it says-not what it says. to use Jacobson's terms. similarto general those discussedin the previous section.45Similarly.while glubokii(deep) refers to depthin general.46 became moreimportant thanits "referential RenderingIdeology Meaningful It would be a mistake.if the speech was written for a meeting devotedto "all-peopleholidays"(vsenarodnye prazdniki).the "poeticfunction"of locally producedideological discourse function"(Jacobson1960).496 ALEXEI YURCHAK nificance'(bol'shoeznachenie).Masha. .Mashalearnedto use the complex modifiersof degreediscussed in the previoussection:the modifier"depthlevel" (glubinnyi)unlike "deep"(glubokii). 46 The "poetic function"of language emphasizes the aesthetics of the medium into which the message is packed. model used by people for the proAs mentionedearlier. In both cases. had a general feeling that the text soundedprecise As (chetko)and impressive(vpechatliaushche).remarks: often wouldbe unableto explainin my own wordswhat "I I wrote. sort of.the modifier"unebbing.she had to describe the importanceof the event by composing a particular type of statement.

"He had to keep a system of reports(otchetnost')aboutlecturesand.Andreicame to believe thatsocialist valrulesandthatsome ideological tasks ues were moreimportant thanbureaucratic could be ignoredwithout detriment.were able to conduct including many much of the daily ideological practicein the pragmaticways describedabove precisely because they continuedto subscribeto a more generalunderstanding of socialism.while othershad to be performedwith all . I said to a friendof mine: "you will be the leader.In fact." Such arrangements were so commonplacethat they did not appearsurprismembers. To solve the problem..SOVIET HEGEMONY OF FORM 497 pects of their texts thanto their literal meanings. To understand what concretepracticesmay tell us aboutthe natureof a given social systemwe need to analyzethe actualcontextswhereactors engage in them.Tenrank-and-file in had to write and deliver political-ideologicallectures (politinformatsiia) the most tried course of the year in front of their colleagues. as a practitionerof that work.And also..This is why in this section I will considerhow the low-ranking local practitioners Soviet ideology reproducedthe social contexts in which of ideological texts circulated. to discuss it with a competentlook (s gramotnymvidom). practicesthatmay appearcontradictory outto be so for insiders (or in anside observers (or in one context) do not have othercontext). As Andrei expected.. to As anthropologists know well.Andrei explains. he knew that to organize people and orchestrateevents was not as easy as devising them on paper. attorneys. Preparing [Andrei'sCommittee's]main task.Accordingto an indication of a sharedand sincerebelief in the importanceof the concept of justice. . the SecretaryAndrei was assigned by the Raikom to orKomsomolmembers ganize a "lecturegroup"in his institute."After reviewing the reportsof differentorganizationsin the district. he thought of himself as a ratherconscientious Komsomol form Secretarywho believed thatin generalpoliticallectureswere an important of ideological-education work (ideino-vospitatel'naia rabota).were simply dissimulatorsor opportunistswho did not care for the ideological values of would be a mistake or to conclude from this descriptionthatAndreiwas simply an opportunist dissimulator. whose practice of arguingdiametricallyopposing positions in concrete legal cases should not be read as pureutilitarianism. Like many othersof his generation. to avoid the task. but. once or twice a year. Such a view would ignore the important fascinatingfact thatmany Soviet people.. ing eitherto the Committeeor the rank-and-file crediblereportswas the Raikom"hardly ever spoke with real people. so that there was somethingto referto just in case. In this they were much like the above-mentionedU. and members of the last Soviet generation. We even had five or six people in it." I mentioned. In the early 1980s.S. when possible. At the same time. on the contrary.the Raikom issued its own reportin which Andrei's As lecturinggroupwas named"exemplary. to arrangereal lectures. "ourCommitteedecided to create a lecture group on paper. if a reportwas reviewed by the Raikom..

lectures about political situations in differentparts of the world.concerts of music groups. other. in the late 1970s was the Komsorgof a school class in the town of Sovetsk (the region of Kaliningrad).and so on." To put this differently. Igor even volunteeredfor the post of school Komsorg several years in a row.I wanted be in Joining Komsomol. . youth dances."meaningful" The abovementionedschool Secretary. who."awardsof which he was proudand which he kept on the wall in his office. agefifteen. While he hatedthe bureaucratic formalityof manyrituals.the museum devoted to the institute'srole duringthe war. assistance to young families with housing and kindergarten children. For organizingthese diverse activities. insti- . and later at home. this antipathy did not precludehim from being morally engaged in other aspects of Komsomol work such as organizingprogramsfor helping the elderly. I felt thatif you lived accordingto the right scheme-school.hikes in the country. work in agriculturalfarms and constructionbrigades. celebrations. Igor explains: the to at eventforme.was equally passionateabout and proudof the "meaningful" of her Komsomol work:initiatingacaaspects demic supportto the studentswho lagged behindand assistanceto the local elderly war veterans. but signs of publicrecognition of his organizingtalents. these were not meaningless documents received in exchange for meaninglessactivities. and often organized on his own initiative. or debates about literature.He distinguishedbetween two types of Komsomol practice.the two types of work-"pure formality"and "workwith meaning"-were in a mutuallyconstitutiverelationship: fulfilling some "formality" was a necessary prerequisitefor being able to perform"workwith meaning.performingthe unavoidableand ritualized"formality" helpedto outlinethe ideological space (whatAndreicalls "shell")within which forms of ideological work and socialist life could proceed.lecture series for on history. Rememberingthat aspect of Komsomol work Igor exclaims: "Oh. The firsthe called "formality" (proforma)and"ideologicalshell"(ideologicheskaia consisted of the productionof pragmaticmarkers(well-formed shelukha)-it reports. Masha.sportscompetitions.498 ALEXEI YURCHAK earnestness. Andrei won several honorarydiplomas (gramota) "For Kosmomol Work. The second type of ideological workAndreicalled "workwith meaning" (rabota so smyslom).and this he found importantand enjoyable. Among the examples of that work he lists variousprofessionaland cultural initiatives:contests among young employees of the institutefor the best professional skills (konkursprofmasterstva). . etc. .the system of apprenticeship(nastavnichestvo).textualblocks.amateurtheatricalperformances.) that simply signaledunavoidableideological contexts.he admiredmany socialist values for which other Komsomol work stood.stronglydisliked the meaninglessside of his duties.wasanimportant the Komsomol because I wanted to be among the young avant-gardewho would work to improvelife. In practice.Anotherstudent. For him.Igor (bornin 1960). how I hated the Komsomol meetingsfor theirendless formalityandboredom!"Nonetheless. creativityand genuine concernfor the social good.

He and his school-matesfantasizedabouthaving their own band. or its opportunisticuse for self-advancement.All SecretariesandKomsorgs previously discussed were variously involved in producing"youthculture" yourlife wouldbe fine. or Deep Purple in stores. Troitsky1988.I will analyze the productionof youth culture that drew not only on ideological Soviet values but also on "bourgeois" Westernvalues.became a fan of Anglo-American rock music. mymother for hard a doctor.Yet in the daily life of Andrei's generationthis music was in vibrantexistence.. When Andrei studied in school in the early 1970s.andlisted these activitiesas examplesof Komsomolwork"with meaning. me the governof ment's It of good policywascorrect. education."In the analysisbelow.. Friedberg1985). (home recording production) (Troitsky chak 1999). .but also entailedinterestingandcreative acts of renderingcommunist ideology meaningful within the broaderframework of humanvalues.between 1973 and 1976. Officially. occasionallyjammed at bandin English-The Boysfrom a Morgue.. Intertextuality life "Meaningful" was producedwithin "formulaic" ideological contextsby engaging with a wide variety of discourses and practices that were not strictly "ideological"but that were often explicitly linked with some ideological symbols and meanings. home. I will focus on this workin the case of the now familiarKomsomol SecretaryAndrei.the music of most Westernrock bands did not exist in the Soviet universe-one could not purchase the records of Alice Cooper Led Zeppelin.SOVIET HEGEMONY OF FORM 499 for tute.this type of music was regularlydenouncedin official publicationsas an example of bourgeois culture. Frisby 1989. consisted simply a careforpeople. like millions of his contemporaries.To give an example of these discoursesandpracticesin the case of the last Soviet generation. hearthem on the radio or see them in concert.47 became Yurknown magnitizdat as 47 That system 1988.Yurchak1999.or a dissimulatedrepetition of official ideological statements.He was ourregion'schiefdoctor was of My andworked to improve medical And hard the worked services thepeople.and in this reduplicatedform spreadat an exponential rate among membersof the younger generationaroundthe country. Basically. hada fineapartment the state. copied over and over on reel-to-reel recorders. father an example thispolicy. freehospitals. andnamedtheirimpromptu At the university. Small numbersof Westernrecords were broughtinto the Soviet Union from abroadby Soviet sailors.Pink Floyd. Andrei met more music fans. and started in participating an active exchangeof tapes. as We from A myriadof similardescriptionsmakes clearthatthe relationshipof the last Soviet generationwith official ideology did not simply involve a resistanceto ideology. even though the latterwere routinelycondemnedin the ideological discourse of the Soviet press as anti-communist(Stites 1993. he.

An articlethat appearedin the central KomsomolnewspaperKomsomol'skaia Pravda in 1981."48 These two ideological texts represent the discursive regime of the early 1980s: the literal meaning of Andrei's speech is an argumentfor a need to deattitudeto bourgeois ideology and morality". a logical conclusion of the "evolution"of rock music.the velop an "uncompromising literal meaningof the newspaperarticleis an argumentthatWesternrock music as a culturalform lacked precisely that "uncompromising attitudeto the vices of the bourgeoisworld"(see italicizedparts). ... as a member of the Komsomol Committeeat the universityandlaterat the researchinstitute. an indivisible partof the Westernmass culture-a deformedoffspringof an unequalmarriage betweenartandbusiness. an uncompromising and morality. Cushman 1995.presentedhis first speech at the annual Komsomol meeting. Yurchak 1999). All these events needed the approvalof a local Party Secretary.the educationof young people in the spiritof Sogeois ideology viet patriotismand socialist internationalism-these are the centraltasks facing the ideological leadershipof our Komsomol organization. Westernrock music was a primeexample of whatAndreireferredto as the "bourgeoisideology and morality" had crept that into Soviet life and needed to be fought.This is a naturalfate.. severalmonthsbefore Andrei's speech. a brand-newKomsomol Secretaryof the researchinstitute.It was quite clear.In 1982.. 19 Mar. The formationof the Marxist-Leninist attitude (neprimirimoeotnoshenie) to bourworld-view.However. The speech started with the words: "Oneof the centraldirectionsin the work of the Komsomol is politicoideological educationof young people. Let us consider how this combinationof Andrei's practices as Komsomol Secretary and culturalorganizerwas reflected at the level of his discourse..which Andrei usually managedto secure by representingthem in his reportsas ideologically sound forms of Komsomol youth life (komsomol'sko-molodezhnaia zhizn'). that on the level of literalmeaningWesternrock was claimed to be a manifeshow the young tationof bourgeoiscultureandmorality. V. understand 48 Barko.therefore. The songs of new trendystarsonly lead the listenersaway bourgeois into the world of unrealizableillusions. "Pered stenoi okazalas' segodnia populiarnaia muzyka na zapade" [Popular music in the West has hit the wall].500 ALEXEI YURCHAK From the late 1970s into the early 1980s. Insteadof progress-this is regress. music-sleeping-pill (muzyka-snotvornoe). explained this official ideological position: "[Westernrock attitudeto the vices of the bands] almost completely lack an uncompromising world. Andrei also organized concerts of "amateur" Russian bandsthatemergedin the 1970s and were neitherofficially registerednor officially forbidden (Troitsky 1988. This is music-drug(muzyka-narkotik). ." Accordingto the Soviet media. Komsomol'skaia Pravda. music-deceit (muzyka-obman). 1981 (emphasis added).Andreiorganized youth dances at which he played tape-recordedcopies of this "non-existent" Westernmusic throughthe sound system anddeliveredshortlecturesaboutdifferent Westernbands.

SOVIET HEGEMONY OF FORM 501 Soviet audiencesin fact interpreted such texts we also need to considerthe contexts for their productionand circulation.At the same time. Andrei'sKomsomol speech seems to appeal for an uncompromisingattitudeagainst them. a Andreipainstakinglytranslated four-pagearticlefrom the abouta heavy metal guitarist.Andrei's young audience could avoid reading newspaperarticles critical of Westerncultureas a whole at the level of "literal"meanings. imperialism.g." . Music Express. a friendlent him an issue of a WesternEuropeanmagazine.. the same year thatAndreimade his Komsomol speech.whereI discovered them. but disconnectedthemfrom othercontextsof everyday life.and other discourses and practices these people were involved in at thattime.g. Andrei and his between contradiction young audiencesdid not seem troubledby this apparent the two discourses. In 1982. as two prominentSoviet sociologists of of youth culture(both ardentPartymembersand representatives an older genthe eration)pessimisticallyconcludedin 1982 aftera long studythroughout Soviet Union. Later. what keeps Michael alive? Of course. He stored both texts in the same folder marked "1982"amongdocumentsandpicturesin his home archive..) were widely subscribedto at the level of literalmeaning. linked these texts containedrecognizablepragmaticmarkersthatunmistakably with the space of ideology. Andrei claims that both texts were equally importantto him because they representedmajoractivities in which he was engaged during that year of his life..he referredto facts fromthe text when he introduced songs tape-recorded of The Scorpionsduringhis Komsomol dances. and seems to encourage praise from the audience. that Andrei's Komsomol speech.The translation describesin detail the careerof the heavy metal star and his stereotypicalheavy-metalproblems: "Now Michael's drug addiction became truly 'heavy. etc. Indeed."The translationends with a cheerful appealto the fans: "So. broughtby a sailorfrom abroad. Note. the same as you and me'heavy metal!'" The text thatAndrei translatedseems to representAndrei's genuine passion for bourgeois rock music and its decadent culture." Brenneis (1986) on "indirection.49 Just like in the examples discussed earlier. In fact. thatWesternrock was an example of Westernbourgeoiscultureto be opposed) were treatedas a formulaicenframing.Michael Schenkerof the Germanrock magazine groupThe Scorpions. thirstfor money.colonialism.. the new Soviet youththat seemed to be conscientiousin variousaspects of communistmoralitywas neverthelessratherblind to any connections between "Western music" and "thepolitics of anti-Communism" (Ikonnikova and 49 See Humphrey(1994) on "evocativetranscript. He added tablets and cocaine to alcohol. These markersallowedAndreiandhis audiencesto discriminatein interpretingsuch texts: some aspects in Andrei's critique of bourgeois Western culture(e. just like the newspaperarticle.and typed it up on the Komsomol Committeetypewriter.' .while otheraspects of thatcritique(e. Yet. cold war politics.

He wrote to his Leningradfriend (13 May It "I 1975.Andrei.Nikolai occupied the post of the Komsomol Secretary and took that work very seriously. when in reality marijuanawas discovered in the university's dormitory. In high school in Yakutsk. especially King Crimvekakh).502 ALEXEI YURCHAK and Lisovskii 1982:96-97). In the 1970s. For a final illustrationI will analyze excerptsfrom privateletters written in the late 1970s by a teenager.deeper. there was nothing contradictoryabout one's passionate affinity to some values of both anti-bourgeoisCommunistideology and anti-communistbourgeois culture.the ideals and ethics of Communismand of bourgeoisWestern lai.but I will say one thing: the buildingof communismis the taskof my life." .I do not like very loud words. For by the example.Nikolai was well aware of the apparentcontradictions between these values.but how to put theoryto life.Nikolai (born in 1959). helped to organizea vigorous campaignagainst drugs. At the same time. This is why Ijoint the Komsomol.I share your sorrow over the death of Elvis Presley. Examples sations between membersof the last Soviet generationduringthe late socialist period.This simultaneityof interestsand passions was possible because of the dynamic and "situated" relationshipof these young people with ideoloof this dynamicrelationshipcan also be found in privateconvergy." On 7 October 1977. this complex reading also imWesternrock music andculplied thatSoviet youthdid not necessarilyinterpret ture the way it was interpreted Westernaudiencesin Westerncontexts.S. Yakutsk): believe in communism. But this is not brainless."He ended the letter with a response to his friend's comment in an earlier letter: "P. However. Instead of resisting ideology wholesale. for many young people across the Soviet Union. making it meaningfulin his life. Nikolai wrote that he had just heard recordingsof the BritishbandsQueen and King Crimson.andthatthe latterbandespecially "impressed me quite a bit" and "I'd like to find out more about be able to buildit one must know it. and know not only theory. includingAndrei.Nikolai "no addedthatthe BritishbandsKing CrimsonandYes represented longer simmusic (estrada)"but a "muchhigher. However. is so enormousthat there would be enough for several more people.not blind faith. which is why he actively engaged in reinterpreting the meaningof Communistideology by disagreeingwith how aspectsof it were interpretedby school officials and the his teenagefriendin Leningrad."On 23 November. as a conscientious member of the Komsomol Committee. reference to drugswas read as a pragmaticmarkerof an imaginaryand exotic context of Westernrock culturethat existed for Andrei and his peers on the level of fantasy.and more powerful"muple pop sic "thatdeserves to be called music that will live in the centuriesto come (v Nikolai's comments and his choice of bands. from the Siberian For cities of the articleaboutTheScorpionsthatAndreitranslated.and my belief is unshakable.this is why I cherisheverythingconnectedwith it. Nikolike Andrei. rockmusic were equallyimportant he spoke aboutthem with his best friend and with passion and sincerity. he effectively domesticatedit.

""Wings.I hear them ratherrarely.""Uriah Heep.g. aesthetics (original emphasis).""Pink Floyd.Although I must say that as far as the Beatles are concerned.canput And Vivaldi.The ones thatI underlinedI like most of all. tell yourteacher aesthetics one cannot of froma prehisthat viewtheworldaround toricposition. perhaps.. in the Fall of 1977. nextto with us educate notknowing parable spaceflightsandnuclear physics. Nikolai's passionatebelief in is morecommonto listen to "DeepPurple.. classical music)... Nikolai responded by explicitly linking Westernrock to the officially celebrated achievementsof Soviet socialism (e. and I Shchedrin. Onecannot howwe live. When Nikolai became a studentat Novosibirsk University. renderingit compatible with the Communistideals as he understoodand admiredthem.withno reservation. areworthy is successors classicalmusic.. Overhere. Westernbands managedto reach even tape recordingsof such "non-existent" remote Siberiantowns and played an importantrole in the upbringrelatively ing of Soviet youth.andthat"theBeatles" an unof precedentedphenomenonof our life whose impacton the humanmindis.a representative the system andan oldergenerationwho of criticized the young for their interestsin the "bourgeois" Westernrock." "Yes.his contestationwas not a resistanceto Communistideology-as a serious studentof Communismhe contested the official criticism from the position of the same Communistvalues thatthis criticismpurported uphold. ." andless frequentlyothers.. overwhatwe suffer. yet.50Compar50 This point challenges Orwell's model of "Newspeak": individualspeech can be creative and unpredictable even if the form of availablepublic discourse is strictlycontrolled. however.""LedZeppelin..." Nikolai was well awareof the official Soviet criticismof this bourgeoismusic andindeedexplicitly contestedthis criticism. space exploration. 1997a:15). he wrote from Yakutsk: .""Queen..TellherthatI love Bach.g.The next two quotes to illustratehow Nikolai actively reinterpreted Soviet ideology. he wrote about the active interest in Westernmusic amonghis fellow students(14 December.""King Crimson. Because froma higher see one ground canclearly thatrockmusicand its relatives ... but in rock as a form of art. did not precludehim from of disagreeingwith some official interpretations these ideals and from sending these thoughtsacross the countrythroughthe official Soviet mail. one interestednot in easylisteningpop. a preacher dogmatic aesthetics.""Alice Cooper. whatandwhywe love.Novosibirsk):"Manyof our students have personalcollections of stereorecordingsof the best rock bands. On 21 January1977.It is also noteworthythatin the 1970s. suggest that he was a serious lover of music. Rakhmaninov.Also see Butler on "the space of agency"in controlleddiscourse (Butler 1997b:129.nuclearphysics) and of "good" non-bourgeoisinternationalculture (e. Tchaikovsky.SOVIET HEGEMONY OF FORM 503 son. and his use of prescribedideological forms to formulatethem in his discourse. shedoesnotunderstand sheis nota teacher livIf of this but of whichis justlikereliaesthetics. ingprogressive gious. When the friendfromLeningradwroteaboutthe conflict his classmateshad with their teacherof aesthetics.Importantly..

headed by Gorbachev. it allowed many Soviet people to continue adheringto Communistideals andto see themselves as good Soviet citizens. especially the younger genthe erations. they only wanted to reform socialism. tions of possibility for the system's imminent introducingthis new critical discourse they rendered the logic of heteronymous shift suddenly visible and publicly discussed. cultureas compatiblewith Communistvalues. while still preservingit. many Soviet people. destatic dogmas and renderingcommunist values meaningful on ideologizing their own terms. Soviet ideology experienced a transformationtowarda new pragmaticmodel: it was increasinglymore important to reproduce precise ideological forms than to adhere to the precise meanings these forms were supposed to convey. which this papertheorizes as a heteronymousshift. and therefore did not expect the collapse. And yet. When the Party leadership. cannot be reduced to resistance. which amountedto a new change in the system's discursive regime. humanandnon-dogmaticterms. the constant internalreinterpretation the ideological meanwhich were the system's very raison d'etre. the Soviet people unanimously reproduced the system on the level of form: they participatedin mass organizations. The act of the reproductionof form with the reinterpretation of meaning.publicly manifested support at mass rallies and fulfilled official plans in numbers and the mid-1980s launched the critical public debates of perestroika.At of the same time.or dissimulation. In the late 1950s throughthe early 1960s. pects of "bourgeois" CONCLUSION This paperstartedwith the question: what was it aboutthe Soviet system that made its "collapse"appearcompletely unimaginableand surprisinglyfast not only to most WesternSovietologists but also to most Soviet people? One anof swer lies in the natureof Soviet people's understandings and relations with the official communist ideology in the decades that preceded the collapse.indeed. opportunism.504 ALEXEI YURCHAK ing an ideological version of the communist aesthetics to a religious dogma. However. The unanimous and ubiquitous replication of ideological forms. . they did not see the internal"conditionsof possibility" for what they were. In line with the Party claims. contraryto the Partyclaims. contributedto the condiings.creatively reinterpreted meanings of the ideological symbols. Nikolai arguesfor a need to reinterpret Communismin more flexible. coupled with one's affinity to many communist values. without necessarily causing this implosion. Like all others. Perestroikabecame a final public manifestationof a majortransformation that had already taken place inside the system quietly and invisibly. the announced Party projectfor the creationof the New Soviet Person was both successful and unsuccessful. contributedto the appearanceof the Soviet reality as monolithic and eternal. Ultimately. voted in favor of ideological resolutions.termsthatallow he andhis peersto see many asistic.

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