Homo Sovieticus among the Russia-watchers

  • Philip Hanson


Nearly fifty years ago, by his own account, Alexander Zinoviev decided that his mission in life was to understand and explain Soviet society.1 For more than seven years now he has been living in the West, writing vigorously and without censorship on his chosen sub­ject. Being an established resident of Munich, he must now be counted as a Western Russian-watcher. He is a Russia-watcher of exceptional dedication and talent, and one who has lived for more than fifty years inside the society he seeks to understand. Yet he has not become part of the Western sovietological establishment. The reasons for this are interesting on several counts: in particular, for what they reveal about Zinoviev’s approach and method as an analyst of Soviet society, and for the light they shed on the relation between fiction and social analysis.2


Communist Country Grand Theory Soviet System Communist Society Soviet Leader 
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  1. 11.
    Ronald Tiersky, Ordinary Stalinism ( Boston/London: Allen & Unwin, 1985 ).Google Scholar
  2. 12.
    Jon Elster, Sour Grapes. Studies in the Subversion of Rationality (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1983), esp. pp. 86–9Google Scholar
  3. 19.
    See J. Hough, ‘The Soviet System. Petrification or Pluralism?’ Problems of Communism, March-April 1972, pp. 25–45Google Scholar
  4. 22.
    Ronald Hingley, in The Russian Mind ( London: The Bodley Head, 1978 )Google Scholar
  5. 29.
    Alexander Zinoviev, ‘The Gorbachev Phenomenon’, Soviet Analyst, 20 November 1985, pp. 2–3.Google Scholar
  6. 41.
    P. J. D. Wiles, ‘The Social and Political Pre-Requisites of a Command Economy’, Economica, 1962.Google Scholar

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© Philip Hanson and Michael Kirkwood 1988

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  • Philip Hanson

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