Who Is Called A "Sovok"

Alexander Zinoviev is a writer, sociologist, logician, artist and poet, a person of gigantic capabilities that are still to a great extent underrated. He has many adherents, but even more opponents. Zinoviev spent twenty years in the West in forced emigration.

Alexander Zinoviev received his degree in philosophy from Moscow State University in 1951. He soon became one of the more prominent researchers in logic, and received a Doctorate of Political Science.

Many of the works of this talented academic created a sensation in the scientific world. These were "Philosophical Problems of Multifold Logic", "The Logic of Science", "The Logic of Expression and the Theory of Deduction", "The Logic of Physics". He was elected to the Finnish Academy of Sciences that at the time was one of the main centers in the field of logic.

Following is an excerpt from his new book which is still in the process of publication.

George Shenkar, Detroit, USA
Translation from Russian.

CONFESSIONS OF A "SOVOK"?
NO, OF A SOVIET INDIVIDUAL!

The Russian bastardized word "sovok" (sovokopniy=cooperative or a collective person – GS) is now used for the representatives of the generation that were born and lived for a more or less significant part of their lives during the Soviet period. Some people now use this word as a term of derision towards the USSR epoch and to the people that this period has produced.

I belong to the many such "sovoks" whose silent acquiescence destroyed the Soviet Union and the Soviet socialist structure in Russia and in other parts of the former Soviet Union. Until the present day I was afraid to admit this to myself, analyzing and imagining all kinds of excuses for that which occurred during the Gorbachev and Yeltsin years. And yet, in the Institute where I worked for over thirty years, they told me that as a result of privatization and reorganization my services were no longer required. I had known that sooner or later this would happen. I was waiting for that moment. And naturally, I was prepared for it. But, when they officially notified me of this, it sounded to me like a death sentence.

UNEMPLOYED

Unemployed! For me as for all the "sovoks," in all of the years of my life in the Soviet Union, it never ever entered my head, even hypothetically, that I could be unemployed. Now I accept this word as a diagnosis of an incurable illness. A special type of illness; a social illness. Against it there is now no cure.

In a condition of petrifaction, not even seeing my friends, I left the Institute. It was as though I have left an entire epoch. Did this indeed occur in reality, and not in a sick delirium?! How and why did this happen?! Who was responsible for this?!

Walking halfway to my residence, I finally achieved the capability of logical thinking. You, yourself are responsible for this. How did you react to Gorbachev’s "perestroika?" You welcomed it? How did you react to Yeltsin’s "revolution" in August of 1991? You welcomed it? How did you react to the shooting and bombardment of the Supreme Soviet in October of 1993? You favored it? And so you got that which you were fated to receive for all of your foolishness, thoughtlessness, irresponsibility, if not to say even more about your conduct – for your treason, or at best, fore your tolerance of treason. What you sow, so shall you reap!

LOSS OF A COLLECTIVE

Having left the Institute on the day that they announced my dismissal, I suddenly understood that I lost not only my accustomed place of work and source of income, but something even immeasurably greater: the collective. I dare say that this is the greatest loss for a "sovok". It is easier to survive the loss of friends and relatives than the loss of a collective. Only now have I understood (actually realized) that the soul of a "sovok" is in his association within the life of a socialist collective, in all aspects of its existence – that is what, it turned out, was the basis of our socialist life. And now, this greatest achievement of the Soviet era no longer exists!

I began to notice this while I was still working at the Institute. With the beginning of Gorbachev’s "perestroika" there began to occur in the life on the Institute something that I could not describe. There was some type of decay. There were the same premises, the same students, the same teachers. Everything was the same as previously. But the most important thing disappeared: the organization of people in a united collective, a socialist collective consciousness, a collective psychology, a collective behavior. There was a sense of a loss of purpose in the Party and the Komsomol organization, in meetings, in conferences, in reports and in other components of the undivided collective. There still remained the hope of Soviet collectivism, still a dim hope that this condition was temporary, that soon a miracle will occur, that we will be gathered in an assembly hall, and that there will be read some kind of announcement from a superior court – and everything then will return back "to our daily rounds". But alas, nothing of this sort occurred. Hope was lost. The thin thread, tying me to the past, was broken.

The basic support of the lives of "sovoks" consisted of all that they did within, through, their primary collectives. We did not attach unfortunately any importance to this, as we considered this to be self-evident and unshakeable. Many former Soviet emigrants admitted that they had suffered when deprived of the Soviet collectives. But here, something dreadful occurred: the people remained at home and not abroad as emigrants, while the Soviet collectives disappeared. The emigrants had been surviving their own personal drama. But now there occurred a tragedy of an entire nation: they were all excluded from the basic conditions of their existence, their natural medium of existence... Something was done to us similar to a fish being hauled out of the water onto dry land and told: here you are, free from the Communist water, enjoy the Democratic dry land! Well, we are now enjoying it!

PRIVATIZATION

I walked past innumerable establishments after I was let go from my job, factories, enterprises, business-cells of post-Soviet Russia. People were working in them. But they seem no longer collectives, such as they were during Soviet times. These were isolated business machines, cleared out of everything that constituted the essential life of "sovoks". The people in these private machines seemed to me only phantom people, and their movements seemed to me only imitations of human life. To me the city looked like a cinematoscopically revived cemetery.

The destruction of Soviet collectives was the greatest illness of our nation. It was astounding that it proceeded with little resistance and almost inconspicuously. It entered hardly anyone’s mind that this would become the basis for everything else that occurred without limit. The individual was freeing himself from control, but likewise from control of an intimate environment. Only now do I realize that the whole undertaking of privatization was actually aimed at the destruction of all collectives and of collectivism. The organization of collectives and communes has been killed. It is terrible that all of this occurred before my own eyes, and I did not lift a finger to interfere with it.

It seems that what we had we did not appreciate it and we do not feel sorry for it, but when we lose it, we weep. How amused we were at the scenes of our collective life! We somewhat strove to avoid meetings, subbotniks (Saturday volunteer work - GS), and other state activities. And now I think about participating even in one such activity, to feel myself as one member of a gigantic family - a collective. To participate in all activities as we did during Soviet times and to feel that you are part of a loving collective.

Lord, has all of this indeed disappeared in that summer, never again to return? What idiots we were to have let everything go by!

War heroes like these are called "sovoks" and are persecuted and jailed! Will President Putin call his father, who fought against fascism, a "sovok"?

Close this page to return.