The Russian Sociological Review, 2021 (1) en-us Copyright 2021 Wed, 31 Mar 2021 15:56:51 +0300 The East is a Delicate Matter This article is Martin Müller’s response to essays and remarks that critically examined the Russian translation of his article “In Search of the Global East: Thinking between North and South” (Russian Sociological Review. Vol. 19. № 3). The material for the analysis were texts published in the thematic block “The Global East: The Politics of Naming and Knowledge Production” (found in the same issue). The article analyzes these texts according to the standpoint principle, that is, in keeping with the desire to go beyond the dominant social construction of reality in order to understand marginalized groups and regions by giving them a voice. The focus is on the generational differences between the author and his critics, as well as the inevitability of the differences in reactions to the author’s proposal to pay more attention to a region traditionally referred to as post-socialist. Examples of the specific reactions and positions of the critics are given. The author has highlighted the following aspects of the problems associated with the popularization of the concept of the Global East: the non-identity of this concept to post-socialism, the importance of “global” in this concept, the pros and cons of understanding the Global East through the prism of strategic essentialism, and the complex temporality of this concept (“future for the past”). From Kierkegaard to Schmitt: Towards the Political-Theological Relevance of Repetition This article attempts to explore Carl Schmitt’s political theology with reference to the philosophical and literature heritage of Søren Kierkegaard. For most modern scholars, the presence of this ideological connection is no longer something unknown or to be doubted. In the key statements of political theology, the dialectic of exception and of the universal is found, appearing in the same way as it was formulated by Kierkegaard. More often, the exception is the one that attracts the attention of specialists. However, in addition to the exception, Kierkegaard also speculated on repetition; it was the Danish philosopher’s work of the same name that was the source of the quotation with which Schmitt illustrated the significance of the sovereign decision for the systematic doctrine of the state. This paper redefines Schmitt’s main ideas through the notion of repetition, and demonstrates the theoretical novelty and productivity of this approach to the study of the heritage of one of the key political thinkers of the twentieth century. Political Theology of International Law: Methodological Facets and Borders The article investigates the possibility of applying political theology as a specific methodological approach to international law. As the key theses of political theology were originally formulated by C. Schmitt in the context of national law acting in a homogeneous environment, political theology discourse in the modern philosophy of international law is mainly related to the universalist projects of global law based on an analogy with national law. The first of such strategies, the expansionist strategy, presupposes the construction of global order by the world hegemon. The second, the cosmopolitan strategy, assumes that international law can be built on the basis of an ongoing process of discussion of the global order foundations by the widest possible range of actors. Both of these strategies charm “eternal peace” and are nourished by a common messianic spirit and, therefore, are utopian. However, Schmitt’s international law legacy offers an atypical non-universalist and anti-messianic view on international law as a heterogeneous global legal order based on spatial concepts. Despite the fact that the application of political theology to this kind of order is difficult, it shall not be excluded for several reasons. The pluralistic structure of the heterogeneous order can be seen as a katechon that holds back the end of history. Finally, the political theology of international law can be applied to analyze the historical transformations of the international legal order. Social Networks and Systems Theory This paper provides a critical assessment of the conceptions of social networks in systems theory. There are two main solutions to the problem: treating networks as systems, or denying them that status. The last group conceives networks as structural couplings (Kämper and Schmidt) or as forms (Fuhse). Among the first group, Luhmann has used the concept to describe the particularities of the societal structure of underdeveloped regions, but he did not delve into a theoretical characterization of the concept. Teubner’s version also remained associated with a particular episode, providing no general network theory. Bommes and Tacke establish reciprocity as the central mechanism, which relates different addresses (persons or organizations) through a non-specific future promise of a service in return for a favor. The analysis shows that this account provides the most complete version of the concept, remaining fully compatible with systems theory. Event as Object: Towards a Flat-Event Theory In the article, the author offers an original version of the solution to the problem of the atomicity of social events. The relevance of the topic is due to the fact that it is indivisibility that makes it possible to distinguish an event from other social phenomena/processes. From the author’s point of view, the event must have a certain duration, which is atomic. As the first step, the author, relying on a wide range of sources that include the views of various theorists, considers the problem of the indivisibility of social events in the current theory of events. The author notes that logical-semantic interpretations of the indivisibility of events have become more widespread than the statement of ontological atomicity. Furthermore, the author dwells, in detail, on the interpretation of atomicity by observation. Analyzing the views of D. Davidson, A. F. Filippov, and others, the author proves that in the case of atomicity, by observation: (1) the criteria for this atomicity are rather blurred; (2) the event is a consequence not only of the observer’s figure, but also of his system of distinction and motives; (3) the complexity may be related to the spatial factor; and 4) the event itself is confused with the fact. The author also believes that limiting social events only to what is available to the human eye is not in line with modern trends. Additionally, the author shows the productivity of understanding the event as an object. In contrast to the participants in discussions aimed at distinguishing an event and an object, the author uses object conceptualization offered by object-oriented ontology. Events, which as objects are capable of change while retaining their indivisibility and stability, can be associated not only with the material but also with the ideal sphere, and have a system of distinctions. The proposed scheme allows us to assert the impossibility of negative events, gives a reason not only to talk about the atomicity of the event but to also emphasize the ontological foundations of this atomicity, and also offers the possibility of thinking about the social beyond the observed. The Power of Corruption: Xenophon on the Upbringing of a Good Citizen in Sparta In the given article, the author offers an interpretation of the work titled Lacedaimonion Politeia, written by the ancient political philosopher Xenophon of Athens. Judging from Xenophon’s sober and open-minded attitude to the regime he researches, the author focuses on the central issue of the treatise, namely, the upbringing of a virtuous or good citizen. This became the cornerstone of Sparta’s success as a polis, and provided it with a fame as a unique political entity praised by all, but copied by none. The author identifies the three stages of the Spartan education given by Xenophon and continues with the practices of its implementation at a mature age. The research makes it clear that the purpose of the laws of Lycurgus, as described by Xenophon, is twofold. On the one hand, the given laws instill respect, obedience, and the virtue of manliness which the lawgiver desired in citizens. On the other hand, the laws create citizens who merely imitate the above-described traits of character and law-abidance, and who are actually more like unmitigated criminals constantly fighting with each other. It is the second type of people—good criminals—who find themselves in power in Sparta, and they are the ones who end up destroying the Spartan state. By providing this diagnosis of the Spartan regime and the laws of Lycurgus, Xenophon attempts to show that handling the problem of the education of good citizens as suggested in Sparta is misguided and requires additional deliberation. Migrants and Spatial Marginality in Urban Digital Media (The Case of Irkutsk) The article analyzes “migrant” spaces created in Irkutsk by journalists and users of urban digital media. We considered professional news agencies, groups in Vkontakte, and forums as a tool for “space production” in combining many autobiographical descriptions of interaction with the city, images, and publicistic texts into an integral socio-spatial image. We were interested in how the texts’ authors of digital media integrate migrants into the “image of Irkutsk”: do they create specific “migrant” places on the map of Irkutsk? What are their features? Do the “migrant” spaces created on various digital platforms differ from each other? Does the social marginality of the “migrant” receive spatial expression? The materials were selected in the Google search engine, as well as in the built-in search engines of urban communities on Vkontakte and forums, using the keywords “Irkutsk” + “migrants” or “newcomers”. We used the method of retrospective online observation and discourse analysis. By observing the users’ dialogues and publicistic texts posted at different times, we determined which localities “migrants” and “newcomers” were placed in, and what characteristics they were given. It was found that the professional media mainly broadcasts the bureaucratic vision of the “migrant” and its location: it is associated with a set of “suspect spaces”, points of concentration of informal jobs, and are regularly “checked” by officials. Spaces are presented as marginal, do not fit into the city as an established socio-spatial order, and therefore are “dirty” and dangerous. These images move to social media where the image of “dirty” spaces and the “migrant” hiding there, as transmitted by the bureaucracy, collide with the subjective experience of users, becoming more complex and ambiguous. Thus, the “migrant” is placed in a wider range of spaces and social situations, gradually becoming a part of everyday urban life. The Civilizational Dimension of the Structurating of Societies The civilizational approach in contemporary sociology aims at clarifying the relationships between social structure and culture, and institutions and actors. The civilizational dimension of the structuring of societies focuses on uncovering the complex interactions between the civilizational pattern and social structure. The focus is on a historically-defined combination of interpretive models and institutional frameworks in which the social dynamics of society unfolds. The fundamental premise of civilizational analysis in sociology is the rejection of social or cultural reductionist determinism. The key moments are distinction and autonomy, and are contingent on the interweaving of the structural, institutional, and cultural aspects of social interaction. The basic concepts of the civilizational dimension of structuring societies are (a) the determination of the method of differentiation and integration of the spheres of social life; (b) the establishment of basic norms and “debentures” for the main institutional sectors; (c) the building a social center and establishing its relationship with the periphery; (d) the construction of collective identities; (e) giving order to the formation of social stratification and the social division of labor; and (f) a self-representation and the strategies of sociopolitical elites, and their management practices. The key aspects of the civilizational structuring of social formations are highlighted and considered in the examples of the Imperial and the Soviet periods in the history of Russian society. Contemporary societies in the civilizational dimension are a combination of (a) inherited local civilizational traditions (often with their own anticipations of modernity), then (b) perceived in the course of inter-civilizational encounters with cultural and institutional influences of “other” traditions and reactions to them, and then (c) develop, inherit their own, borrow, or take on imposed-from-the-outside articulations and visions of the problems of modernity civilization, including models of modernity which receive universal meaning and value. International Law and the Orthodox Church: Ideas of M. V. Zyzykin in the 1930s The article discusses the ideas of Mikhail V. Zyzykin (1880–1960) about the contribution of the Church to international law in the context of its history and the international relations in the 1930s. Special attention is paid to the relation of Orthodoxy to international law, since Zyzykin is one of the few jurists who have studied in detail the influence of the Orthodox Church tradition on the law of nations. His works on this subject (first of all, an essay The Church and International Law (1937), based on a report at the Oxford conference of practical Christianity in 1937), remain little known to social and political science. The article considers the main provisions of Zyzykin about the origin of international law in medieval Europe with the participation of the Church in the context of the positions of other international lawyers (Taube, Martens, Kamarovsky, Nys, Bluntschli). It contains a comparative characteristic of the attitude to international law of the three Christian denominations (Catholicism, Protestantism, and Orthodoxy) according to Zyzykin and his idea of the Christian West and East “asymmetric” international contribution (the East was represented initially by the Eastern Roman Empire, and then by the Russian Empire). The fourth part describes the most original part of Zyzykin’s ideological legacy: a comparison of two vulnerable attempts of international organization, the Holy Alliance in the XIX century and the League of Nations in the XX century. The Biographical Method as a Methodological Tradition in Russia: A Review of Projects and Publications The biographical method in sociology and related disciplines is considered to be firmly rooted in the Western tradition of the first half of the twentieth century (the Chicago School, as well as the Polish memory contests started by F. Znaniecki), while the Russian experience remains largely neglected and unnoticed. The article presents an analytic review of six themes/stages of this movement and their contemporary reception: (1) the N. Rybnikov Institute of Biography, (2) Historical Commissions and Societies, such as Istpart, and others, (3) the Communist Academy, (4) monographic studies and the Central Bureau of Local History, (5) the History of the Civil War and the History of Factories and Plants, Cabinets of Recordings and Memoirs, and (6) the Commission on the History of the Great Patriotic War. All of these initiatives are known to researchers, but so far, they have been studied within the narrow confines of separate disciplines, and almost without regard to the biographical method. A detailed account of these themes in the biographical method context provides us with new optics allowing to reveal the general effects of biographization as the self-reflection of modern society, either with scholarly participation or without it. The review takes into account historical realities and is placed within an interdisciplinary field. The internal continuity is traced in all analyzed projects. Their common features include the articulation of social relevance, the temporal regime, and the organizational specificity of work and its methodological characteristics. The latter are given a detailed account in terms of their relevance to the methodological precepts of contemporary humanities and social sciences. Genuine Reactionary: The Works of Nicholás Gómez Dávila The article deals with the work of the Colombian philosopher and writer Nicholás Gómez Dávila, and primarily his five-volume work Scholia to an Implicit Text (Escolios a un texto implícito). This work is a collection of over 10,000 brilliant aphorisms. Gómez Dávila called himself a reactionary thinker. His aphorisms express a critical attitude towards the modern world. He criticized the shortcomings of democracies, and was strongly opposed to revolutions and the idea of progress. He saw progress as a gradual slide down an inclined plane. His ideal is a traditional society that is organized hierarchically. He also sharply criticized contemporary art, in which he believed little skill was left with very large pretensions for originality. He is a religious thinker who did not accept the ecclesiastical relief of the Second Vatican Council. An unattractive portrait of a man of our day looms in his aphorisms. He writes about fools and vulgar people who pursue fashion that attracts them by its superficial brilliance, while the “genuine reactionary” is always opposed to fashion. The reactionary is a loner by nature, does not tolerate crowds, lives an inner life, and communicates with philosophy and art. In the modern world, Gómez Dávila finds expressions of Gnostic tendencies from which comes the idea of the deification of man and the oblivion of God. He contrasts the intellect as something dry and abstract to intelligence which must live through existential conflicts. Some have compared Gómez Dávila with Nietzsche, but this comparison does not seem relevant. The 70-Year-Old The New Science of Politics The paper is a reflection on the book The New Science of Politics: An Introduction by the German-American political philosopher Eric Voegelin. The book is considered as a classic work in the field of the political theory of the 20th century. The first edition of the book was published in 1952, but its Russian translation was only completed in 2021. The author notes that although Voegelin’s thought is clear, the reading of the work may be difficult because Voegelin re-invents the terms that were already established in the scientific field, such as positivism, Gnosticism, the philosophy of history, the philosophy of consciousness, etc. To clarify the thinker’s contribution to political philosophy, the author addresses several studies that describe this contribution. After a brief enumeration of the components of this ‘contribution’, the author discusses how fully these points are reflected in The New Science of Politics. It turns out that although this work is based on six lectures, it contains all the topics of Voegelin’s political theory. The author further clarifies several key terms of the philosopher, and proceeds to the presentation of Voegelin’s concept. This technique makes Voegelin’s political theory crystal clear. Finally, the author turns to the context of “before-Rawls” political theory and briefly describes how the jurist and (later) political scientist Hans Kelsen reacted to Voegelin’s work. The author also analyses the polemics between Hannah Arendt and Voegelin, explaining why Arendt’s reaction to Voegelin’s criticism might seem strange, although it should not be considered as such. He concludes by referring to some excellent assessments of Voegelin’s philosophy, and states that the great hope that Voegelin would become the most important philosopher of the twentieth century did not come true. The Pulse of Non-Democracy? The article continues the discussion of Grigory Yudin’s book Public Opinion. The review considers Yudin’s arguments on the “plebiscitarian bias” in opinion-poll technology, on the linkages between opinion-polls, Rousseauist tradition and the “plebiscitarian model”, and on Gallup’s, Schumpeter’s, and Weber’s contributions to plebiscitarism. In the context of the proposed conceptual model, controversial issues in the interpretation of Weber’s and Schumpeter’s ideas, as well as an estimation of the Russian political regime in the 2010s are debated. Models of plebescitarism (including their principles and criteria) as proposed by Yudin, and by Urbinati in Democracy Disfigured are compared. The article highlights the differences between Gallup and Schumpeter, as well as between Schumpeter and Weber, in their insights into democracy and public opinion. The reviewer pays attention to the relationship between the classical doctrine of representative democracy by Schumpeter and the bourgeois public sphere by Habermas, and between public debates and the quantification of public opinion. We examine the argument about the continuity between public-opinion polls and the big projects of Modernity, such as representative democracy, public sphere, and biopolitics. Continuity argument is proposed as an alternative to Yudin’s hypothesis about the radical reinvention of ‘democracy’ and ‘public opinion’ during the inter-war period of the 20th century. Yudin’s insights on the social and political onthology of opinion-polls are preliminary, and are reconstructed for further discussion. All Power to the Experts? Contradictions of the Information Society as Both Depending on and Devaluating Expertise Book Review: Tom Nichols, The Death of Expertise: The Campaign against Established Knowledge and Why It Matters (New York: Oxford University Press, 2017). Farewell to Illusions: An Analysis of Late Modern Society by Andreas Reckwitz Book Review: Andreas Reckwitz. Das Ende der Illusionen: Politik, Ökonomie und Kultur in der Spätmoderne (Berlin: Suhrkamp, 2019). Anatoly Vishnevsky — Scholar, Creator, Man of Settled Convictions In Memory of Natalia Samutina