The post-Atmoda Latvian political elite developed, and in my opinion, it was driven not so much by national as by corporate interests. In opposition to the birth of the Popular front, it was quiet, undercover politics. We could not outdo these boys in sliminess and deceitfulness.A frequent speaker at mass demonstrations in the late 1980s, the poet Mara Zalite goes even further in depicting the naivet of intellectuals in contrast to the iniquity of the new elite:
The idealists of Atmoda didn’t think that there would appear greedy, selfish individuals, who would steal and plunder. It seemed that it could not happen, because all of us […] forgot, that there is evil in the world.British journalist Anatol Lieven offers several explanations why popular actors of perestroika did not become national leaders and instead left politics soon after independence was regained. First, ‘Balts dislike nonconformists of any kind.’ Especially in Latvia and Estonia they are regarded as not ‘smart enough to manoeuvre properly in the face of the system.’ Second, many dissidents were ‘worn out’ from resisting the oppression of the system. Third, many found the new political system too corrupt and dishonest to fit their ideals.11 I believe that these issues may have affected the fate of the Olga Procevska intelligentsia, but the reason of most significance was the fact that the intelligentsia was too soviet even when being anti-soviet. To consolidate and act as a social power (which is exactly what ‘intelligentsia’ stands for), it needed an external enemy, a great evil to fight against. Therefore, the intelligentsia could not adapt to the conditions of sovereignty and democracy without such evident and, what is important - an external - enemy.
Yet in 1994 Lieven forecast that former Soviet dissidents, feeling discontent with the functioning of the post-Soviet political and social order, would stimulate a new popular movement.12 By now it is evident that they did not. Instead they developed an identity based on remembrance and glorification of their past and lamentations about losses in the present. They chose nostalgia.
4. When We Were United and Faithful Historian Sheila Fitzpatrick notes that after the collapse of the Soviet Union ‘the soviet way of life has acquired a nostalgic appeal to many people in the former Soviet Union, undoubtedly including some who earlier railed against its boredom and restrictiveness.’13 She mentions several elements of Soviet order that are common objects of nostalgia:
In this Soviet world remembered, a job was guaranteed, as well as a living wage and a roof over one’s head, and one did not have to work hard for it. There was camaraderie at the workplace and guaranteed support and loyalty from friends (uncomplicated by the cash nexus) and family;
children honoured their parents; the streets were safe;
science and culture were respected and generously funded;
education was a core value; and the state protected its citizens from pornography and other forms of moral corruption. The Soviet Union was a proud multinational state with a civilizing mission, organized at home on the principle of ‘friendship of peoples’ and extending a ‘big brotherly’ hand abroad to the socialist countries of Eastern Europe and the Third World. It was a superpower respected by the whole world, whose successes in space exploration were envied even by America.Objects for Soviet nostalgia differ among the former socialist republics. For Russians it is clearly the period of stagnation, the so-called long 70s, because it embodies their perception of the system with minimal risks and maximal stability that was simple and comprehensible for its inhabitants as opposed to the conditions of transition.52 Powerlessness, Lamentation and Nostalgia But for the Baltic States the main point of reference and nostalgia is not the 70s, but Atmoda. A nationwide survey by the research company SKDS shows that Atmoda is the period in their history of which Latvians are most proud. Nearly one-third of respondents (32.2%, including national minorities) picked it from a list as the most honourable, while only 9.2% considered Soviet times as such It highlights what could be called a dysfunction of metonymy - a symbolic borderline between Soviet rule in general (regarded mostly in negative terms of oppression and absurdity) and the period of Atmoda that is associated with solidarity, altruism, courage, and hope.
The inability to transform their identity and functions to fit a postcommunist society did not go unnoticed by intellectuals themselves. One of the few imprisoned dissidents in Latvia, poet Knuts Skujenieks, notes:
Organizations of the intelligentsia did not adapt to the conditions of an independent state. They have no influence on legislation, on strategic national goals; they do not have enough support from the society.Academic and political analyst Juris Rozenvalds explains that the architects of perestroika could not switch from the ethics of accusation that were suitable to advance changes in the rigid Soviet system towards the ethics of responsibility.17 Intellectuals avoid admitting their responsibility for what happened to Latvian society after independence was regained (including the huge gap between the wealthy and the poor, nationalism, and intolerance).
Instead intellectuals continue to exploit discourses and myths that originated in their actions and discourses of criticism of Soviet rule during perestroika. Among the most prominent are claims that the Latvian nation and language are threatened by extinction, the distinction between us (Latvians) and others (so-called occupants meaning mostly Soviet-Russian immigrants), and refusal to think of Latvia as a post-Soviet or Eastern European state, dogmatically sticking to the identity of belonging to Western or Northern Europe.18 Unable to reach beyond stereotypes and populism and to provide the public with well-grounded criticism and new ideals for development, people who spoke to tens of thousands at demonstrations during 1988 and 1989 and defined the formation of the national identity, now have little influence in the public sphere.
In Zygmund Bauman’s terms, the intellectuals of perestroika could not continue to be legislators, but did not learn to be or did not want to be more humble interpreters. Bauman argues that the legislator-type intellectual is a hero of the modern age and is quite unsuitable for postmodern conditions.
So the disappearance of legislators of perestroika should be regarded as a natural outcome of the process of transformation of post-communist Olga Procevska societies. However the public sphere still generates a demand for intellectuals, for their criticism and ideas and also keeps alive the discourse of the intelligentsia as a social power. Either it is a phantom pain for the lost driving force of change (for better) or a precondition for the emergence of a new - post-perestroika, post-legislator - intellectual.
Notes Here I limit the definition of an intellectual to a public intellectual (also called a media intellectual) emphasising that ‘intellectual’ is rather a name for the function in society (agenda-setting, interpreting and commenting on important issues, criticising and offering solutions for issues regarded as important in the public sphere of a particular community) than an umbrella term for educated people or practitioners of mental labour. The Russian term ‘intelligentsia,’ due to its specific nuances, is used here to refer to soviet and post-soviet intellectuals.
S Boym, The Future of Nostalgia, Basic Books, New York, 2001, p. xvi.
M Velikonja, ‘Lost in Transition: Nostalgia for Socialism in Post-socialist Countries’. East European Politics and Societies, vol. 23, 2009, p. 538.
ibid., p. 546; Y Levada, Ischem cheloveka: sotsiologicheskije ocherki 20002005, Novoje Izdatelstvo, Moskva, 2007, pp. 287, 296-298.
The plenum took place on the first and second of June 1988 and is primary known by the fact that it was the first time when the thesis that Latvia was occupied rather than voluntarily joining the USSR was declared publicly.
A Samalavicius, Intellectuals and society in post-communist Lithuania, June 2004, viewed on 19 June 2010, http://www.eurozine.com/articles/ 200406-01-samalavicius-en.html.
L Gudkov & B Dubin, Intelligentsia, Izdatelstvo Ivana Limbakha, SanktPeterburg, 2009, pp. 149, 153, 158.
I Kotchetkova, Dead or Alive: ‘The Discursive Massacre or the Masssuicide of Post-Soviet Intelligentsia’. Sociological Research Online, vol. 9 (4), 2004, viewed on 19 June 2010, http://www.socresonline.
D Ivans, Gadijuma karakalps, Vieda, Riga, 1994, p. 368.
Z Radzobe, ‘Gan pele, gan putns’. Diena, April 2009.
A Lieven, The Baltic Revolution: Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania and the Path to Independence, Yale University Press, New Haven, London, 1994, pp.105107.
ibid., p. 108.
S Fitzpatrick, ‘The Soviet Union in the Twenty-first Century’. Journal of European Studies, vol. 37, 2007, p. 62.
54 Powerlessness, Lamentation and Nostalgia Y Levada, Ischem cheloveka: sotsiologicheskije ocherki 2000-2005, Novoje Izdatelstvo, Moscow, 2007, pp. 285-286 and 290-291.
K Skujenieks, ‘Kpc es nebalsoju par plnuma rezolciju’. Diena, June 2009.
J Rozenvalds, ‘Piezimes par Latvijas nacionalas elites veidosanos pec Otra pasaules kara’. Latvijas Arhivi, vol. 2, 2005, pp.73-89.
The formation of these discourses is explored in my master’s thesis: O Procevska, Discourses of Intelligentsia in the Public Sphere of Latvia during 1980s, University of Latvia, 2009.
Bibliography Bauman, Z., Legislators and Interpreters: On Modernity, Post-modernity, and Intellectuals. Polity Press, Cambridge, 1989.
Boym, S., The Future of Nostalgia. Basic Books, New York, 2001.
Fitzpatrick, S., ‘The Soviet Union in the Twenty-first Century’. Journal of European Studies, vol. 37, 2007, pp. 51-71.
Kotchetkova, I., ‘Dead or Alive: ‘The Discursive Massacre or the Masssuicide of Post-Soviet Intelligentsia’. Sociological Research Online, vol. 9 (4), 2004, viewed on 19 June 2010, http://www.socresonline.org.
Lieven, A., The Baltic Revolution: Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania and the Path to Independence. New Haven, London, Yale University Press, 1994.
Pels, D., ‘Privileged Nomads: On the Strangeness of Intellectuals and the Intellectuality of Strangers’. Theory Culture Society, vol.16 (63), 1999.
Velikonja, M., ‘Lost in Transition: Nostalgia for Socialism in Post-socialist Countries’. East European Politics and Societies, vol. 23, 2009, pp. 535-551.
PART II The University, Knowledge and the Intellectual From Distributed Knowledge to Intelligent KnowledgeCreating Systems Nikita Basov and Anna Shirokanova Abstract A prominent feature of contemporary societies is ceaseless production and diffusion of large amounts of information. Under such conditions knowledge gets distributed among growing numbers of actors, becomes dispersed and narrowly specialized. As a result, the rapid growth of information and communications does not bring about any creative breakthrough in knowledge production, while constant creation of fundamentally new knowledge is crucial to building the knowledge society. A possible response to this situation is to develop new forms of intellectual collaboration, which would take advantage of progress in communications and of new forms of organization. No model of collective knowledge creation has been suggested so far that would make ivory towers merge into the open systems of knowledge. We argue that a possibility to develop and implement such a model lies in unfolding the mechanism of co-evolution of knowledge, communication and emotional energy in intellectual networks which would allow the latter to act as a loosely connected and yet unified whole. In the paper, we bring together knowledge, emotional energy, and communication while simultaneously linking the micro-level knowledge-creation ritual to the large-scale structural coupling of network structures, in order to outline the theoretical ground for a model of effective knowledge-creating system.
***** 1. Introduction There are three tendencies that attest to the changes in the way how knowledge is produced in contemporary societies. First, there is growing interdependence of social processes and knowledge creation.1 Second, interdisciplinary cooperation is strengthening.2 Third, knowledge creation process is democratising.3 Taken together, these tendencies produce dramatic changes in knowledge production, which requires re-examining how the intellectuals’ work is socially organized. Once predominant, ‘individual’ cognitive processes, where ideas originate with a single (though not isolated) person and then spread socially (distributed knowledge creation) - give way to collective cognitive process located within social networks (collaborative knowledge creation), which, potentially, could produce knowledge far more 58 From Distributed Knowledge effectively. The number and size of social networks appears to grow rapidly.
Once remote regions are linked now, and information flows everywhere providing the access to a variety of new ideas essential to novel knowledge creation. Networks of collaborative knowledge creation seem to penetrate all the spheres of human activity and have the potential to merge into integral landscapes of knowledge creation consisting of intersecting knowledge fields that we propose to call ‘knowledge-creating systems.’ And yet, knowledge is distributed between a very large number of expertise domains, often poorly connected with each other. The reasons for this are fundamental differences in mental models, discourses, and practices of knowledge creation. As a result, much of the possible emergent effect is lost at the moment. To build knowledge-creating systems, it is necessary to connect fields of specialized knowledge into a heterogeneous yet integrated whole. Getting this task fulfilled is crucial to the investigation of the principal mechanisms that bind intellectuals and intellectual networks together in the common process of collective knowledge creation. This could be a foundation of searching new ways of providing knowledge convergence and conceptualising new perspectives of building knowledge-creating systems.