The decline of Russia’s intellectual community

Paul Goble’s Window on Eurasia has a link to an interesting essay by the Russian historian Irina Pavlova which examines the way in which Russia’s intellectual class has declined under the influence of the Soviet past and the readiness of most Russian intellectuals to put power before moral and ethical principles. Excerpt [my tr.]:

I am struck, for example, by the image that has emerged of Vladislav Surkov as the cleverest man in Russia, to whom the members of the Academy of Sciences listen with servile attention. And the “talking heads” Sergei Markov and Maxim Shevchenko, who have never done any historical research, but who give instruction to historians in how to study the famine of the early 1930s. And the specialists, rendered wise by experience, who support the chairman of the recently created Historical Memory foundation, Alexander Dyukov. With enviable fervour this young man is bringing to life a new prison-guard conception of Soviet history that is based on blind faith in the documents given to him from the archive of the FSB. And the liberals, who are placing their hopes in a new democracy led by President Medvedev. And the abuse and invective hurled at the Russian people, who don’t want democracy and support the current government. All this, in my opinion, is evidence of a profound intellectual and moral crisis, which is no less dangerous than the economic one. Whom God wishes to punish, he first deprives of reason.

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