Four years ago a group of thirty independent intellectuals - historians, philosophers, economists, political scientists, culturologists, sociologists and scholars of religion and theology - started research and social design work around the project "THE OTHER", aimed at the following:
- to help along a new Russian public self-identity;
- to help shape the system of institutes of public self-identity, to provide for its self-perpetuation and development;
- to provide a theoretical and conceptual backing for the transformation of Russian society.
The project is not about writing another book, but it rather suggests a process of a cross-subject building of an integral model of Russian reforms, achieved through a specific intellectual technology. This process involves and incorporates the authors of various conceptions, leaders of schools of thought, outstanding professionals and original thinkers. In their everyday life they are isolated from one another by their school of thought identities, political disagreements, prejudice and information barriers. The situation calls for bringing together the intellectual and spiritual potential of the Russian society to help along and speed up a new Russian public self-identity and start up mechanisms for social self-organisation. The project also means to draw the attention of the international academic community to the actual complexity of subject-matter behind the social transformation process currently under way in Russia.
Russia today has a wide supply of various conceptions, models and approaches, claiming to reveal the current crisis and suggest possible solutions. It is a whole range of macroeconomic, etatist, structural (technocratic), social-and-structural, ethnic-and-political, conflictological, geopolitical, "national interests" and "dependent development" theories, reflexive, history cycles and "Russian idea" conceptions and many others.
The fundamental problem here is that each set of approaches will use its own language and its own conceptual base. There tend to be no links among them. The approaches emerge as self-sufficient, closed, mutually impenetrable entities. In most cases proponents of a certain approach would not even look for anything else. The conceptual frameworks they use, when viewed from "within" seem quite complete, exhaustive, capable of providing answers to any possible question.
Thus any programs suggesting how to deal with the crisis (as well as previously - "acceleration and perestroika" programs) are doomed to a gloomy alternative. Either they are built on a single approach of the whole range and then, even being internally integral and logically cohesive, they still shall be doomed to failure because they lack real vision: instead of a systemic subject they would deal only with one of its aspects. Or they can be eclectically concocted out of a whole set of various (sometimes conflicting) recommendations, based upon the logic and notions of several different approaches. But even being juxtaposed in one single "activities list" they essentially remain in different lanuages, mutually impenetrable, and even conflicting. This is the reason why such "comprehensive programs" can hardly be sustainable.
Cross-subject and cross-approach communication can be possibly fruitful only if it involves not users but authors of conceptual frameworks, i.e. scholars, actively participating in the creative process of bringing about new concepts and cognitive models.
In most cases this will be a social scientist, mature as a personality and as a professional, as broadly educated as possible, who finds him/herself just on the brink of or already in the process of shaping and setting forth his/her "cherished idea", the main work of life, - open for a dialogue (communication), having an experience of team brainstorming, capable of coherent expounding of his/her ideas and understanding (taking in) ideas of others (ideally - some background as an author) and, the last but not the least - a powerful intellectual potential.
In most cases an innovator, who builds new conceptual frameworks (unlike an "ordinary scholar") would not strike one as an easy-going person. People of this sort would usually have an outrageous character, dubious taste, extravagant political views, egoism, inordinate ambition, suspiciousness, despotic inclinations and a host of oddities and complexes. But you are to make your choices here. The only way to deal with the "innovator syndrome" is to practice patience. The result can make up for all the sacrifice. On the other hand, as for the bearers of the above-listed characteristics, the best thing they can do seems to communicate creatively with their like on a regular basis. That is why we would believe essential to cross out the personality criterion from the bidding procedure. The bidder’s creative potential, assessed without any stretching, should make the main, if not the only criterion.
The author of the project assumes that the set of "post-perestroika" ideas of Russian self-identity has basically taken shape by now. Many thinkers (irrespective of their professional and political background), following different paths, have hit some common ground, talking actually of the same things, although in different languages.
Now it would be important, stimulating the burgeoning of the self-identifying agent of the society development, to make this process constructive, trying to avoid focusing on particulars, no matter how important they might seem, and to restrain from senseless pseudo-ideological squabbling, fraught with just another span of troubles and disturbance in Russia.
One of the central ideas of the project is to introduce in the scientific and political circulation the notion of "THE OTHER" or "Middle-world counties". This is a new sociological model, an ideal type of society, which until recently lacked adequate theoretical means to describe and transform it.
In a number of "THE OTHER" works Middle-world countries are identified with "societies of culture", which are proposed to be differentiated from "societies of tradition" (generally used to describe the third world of developing countries) and from "societies of civilisation" (referred to the first world of industrially developed countries).
We believe that the notions of "a Middle world country" and, respectively, "society of culture" must play a considerable role in the study of such societies as Russia, a number of societies of Eastern, Central and South Europe, Arab World, South-East Asia and Latin America.
Edition "THE OTHER. New Russian Self-Identity Chrestomathy"
This edition, which took shape in the course of developing the project, is unique in a number of aspects. It is actually for the first time in Russian history, that leaders and outstanding figures of a whole range of ideologies, approaches and academic schools have consciously and deliberately brought their works under one title. The edition rates very high intellectually, besides, it is free of the usual "payload" of corporate and opportunistic authors and ideas. Debunking the currently prevailing myth of lack of ideas in our society, the publication demonstrates the actual spiritual and intellectual potential of contemporary Russia.
"THE OTHER" is essentially not a book, but a "meta-book". The edition came out in four volumes in one case (Volume I. Russia as a Subject; vol. II. Russia as an Agent; vol. III. Russia as an Idea; vol. IV. Guide). The whole edition is over 2000 pages. Each of the three volumes of the set is organised as a "multiple warhead": both formally and essentially autonomous booklets-monographs, put together in one case. The "Guide" offers an attempted reflexion of them. The design concept of the publication was developed on a competitive basis and can also claim uniqueness. The first (elite) run comprises 2000 numbered autographed sets.
THE OTHER ("Tertium Datur") Chrestomathy of new Russian self-identity
Volume 1. Russia as a subject.
A. Belousov. Soviet industrial system in a structural crisis.
T.Vorozheikina. Russia as reflected in the mirror of Latin America.
V.Glazychev. Slobodization of the Gardarica land.
V.Kagansky. Soviet space: construction and destruction.
K.Kasyanova. Do we, Russians, make a nation?
S.Kordonsky. Postperestroika economic space. Transformation of the administrative market.
E.Kulpin. The phenomenon of Russia in the framework of the socionatural history.
V.Makhnach. Russia in the XXth century (A cultural historian’s diagnosis).
V. Radayev. On the sources and nature of the conservative shift in the Russian ideology.
A.Fadin. Modernization through catastrophy?
S.Chernyshev. The threshold of history.
T.Shanin. Russia as a developing society. Revolution 1905: the moment of truth. (Chapters from books).
Volume 2 . Russia as an agent.
O.Genisaretsky. Cultural-and-antropological prospects.
A.Kara-Murza. Russia in the "ethnocracy-empire-nation" triangle.
S.Kurginyan. The Russian issue and the institute of the future.
Z.Kuchkarov. A systemic view of the crisis: no longer manageable.
V.Makhnach. Empire in the world history
A.Panarin. On the reconstruction of the "Second World".
V.Pastukhov. Culture and state system in Russia: evolution of the Euro-Asian civilization.
Sh.Sultanov. The "karma" of the elite: inhale-exhale, night-day...
V.Zymbursky. The island of Russia. The cycles of "Europe’s abduction" (A major footnote to the "Island of Russia").
S.Chernyshev. The Age of power transformation.
P.Shedrovitsky. Searching for a form.
Volume 3. Russia as an idea.
D.Galkovsky. Russian politics vs Russian philosophy.
M.Gefter. Russian prologue.
B.Kapustin. The liberal idea and Russia.
A.Kara-Murza. Between Eurasia and Assiope.
A.Kuraev. On faith and knowledge.
S.Lyozov. Images of christianity.
V.Malyavin. Russia between the East and the West: a third way?
S.Medvedev. USSR: the deconstruction of text (to the 77th anniversary of the Soviet discourse).
G.Pavlovsky. A blind spot.
V.Ushakov. An inconceivable Russia.
A.Philippov. The sense of empire: towards the sociology of political space.
S.Chernyshev. The Caldera of Russia.
Volume 4. Guidebook.