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By Michael Kirkwood, Philip Hanson

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Extra resources for Alexander Zinoviev as Writer and Thinker: An Assessment

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In Europe, from 1979-81, he was becoming a very well-known interpreter of Soviet society and the Soviet system of government. By 1982 as lecturer, writer and media-personality he had taken issue with his fellow exiles and with Western sovietologists. He had also begun to startle the public. One of the main bones of contention between Alexander and his Western audience was his doctrine regarding the Stalin and post-Stalin periods. For Zinoviev the Stalin period was something very positive: the new Soviet country's childhood and adolescence; whereas Brezhnevism, or the period after Khrushchev, had turned out a nightmare of corruption, cynicism and mediocrity.

This creates ambiguity. And ambiguity is disconcerting when it comes to the science which he intends to promulgate. Ambiguity sits even worse with the 24 Experiences of a Soviet Methodologist statesman-like deliberations which Alexander, when wearing his pro-Western hat, enjoins on us. The resulting extravaganza is often highly entertaining, but the wreckage has to be considerable. Zinoviev is fond of saying he is a 'typical Soviet man'. This is quite untrue. He is not a typical anything or anybody.

But at the same time he emphasised the necessity of a strong ruler who could make the new, inevitably collective, institutions stick and so save the 'Russian lands' from a running chaos. Granted the 'hurricane of history' the Soviet Union was a relatively successful polity because Tsarism had at least been replaced by a consistent system. Further, it was a merit of Sovietism that it had preserved the Romanov empire intact. ) It was over the 'necessity' of a 'a Stalin' and over the validity of Soviet institutions that Alexander Zinoviev took issue sharply with his fellow exiles, with Western sovietologists and with almost the whole dissident movement within the Soviet Union.

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