Aleksandr Zinovyev
Aleksandr Zinovyev

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Name: Aleksandr Zinovyev
Occupation: Philosopher
Birth Day: October 29, 1922
Death Date: May 10, 2006 (age 83)
Age: Aged 83
Country: Russia
Zodiac Sign: Scorpio

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Aleksandr Zinovyev

Aleksandr Zinovyev was born on October 29, 1922 in Russia (83 years old). Aleksandr Zinovyev is a Philosopher, zodiac sign: Scorpio. Find out Aleksandr Zinovyevnet worth 2020, salary 2020 detail bellow.

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As per our current Database, Aleksandr Zinovyev died on May 10, 2006 (age 83).

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In emigration, Zinoviev felt alone, despite his popularity, dynamic life and relative comfort – he lived in a three-room apartment on the very outskirts of Munich, his earnings by European standards were rather modest. Zinoviev tried to avoid the emigrant community, close relations were formed only with Vladimir Maximov; European intellectuals were friends with Friedrich Dürrenmatt. The language barrier was also a problem - Zinoviev mastered professional vocabulary, but on the whole, he did not know German well, spoke mainly in English. The expression of loneliness became the oil painting "Self-portrait", according to Pavel Fokin, the image of suffering, pain, truth and hopelessness. In the essay "Why I will never return to the Soviet Union" (1984), nostalgia and the desire to return to Russia were combined with the realization that "there is nowhere to return, there is no need to return, there is no one to return"; in 1988, in an interview with Radio Liberty, he stated that he considered his emigration a punishment, and his principle was "always to write the truth and only the truth". According to Georges Niva, Zinoviev grew nostalgia for collectivist communism, he paradoxically turned from the accuser of communism into his apologist, which was manifested in the novel "The Wings of Our Youth". In the book, as in a number of speeches, Zinoviev argued that after 1953 he ceased to be an anti-Stalinist, because he understood that Stalinism arose "from below" and was not a product of Stalin.

Biography Timeline


Alexander from early childhood stood out for his abilities, he was immediately transferred to the second class. As children grew older, their father took them to the capital. In 1933, after graduating from elementary school, Alexander, on the advice of a mathematics teacher, was sent to Moscow. He lived with relatives in a 10-meter basement room on Bolshaya Spasskaya Street. Due to the impracticality of his father, he had to deal with economic issues. Beggarly living conditions combined with interesting activities; in those years, the soviet state actively modernized school education, the reforms were accompanied by the propaganda of its social significance. Alexander studied successfully; he liked mathematics and literature most of all. The participation in the drawing circle did not work out – his drawings revealed the features of caricatures, the confusion happened with the redrawing of the portrait of Stalin for the Stalin's room; The experience in the drama club was also unsuccessful (Alexander didn't have a hearing or voice). He read a lot additionally, was a frequenter of libraries; he read classics, both domestic and foreign. In high school he was already familiar with a large number of philosophical works – from Voltaire, Diderot and Rousseau to Marx, Engels and Herzen. Of the Russian classics, Zinoviev particularly singled out Lermontov, knew by heart many of his poems; from modern authors – Mayakovsky. The most understandable and closest foreign writer was Hamsun ("Hunger"). As noted by the biographer Pavel Fokin, Zinoviev was attracted by the loneliness and pride of individualistic characters, which contributed to the formation of a sense of his own exclusiveness. He began to consciously cultivate this position of extreme individualism, although later he always denied it, calling himself "the ideal collectivist".


As biographers noted, in his youth, Zinoviev was seized with the desire to "build a new world" and faith in a "bright future", he was fascinated by dreams of social justice, the ideas of equality and collectivism, material asceticism; his idols were Spartacus, Robespierre, Decembrists and Populists. As Konstantin Krylov wrote, the ideas corresponded to his personal experience: Zinoviev recalled that "he was a beggar among beggars", emphasizing that the communist utopia was the idea of beggars. On the one hand, the social, cultural and economic changes that occurred in the 1930s contributed to optimism; on the other hand, Alexander noticed and increasing inequality, saw how families of party and state officials live; drew attention to the fact that in the advancement of the social scale the most successful were activists, demagogues, talkers and scammers; observed the discrimination of the peasants in comparison with the working class, the degradation of the village and the formation of the new "serfdom" of the collective farms, which he witnessed when he came on holidays in Pakhtino. Impressed by the famous book of Radishchev, he wanted to write an accusatory "Journey from Chukhloma to Moscow"; in 1935, after the promulgation of the draft Stalin constitution, he jokingly made up a fictional constitution in which "idlers and stupids" had "the right to the same marks as the honors pupils" (the story caused a school scandal, but the matter was hushed up). As Pavel Fokin writes, "the exploits and meanness" of Soviet society, the contradictions and problems of everyday life provoked a "spiritual rebellion". According to the interpretation of Konstantin Krylov, disappointment in the practical implementation of the ideals of communism did not encourage young Zinoviev to deny the very idea of communism, or to search for other ideals. He chose the third way, concluding that evil is inevitably inherent in the social world, and that this world is essentially evil. This position later influenced his sociology.


In the Komsomol Zinoviev was a member of the school committee, was responsible for the publication of a satirical newspaper. The choice of philosophy as a future specialty was influenced by a teacher of social sciences, a graduate student of the Moscow Institute of Philosophy, Literature and History – the main humanitarian university of those years in the Soviet Union. Together with his teacher, Alexander began to study the works of Marx and Engels, and was fascinated by dialectics. After graduating from school in 1939 with honors, he entered the Moscow Institute of Philosophy, Literature and History (other options were math and architecture). Among his fellow students were later well-known philosophers Arseny Gulyga, Igor Narsky, Dmitry Gorsky, Pavel Kopnin. The atmosphere at the institute, the forge of the "fighters of the ideological front", was heavy. Zinoviev was almost without funds, the meager scholarship was not enough, his father stopped helping him. As Pavel Fokin writes, Zinoviev was in a state of physical and nervous exhaustion. In search of an answer to the question of why the bright ideals of communism proclaimed were at variance with reality, Zinoviev thought about the figure of Stalin: "The Father of Nations" became the cause of the perversion of communist ideals.


Zinoviev spent most of the war at the Ulyanovsk Aviation School. Initially he served in the Primorsky Territory as part of the cavalry division. In the spring of 1941, the troops were transferred to the west, he was credited with a tank gunner in a tank regiment. On the eve of June 22, the advanced unit was sent to a flight school in Orsha, which was soon evacuated to Gorky, and in early 1942 to the Ulyanovsk military aviation school of pilots. At the aviation school, Zinoviev spent almost three years, mostly in reserve. He learned to fly a biplane, later – on the Il-2. In Ulyanovsk, he had a son, named Valery (1944). He graduated from the aviation school at the end of 1944 and received the title of "junior lieutenant". He fought in the 2nd Guards Ground Attack Aviation Corps, the first combat flight on the IL-2 took place in March 1945 during the capture of Glogau. Participated in battles in Poland and Germany, was awarded the Order of the Red Star. The war ended in Grassau on May 8. Zinoviev recalled that the flights were enjoyable: I liked to feel like the owner of a combat vehicle, drop bombs, shoot cannons and machine guns; the fear of perishing was relieved by the realization that "this is only once". After the war, he served a year on the territory of Czechoslovakia, Hungary, Austria. Zinoviev was frustrated by the senselessness of military service, repeatedly tried to quit, but failed. Six years in the army gave Zinoviev rich material for understanding Soviet society, monitoring social relations and dynamics, the army represented a large-scale social laboratory, in which features of social processes were manifested or even caricatured.


After his dismissal from the army in 1946, Zinoviev took his mother and younger brothers from the village to Moscow. He managed to recover at the Faculty of Philosophy of Moscow State University, with which Moscow Institute of Philosophy, Literature and History was united. He had to look for odd jobs – the scholarship was not enough. During his studies, Zinoviev managed to work as a loader, excavator, watchman, was engaged in the manufacture of fake bread cards and donated blood. In 1950–1952 he taught logic and psychology at school. He originally did not plan a philosophical career, he thought of becoming a writer. He wrote "A Tale of Duty" (or "A Tale of Betrayal"), the main character of which was an informant – "a whistleblower of enemies". Zinoviev took the manuscript to the magazine "October", where Vasily Ilyenkov, the father of Evald Ilyenkov, worked, and to the "New World", headed by Konstantin Simonov. Reviews of the reviewers were negative, and Zinoviev destroyed the manuscript on the advice of Simonov. As Pavel Fokin writes, the failure had a strong effect on Zinoviev, he led an unbridled lifestyle: he drank, did not follow his health. The work in the wall newspaper helped him to overcome the situation and focus on philosophy, where he began writing epigrams, parodies, humorous poems, and wrote colorful “life stories” that, Pavel Fokin noted, seemed so plausible that even the author sometimes believed in them.


In the post-war years, the faculty of philosophy was "on the forefront" of the ideological front – the "biggest event" was the speech of the secretary of the Central Committee Andrei Zhdanov (1947), followed by the strengthening of the party's role in philosophical education. Conferences were held to study the work of Stalin, in 1948 the tenth anniversary of the "brilliant Stalinist work" – "A Short Course in the History of the All-Union Communist Party (Bolsheviks)" was widely celebrated. Zinoviev studied mostly "excellently", mastering Marxist texts was not a big deal; he studied Kant, Marx and Hegel before the war. Teachers were the subject of his ridicule and satirical caricatures popular among students, his aphorisms were part of philosophical folklore; he was inclined to self-irony. According to the memoirs of Vadim Mezhuyev, Zinoviev won the competition for the best definition of matter: "matter is an objective reality given to us in sensations by God". Zinoviev ironically recalled how the "tongue-tied marazmatik Bugaev" from the first classes inspired students with superiority over all the previous philosophy; another object of ridicule, Beletsky, pointed out through a window to "objective truth" – the Kremlin. The exception was the historian of philosophy, Valentin Asmus, with him Zinoviev had a warm relationship all his life.


In the third year Zinoviev became interested in the logic of Capital, Marx was devoted to his diploma. After graduating in 1951 with honors from the university, he entered graduate school. In Capital, Zinoviev was interested in the logical structure, rather than the economic or political description of capitalism, the dissertation considered the logical techniques used by Marx. In Soviet dogma, the subject of Zinoviev's research, like that of Ilyenkov's similar research, was called "dialectical logic". Vladislav Lektorsky connects the turn of Zinoviev and Ilyenkov to the study of theoretical thinking and methodology with the conviction that strict knowledge can influence bureaucratic "real socialism" and reform the Soviet system. According to Pavel Fokin, appeal to logic was an act of self-preservation in the conditions of Soviet reality, unwillingness to engage in ideological propaganda within the framework of historical materialism – logic was outside of party or class interests.

In 1951, Zinoviev married, in 1954, his daughter Tamara was born, a year later, the couple received a small room in a communal flat. The marriage was partly calculated (Tamara Filatieva was the daughter of a People's Commissariat for Internal Affairs worker), partly out of love, but family life did not work out – each had their own professional interests, and misunderstanding increased. The situation was aggravated by the continued drunkenness of Zinoviev.


In 1952, Zinoviev and his students Grushin, Mamardashvili and Shchedrovitsky established the Moscow Logic Circle. The participants tried to develop a so-called "genetically meaningful" logic – an alternative to both semi-official dialectical logic and formal logic. The activity of the circle took place against the backdrop of the revival of the atmosphere at the philosophical faculty after Stalin's death. At the beginning of 1954, a discussion was held on "Disagreements on Logic Issues", which divided "dialecticians", formal logicians and "heretics" from the circle – the so-called "easel painters". In another discussion, Zinoviev said a well-known phrase that "earlier bourgeois philosophers explained the world, and now Soviet philosophers do not do this", which caused the applause of the audience. After discussions, members of the group were summoned to the Committee for State Security, but there was no repression. Zinoviev's Ph.D. thesis "The Method of Ascent from the Abstract to the Concrete (on the Material of Karl Marx's "Capital") was twice "filled up" at the Faculty Academic Council, it was possible to defend oneself from the third time, already in Higher Attestation Commission, in September 1954. The opposition of the "old men" was counterbalanced by the support of the Minister of Culture Academician George Alexandrov, which he managed to get through Karl Kantor. The opponents were Teodor Oizerman and Pavel Kopnin, the post-graduate students Mamardashvili and Grushin and Schedrovitsky supported the defense of Zinoviev. The text of the dissertation was later distributed in numerous reprints in samizdat and was published only in 2002. The peripetias of those events Zinoviev grotesque described in the novel "On the Eve of Paradise".


Zinoviev gradually lost interest in the logical circle, where Shchedrovitsky moved to the role of leader. Zinoviev had his own ambitions, he was not satisfied with the "collective farm" and "party" model circle (as per Pavel Fokin). In 1955, he received the position of junior researcher at the Institute of Philosophy of the Academy of Sciences of the Soviet Union (sector of dialectical materialism), where he felt comfortable. The institute was primarily an ideological institution with rigid orders, but a certain revival (as described by Vladislav Lektorsky) of philosophical thought in the 1950s made it possible to pursue science, including in the field of logic, which Zinoviev recognized. In the second half of the 1950s, the formation of logical science took place, textbooks, collections, collective monographs were published, and methodological seminars were held. Zinoviev was actively involved in scientific work, but the first articles were rejected at sector meetings, which, according to Pavel Fokin, was an echo of the story of Ilyenkov, who was then persecuted. Group mates (Mamardashvili and others) considered the choice of mathematical logic as an academic career as a departure from the struggle in the direction of security and well-being; Zinoviev's disciple Yury Solodukhin drew attention to his disappointment in the speculative nature of Marxism.


The first publications took place in 1957, a year later one of the articles was published in Czech. For fifteen years (1960–1975) Zinoviev published a number of monographs and many articles on non-classical logic. Academic career developed rapidly: in 1960, Zinoviev became a senior researcher, in November 1962, by unanimous decision of the Academic Council of the Institute of Philosophy of the Academy of Sciences of the Soviet Union, received a doctorate for his study "The logic of statements and the theory of inference". Opponents of the defense were Valentin Asmus, Sofya Yanovskaya and Igor Narsky. In 1958–1960, he read the special course "The Philosophical Problems of Natural Science" at the Moscow Institute of Physics and Technology, since 1961 – the special course at Moscow State University (faculty of philosophy). In 1966 he received the title of professor, in 1967–1968, part-time headed the department of logic, Faculty of Philosophy, Moscow State University. In 1968, he joined the editorial board of the journal Problems of Philosophy, a year later – on the Academic Council on the problems of dialectical materialism of the Institute of Philosophy of the Academy of Sciences of the Soviet Union. By the mid-1970s, his works were published in English, German, Italian, and Polish. Zinoviev was engaged in logic not just as a scientific discipline, but reconsidered its foundations as part of the creation of a new field of intellectual activity. According to Konstantin Krylov, he experienced a temporary stage of creating a "general theory of everything", which, however, he quickly passed. It is noted that in logical studies Zinoviev was clearly vain, which led to imprudent steps and embarrassment: for example, he insistently published proof of Fermat's unprovability in the framework of the logical system he built.


In the 1950s, Zinoviev outlined the general principles of the "meaningful logic" program. Formally, being within the framework of the Soviet "dialectical logic", he limited the applicability of the analysis of Marx's "Capital" to a special kind of objects (historical or social), which are an "organic whole" with a complex functional structure. In his version, the dialectic turned out to be "a method for studying complex systems of empirical relationships". Substantive logic claimed the expression of both the linguistic aspect (formal logic) and logical-ontological, as well as procedural; considered thinking as a historical activity; affirmed the status of logic as an empirical science, the material of which are scientific texts, and the subject matter is the techniques of thinking; considered the instrumental function of logic for scientific thinking. In 1959, Zinoviev considered his concept contradictory, making a choice in favor of mathematical logic.


A successful career was overshadowed by the fact that Zinoviev was in fact "restricted to leave", although the scientist was repeatedly invited to foreign events. His candidacy for international travel was usually wrapped up at various stages, starting in 1961, when he was not given a visa to Poland. Scientific work did not interfere with observing and analyzing social reality, primarily using the example of the Institute of Philosophy, as well as engaging in ethical searches, introspection and self-reflection. In the first half of the 1960s, he formulated an ethical position about the complete independence of his personality from society. Around 1963, it was possible to overcome alcohol dependence, which lasted throughout the postwar years; in the same year he divorced. In 1965 he got acquainted with stenographer Olga Sorokina, who was 23 years younger, four years later they got married. Olga Mironovna became his faithful ally for life; Zinoviev often spoke of her invaluable help and support. The daughters of Polina (1971) and Xenia (1990) were born in marriage. In 1967, Zinoviev was not released to the international congress on logic in Amsterdam, although he was included in the official composition of the Soviet delegation. Long-term participation in philosophical "gatherings..., in which he spoke with negative views on certain issues of the theory of Marxism-Leninism" (Committee for State Security analytical note) and contacts with American logicians in 1960, according to the Committee for State Security who worked for American intelligence, had their effect. The Organs confined themselves to a conversation (Zinoviev insisted that communication with the Americans had exclusively professional goals), which ended in a curiosity: having learned that he was renting a room, he was given a one-room apartment on Vavilova Street. In the early 1970s, having made an exchange, the Zinovievs moved into a four-room apartment, he had his own office. Later, Zinoviev remarked: "The improvement of living conditions played a huge role in the growth of opposition and rebellious attitudes in the country".


In scientific and teaching activities, Zinoviev openly ignored the official ideology, in the late 1960s his position in the scientific community deteriorated. As Pavel Fokin writes, he declined the proposal of the Vice-President of the Academy of Sciences of the Soviet Union, Peter Fedoseyev, to write a "Marxist-Leninist" article for the journal Kommunist, although he was promised his own department and election as a corresponding member. The scientist was in conflict with representatives of the "liberal" wing of the Soviet intelligentsia, and, as biographers believe, their attitude towards Zinoviev was worse than that of the orthodox communists. In the "liberal" composition of the editorial board of the journal Problems of Philosophy (Merab Mamardashvili, Bonifaty Kedrov, Theodor Oizerman, Yuri Zamoshkin, Vladislav Kelle) took an extremely sharp position on the quality of the reviewed works, indignant at the authors raid over Leonid Brezhnev; Zinoviev noted "(Russian: б. с. к., tr. b. s. k.)" – "(Russian: бред сивой кобылы, tr. Delirium of the grey mare – Bullshit)" – to texts that could not be criticized. After the suspension of his publications, Zinoviev left the editorial board. In the fall of 1968, he was fired from the post of head of the department of logic at Moscow State University. He openly made friends with the well-known dissident Alexander Esenin-Volpin, inviting him to seminars on logic, and with Ernst Neizvestny, who he often visited. He continued his scientific activities, preparing graduate students. In 1973 he was not re-elected to the Academic Council of the Institute, a year later he was not allowed to speak at the All-Union Symposium on the theory of logical inference; they were not allowed to travel abroad, in particular, to Finland and Canada; problems arose with his graduate students. At the same time, Zinoviev was elected a foreign member of the Finnish Academy of Sciences (1974) after a visit to the Soviet Union by the famous Finnish logician Georg von Wright. Zinoviev was proud of this fact, Finnish logic had a high scientific authority.


After the Prague events, Zinoviev came up with the idea of a satirical book about Soviet reality. The book, entitled "Yawning Heights", has grown from a series of articles written in the early 1970s; among them – an essay about Ernst Neizvestny, dedicated to the fate of talent in society. Then he began to paint. Forwarded articles to the West, they were published in Poland and Czechoslovakia, unsigned articles were distributed in samizdat. The main part of the book was conspiratorially written in a removable cottage in Peredelkino in the summer of 1974 and was completed by early 1975. Zinoviev wrote cleanly, the wife played the role of proofreader and editor. With the help of acquaintances, the manuscript (almost a thousand typewritten pages) was sent to France. Zinoviev did not count on a quick publication, for various reasons all Russian-language publishing houses rejected the manuscript. The publisher was Vladimir Dmitrievich, a Serb who popularized Russian literature for the French-speaking reader; he accidentally saw the manuscript, and he really liked it. Shortly before publication after another refusal of a trip abroad (logical colloquium in Finland) in June 1976, Zinoviev went into open conflict with the authorities. He invited Western journalists to his home and made a protest statement, and then turned in a party card at the Institute of Philosophy. The change was accompanied by comical circumstances: the party secretary, being an ideological communist, tried to dissuade Zinoviev from his step, refusing to accept the party membership card. Taking Zinoviev out of the office, he locked himself and several times pushed the document under the door.

"Yawning Heights" represented a keen satire on the Soviet way of life. In August 1976, the book was published in Russian in the Lausanne publishing house of Dmitrievich "L'Âge d’homme". The publication was accompanied by lighting on the radio, the book was advertised by the emigre writer Vladimir Maximov. "Yawning Heights" had success with the Western reader, the novel was translated into two dozen languages. Reviews of reviewers in different countries were generally positive, sometimes even enthusiastic, the novel received several awards, in particular the European Charles Weyonne Prize for essay. The book was considered as a literary event out of touch with the Soviet context. Zinoviev was called the heir to the satirical tradition – from Aristophanes and Apuleius through François Rabelais and Jonathan Swift to Saltykov-Shchedrin, Anatole France, Franz Kafka and George Orwell. Among dissidents, the reaction was more heterogeneous, there were also negative opinions, for example, among Andrei Sakharov, who called the book decadent, or Alexander Solzhenitsyn. In the Soviet Union, the book was immediately declared anti-Soviet, its reading was equated with anti-Soviet activity; "Yawning Heights" were actively distributed in samizdat. As Lev Mitrokhin recalled, despite the flaws, the book made a strong impression by "author's ingenuity, imagery, accuracy of social diagnosis, and violent black humor". Many intellectuals, for example, mocked in the novel Mamardashvili, considered the book a libel or even a denunciation.

On December 2, 1976, he was expelled from the Communist Party of the Soviet Union at the general institute party meeting (Zinoviev did not show up for it), and then deprived of scientific titles for "anti-patriotic actions incompatible with the title of Soviet scientist" and dismissed from the Institute of Philosophy. In early 1977, by decision of the Presidium of the Supreme Soviet of the Soviet Union, Zinoviev was deprived of all state awards, including military, and academic degrees. He was even expelled from the Philosophical Society, of which he was not a member. Relatives were also affected: the son Valery and daughter Tamara lost their jobs; Brother Vasily, a military lawyer with the rank of lieutenant colonel, refused to publicly condemn his brother, for which he was dismissed from the army and expelled from Moscow. Zinoviev was left without a livelihood, he sold books and albums from his home collection, illegally edited scientific texts, and sometimes well-wishers helped financially, for example, Pyotr Kapitsa. Numerous dissidents and foreign journalists actively talked with Zinoviev (Raisa Lehrth, Sofiya Kalistratova, Roy Medvedev, Peter Abovin-Egides, Vladimir Voinovich and others). As stated in a note by the Committee for State Security for the Central Committee of the Communist Party of the Soviet Union, signed by Yuri Andropov, Zinoviev received at home "anti-Soviet-minded individuals" and "renegades", discussed "anti-Soviet actions", gave "slanderous information" to correspondents of capitalist countries to "attract attention to his person". Zinoviev continued to write, soon finishing the story "The Night Watchman's Notes", the novel "On the Eve of Paradise" and the novel "A Bright Future", published in Switzerland in early 1978.


The novel "A Bright Future" contained personal insults to the General Secretary of the Central Committee of the Communist Party of the Soviet Union Leonid Brezhnev. In June 1978, at the suggestion of the Committee for State Security, the Politburo of the Central Committee of the Communist Party of the Soviet Union made a rather mild decision to expel Zinoviev abroad. According to the Committee for State Security note, criminal prosecution would lead to placement in a psychiatric institution (Zinoviev was characterized as a "mentally unstable" former alcoholic suffering from "delusions of grandeur"), which was considered inexpedient because of the campaign against Soviet psychiatry in the West. Zinoviev received invitations from universities in Europe and the United States, in particular, from the president of the University of Munich philosopher Nikolaus Lobkowitz, who knew his logical works. Zinoviev was supported by the Austrian Federal Chancellor Bruno Kreisky and the German Foreign Minister Hans-Dietrich Genscher, who touched upon his fate at a meeting with Leonid Brezhnev. On August 6, 1978, Zinoviev, with his wife and seven-year-old daughter, left for Germany. At the first press conference in Munich, which attracted a lot of attention from the press, Zinoviev said that he did not feel that he was a "victim of the regime", but considered the regime to be his victim. He distanced himself from the human rights and dissident movement and critically assessed the possibilities of democratization in the Soviet Union. Shortly after these statements, a decree was issued by the Presidium of the Supreme Soviet of the Soviet Union to deprive Zinoviev of Soviet citizenship.

From August 1978 to July 1999 he lived with his family in Munich, earned literary work and public lectures, not having a stable place of work. He briefly taught logic at the University of Munich; his presence as a lecturer being rather political in nature. After the "Bright Future" (Medici Award for the Best Foreign Book of the Year in France) for several years, "scientific and literary" novels and novels "Night Watchman's Notes", "On the Eve of Paradise", "Yellow House", and "Homo Sovieticus" were published, "Go to Golgatha", "The Wings of Our Youth" and others. Theoretical reflections on Soviet society compiled the book Communism as Reality (Alexis de Tocqueville Prize for Humanism). Zinoviev worked daily, wrote almost without drafts. Text fragments were thought out in advance, often during walks, lectures or conversations. By his own admission, he worked erratically, but continuously. A dozen reviews were published for each book in France, Germany and Italy, the books were well received by Western readers, with whom Zinoviev often met. In 1980, he admitted that he did not expect to meet such a thoughtful and understanding reader in the West. The books were published in many European languages, in Japan and the US, where the "Yawning Heights" were published in 1979. In addition to literary awards, he received public awards: he was elected a member of the Roman Academy of Sciences, the Bavarian Academy of Fine Arts. In 1984, the documentary film "Alexander Zinoviev. Reflections of the writer in exile", in Munich, an exhibition of his paintings and cartoons. In 1986, a conference on his work was held in London.


Numerous speeches and journalistic articles made up the collections "We and the West", "Without Illusions", "Neither Freedom, nor Equality, nor Brotherhood". Zinoviev defended his understanding of the Soviet system, wrote a lot about the relationship between capitalism and communism, the West and the East. He criticized the West for underestimating the communist threat due to a lack of understanding of the nature of Soviet society. The West assessed the Soviet system through its own criteria, however, Zinoviev argued that Western democracy and communism are completely different. He denied the role of the personal qualities of the Soviet leaders, considering them "social symbols", and urged the West not to listen to their promises. In 1983, in his report "Marxist ideology and religion" at a symposium in Vienna, he asserted that "spiritual rebirth" in the Soviet Union would not affect the official ideology, and Andropov's policy would not lead to reforms or social protest. A year later, in a series of representative events dedicated to Orwell's 1984 novel, he sharply criticized the adequacy of the description in the book of the communist society. From his point of view, the book was not a scientific prediction, but reflected Orwell's contemporaries' fear of imaginary communism.


Zinoviev took Perestroika in a sharply negative way, calling it "Catastroika". Mikhail Gorbachev and his associates were described as demagogues, hypocrites, cynical careerists and "insignificance" who had no scientific understanding of the nature of Soviet communism. Since 1985, in numerous articles and speeches, he asserted that the social system in the Soviet Union will not change, restructuring he considered bureaucratic formality, and her initiatives – from glasnost to the anti-alcohol campaign – a manifestation of the leadership's inability to adequately assess real problems. From his point of view, the "revolution from above", carried out with the support of the indifferent to the fate of ordinary Soviet people of the West, could only lead to a catastrophe. This "attack on Gorbachev" provoked a negative reaction from the majority of intellectuals in the West, who welcomed the restructuring. Zinoviev's views were explained by eccentricities, outrageous, even madness. Controversial articles and interviews compiled a collection of "Gorbachevism"; The book "Catastroika" (1989) described the provincial "Party City", where officials, driven by vested interests, imitate the implementation of reforms. In 1987 and 1989, Zinoviev visited Chile twice; during his second trip, he was accepted by Augusto Pinochet. He conducted a lecture tour of the United States, a series of successful creative evenings in Israel. The attention of the press was attracted by the exhibition of drawings "Allegra Rusia" ("Fun of Russia") on the topic of Soviet drunkenness, held in Milan in 1989. The project was a "conceptual sociological comic" (as per Pavel Fokin). At the suggestion of French publishers wrote a memoir entitled "The Confession of the Outcast". The book combined biographical memories and sociological and philosophical reflections.


In emigration, Zinoviev felt alone, despite his popularity, dynamic life and relative comfort – he lived in a three-room apartment on the very outskirts of Munich, his earnings by European standards were rather modest. Zinoviev tried to avoid the emigrant community, close relations were formed only with Vladimir Maximov; European intellectuals were friends with Friedrich Dürrenmatt. The language barrier was also a problem - Zinoviev mastered professional vocabulary, but on the whole, he did not know German well, spoke mainly in English. The expression of loneliness became the oil painting "Self-portrait", according to Pavel Fokin, the image of suffering, pain, truth and hopelessness. In the essay "Why I will never return to the Soviet Union" (1984), nostalgia and the desire to return to Russia were combined with the realization that "there is nowhere to return, there is no need to return, there is no one to return"; in 1988, in an interview with Radio Liberty, he stated that he considered his emigration a punishment, and his principle was "always to write the truth and only the truth". According to Georges Niva, Zinoviev grew nostalgia for collectivist communism, he paradoxically turned from the accuser of communism into his apologist, which was manifested in the novel "The Wings of Our Youth". In the book, as in a number of speeches, Zinoviev argued that after 1953 he ceased to be an anti-Stalinist, because he understood that Stalinism arose "from below" and was not a product of Stalin.


The "scientific forecast" of Zinoviev about the stability of Soviet communism as a social system incapable of reform was not justified. From the point of view of Western researchers, he was refuted by historical events: Perestroika, the collapse of the Soviet Union. Claude Lefort in 1989 summarized:

Philosopher Boris Mezhuyev drew attention to the fact that Zinoviev, at the end of his anti-communism, criticized Gorbachev from left-wing, radical positions, considering the perestroika a provocation of special services ("Gorbachevism"). Only in 1989 did Zinoviev take up the position of archiconservatism, subsequently making every effort so that his early views would be forgotten. Mezhuyev did not doubt the sincerity of the convictions of the "outstanding thinker", but noted that even the "best people of Russia" manifest radicalism, infantilism, hatred of moderation, nonviolence, harmony and compromise, characteristic of the Russian mentality. According to another point of view (Andrei Fursov), Zinoviev's uncompromising and polemic position was based on "truth – the truth of the people, history, generation", which in the Russian tradition brought the thinker closer to Avvakum. If Fursov called Zinoviev a "great contrarian", then Maxim Kantor believed that the thinker was a "great affirmator" who dreamed of the epic of utopia, overcoming tradition, about a holistic, free from the lie of human being. According to Konstantin Krylov, Zinoviev perceived himself as a lone "fighter" acting according to the situation and considering his activities to be useful service to the society rejected by him. Zinoviev was characterized by Dmitry Bykov as a person with a "clinical complete lack of fear", a conflicting egocentric and nonconformist. From the point of view of Maxim Cantor,


As a critic of Gorbachev and the restructuring of Zinoviev in March 1990, he was invited to a debate on the French TV channel with "disgraced" Boris Yeltsin, then the Soviet Union People's Deputy, little-known in Europe. Zinoviev criticized Yeltsin's desire to "speed up" the restructuring, said he saw the character of his books in him, and called his promises about the abolition of privileges demagogic and unfulfilled. Pavel Fokin noted that in his assessments Zinoviev hyperbolized Gorbachev's political role in the Soviet Union, without noticing Yeltsin's figure. After the debate, interest in Zinoviev arose in Moscow, which was full of political events, and his articles and interviews began to appear in the Soviet press. On July 1, 1990, by decree of the President of the Soviet Union, Zinoviev was restored to Soviet citizenship, to which he reacted without enthusiasm, explaining that publishing his books was important for him. In 1990 in the Soviet Union with a circulation of 250 thousand copies "Yawning Heights" were released, in 1991 the novels "Homo Soveticus", "Para Bellum" and "Go to Golgatha" were published (in the magazine "Smena"); at the same time, the Higher Attestation Commission restored his academic degrees.


In the conflict of the "democrats" with the "red-brown" he took the position of defender of Soviet communism, describing the Soviet period as the pinnacle of Russian history. The defeat of the State Committee on the State of Emergency Zinoviev called the historical tragedy and negatively evaluated the collapse of the Soviet Union; about Yeltsin and Russian reformers, he repeatedly spoke disparagingly, used extremely harsh expressions ("idiots", "scum", "cretins", "elitsinoidy", etc.), demanding punitive measures against them. At the presentation in Rome of the Italian literary prize "Tevere" in 1992, he denied the possibility of success of Russian reforms, believing that they would only lead to a catastrophe. At the same time, he called Stalin the only great politician in the history of Russia, which, Konstantin Krylov notes, was not at all praise, but shocked the public. In a number of speeches, he argued that Russia would never become a Western country; called the Russian regime "colonial democracy", and Westernization – a special form of colonization, aimed at defeating and disintegrating Russia in the interests of the West. After another interview (1994) in the newspaper "Zavtra", where Zinoviev openly called for the overthrow of the anti-people regime "traitors and collaborators", a criminal case was opened against his interviewer, Vladimir Bondarenko. Zinoviev had to explain that his words expressed the position of a scientist, not a politician.

Zinoviev gained the greatest popularity in France, where the "Yawning Heights" temporarily destroyed the image of the Soviet Union, created by Solzhenitsyn's book "The Gulag Archipelago". In contrast to the generally accepted Western ideas about the "evil empire", shared by Solzhenitsyn and the third wave of immigrants, Zinoviev gave the Soviet system a kind of existential value. In the émigré environment, the opinion that the understanding of the Soviet Union by Zinoviev should be taken seriously was quite common. Estimates of Zinoviev as sociologist in the West are ambiguous. His works were considered as the first attempt of the Soviet philosopher to propose a critique of Soviet institutions independent of official dogma and a holistic concept of the Soviet system, presented in its original form. In the 1980s, his books attracted the attention of a number of historians and social scientists, changing their perception of Soviet society, and "lured" some Slavists. Sovietologists perceived "Communism as a Reality" with respect, but criticized some of the key statements. Outside of Sovietology, the ideas of Zinoviev influenced the political researchers of Ronald of Tyr, and especially of Jon Elster, who believed that the Ibanian model of "ineffectiveness" allows one to comprehend political irrationality. Interest in Zinoviev expressed in the collective collection "Alexander Zinoviev: a Writer and Thinker" (1988). In 1992, Michael Kirkwood's monograph "Alexander Zinoviev: An Introduction to His Work" was published.


Alexander Zinoviev belonged to those Soviet philosophers who opposed dogma in science and humanitarian thought in the 1950s and 1960s, their heated debates influenced public attitudes, shaped the views and beliefs of the Soviet intelligentsia. His sociological novels, which were circulated in samizdat during the late "stagnation" period, contributed to the collapse of official ideology, which had already pretty weakened after strikes by dissidents and Solzhenitsyn. Zinoviev's books were written on the topic of the day, they reflected one or another public mindset, therefore in the 1980s their readers were "westerners", in the 1990s they were "soilers". His works began to be published quite late, after the books of Andrei Platonov and Vladimir Nabokov, but before Solzhenitsyn. "Yawning Heights" sold out in a rather large circulation, "Communism as a Reality" in 1994 did not arouse much reader interest. The difficulty of Zinoviev's language was not noticed by readers of samizdat; more important was the fact of reading forbidden literature; later complex style contributed to the disappearance of interest. According to Konstantin Krylov, by the 21st century, Zinoviev's anti-Soviet books "fell into the same cesspool as all anti-Soviet literature", with the active participation of their former readers – representatives of the "liberal" intelligentsia.


From the mid-1990s, Zinoviev began to visit his homeland more often, he had supporters and followers with whom he willingly communicated. In 1996, he confessed that he was not going to return to Russia that was "hostile", despite the publication of his books (Embroilment, Russian Experiment, etc.). He believed that he was "boycotted" in Russia, as, incidentally, in the West, where he managed to publish with difficulty. Nevertheless, in France, in the publishing house "Plon" in 1996 "West" was released, two years later in Italy it became the bestseller "The Global Humant Hill". As Pavel Fokin writes, the turning point was the fall of 1997, when he visited Russia several times. Zinoviev represented the "Global Humant Hill" in Moscow, held a series of meetings with Sergey Baburin, Nikolai Ryzhkov and Gennady Zyuganov. Zinoviev called for a vote for the Communist leader in the 1996 presidential election, considering the Communist Party of the Russian Federation one of the few positive political forces in the country, although his position was more radical than that of the parliamentary Communist opposition. Zinoviev's 75th anniversary was celebrated at the Presidium of the Academy of Sciences and at the Institute of Philosophy; he visited his native Kostroma Region, and in 1998 made a number of trips around Russia and the CIS. On June 30, 1999, the Zinoviev family returned to Moscow. A few days later he was accepted as a professor at Moscow State University (Department of Ethics at the Faculty of Philosophy) and Maxim Gorky Literature Institute. At the end of the year, at the suggestion of Baburin, he agreed to participate in the Duma elections on the list of the Russian All-People's Union, but was not registered.


Upon his return, he continued active writing and public work: he edited the editions of his books, commented on political events, spoke at round tables and conferences, gave interviews in various publications, from Zavtra to Komsomolskaya Pravda. In 2000, the publishing house "Centrpoligraf" published 5 volumes of collected works; director Viktor Vasilyev made the documentary film "I am a sovereign state", which was not released on the screens. In 2002, to the anniversary of Zinoviev, under the auspices of the Faculty of Philosophy of Moscow State University, the anthology "The Phenomenon of Zinoviev" was published. His latest novel was the "Russian Tragedy" (2002). Students began to gather around Zinoviev, and a seminar arose. At the suggestion of the rector of the Moscow University for the Humanities Igor Ilyinsky, the Alexander Zinoviev School was organized, where he taught a course of logical sociology, published on the Internet and published as a guide. The students created the site "".


Zinoviev spoke positively about Vladimir Putin, pinned great hopes on him, considering his coming to power as the country's first chance after 1985 to break the deadlock and to resist Westernization and colonization. However, he rather quickly revised optimistic estimates, noting at the end of 2000 that Russia continued to lose ground, although he did not rank Putin as a "traitor". In 2002, he wrote that Putin, having popular support, did not use the historical chance, refusing to revise the results of privatization and nationalize finance and energy; Zinoviev concluded that Putin's historical role was to legitimize the consequences of the Yeltsin coup. In 2006, shortly before his death, he stated that Russia as a sovereign state and a single whole no longer exists, the country presents an imitation ("apparent"), an artificial, fragile formation connected by the fuel and energy complex: "Russia as a powerful energy power is an ideological myth of the Russian unpromising. The very narrowing of economic progress to the "pipe" is an indicator of historical doom".


Alexander Zinoviev died on May 10, 2006 from a brain tumor. According to Maxim Kantor, in the last conversation he discussed the dehumanization of European culture, arguing that only the revival of humanism could save Russia. According to the testament, he was cremated, the ashes were scattered from a helicopter over the Chukhloma Region, where Zinoviev was born and grew up, a boulder was installed at this place. In memory of the merits before the Russian culture, a symbolic grave-cenotaph was erected at the Novodevichy Cemetery in Moscow. Posthumously, Zinoviev was awarded the title "Honorary Citizen of the Kostroma Region". In 2009, a monument to Zinoviev was erected in Kostroma, on the territory of Nikolai Nekrasov Kostroma State University (sculptor Andrey Kovalchuk). In 2016, on the eve of the 95th anniversary of Zinoviev, a new species of butterflies was named in his honor – "Zinoviev's Fan Wing" (Alucita zinovievi).


In the 1990s, there was almost no discussion of Zinoviev's work in the intellectual environment, which he himself contributed to with his sometimes rash and not always thought-out statements. According to Konstantin Krylov, Russian intellectuals, as a rule, spoke of him with "simplicity of fastidiousness", considered him to be "Ivan who does not know how to flicker foppishly, does not quote Foucault and Marcuse" and whose "glamorous" constructions are not suitable for "discourse". Representatives of the "liberal" intelligentsia condemned Zinoviev for his primitive literary form, his betrayal of liberalism, and his fierce defense of communism. At the same time, his conspiracy theories about Western "puppeteers" were readily accepted by the "soilers". According to Vladislav Lektersky, the sociological concept of Zinoviev, with rare exceptions, was not comprehended by Russian academic sociology and philosophy, although the image of homo sovieticus was used in sociological research by Yuri Levada and his followers. Later works by Zinoviev influenced, in particular, the sociologist Andrei Fursov and the political philosopher Vadim Tsymbursky. In the 21st century, a certain interest arose in the legacy of Zinoviev. With the efforts of Olga Zinovieva, "The Understanding Factor" was posthumously published as his final work. The thinker was devoted to the volume from the series "Russian Philosophy of the Second Half of the 20th Century" (2009), a collection of memoirs "Alexander Alexandrovich Zinoviev: the Experience of a Collective Portrait" (2012). The first philological candidate dissertation was defended in 2013. In 2016, in the series "The Life of Wonderful People", a biography of Zinoviev was written by literary historian Pavel Fokin.

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Currently, Aleksandr Zinovyev is 100 years, 7 months and 8 days old. Aleksandr Zinovyev will celebrate 101st birthday on a Sunday 29th of October 2023. Below we countdown to Aleksandr Zinovyev upcoming birthday.


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