I’m currently reading It’s No Good, a collection of poems and essays by leftist poet/activist Kirill Medvedev. I’m about halfway finished with the book (and with his essay My Fascism). Can’t say I agree with, or even enjoy, any bit of it, but it does provide an interesting look at the beliefs of this particular segment of the intelligentsia. The divide between intellectuals and “everyone else” is made quite clear:
A sickening aesthetic atmosphere has taken hold in our country. The average cultural consciousness is a putrid swamp – half-Soviet, half-bourgeois – in which Pushkin, Dostoyevsky, Josef Stalin, the pop star Alla Pugacheva, and Jesus Christ all lie side by side, dead and decomposing. Russia is like a rotten ball, a hideous ball of yarn with a little gold trim on top, but filled with all sorts of trash – trash-food, trash-ideology, trash-culture – and fragments of religion, fragments of “Sovok”, and fragments of a dead empire; all of it bulges and sticks out in all directions; the ball rolls and gains speed, ready to shatter into pieces or else crush anyone who gets in its way. (p.115)
Our era’s intellectual mission now seem pretty limited: the solidification of national values at the expense of all others; a vague but pervasive demand for a single-minded, positivist image of the world; and the introduction of the phony construct of “conservative,” “supra-individualist” values, which are opposed to “liberal” consumerism and postmodern relativism.
By the time these forces came together against them, the “liberals” themselves were effectively nonexistent. Liberal journalists and politicians – the “thought-leaders” of the early 1990s – had mostly become ordinary people with ordinary virtues and ordinary vices. They had decided that this was now a normal country and they could live how they saw fit. (That’s probably how it should be, of course, just not in Russia, because Russia never became a “normal country”.) (p. 116)
The chief disappointment of recent history is the fact that this new Russian middle class, having finally in a sense emerged, far from being the steel in the back of Russian democracy, has turned out to be a neurotic, consumerist mass, full of social and national xenophobia, aggressively clinging to its privileges, ready to sacrifice more than just freedom. It’s a group of people who could easily become the central node not of a bourgeois democracy but a fascistoid capitalism. (p. 133)
But at least he refers to Russia as “our country” rather than “this country”.
In all seriousness though, I would recommend you read It’s No Good for its interesting criticism of post-Soviet intellectuals and commentary on the relationship between art and politics. Just be prepared to feel that you’re not part of Medvedev’s intended audience as you’re reading it.