Critical Attitudes among the Soviet Scientific and Academic Intelligentsia in the Historical and Socio-Cultural Context of 1960-1990sSergey Filippov
The article deals with investigating into the conditions of the critical attitude spread among scientists and academicians during the period of 1960s–1990s towards some aspects of domestic and foreign state policy of that time. At the same time, the motives for such a criticism seem not to be obvious, since the social status and well-being of the scientific and academic intelligentsia, as well as its public prestige, was one of the highest among the socio-professional groups of Soviet society. To perceive criticism of Soviet scientists as a form of struggle against the regime does not seem entirely correct, since the critically thinking Soviet scientists did not seek to popularize their socio-political ideas and attract supporters from other social groups. On the contrary, the discussion on “complex” political and socio-economic aspects of the Soviet society took place within closed communities. In addition, the Soviet scientific intelligentsia of that time, unlike the pre-revolutionary intellectuals, did not idealize people; they did not have a sense of “guilt” towards it, as well as the idea of selfless “serving the people”. Soviet scientists perceived themselves as an elite, even aristocratic group, and this idea found expression in the science-fiction novel “Hard to Be a God” by the Soviet writers Arkady and Boris Strugatsky. The main character of the novel is the historian Anton, who was sent to the Arkanar Kingdom on an alien planet and assumed the role of an aristocrat named Don Rumata. He masterfully uses a sword, enjoys phenomenal success with women and contributes to the progress of local humanity. The Soviet intellectuals of that time constructed their own elite professional and social identity using the practices of prestigious consumption and behavior and pursuing specific socialization strategies that were alternative to the official Soviet norms and rules of behavior. The self-identification of scientists as an elite group within the Soviet society was based on the social conditions for the development of science in the USSR in the 1950s–1960s such as a high level of prestige of scientific and academic activities, high expectations from science as well as creating relatively autonomous scientific centers (“Academic Town” or ZATO (‘closed administrative-territorial formation’) – closed towns with secret research installations). Such settlements were quite independent from the local and regional authorities being subordinated directly to Moscow. Besides, secrecy of closed cities or facilities limited the possibilities of the direct control and interference from regional party and state authorities in the activities of scientific institutions and scientists.