Recently, several articles appeared at once in the Russian-language internet media showing in some way how the current political elites – who have unleashed an aggressive war against Ukraine and indirectly against the West as a whole – were influenced by the methodologists (metodologi)
, an intellectual and social movement that formed over several decades starting in the 1960s in Moscow, centered on the charismatic philosopher Georgy Shchedrovitsky (1929-94). In particular, we are referring to Andrey Pertsev’s Meduza article
, published on June 9, and an article
by historian Ilya Venyavkin published the next day on Kholod
. When these pieces came out, director and playwright Mikhail Kaluzhsky recalled on his Facebook that a week before the start of the war, on February 16, an investigation
by Mikhail Maglov with the collaboration of Roman Badanin and others had been published on Proekt
, where the topic was basically the same.
The main idea of these articles is that many actors around President Putin, including Sergey Kiriyenko, have been influenced by the methodologists and that it was the methodologists who came up with the “Russian world” doctrine, which, in a highly revised form, became
one of the justifications for the invasion. Venyavkin and Pertsev call attention to the fact that the political strategist Timofey Sergeytsev, the author of a manifesto published on RIA Novosti
that actually proposes subjecting Ukrainians to mass violence and subsequent mass brainwashing, was actually a student of Shchedrovitsky. Commentators have already noted that Sergeytsev’s article could contain an incitement to genocide, and I agree with this assessment.Vicious thinkers or respected philosophers?
Many readers – this can even be judged by the Russian segment of Facebook, which, due to its being banned in Russia, mostly opposition-minded intellectuals have been using lately – first learned from these articles about the existence of Shchedrovitsky and the methodologists and were sincerely surprised that such a powerful “sect” had existed in Russia (the word “sect” in relation to the Shchedrovitsky movement has been used for a long time). The effect of the Pertsev and Venyavkin articles looks something like that of exposé books such as The Morning of the Magicians
by Louis Pauwels and Jacques Bergier (1960) – which linked the Nazi regime with secret occultist circles – but with one very significant difference: the terrible war that was already in the distant past for Pauwels and Bergier is still going on today, and the actors belonging to the “secret sect” are rather alive and kicking – if we recall, for example, Sergeytsev.
Not everyone was surprised. Some, however, were offended. In the tight circles of philosophers, psychologists and other scientists in the humanities, Shchedrovitsky and his associates – among others the pedagogical theorist and philosopher Pyotr Shchedrovitsky (the son of Georgy) and art historian Oleg Genisaretsky – have been well known for many years now. As a result, both on social media and in the press, texts appeared defending the reputation of Georgy Shchedrovitsky and his movement, insisting that they could be held responsible neither for the military aggression unleashed by the Russian leadership, nor the aggressive and primitive rhetoric of the ruling elite. They also noted that “canceling” the methodologists would be a major blow to the history of Russian philosophy. The day after Venyavkin's article, Novaya Gazeta Europe
published a justification
of Georgy Shchedrovitsky by political publicist and philosopher Alexander Morozov, titled “Press Cake of Putinism.” In turn, Belarusian intellectuals (or just those who follow the news from Belarus) recalled that another G. Shchedrovitsky associate, philosopher Vladimir Matskevich, had long been imprisoned by the Lukashenko regime on trumped-up political charges. Besides Matskevich, Russian culturologist Anatoly Golubovsky pointed out that sociologist Sergei Zuev, the former rector of the Moscow School for the Social and Economic Sciences (so called “Shaninka”) who had been part of the methodological movement, is also in prison today.
Thus, in the context of the Meduza