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Boomerang: responses to book reviews


Readers have informed me many times already that some critical reviews of my books have been published in Russia that I should give a “proper response” to. I could never get around to providing such “responses” until one reader reminded me my own promise given in one of my books: “to respond unfailingly and likewise in writing” to any published critical reviews. I have no choice but to keep my word. I selected for my response the reviews that contain sharp criticism or rejection of my ideas. On one hand, this is unfair to the authors of favorable reviews, to whom I am naturally grateful; on the other hand, I hope they will forgive me since I first need to show that my critics’ arguments don’t hold water.

However, first I want to say a couple of words about scientists and Russian science.

What is a scientist?

I wrote many times of the low scientific level of the social sciences in Russia, asserting, for example, that not even the title of Academician (full member of the Academy of Science – O.A.) makes one a scientist. The recent campaign of admitting new Corresponding Members and Full Members to the Russian Academy of Science (RAS) confirms the conclusion, made by me and by many other authors, that science in Russia is on the verge of collapse. Indirectly this conclusion is contained in many of my books where I analyze works by Russian “scientists”. However, those same “scientists” may evaluate equally unflatteringly my own scientific level, especially since I don’t lack for spoken criticism of my works. Most of these critics haven’t read them, though, yet these works are bad simply because they were written by me – a man who “never got along with superiors and constantly insulted scientists.”

It is indeed true that I do not appraise “scientists” by their academic titles and degrees. Moreover, I assert that almost all Full and Corresponding Members of the Russian Academy of Sciences who work in social sciences (history, political science, international relations, sociology, philosophy), with very few exceptions (hence “almost”), are not scientists, but rather crafty bureaucrats who secured their “scholarly” laurels through the positions they hold, brown-nosing and despicable games along the rules “I’ll rub your back if you rub mine.” For example, how can one accord the dignity of scientist to Academician M. S. Titarenko (Director of the RAS Institute of the Far East) whose oeuvre consists of presentations to international conferences, written assuredly not by him. Even though the RAS maintains very vague criteria for elevation to the rank of Full or Corresponding Member,[1] it is still impossible to name any works by Academicians that “have enriched science with works of first-degree or outstanding importance.” I won’t even say anything about Academician Primakov, since his scholarly works are rather like a journalistic view of international problems. Nonetheless it is his like that defined the level of science even in the Soviet times. I remember well how his team (K. Sarkisov, Yu. Kunadze, V. Ivanov, joined by S. Verbitsky and V. Leshke) attempted to “bring me down” when I was defending my Doctoral dissertation at the Institute of the World Economy and International Relations (IWEIR). One of the main formal pretexts for their attack was that I had doubts about the feasibility of instituting a “Pacific Community.” It was also they who believed back then, and at later times too, the foolish idea that within the “Asia-Pacific Region (APR)” there will form a community that will become the main center of world politics and the world economy by the start of the 21st century. That century has arrived; so where is the celebrated community? It does not exist, and it never will. All these Candidates of historical science who published just one book each (made from their dissertations) in 20 years never managed to defend Doctoral dissertations, even though any man of average ability is capable of writing one. (These days, though, there is no need even to write one – it is possible to simply buy one.) Such dissertations, though, usually have no relation to science; they merely demonstrate knowledge of one problem or another. That is, a Doctor of science is a specialist in, say, Nietzsche or the foreign policy of Japan. And these days one doesn’t even need to be a specialist; dissertations are purchased, defenses are arranged. Even the President of Russia had someone draw up for him a Candidate-of-science dissertation by copying nearly word for word the text from some website in the West; both the Russian and Western press wrote of this.

In connection with such “insinuations” the question arises: what is a scientist? To answer this question, we must first determine what is a researcher or scientific worker. A scientific worker is a man who seeks to cognize the laws and regularities of nature and society. Such “seekers” number in the hundreds of thousands in the world.[2] A very few of their number manage to uncover the mysteries of nature and society as they formulate laws and state regularities. It is precisely this group of people that is called scientists. Among them there exists a certain hierarchy of degrees of intellect which in everyday language is captured in the words: genius, talent, ability. The degree of intellect depends on the depth of cognizing nature and society. This can be described in philosophical parlance in the terms of the universal, the special and the particular. Naturally, the geniuses uncover the universal, they discover the fundamental laws or methods of cognizance; the talents uncover the special, they prove their worth more in the applied sciences; the gifted ones find the particular, they usually stay within the boundaries of narrow specialties.

There’s no argument that discovering regularities is much more difficult in social sciences than in natural sciences, if only because laws and regularities haven’t formed yet in society due to the short term of mankind’s existence; they are still forming as tendencies. A very few individuals manage to discover these tendencies. Nonetheless there exist a number of criterions that allow putting a researcher in the class of scientists. They are: analysis on the level of concepts and categories; the ability to make forecasts which depends on true, i.e. scientific, understanding of phenomena or tendencies. It is from these criteria that I proceed when I claim that there are practically no scientists among the social-sciences workers in Russia. (In the West they are likewise almost non-existent, albeit for a different reason.) The most surprising thing is that it is precisely “Candidate of science” degree holders who take offence most often when I deny them the title of scientists; they are not embarrassed by the fact that the very word “candidate” only hints that the bearer of the title may become a scientist. There are quite a few examples in history of true scientists who had no external degrees or titles at all; to name just two: H. Spencer and F. Engels.

I am not going to delve here into the topic of science, in particular science in Russia, since it will be dealt with in a special chapter in the book that I am currently working on.

I now move on to the critical analysis of reviews of my works. As mentioned above, I base it first and foremost on those reviews whose authors attempted to give a “balanced” analysis of the “positive and negative aspects” of my works. I am more curious, naturally, about the “negative aspects.”

Alexei Zagorsky: criticism from the perspective of a liberal democrat

I shall start with A. Zagorsky’s review of my book about the “Asia-Pacific Region.”[3] The author, a Candidate of historical science, used to be a colleague of mine at the Institute of the World Economy and International Relations (IWEIR). In one of my subsequent books I made several joking characteristics of Far-East specialists I know and said this in particular of Mr. Algorsky (Alexei Zagorsky): “A democracy-minded Japan specialist. He’s prepared to hand over all of Russia together with the ‘islands’.” The Japanese, by the way, showed appreciation of his views, and now he subsists on Japanese handouts, reading a special course at some university about how wrong the Russians are to cling on to the Kuril Islands, enriching his students with arguments. It should be noted that A. Zagorsky is one of the few Japan scholars who has deep and broad knowledge of many topics relating to Japan and the international situation in the Far East.

The problem is, he is, like all bourgeois researchers, so strongly ideologically engaged that he is no longer capable of telling scientific truth from the bourgeois notions of truth. In practice this means that all research work by bourgeois scholars is ultimately directed at justifying just one law: the law of eternity of capitalism. Any digressions from this course are regarded as non-scientific theories, dogmatism, or, worst of all… Marxism-Leninism. It is the latter that Zagorsky accuses me of, claiming that I am inclined “to appeal to Marxism-Leninism… from which stems the limited nature of the analysis.”

As is commonly known, Marxism-Leninism has two powerful methods of cognizance: dialectical materialism in natural sciences, and dialectical historicism in social sciences. Dialectics proposes to analyze all phenomena in motion, in development; materialism frees research from mysticism, from gods and other such nonsense; historicism demands taking into consideration the concrete historical time of events and phenomena. For example, the killing of thousands of Huguenots in France during the St. Bartholomew’s Night massacre (1572) or the “tyranny” of Ivan the Terrible with his oprichnina should not be judged using the ethical measures of later times when the standards changed substantially.

Anyhow, what is so bad about the methodological base of Marxism-Leninism? This approach enabled its founders to make accurate forecasts of historical developments, to even predict in some cases the exact dates of future events. For example, Engels predicted quite correctly the First World War and the revolution in Russia (the latter was predicted 23 years in advance), not to mention his accurate forecasts of the developments in the war between Prussia and Austria, and before that – the course of the Civil War in the USA. Lenin asserted the inevitability of the war between Japan and the USA almost 20 years prior to its start. Engels in his Dialectics of Nature analyzed the evolution of life in nature based on dialectic materialism and asserted the possibility of reproducing empirically the process by which the living emerges from the non-living, something which was doubted by the majority of nature scientists – Pascal, for example. This prediction made by Engels was confirmed during the 1950-s. And so on, and so forth.

So I’m asking you once again: how are their methods inferior to, say, the system approach or to structural analysis – which, by the way, never succeeded in discovering or forecasting anything significant? Let the foes of Marxism-Leninism name even one bourgeois work that proves of forecasts on a scientific basis even just one major historical event. (In this case I mean precisely scientific analysis, rather than guesswork.) No, the bourgeois have no such works; usually all they have is twaddle along the lines of: on the one hand it is so, on the other hand it is not so, on the third hand it is so after all…

Back to Zagorsky’s review. Let me inform those who haven’t read the book: one of its main topics is proof that the Asia-Pacific Region does not exist; or, more precisely: the term exists, but the region does not. (Same as with god, by the way: the term exists, but god does not.[4]) How is this possible? Simple: try determining the countries included in the term “APR.” Confusion reigns from the outset: different experts name between 15 and 61 countries. They include Australia, Indonesia, some even manage to include India, and the more advanced ones reach out all the way to Kazakhstan, etc. Now look at the map: most of Australia’s and Indonesia’s shores face the Indian Ocean. So what does the Asia-Pacific region have to do with them? Should we start to examine country by country, it will turn out that most of them belong geographically to two or even three (Canada) oceans, and half of them have no relation to Asia. It is quite obvious that geography will not help us to pick out a certain number of states to join together under the term “APR”; the geographic approach does not work here.

So what does work when determining a certain unity in defining regions? First let us determine the criteria of unity. Zagorsky reminds the reader that the criteria for this used to be ethno-culture and historical community (I wrote of this, too.) Quite right. However, for the “APR” these criteria don’t work either: just try connecting Indonesians to Canadians, Russians to the Papuans of New Guinea (someone was once dumb enough to connect them all in one unity – “APR.”)

I took “integration” as a criterion, having first explained in detail what it is in principle (i.e. as a term used in the system approach), then its economic meaning, and finally its political content. Since there are different conceptions within the system approach itself, I used the theory of the hypostasis approach, presented in detail by Yu. M. Baturin in one of his works which I referred to. Zagorsky makes the accusation against me that “the validity of this approach is not proven.” It is perfectly unclear from this empty phrase of his what is it I should have been proving: the validity of the system approach itself, or that of its hypostasis version, or its applicability in solving the “APR” problem? It was the latter that I was proving over a large number of pages. Moreover, I was compelled even to explain in detail within the framework of the economics criterion that the discourse isn’t simply about commercial ties, and not even simply about investments. These latter do not make a region an integrity, if only because all countries have commerce with each other, and many practice mutual investment. What we’re talking about here is precisely economic integration. I explained before on occasion the difference between integration and internationalization. It turns out that many economists, not to mention Japan and China specialists, don’t understand the qualitative differences between these phenomena. Their number includes Zagorsky, as evidenced by his assertion that this criterion (integration) applies to only two regions: Western Europe and North America. Not at all, Zagorsky-san; it only applies to Western Europe. North-American integration does not exist yet, despite the existence of NAFTA. To understand this simple fact, it suffices to analyze its weakest link: Mexico-Canada.

One can’t help smiling at this pronouncement by Zagorsky: “A large part of the world space remains outside the boundaries of this criterion’s applicability. It suffices to mention the Middle East, South Asia, Latin America, Sub-Saharan Africa, etc.” This clever fellow evidently believes that all these regions he mentioned are “economically integrated.” Then he should offer proof that the economic relations of Latin American or African countries are interconnected to such a degree that they cannot exist without each other (this is one of the criteria of economic integration.) And he speaks of “habitual logic.” My dear Zagorsky, with “habitual logic” (a synonym for common sense) one should not venture into science; it belongs in the kitchen where you chat with your wife of your dacha and other such “habitual” things.

Zagorsky isn’t alone, though, in his non-understanding of the term “integration”. The Academician Titarenko, for example, keeps going on all his life about “the integration of Russia into the APR.” Directors can be excused for any foolishness, though; that is their prerogative as bosses.

Despite all his criticisms, Zagorsky was compelled to agree, nonetheless, that this criterion does indeed prove the non-existence of the “APR,” while there is another region present – East Asia – where integration is noted as a tendency. I made the caveat, in fact, that this tendency is unstable; it can crumble at any moment under the influence of another tendency: the winding of integration processes around China as its center.

Whereas the former Comrade Zagorsky was forced to agree with me on the economic aspects, his reaction was extremely negative over the military-political topics. It turns out that I failed to understand the Americans’ good intentions in their projects of Pacific integration. Their sole concern was “the demonstration of viable regional integration without rigid limitations of access to their markets.” Whereas I, “limited by ideological dogmas,” “reasoning in the traditional Marxist vein,” directed my pathos to “repeating the Soviet propaganda theses from the Cold War times.” Likewise did I incorrectly evaluate the military-political aspects of the region, i.e. I ascribed to the USA false intentions in the area of security in the “APR.” Zagorsky’s main idea is that I allegedly ignored the economic policy of the USA while exaggerating the military-strategic importance of the region.

What I actually wrote was this: “All this talk of the Pacific community emerged in response to the need of the transnational companies of the USA, Japan, Australia and Canada to justify the idea of “free trade” and the liberalization of the trade regime with respect to underdeveloped countries, mostly those in the region of East Asia. These theories were also boosted, of course, by military-strategic considerations; however, the economic aspect was more “nourishing,” both in the direct and the figurative sense.”

Does it really follow from such reasoning that I ignored “the economic policy of the USA”? On the contrary, economic interests were always dominant in any country’s policies. However, the means used to provide for them are another matter. Precisely during the 1980-s the military-political situation in East Asia was very unfavorable to the USA, which is why they accorded increased attention to security problems precisely in those years. Zagorsky, however, switches the time period to the 1990-s (I was writing of the 1980-s), when the Cold War was supposedly over and the opposition between the USA and Russia petered out. It is not for nothing, however, that Mr. Zagorsky is a democrat who takes offence on behalf of the USA; he is also a Japan expert, and not just any kind, but one who has Japan’s interests at heart. He even manages to cast doubt on the fact that Japan is a regional military power. He says that “there is no definite answer” in this matter. That is, there is a definite answer with respect to China, but not with respect to Japan. The fact that Japan’s military budget exceeds China’s official military budget by a factor of about three doesn’t count for our samurai. The fact that Japan’s military potential exceeds Russia’s military potential in the Far East by a large multiple, and at the very least equals Russia’s total military potential, means nothing to him either. As an individual of anti-Russian orientation, he is in general more trusting of the peace-loving policy of the USA, totally ignoring the $450 billion assigned in the USA annually for “defense” – the sum which Washington, apparently, uses to further “the cause of peace throughout the world.”

Mr. Zagorsky is a typical specimen of ideological blinder-wearing which prevents him from becoming a true scientist. It suffices to scratch just a little at “the pillar of democracy” (USA) to make them strain at their chains, barking at everyone who disagrees with the “peace-loving” policies of the USA.

All this has nothing to do with science, as evidenced not only by the democratic-minded Mr. Zagorsky’s ideologically-engaged criticisms, but also by the fact that he “failed to notice” the chapters on Japan, China, USA, Russia in the Far East, “failed to notice” the theoretical sections in the concluding chapters of the monograph. He has no need of them, anyway; he knows everything already… without reading, or by way of reading without comprehension.

An entirely different type of review was written for this book by Professor A. G. Yakovlev, a scientist of the Marxist persuasion, who analyzed and evaluated all chapters of my monograph in sufficient detail.[5] Although I cannot agree with some of his critical comments, I cannot dispute them now, for Dr. Yakovlev cannot respond; he is dead.

Some readers may ask: why is a definition of the “APR” needed? It is needed, dear reader, because an “APR” policy cannot be implemented in a non-existent region as Russia currently tries to do. This is precisely why the results of this policy are so abysmal, with the exception of one direction: that of China. This latter, however, has no relation to the policy toward the “APR.”

Anti-Sovietism at work

Now I shall address the reviews of another one of my books: The Twenty-First Century: the World Without Russia. This book was published in Russia twice by two different publishing houses (Moscow: Alliance, 2001; Moscow: EKSMO*Algorithm, 2002.) It was also published in English in the USA and in Chinese in Shanghai, China. The newspaper review in the Chinese People’s Republic (written by the book’s translator, Prof. Zhang Ziangzhun) retold the content of the work, emphasizing the laws and regularities in the foreign policy of states and in the area of international relations. The publishers in the USA and the UK, however, refused to write reviews – despite their earlier promises – for they “were not inspired” by the book’s content. Neither did the monograph inspire the Russia experts in the West – all because of one chapter: “Russia’s place from the start of the 20th century to the start of the 21st century.” It follows from this chapter that the capitalist system in Russia is destroying the country, while the socialist system makes it stronger. This conclusion contradicts the democrats’ notions of eternal and universal values, i.e. democracy and the market economy. It is unclear why these values don’t work in Russia; however, it difficult to argue with figures, therefore it is best to ignore the book. This is exactly what was done in keeping with the principles of Western democracy. There is no direct censorship there, yet there is also no book made available to readers.

Several reviews did appear in Russia; in particular, P. Sergeyev and A. Fursov noted the laws stated in it. A “balanced” review (two reviews, actually) was offered by B. Sokolov who objected in the “critical part” to the Soviet-era figures from the above-mentioned chapter. I shall revisit his review.

For now I move on to the unexpected review that appeared in Israel in the Russian-language newspaper Vesti (in two issues – 18 March and 1 April of 2004.) It was written by Mikhail Ruvimovich Kheyfetz – a writer, historian and journalist heretofore unknown to me who had left the Soviet Union in 1980.

One does not argue with writers

Ordinarily I don’t argue with writers/poets or women, since the organization of their minds precludes scientific discussion. I proved this “dubious” thesis with respect to women in my book On Love, Family and the State (Moscow: KomKniga, 2006.) As for writers, I proved this “invective” with respect to them using the example of Leo Tolstoy, specifically the second part of the epilogue to War and Peace, in which the great writer attempted to philosophize[6] and came up with nothing but banalities, naturally. Writers capable of scientific thinking are, generally speaking, extremely rare in the history of the world. In Russia N. G. Chernyshevsky can perhaps be numbered among such. The problem is, though, that in Russia it is precisely writers, not scientists, who influence the development of society. This, too, is explainable, for due to a number of factors the very type of Russian thinking is irrational, typically female; it perceives better the equally irrational explanations of “life” that are offered by writers. This is neither good nor bad; it is simply a fact of being of the Russian people. There are, of course, writers of different social directions. Some writers helped prepare Russia for revolutions, in particular the socialist revolution; other spoke out against socialism. In the post-WWII years there emerged a group of dissident writers including avowed anti-Sovietists led by A. Solzhenitsyn – one of the chief ideological demolishers of the USSR (and Russia was demolished along with it, to his surprise.) They are perfectly sincere as they write and speak out against socialism; they do not dig into scientific truth – what they do is bring “the Truth” to the readers. In the West the authorities usually leave such “truth-bearers” alone, since their influence on society is minimal; in Russia however, their influence is enormous. This is why during the Soviet times as well as during the Tsarist times the government of Russia always had a tight rein on writers and persecuted some of them, exiled them, jailed them. However, under Gorbachev, the ruler who initiated limitless glasnost’, writers and journalists were granted an unheard-of opportunity for propaganda of anti-communism – a ideology that was anti-state at the time; as a result, they succeeded in dismantling the Soviet Empire, which merits them a democratic thank-you from all of the West. I’ve become sidetracked, however.

How to be objective?

Back to Kheyfetz the writer: his review is written as if in the key of a reflection – he lauds some things, but criticizes many more, scolding my naivety and silliness – once again, on account of my evaluations of the Soviet period.  I would have refrained from responding to all this, but the problem is, his arguments and facts are part of the standard arsenal of all anti-Sovietists and haters of socialism. Kheyfetz, though, has grounds for such an attitude; he spent six years in prison under the Soviet regime. It is hard for him to be objective, if only just from that perspective. I used to ask myself often: what if I found myself in a forced-labor camp in Magadan – could I then manage to stay objective toward the Soviet Power? For a long time I had no answer, but finally arrived at this: were I to become a writer, I would certainly not stay objective, but should I pretend (only just pretend) to the title of scientist, I simply must be objective, otherwise I would have to switch to a different trade. At the same time I am perfectly aware that in social sciences it is impossible to be unbiased; these sciences are ideological by their very nature.

So how can one preserve objectivity when analyzing societies or public figures? There are many methods and means available for this purpose; most importantly, there is the method of dialectical historicism, or historical dialectics, if you will. What does it mean? It means comparative analysis in time and in space. For example, when analyzing some social phenomenon in a particular country, it is necessary to analyze a similar phenomenon in that same country along the time vertical, as well as in comparable countries within the same time period (that is, along the horizontal axis of space.) For example, one cannot compare in principle identical events that took place in Russia and, say, Switzerland, as the journalist A. Minkin does in the newspaper Moskovskaya Pravda. When you write of Stalin’s “blunder” in connection with the start of the war, you should compare it to Roosevelt’s similar “blunder” (Pearl Harbor) and the blunders made by all the leaders of West European countries (the horizontal). When you’re writing about the famine in the Volga region under the Bolsheviks, you should compare it to the famine in that same region under Tsar what’s-his-name (the vertical). When someone writes of the “insignificant” development of the USSR during the Soviet era, one should compare the pace of that development to other countries of similar scale, to the base from which Soviet Russia started, and to the current state of Russia’s development. Finally, one should constantly keep in mind the concrete historical and natural-climatic conditions. Countries develop differently at an average annual temperature of -5.5˚C (Russia) and at +15-20˚C (France, England). It is precisely this avenue of analysis that can rescue the researcher from subjectivity. I, for example, dislike capitalism in principle as a system, for a number of reasons. Yet I am compelled to admit, firstly, its positive historical role and its objective necessity; secondly, that it still has some potential, in particular in the USA.

What is «progress»?

However, the main criterion of a nation’s development, or progress, is the life delta of the country itself and of the people inhabiting it. I justified this idea scientifically in my book Dialectics of Force: Ontóbia (Moscow: Editorial URSS, 2005). I will reproduce here in brief the definition of progress for those who have not read the book.

Progress is the “increment” of life, i.e. the difference between the lifespan allotted to man by nature (the laws of the inorganic and the organic worlds) and his real (actual) lifespan achieved thanks to his knowledge as progress. It is this delta – let us call it the delta of life – that is progress. The simplest formula for expressing it is this ∆L = LA – L­­­N, where L is lifespan; А is actual, or real, average lifespan, and N is natural, or biological, lifespan.

It follows that the goal of life is in the effort to achieve progress, i.e. increase the life delta. Let me remind you, just in case, that the initial average lifespan of the humanoid was just 18 years for over 99% of the term of the species’ existence on the planet. By now it has been brought up to almost 80 years in advanced countries; the leap (a revolution in the development of the biological species) took place in the last two centuries. This means that knowledge enabled man to “circumvent” nature and increase his lifespan by a factor of four.

However, this criterion correlates to the growth of the country’s population. An optimal proportion must exist between the individual’s life delta (orgagenesis) and the growth of the species (philogenesis). Everything said above belongs to the method of historical and dialectical materialism.

Naturally, M. R. Kheyfetz, being a writer, does not stick to scientific approaches. Neither do the so-called Sovietologist-scientists, however. Therefore, although I refer in my response to Kheyfetz’ text, I have in mind all those Russia “specialists” from the cohorts of Sovietologists and Kremlinologists. I know their works very well, and they are essentially no different in content from the Israeli writer’s review. Therefore I ask Mikhail Ruvimovich not to take offense when I utter at times some things that are harsh and politically incorrect. It is just that behind his text I see all those shameless anti-Sovetchiks who were never much for political correctness themselves. Please accept my apology in advance.

Marxism in Kheyfetz’ understanding

So: Kheyfetz the writer, having let his eyes “slip by” the theoretical sections of the work, concentrated on the “Soviet part” which constitutes a minuscule part of the work, as I mentioned above. I examined the subject of the Soviet Union in detail in a different work titled Russia in a Strategic Trap (published twice); however, it evidently escaped the writer’s attention. In this reviewed work I merely reproduced the statistical data without much in the way of commenting. Still, prior to moving on to the figures I want to draw your attention to the following: like all anti-Sovietists and all anti-Marxists, this particular author either had not read Marx and Engels at all or read only some selective excerpts. I am egged on toward this conclusion by the content of the chapter “The Ideology of the 20th Century” in Kheyfetz’ brochure Ideology and Political Violence in Israel (the Internet version), in which he compares two ideologies – communism and racism – as the most important ideologies of the 20th century. Democrats would certainly take offense at this opinion; still, the author failed to grasp the essence of even these indicated ideologies. However, I’m talking about something other here: his understanding of Marxism. He writes in his review, for example: “In any case a true socialist system will require for its implementation that necessary condition formulated by the classics: the dying off of the states. And of nations. And of families…”

In which of the classics’ works is such nonsense asserted? The dying-off of states is expected under communism, not under socialism. As for nations, they die off, or rather disappear, regardless of formations. The writer should browse through some textbook on world history to see how many nations disappeared without any “socialism” or “communism.” As for families – on the contrary, the family grew stronger under socialism; it is under capitalism that it is collapsing right before our eyes. This is confirmed by the statistics in any advanced capitalist country. As for capitalist Russia, the catastrophe there is complete: 800 divorces per 1000 marriages. And here is one more ridiculous comment about Marx:

“Marx was one of the first to draw the attention of science to the economic aspect, to the arch-important influence of economic processes on the course of world history. Nonetheless it became clear in the 20th century that history is formed by the ideological priorities of peoples after all, rather than the economic ones. The masses often act contrary to their own obvious material needs, subjecting their acts to those values and ideas that were developed by peoples in the course of historical development – religious, ideological, civilizational.”

Kheyfetz the writer either doesn’t know world history or lacks the knowledge needed to tell cause from effect. Let’s look at that very same 20th century – at its start in Russia. Did the peasants burn the landlords’ manors because of religious differences? Or ideological differences? Or perhaps they disliked the landlords’ “civilizational” views? What about the strike movement of the factory workers: was it, too, fed by religious differences, or did it have its root in economic causes after all? Lenin was actually trying to introduce ideology to that movement, criticizing the workers’ leaders for their “economic khvostism (trailing behind. – O.A.).” Or take Japan and China today: why are they wrestling over the island group Senkaku/ Diaoyutai – because of religion or ideology? They wouldn’t give a rat’s ass about these islands if there was no oil in the area. It would be redundant to go ahead proving the priority of economic factors practically in all phenomena of world history (this priority, by the way, was proven over and over again long before Marx.) It is another matter that often economic factors are camouflaged in ideological wrappings specifically for the purpose of fooling the “masses” and all sorts of fools among the intelligentsia. Does Mr. Kheyfetz seriously think that the USA invaded Iraq for the purpose of replacing the tyranny of Saddam Hussein with democracy? The very confrontation between world socialism and world capitalism (the Cold War) was carried on for economic reasons – if only because socialism rescued whole countries from direct exploitation by imperialism. One has to give credit to the capitalists’ art, however; they managed to adapt their ways, so now they exploit the countries of the Third World and those of the Second World in the bargain (the so-called “countries in transition”, such as Russia) while using much more sophisticated means than those of the period of classic capitalism. These means are so sophisticated, in fact, that they escape detection not only by the bourgeois writers, but by many of the so-called scientists.

Mr. Kheyfetz makes a curious reference to my work in connection with my comment on the slogan the Japanese had after the Meiji reforms: “strong army, rich country.” The idea was that prior to World War II Japan grew richer due to military might and expansion, while after the war Japan managed to become the number two economic power in the world without having a strong army. The curious aspect is this: in principle, if a state is capable of achieving economic goals through economic means, it has no need of military might. The military means, same as political means, propaganda, etc., are subsidiary means. They are only needed when you are incapable of ensuring your economic interests through economic means. After the Second World War the Japanese proved much more clever and smart: they learned to achieve their economic goals successfully through highly sophisticated economic means. Why would they need military means? By the way, they do maintain state-of-the-art armed forces – just in case. Nonetheless, their emphasis at present is on economics – both in goals and in means. So where is religion here? Or ideology?

A few words about peoples, by the way: one should be very careful with this word. We are used, for example, to the phrase: “The Soviet people defeated fascism.” Yet it would be incongruous to our ears to say that the German people attacked France, then other countries of Europe, then the Soviet Union; or that the French people capitulated resignedly to the German people. Similarly, no one is likely to say that the American people attacked the people of Iraq. Prior to appealing to “peoples,” one should consider very carefully the context. This word simply does not fit the context when Kheyfetz used it in connection with Marx.

Kheyfetz + Bezançon vs. “the Soviet past”

I now approach the main topic: the Soviet past, which I make out to be “super-enticing,” while Mr. Kheyfetz, naturally sees it as “super-revolting” (disgusting).

I direct your attention right away to his manner of presenting the figures from my work. Kheyfetz the writer “forgets” to notice when he quotes the figures on the economic development of the Soviet Union that these figures are not mine – they are taken from American and English reference books and from the works of the authors I quoted. I deliberately used very little of Soviet statistics, for I knew in advance that I would be told these statistics lie. That is why I used statistical data from Western sources, including the CIA (that organization had methods for re-calculating Soviet data), and from international organizations – all in order to avoid accusations of bias. I also used statistical data from one Russian economist who purposefully reviewed and recalculated the official data from the USSR State Committee for Statistics after the anti-Soviet coup of 1991. That is, it was “them” (the West) - not me – speaking of the economic achievements of the USSR. Mr. Kheyfetz, however, does not believe everyone in the West; he specifies as if in passing that he does not trust the “objective” English and American scientists, but for some reason he does trust “the deep Sovietologist in the West – the Frenchman Alain Bezançon.” I won’t make any definite assertions as yet (I still have quite limited knowledge of France); however, from what I read of his works and about him, I deduce that this Frenchman can be designated as one of the avowed anti-Sovietists, comparable in his intellectual level and his level of hate to the Anglo-American Robert Conquest – that journalist who is a perfectly maniacal anti-Communist. Even Martin Malia – that late honest Sovietologist who wrote a fundamental work about Russia, a book that one can at least argue against on a scientific basis – even he distanced himself from Bezançon’s interpretation of his views on Soviet Russia. Kheyfetz is fond of him, however, since he clearly sees eye to eye with Bezançon on the “Soviet past.”

Kheyfetz goes on to quote figures - apparently from the works of that same “deep” anti-Sovietist.[7] That in itself does not matter, though, since this sort of figures fills all works of the anti-Soviet persuasion without exception. Let me quote an example, though: say, the figure is steel production in the USSR – 145 million tons per year. The author then goes on to describe in detail that almost all of this steel was junk, good for almost nothing. In this connection, the USSR produced fewer automobiles than Spain, had worse highways than France, while Japan and West Germany together managed to produce 12 million automobiles per year (the quoted steel production figure has to be from the post-war period.)

These two experts tied the production of steel to production of automobiles for some reason. Are they saying that during the Cold War years automobile production was a #1 priority in the USSR? Why don’t they connect steel production to manufacture of buses, trolleybuses, trams – public transit, in a word, once we’re talking of transportation. Public transit, by the way, was in keeping with the spirit of socialism. A personal vehicle is a typical manifestation of capitalist individualism. How can one compare from this perspective the above-mentioned countries to the Soviet Union? Moreover: did Spain have to rebuild its destroyed economy after World War II? Did France – the country that sat out the war in the back yard of Germany? As for Japan and West Germany – they received substantial grants under the Dodge and Marshall plans. Why wouldn’t they manufacture cars? They had no worries about external enemies, for they in fact had none. The Soviet Union, however, had plenty; the USA had real plans for attacking the USSR. As for highways – even anti-Sovietists ought to understand that in the kind of climate Russia has (down to -40˚C in the winter, up to +40˚C in the summer) it is impossible to build the kind of roads Western Europe has. In the West temperatures of -20˚C or +30˚C are considered emergencies, invoking screams of “catastrophe.” I’d love to see those French and English roads after they experienced the average Russian winter and summer temperatures for a few years. Do all anti-Sovietists lack the brain cells to grasp this banal fact? Or perhaps they are counting that their readers are morons?

As for steel: this clever fellow Bezançon is apparently unaware that within the USSR the Russian Republic alone produced over two million tons of high-quality cold-rolled steel, including bearing steel; about seven million tons of rolled steel thermal-processed for hardening, about 600,000 tons of hardened high-quality armature rolled steel (1984 data), and so on and so forth.

Even if it’s not given to Bezançon, Kheyfetz should have been able to figure out that the USSR couldn’t have stood off the entire military potential of the West and ventured into space based on “production of defective low-quality steel destined for rusting.” Such steel could hardly have carried Gagarin and all those other rockets and sputniks into outer space, it could hardly be used to achieve strategic parity with all of the West. It is another matter whether that parity was really needed; that however, is a problem related to the quality of brains, not the quality of steel. Now should the Frenchman and our man Kheyfetz have addressed the problem of the brains possessed by the Soviet Union’s leaders in the 1980-s, the issue of how they managed to unravel the Soviet empire – a unique phenomenon in world history – when we could have had a serious discussion. By the way, why does the British oil company TNK-BP intend to merge with the Russian company Severstal’ which allegedly manufactures such poor steel? Apparently, those capitalists are unaware of the evaluations made by the Frenchman Bezançon.

Now a few words about living standards: it follows from Bezançon’s quote that the USSR was listed among advanced countries based on per-capita income and standards of living. In this connection both the Frenchman and the Israeli start mocking that claim. They speak nonsense about low rent, low cost of health care… they argue that residents of Western countries have no idea what “communal apartments” are like, what workers’ dormitories are like, what it’s like to rent “room corners”, what the level of medicine is like in Russia – primitive, almost caveman-like, how limited the assortment of medicines is…

Frankly speaking, I can’t imagine who this nonsense is designed for. Can the Israeli public really eat up all this rubbish? And who is this “resident of the West”? It is probable that those residents of the West who fall into the category of “the middle class” really don’t know all these things mentioned above. But what about the 25% of the American population who live in “Third world” conditions – the American press writes of them once in a while? Hasn’t Mr. Bezançon ever been to the “Arab quarters” of Paris; hasn’t he seen dozens of people squeezed into a room the size of a kennel? He could have seen on TV, at least, the living conditions of Arabs and blacks in France. Oh, very well, those are immigrants. Take me, though – a white Western man who used to live in Vancouver (considered, by the way, one of the most well-off cities in the West, according to UN data.) I rented an apartment there and learned soon that it was crawling with cockroaches and mice. Take a tour of the apartment blocks located in the Main and Hastings area of Vancouver, and you will see the kind of squalor that was eliminated in Soviet Russia before WWII. Why doesn’t the writer Kheyfetz visit, perhaps in his journalist capacity, the proletarian quarters of Glasgow or Manchester; he will discover such horrors there that the Soviet “Khruschoby” (the Khrushchev slums. – O.A.) would seem like paradise by comparison.

As for “primeval health care” – I encountered it, of all places, in Oxfordshire, one of the wealthiest parts of England. Their so-called free health care is infinitely inferior to the worst kind of health care in the Soviet Union. And what you say of the assortment of food products is also a lie, Messrs. Anti-Sovietists. In the city of Astrakhan’, where I lived in childhood, there were (still are, I hope) apples, strawberries, radishes, tomatoes, etc. for sale in all farmers’ markets that were way more fresh and tasty that the fruit and vegetables in any market in the West. It took me many years to get used to “Western” vegetables and fruits. And what is this you write of lineups in the farmers’ markets? I never saw any in Astrakhan’ or in the Cheryomyshki market in Moscow near which I lived. Why are you telling lies so shamelessly? Yes, there were lines in the food-stores, but not in the farmers’ markets.

Kheyfetz writes: “When we calculate how many hours of work were needed in the USSR to earn enough for a TV set, a pair of shoes or a vacuum cleaner, one shouldn’t forget that here in the West this sort of TV set can only be found in a flea market, this sort of shoes even a poor immigrant from Morocco would refuse to wear, and the vacuum cleaner would only start after a good kick.”

This, too, is nothing but lies. Firstly, the writer compares today’s level of technology to that of the Soviet era 25 years ago. For sure the TV sets made then can today only be found in the flea markets of Russia. Now consider this: in the Soviet times I was making about 500 rubles per month as a professor and could buy a decent (by the standards of the time) TV set for 250-300 rubles. Today my professorial salary (3,000 rubles) won’t buy any kind of TV set, for the poorest one costs 12,000 rubles, and a decent one, of the kind owned by a banker’s secretary, costs about 160,000 rubles (€5,000). It would take me 4.4 years of work to buy one, and I could forget about shoes and vacuum cleaners. Do you see the difference?

Let me reiterate one more time: we should not forget that the Western man exists in favorable geographic and climatic conditions, developing continuously over a period of almost five hundred years since the end of the Dark Ages. The Soviet Union had only 68 years to develop (1917 – 1985), and this period included the Great Patriotic War. The entire history of the Soviet Union was spent under siege from the enemies in the West and the Far East. In that brief historical period the average lifespan grew from 31 years to 69 years, accompanied by consistent population growth. This is the single most important indicator of a country’s development – not steel, or cars, or other such trifles. In the West, meanwhile, the average life expectancy was already at about 50 years at the start of the 20th century. While in 1913 the difference in life expectancy between Russia and the West was 20 years, by 1985 it decreased to 5-7 years. Now, under capitalism, it shot up again to 15-16 years. Everything is learned in comparison.

Many anti-Sovietists scoff ironically at the assertion that the USSR was the number two power in the world. This notion is attacked from different angles. Kheyfetz, for example, says: so what if it was, if no Soviet products (except weaponry) could find buyers in the world marketplace due to poor quality. This page isn’t the place for explaining to the writer about terms of trade, terms of production during the Cold War, basic methods of calculation. By the way, once we’re proceeding from that angle: neither could the Tsarist Russia find buyers for its goods, considering that its share of the world trade was about the same as that of the Soviet Union: about 4%. Today Russia’s share is below 1%; the Soviet Union had more buyers than today’s Russian capitalists.

This is not the point, however; the point is that the authors attempt to bind “boots with scrambled eggs.” They absolutely fail to understand the terms “economic potential” and “status of a power.” So what if Belgium has the same amount of foreign trade that the USSR had? Does anyone in the world care what goes on in Belgium, who is the boss there? Perhaps the share of households with telephone sets was higher in Brazil than in the USSR. For some reason, though, Washington, Paris, Bonn, Tokyo and Peking were more concerned about the health of Leonid Ilyitch (Brezhnev) and the mood of Andrei Andreyevich (Gromyko) than that of the Brazilian leaders. The authors write: “The number-two economic power in the world? They mean to say, probably, that the USSR was the number one military-political power.” (The reference is to The Russian Past and the Soviet Present, London, OPI, pp. 270-274.) The authors of the quoted work, same as the authors we are dealing with, clearly fail to understand that in order to become a military-political power, it is necessary to have a corresponding economic potential. Without such a potential you can’t create military-political power, no matter how hard you try. Take contemporary capitalist Russia: it keeps telling everyone menacingly that it is a great power, yet no one believes it except morons. The capitalist reform, you see, devoured all of its economic potential (except for oil and gas.) So even though now it has no fewer telephones than Brazil or Spain, its economic potential is on the level of that same Belgium or Austria.

In one place Mr. Kheyfetz refers to the Woronel spouses, their perception on the USSR in the 1950-s. While Heinrich Mann’s perceptions of the Stalin era are presented ironically as those of a halfwit, the Woronel impressions are presented almost as an argument. Aren’t you ashamed, Mr. Kheyfetz, of referring to such ridiculous stuff? I could collect thousands of similar accounts from Russian visitors to the West.

I could also counter with the personal example of my life in Leningrad (I studied there in 1966-1971.) Why are you all carrying on about sausage? Could it be that you haven’t had enough? I, for one, remember well that “Doctorskaya” brand of sausage which, to my perverted taste, seems tastier than all the servelats and other crap they make here. And I don’t recall ever standing in line to by that sausage.

That’s Mr. Kheyfetz for you: “second place in GDP” and sausage. There is a connection between the two, of course, but it is not what you think. It is possible to have everyone well-fed with kielbasa while having a modest GDP (like cheese in Holland, for example), and it is also possible to be number one in GDP while the population is starving to death. The size of the population matters here, and so does the structure of the GDP, and what matters most is how it is distributed. Should we take GNI (gross national income) instead of GDP, it can turn out to be very high – on the order of $30,000 per capita. In actual fact this will mean millions per oligarch and 3000 rubles per capita of us unfortunate scientific workers, while the average income will be tops in the world. This is ABC stuff.

On the “aggressiveness” of the Soviet Union

And now a few words about your views on the aggression of the USSR. You quote me correctly: “All wars fought by the Soviet Union were foisted on it by capitalist states.” Did I write that the Soviet Union never attacked anyone? I wrote “foisted on.” That’s a difference, is it not?

Kheyfetz enumerates the countries attacked by the Soviet Union in this evidently sarcastic fashion: “Yes, of course, Iran did attack the 11th Army…” Speaking of Iran in 1919: do you have any idea who was reigning there in that year? Don’t you know- or have you forgotten – about the British, the White Guards, their penetration into the Caucasus region and into Central Asia, the British-Iranian treaty of 9 August 1919, the assassination of the Soviet representative I. O. Kolomiytsev and in general the whole knot of problems around Iran at that time? As for Finland, did not the pro-Hitler policy of Helsinki provoke the USSR to pacify it? Wasn’t it the refusal of the UK and France to military cooperation with the Soviet Union against Germany that forced Moscow to seek other avenues for self-defense and opposition to Hitler? Didn’t the constant threat from Japan force Moscow to seek more clever policy options with respect to Germany, including the Poland affair? Would you perhaps have liked the Soviet Union to behave like a lamb destined for slaughter in the company of such predators as France, Britain, the USA, Germany and Japan?

You continue in the ironic vein: “the aggressive Hungary in the 1950-s, the aggressive Czechoslovakia in the 1960-s, and then… Then followed the memorable attack of the aggressive Afghanistan.” That is Cold War logic. You forget easily for some reason how the USA hold on to their allies by using any means, including military ones. Do I need to remind you – or perhaps you will remember on your own – how Americans have been defending their values around the globe? Here is a quote from US News and World Report of 11 October 1995: “US Presidents have used military force abroad 50 times since the end of the Vietnam War in 1975.” Perhaps American aggressions are of no interest to you? Why is it that you are not heard from when the USA engages in aggressive policies – in Iraq, for example?

On socialism and the collapse of Russia

Now let us talk of my fantastic conclusion that the restoration of socialism can restore to Russia its role in the world. You misrepresent my meaning, of course. This is what I wrote: “In other words, Russia must be extracted from the strategic snare it finds itself in. This is not possible under the current capitalist system. It is, however, possible under the socialist system. Is it possible, this socialist system? I do not know yet. I know one thing: unless Russia proceeds along the socialist path, not only will it fail to restore its erstwhile majesty – it will become just one of the 200 countries registered in the UN.”

The socialist path does not mean restoration of the old-type socialism. Modern socialism is different, naturally, from what it was in the 20th century, especially considering that the Soviet Union socialism was not real socialism – it was socialism of the defensive type. It did not have the necessary historical time for developing on its own basis. I will describe in a special work what modern socialism is supposed to be like. It should be clear to everyone, however, that the current capitalism will destroy Russia. It will also destroy the West, by the way, unless the West makes the switch to the socialist track in time. I become more and more convinced of this, living in the West.

Yes, I do fear the disintegration of my country. I did indeed write of this. However, I don’t just mean disintegration in the geographical sense. What I mean in the first place is the destruction of a unique civilization, the disappearance of the Russian people – a people that is unique if only because it not only manages to survive in the most adverse climatic conditions, but it also manages to enrich the world with the fruits of its art and science. Even this, though, isn’t the most important thing. What is more important is that socialist Russia showed examples of survival and development on a communal basis, examples of getting-along between different nationalities, examples of justice and many other things that the world has yet to touch in order to survive as mankind. In socialist Russia, the “future” of mankind perished. It hurts that this future will be reborn – but without Russia.

On your remark about my knowledge of China. You write: “What can the author really know about the Chinese system if his information sources are separated from that people by censorship constraints or by a wall of race, language and civilization barriers.” If that is indeed so, how do you know that “the information sources are separated from the people”? How is it that you grant knowledge of Chinese realities to Western researchers, but not to me? Where did you come up with those “racial barriers”? For your information: I’ve been studying China since 1972. I visit China on a regular basis, and even without specific information I can see how dynamic that country’s development is. And so on, etcetera.

I realize that Kheyfetz is emphasizing the aspect that disgusted him most: my praise for the socialist period. This prevented him from paying attention to the principal sections for the sake of which the book was written: the laws of geo-strategy and certain regularities having to do with the foreign-policy potential of states. He also missed my efforts in developing the conceptual apparatus relating to the problems of the world economy and the theory of international relations. Simply put, one sings of one’s pains. I repeat: I cannot judge Kheyfetz the writer too harshly. After all, he is a writer, a journalist, a historian – not a scientist, not a researcher. Still, many thanks for your review.

Boris Sokolov: on one hand, not bad; on the other – very naive

Unlike our Israeli, the other reviewer – Boris Sokolov – managed in his much shorter review to notice some of the theory.[8] Still, I want to respond first to those two of his comments that ring similar to Kheyfetz’ above-presented criticisms.

Sokolov regrets that I pay tribute to “the commonplace illusions about the past great economic and scientific-technical might of the USSR and about the possibility of our country – called Russia now – achieving happiness and prosperity without regard to the world community.” The latter, in Sokolov’s opinion, is “a call for autarky in the most classical sense of the word.”

I will start with the second point: firstly, I did not write of Russia’s complete isolation from the world outside it – I only insisted on selective, rational foreign-economic policy for Russia. Having invented “autarky” on my behalf, the author then criticizes me for suggesting that the Russian Far East should concentrate on economic cooperation with the border regions of the countries of North-Eastern Asia. This suggestion supposedly reveals my naivety. One gets the impression that Sokolov hasn’t heard of interregional economic cooperation forms, including border trade between, for example, the Primorsky and Khabarovsky regions and the Heilongjiang province of China, those same regions and the Niigata and Toyama prefectures of Japan, etc. He is also convinced for some reason that without “returning the Southern Kuril Islands to the Japanese” there is no hope of attracting Japanese capital.

First of all, one should keep in mind that no amount of Japanese capital will compensate the strategic loss from handing over Russian islands to Japan. If Sokolov doesn’t grasp this truth, I recommend that he read my argumentation of that point in the monograph APR: Illusions, Myths and Reality. He should also know that when Japanese capital is really interested in something, it forgets about its government’s territorial claims, as evidenced by its activity in South Korea and in China, despite the territorial disputes between Japan and these countries. Finally, Japan does, albeit haltingly, invest in Russia, regardless of the resolution of the “territorial dispute.”

Evidently Sokolov simply doesn’t know the topics having to do with the Russian Far East, and in this connection I want to recommend to him one more of my monographs: The Strategic Contours of East Asia in the 21st Century. Russia: Not a Step Forward (published twice: Moscow: Alliance, 2001; Moscow: EKSMO*Algorithm, 2003.) By the way, for Sokolov’s information: the data saying that half of the world’s wealth (meaning natural resources, naturally) is located in Russia comes from the relevant UN materials. 

Now let us return to the “might of the USSR.” The author “catches” me in the discrepancy between statements about the GDP of the USA and the USSR. In one case I write that the GDP of the USSR was half that of the USA in 1985, while in another place the table shows that the difference was a factor of 3; and I supposedly declined to explain. The reason I “declined” is that the figures are from American sources, not “mine,” and in the first case GDP was calculated in current prices, while in the second it was recalculated using constant 1982 prices (the latter were verified by the CIA.) I thought that literate readers know something about the methods of calculating GDP and pay attention to footnotes, captions and the nature of sources.

Sokolov apparently cares nothing for the CIA and for all these sources, since he disagrees with them anyway. He reports that he performed calculations on his own way back in 1983 and determined that the GDP of the USA exceeded that of the USSR by a factor of six. I simply cannot believe this figure, since Sokolov – in his own words – proceeded from the equality of the two countries’ military expenditures and the equality of labor costs’ share in their national incomes. Aside from the fact that these two parameters are simply insufficient to calculate the GDP, it is perfectly obvious that the author simply got confused in determining the price scales and the exchange rates for that period. Sokolov writes that his calculations were published in the newspaper Literaturny Kirghizstan. Isn’t that a laugh?

Sokolov’s literacy level is also illustrated by this passage: “Any person who visited America in those years will confirm that we never lived half as good as the Americans. In all indicators of living standards – whether the number of cars, telephones, TV sets and other devices per capita – the difference was on the order of 5 to 10 times. If the proportion of GDP between the two countries did change in favor of our country over the Soviet years, it was an insignificant change.”

I don’t know who Sokolov is by trade. An internet search for the name B. V Sokolov produced someone who is a Doctor of philological science, a professor of the (unknown to me) Moscow State Social University, a historian and literary critic who wrote a number of books about Stalin, Molotov and other such personages. I repeat: I don’t know if that is the Sokolov who reviewed my book, but the author of the review is clearly a philologist who has nothing to do with science.

What does the absolute GDP figure have to do with the standard of living? Is Sokolov even aware that the GDP of China, when calculated on a PPP (purchasing power parity) basis – and that is indeed how it is usually calculated – exceeds $6 trillion and is second only to the USA, while in per capita GDP China occupies something like 125th place in the world? There is no direct correlation between the two; and as for the standard of living, it is not a simple concept. Two figures – absolute GDP and per capita GDP – are perfectly insufficient to evaluate it; it has many components. Are you saying that the living standard of IWEIR research workers was below that of their counterparts in similar institutes in the USA? Not true. At the same time I observed in Western countries living standards barely different from those of African tribes. Now that I live in the West and observe it daily, my “Soviet knowledge” is only confirmed.

Mr. Sokolov, you apparently decided to outdo such paranoiacs as Conquest and Bezançon when you wrote of the insignificant change “in the GDP proportion between the two countries” (meaning the USA and the USSR.) Have you even compared those two GDPs at the start of the 20th century, in the middle of the century and by the time of the collapse of the USSR? If the “change” was indeed insignificant, how could the USSR maintain strategic parity with the world’s most powerful state? Why did that same state have to chase the Soviet Union during the early 1960-s when it found itself obviously behind in science and technology, especially space technology?

Mr. Sokolov, you are probably a fine philologist; stay one and don’t delve into areas you are not familiar with. Don’t get yourself or your readers confused.

The non-blinkered ones

The reader might get the impression that only avowed anti-Sovietists respond to my books. It is not so; my reviewers include several true researchers who managed to appreciate right away the main essence of the work in question.

These include Andrei Fursov – already mentioned in passing – a well-known and, most importantly, a really serious researcher. Within the confines of the small space allotted to him he managed in laconic form to not only narrate the content of the work, but also to direct the readers’ attention to some of the regularities formulated in it.[9]

Another researcher, P. A. Sergeyev (Doctor of economic science) presented the content of the work in more detail, noting: “Many of the author’s views diverge from the conventional interpretations; they are characterized by new approaches to problems of contemporary international relations, which enables him to offer new solutions to major theoretical problems. In particular, the author formulates and justifies three laws that are very important for understanding the essence of contemporary international relations:

1) the law of economic mass, or “pole”;

2) the law of “center of force”;

3) the law of force.

Besides, he introduces such new concepts to the theory of international relations as “the foreign policy potential of a state” and “the law of optimal proportion between the expenditures on domestic and foreign policy.”

The above-listed laws and regularities make it possible to avoid empty talk about great powers, to understand and define clearly the status of states and their possibilities for influencing international relations. P. Sergeyev, being an economist, also noted such important things as definitions of the different structures of the world economy (internationalization, integration, globalization, glocalization.)

That is, in this case we see an example of a response by a scientist, a researcher, rather than ideologically-blinkered anti-Sovietism-crazed nuts. One can argue with such as him, but not with the mentally ill ones. Anti-Sovietism, same as anti-communism, truly is an illness. In one of my previous articles I defined anti-communism/anti-Sovietism as a pathological form of personality degradation, a form of mental illness. Here I wish to add that this illness afflicts not just individuals – it can afflict whole societies whose ideology is based on anti-communism. Unless the illness is treated, such societies have no future. The illness, whose flip side is the ideology of modern liberalism, will destroy these societies. This is evidenced by many signs in the Western world, of which the most important one is the physical shrinking of the white population in the Western states. Modern capitalism of the post-industrial type is doomed; its historical time has run out. The only question is, when’s the funeral? It is hard to name an exact date, yet the funeral is inevitable. This is how the law of entropy growth works, and not even the most brazen anti-communists can cancel it.

Oleg Arin (Alex Battler)

30/07/2006


[1] Elected as Full Members of the Russian Academy of Science are those scientists who have enriched science with works of first-degree scientific importance. Elected as Corresponding Members are those scientists who enriched science with outstanding scientific works.

[2] Their numbers include thousands of charlatans who make money from their “mystical discoveries” under the protection of their scholarly titles and degrees.  

[3] Oleg Arin. The Asia-Pacific Region: Myths, Illusions And Reality. East Asia: Economics, Politics, Security (Moscow : «Flinta»*Nauka, 1997). – А. Zagorsky, The World Economy and International Relations,  no. 6 (1999) : 122-126.

[4] This is a classic example of the dialectical contradiction between the concept and the category (this can be phrased differently: between conscience and being), resolved brilliantly by Hegel in his Science of Logic.

[5] А. G. Yakovlev, The Problems of the Far East, no. 3 (1998) : 141-144.

[6] See: Oleg Arin. The Tolstovtsy as the mirror of Russian counterrevolution. In: Russia in a Strategic Trap (М.: Algorithm, 2003).

[7] «Apparently» is used here because our writer has not mastered the apparatus of science, therefore it is often unclear whether he is quoting someone or making up things on his own.

[8] Boris Sokolov. See: http://www.rami.ru/cosmopolis/archives/3/14.html; Alphavit (Book Review), 2003-01-16.

[9] Andrei Fursov,  The Political Journal, no. 8 (2006).