Alexander Zinoviev

Biografie şi Bibliografie

Aleksandr Aleksandrovich Zinovyev (October 29, 1922 – May 10, 2006) was a prominent Russian logician and dissident writer of social critique.

Born to a poor provincial family, he distinguished himself in the Second World War and later in the scholarship of logic. In the 1970s he arose with criticum of the Soviet political system, sacrificing his high academical station in Moscow. Eventually Zinoviev faced exile in 1978, after his novels The Yawning Heights and The Radiant Future were been published in Europe. He continued to develop socio-philosophical ideas in numerous subsequent publications, at times employing his original genre of the sociological novel.


Aleksandr Aleksandrovich Zinovyev was born in the village of Pakhtino, Chukhlomsky District, Kostroma Oblast as the sixth child to Aleksandr Yakovlevich and Appolinariya Vasilyevna. A few years after Aleksandr’s birth they moved to Moscow, seeking better quality of life.

Zinovyev excelled at school, and in 1939 entered the Moscow Institute of Philosophy, Literature and History. He was soon expelled for a negative attitude to forced collectivisation, and even was forbidden to enter any other institute. He alleges having been involved in a plot to assassinate Joseph Stalin during a school parade, but that the plan was called off; also, that at some stage he got arrested, but somehow evaded prosecution. He joined the Red Army in 1940, taking part in the Great Patriotic War, even as fighter pilot, receiving honours and awards for a distinguished service.

Scientific work in Moscow

Alexander Zinoviev entered Moscow State University; he since told that his ban from higher education was overlooked for a bribe — a box of sweets. He graduated in 1951 summa cum laude with a thesis on the logical structure of Marx’ Das Kapital (the thesis was only published in Russia in 2002). During the following decades he became one of the most important logicians of the USSR.

Zinovyev published a lot on logic (particularly multivalued logic) and methodology of science and was often invited to international conferences, yet the authorities never let him attend. As professor and head of Logic department at MSU, he accumulated a subtly dissident reputation, having refused to expel politically discriminated staff, and, in a gesture of protest against Brezhnev’s cult of personality, resigned from the editorial board of Voprosy Filosofii (“Problems of Philosophy”), the leading Soviet journal on philosophy at that time.

The sociological novel

Diverse fictional, often satirical, stories Zinoviev wrote about the Soviet society agglomerated into his first major non-academic work, The Yawning Heights. After the release of the book in Switzerland in 1976, Zinovyev was demoted from his lecturer’s position, evicted from the Academy of Sciences, rescinded of all awards including his war medals, and offered the liberty to leave Soviet Union after his second novel of similar satirical style, The Radiant Future, was published in the West in 1978. With his family he settled in Munich where they lived until 1999.

The Yawning Heights was the first in a series of Zinovyev’s fictional works that are recognised to belong in an original genre, the sociological novel. Such novels portray fictional everyday-scale situations, always with a link to society as a system. Widely different characters all encounter in a discussion on their lives, personal and social, while being allowed by the author to force an opinion, without tact or respect of ideology. Zinovyev admits that much misunderstanding of his ideas arises from undue confusion of his point of view with those of his characters. The Yawning Heights was a success, soon translated into most major European languages and read aloud in Russian via Western radio broadcasts.

Sociological work in exile

Among Zinovyev’s non-fictional works from that time are Without Illusions (1979), We and the West (1981), Communism as a Reality (1981), Gorbachevism (1987). The latter was first published in French, 1987 (Lausanne, L'Âge d'homme). Without Illusions is a collection of essays, lectures, and broadcasts by Zinovyev. He explained thereby his way of interpretation of the Communist society, while expressing loyalty to scientific method. Zinovyev postulated that the Western powers had underestimated the threat of Communism, especially the peaceful infiltration of Communist traits into the Western society. He claimed that Communism did not destroy and principally could not have destroyed the social differences among the people, but had only changed the outward forms of inequality.

Zinovyev emphasised his view that the Soviet regime’s peculiarities were not irrational in essence, nor result of some incidental circumstances. Rather, he would assert, they followed from “laws of society” and based on mainly rational and calculated decisions of its participants. However, Zinovyev was one of the most outspoken critics of the Soviet regime until the era of Perestroyka. Unlike Solzhenitsyn, who sought a kind of revival of pre-1917 Russia, Zinovyev denied all credit to the Russian Orthodox Church or to nationalist doctrines.

After the “Catastroika”

Zinovyev ceased to criticise Communism at the very dawn of Perestroika, years before the upsurge of crime and socio-economic problems that Russia faced in the 1990s. He spoke in defense of some aspects of the Soviet regime, and most radically condemned the reforms initiated by Boris Yeltsin.[citation needed] He argues that the West was the key influence in the Union's downfall: “Headed by the United States (a global supersociety based in the USA), the West has purposely implemented a program for destroying Russia”.[4] In 1996, he appealed to the public to support Gennady Zyuganov, a Communist candidate who eventually lost the presidential election to Yeltsin. According to Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn, Zinovyev spoke of collectivisation in the USSR as of a “long-awaited gift to the Russian peasantry”.

Return to Russia

After 21 years of exile, Aleksandr Zinovyev returned to Russia in 1999, declaring that he could no longer live “in the camp of those who are destroying my country and my people”. He approved of Yugoslavia’s maverick leader Slobodan Milošević and visited him. Regarding Joseph Stalin, Zinovyev declared: “I consider him one of the greatest persons in the history of mankind. In the history of Russia he was, in my opinion, even greater than Lenin. Until Stalin’s death I was anti-Stalinist, but I always regarded him as an outstanding personality.”

In his online interview, Zinovyev maintained that all the accusations brought against Milošević were mere slander; he also declared that he admired Radovan Karadzic and Ratko Mladić, whom he regards as significant persons of the 20th century. Zinovyev was a co-chairman of the International Committee to Defend Slobodan Milosevic.

Zinovyev was opposed to globalisation, which he likened to a “Third World War”. He was also fervently critical of the United States’ role in the world, regarding them as more dangerous to Russia than Nazi Germany.

Zinovyev was married three times and had several children.[citation needed] On May 10, 2006, Aleksandr Zinovyev died of brain cancer.

Study of the Western world’s society

In his later non-fictional works (besides the sociological novel The Global Humant Hill), Zinovyev analyses the post-Soviet and modern Western social formations, arguing, among other things, that such terms as 'democracy', 'capitalism', 'communism', 'free market', 'liberalism', 'society', 'totalitarianism' do not grasp the actual social phenomena of the modern society.

Zinovyev reasserted the decline of significance of the nation-state framework, and the recent (post-World War II) emergence of a new phenomenon of what he calls a suprasociety, or supersociety (Russian: сверхобщество). The supersocial traits arise due to exhaustion of the inherent “evolutionary limit” of the previously dominant societies. According to Zinovyev, both Communist and Western countries exhibited similar tendencies of development, which he attributes to that new supersociety. They include:

    * the complex supereconomy, which is de facto planned to a great degree;
    * the self-serving supergovernment of diverse formal organisations, alliances, commitees, as well as social networks and cliques, – that is non-democratic by design;
          o yet, at the same time, the seemingly unreasonable growth of usual governmental structures and institutions;
    * the corruption of some liberalist principles like that of separation of powers;
    * the emergence of superhumans (with the two variations: homo sovieticus in the USSR and the zapadoid (Russian: западоид — literally, “Westoid”) in the West) that have some new, important behavioural qualities moulded by the changed social conditions.


(beside Soviet scientific degrees and War medals)

    * member of Bavarian Academy of Arts
    * member of Italian Academy of Science
    * Prix Europeén de l'essai laureate, 1977
    * award Best European Novel, 1978
    * Prix Médicis Étranger laureate, 1978
    * Prix Tocqueville laureate, 1982
    * honorary citizen of Ravenna, Avignon and Orange


Scientific works

    * The Philosophical Problems of the Polyvalential Logic (Философские проблемы многозначной логики, 1960)
    * Логика высказываний и теория вывода (1962)
    * The Principles of the Scientific Theory of Scientific Knowledge (Основы научной теории научных знаний, 1967)
    * Complex Logics (Комплексная логика), 1970)
    * The Logics of Science (Логика науки), 1972
    * Logical Physics (Логическая физика), 1972

Fiction and sociological works

    * The Yawning Heights (Зияющие высоты) 1976
    * The Radiant Future (Светлое будущее) 1978
    * On the Threshold of Paradise (В преддверии рая) 1979
    * Without Illusions (Без иллюзий) 1979
    * Notes of the Nightwatchman (В преддверии рая) 1979
    * Communism as a Reality (Коммунизм как реальность) 1980
    * The Yellow House (Желтый дом) 1980
    * We and the West (Мы и Запад) 1981
    * Homo Soveticus (Гомо советикус) (1982) ISBN 0-87113-080-7
    * No Liberty, No Equality, No Fraternity (Ни свободы, ни равенства, ни братства) 1983
    * Para Bellum (Пара беллум) 1982
    * My Home my Exile (Мой дом - моя чужбина) 1982
    * The Wings of Our Youth (Нашей юности полёт) 1983
    * Gospels for Ivan (Евангенлие для Ивана) 1982
    * Go to Golgatha (Иди на Голгофу) 1985
    * Gorbachevism (Горбачевизм) 1988
    * Catastroika (Катастройка) 1988
    * Live! (Живи) 1989
    * My Chekhov (Мой Чехов) 1989
    * The Embroilment (Смута, 1994)
    * The Russian Experiment (Русский эксперимент) 1994
    * The West: phenomenon of westernism (Запад: феномен западнизма) 1995
    * The Post-Communist Russia (Посткоммунистическая Россия) 1996
    * The Global Humant Hill (Глобальный человейник) 1997
    * The Russian Fate (Русская судьба) 1999
    * The Global suprasociety and Russia [5](Глобальное сверхобщество и Запад) 2000
    * The Endeavour (Затея) 2000
    * The Demise of Russian communism (Гибель русского коммунизма) 2001
    * The logical sociologe (Логическая социология) 2003
    * The West (Запад) 2003
    * The Russian tragedy: the Death of a Utopia (Русская трагедия: гибель утопии) 2002
    * The Ideology of the Party of the Future (Идеология партии будущего) 2003
    * Suprasociety ahead (На пути к сверхобществу) 2004
    * The logical intellect (Логический интеллект) 2005
    * The crossroads (Распутье) 2005
    * The confession of a dissident (Исповедь отщепенца) 2005
    * The factor of cognizance (Фактор понимания) 2006

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