Mikhail Epstein

Relativistic Patterns in Totalitarian Thinking:

an Inquiry into the Language of Soviet Ideology


Kennan Institute for Advanced Russian Studies, Occasional Paper, #243.

Washington: The Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars, 1991, 94 pp.


ENDING (ch. 8-11)




Introduction 1

Chapter 1. The Boundaries of Ideolingustics 5

Chapter 2. Words as Ideologems 13

Chapter 3. Relationships between Ideologems 20

Chapter 4. The Structure of Tetrads 26

Chapter 5. Ideology as Hidden Dialogue 30

Chapter 6. Lenin and the Logic of Ideology 35

Chapter 7. The Evolution of Soviet Marxism and the Left-Right Party 41


Chapter 8. Ideological Functions, Lexical Groups,

and Philosophical Oppositions 50

Chapter 9. Ideological Syntax: Forms of Address 62

Chapter 10. The Self-Evaluation of Ideology: The Meta-Tetrad 66

Chapter 11. Soviet Marxism in a Postmodernist Perspective 72

Conclusion 82


Appendix: The Susceptibility of Russian Language to Ideological Use 85

Bibliographical Supplement 89










Now that we have elucidated the inner principle of tetradic thinking, we can further develop the model by describing how it works through the lexical diversity of ideolanguage. The reader may already have noticed that the author has consistently placed certain words in the same position in tetrad diagrams. Words such as "internationalism," "collectivism," and "peacefulness" have been placed in the first position on the first line, for example, and words like "nationalism," "individualism," and "aggressiveness" in the second position on the first line, and so on. In fact, each position in the tetrad is occupied not by a concrete word, but by a generalized ideological meaning which can be realized by a multiplicity of words. This section will attempt to demonstrate that, just as each position in the tetrad represents a generalized meaning, tetrads themselves serve generalized ideological functions which correspond to the fundamental oppositions of philosophy.


The "Unity - Differentiation" Opposition

Let us compare several similar tetrads:

peacefulness - aggressiveness miroliubie - agressivnost'

uncompromisingness - appeasement neprimirimost' - primirenchestvo

cooperation - confrontation sotrudnichestvo- konfrontatsiia

fighting spirit - compromise boevitost' - soglashatel'stvo


concern for the individual - depersonalization

kollektivizm - individualizm

individual'nyi podkhod - obezlichka

classlessness - class antagonism

class struggle - non-class consciousness

besklassovoe (obshchestvo) - klassovyi (antagonizm)

klassovaia (bor'ba) - vneklassovyi (podkhod)

In spite of their lexical differences, it is obvious that all these tetrads modify one set of ideological functions:


positive unification - negative differentiation

positive differentiation - negative unification


Depicted schematically, these functions are:


+ un - dif

+ dif - un


Each function represents an entire group of words which are connected by a substitutive relationship. This fourth type of relationship between ideologems, which was not incorporated in the tetradic model (see Chapter 2, p. 25), plays an enormous role in the lexical realization of the tetrad. Let us examine a list of substitutives for the four ideological functions diagramed above:

+un -dif

peace mir hostility vrazhda

unity edinstvo split raskol

solidarity splochenie antagonism antagonizm

cooperation sotrudnichestvo confrontation konfrontatsiia

equality ravenstvo inequality neravenstvo

brotherhood bratstvo (bourgeois) competition konkurentsiia

classlessness besklassovost' antagonism antagonizm

peacefulness miroliubie militarism militarizm

collectivism kollektivizm individualism individualizm

internationalism internatsionalizm nationalism nationalizm

friendship of nations chauvinism

druzhba narodov shovinizm


+dif -un

struggle bor'ba appeasement umirotvorenie uncompromisingness compromise

neprimirimost' primirenchestvo

steadfastness all-forgiveness

nepokolebimost' vseproshchenie

fighting spirit boevitost' capitulation kapituliatsiia

class (consciousness) non-class (approach)

klassovoe (soznanie) vneklassovyi (podkhod)

demarcation forming a bloc

razmezhevanie blokirovanie

concern for the individual depersonalization

individual'nyi podkhod obezlichka

(socialist) competition wage-leveling

sorevnovanie uravnilovka


This list is by no means complete, but suffices to demonstrate how tetralectics works with the aid of substitutive ideologems. The traditional philosophical opposites of "unity" and "differentiation" are split into four ideological functions, which in turn are split into a multiplicity of concrete words which give a positive and negative evaluation to both "unity" and "differentiation." The most abstract philosophical concepts are thus integrated into a lexical variety of language.

It is apparent from the above list that substitutives are not true synonyms in the usual linguistic sense. The principle of their unification lies in the pragmatic, not semantic, realm of linguistic analysis (see Chapter 1, pp. 5-6, 9). Substitutives such as "struggle," "demarcation," "class consciousness," "fighting spirit," etc., express a particular evaluative judgement (here, positive) about a general phenomenon (in this case, differentiation). While they are unified, or classified, by their functional meaning (+dif, un, etc.), the substitutives differ according to the specific subject area of their referential meaning. For instance, in Soviet ideolanguage the word "struggle" signifies the opposition of "our people" to "their people." The word "demarcation" signifies the opposition between "our people" and "our people," with the latter destined to become "their people." Two words for "competition" exist in Soviet ideolanguage: "konkurentsiia," or bourgeois competition, is used to show how "their" people compete against each other; "sorevnovanie" used to show "healthy competition" between "our" people.

Each substitutive ideologem may be signified by utilizing a combination of its ideological function (+un, dif, etc.) and a descriptive marker (placed in brackets) identifying the subject area to which the function applies. When, for instance, the function +dif is accompanied by different markers, it is lexically transformed into a variety of words, depending on the subject area. Let us examine the following three examples:

Subject Area: "us" versus "them"

+dif [us - them] is transformed into the word "struggle"

–dif [us - them] is transformed into the word "confrontation"

+dif [us - us] is transformed into "socialist competition"

–dif [them - them] is transformed into "bourgeois competition"


Subject Area: the "nation" or national feeling

+un [national] becomes "internationalism"

–un [national] becomes "cosmopolitanism"

+dif [national] becomes "patriotism"

–dif [national] becomes "chauvinism"


Subject Area: "society" or social identification

+un [social] becomes "collectivism"

–un [social] becomes "depersonalization"

+dif [social] becomes "concern for the individual"

–dif [social] becomes "individualism"

These groups of symbolic constructions clearly demonstrate that Soviet Marxist ideological language is by its very nature artificial__it would be easy to outline its structure using abstract formulae. With specific formulae of functions and markers, a computer would be capable of composing Soviet ideological texts.

The "Real - Ideal" Opposition

A second important philosophical concept incorporated into ideological thinking is opposition of "the real" and "the ideal." Ideological thinking divides these opposing concepts into four broad functions, each of which is represented by its own group of ideologems:

+real -ideal

realism realizm idealism idealizm

materialism materializm spiritualism spiritualizm

objectivity ob"ektivnost' subjectivism sub"ektivizm

atheism ateizm religion religiia

truthfulness pravdivost' myth-making mifotvorchestvo

scientific method obscurantism

nauchnost' mrakobesie

sober-mindedness fanaticism

zdravomyslie fanatizm

historicism istorizm dogmatism dogmatizm

+ideal -real

commitment to ideas indifference to ideas

ideinost' bezydeinost'

spirituality non-spirituality

dukhovnost' bezdukhovnost'

having ideals devoid of ideals

ideal'nost' bezydeal'nost'

adherence to principle non-adherence to principle

printsipial'nost' besprintsipnost'

heroic spirit geroika Philistinism meshchanstvo

romantic appeal naturalism

romantika naturalizm

enthusiasm entuziazm empiricism empirizm

inspiration vdokhnovenie positivism positivizm

winged inspiration shackled inspiration

okrylionnost' beskrylost'

All of the above substitutives may be distributed among varying referential subject areas. For example, the words "materialism," "realism," "atheism," and "historicism" give a positive evaluative meaning to the material principle ("the real"), which is viewed as superior to "the ideal." However, these ideologems are utilized in different areas of social consciousness: "materialism" in philosophy, "realism" in literature and art, "atheism" in religious matters, and "historicism" in the area of the social sciences:


+real [philosophy] - materialism

+real [literature] - realism

+real [religion] - atheism

+real [humanities] - historicism


Not only single words, but many phrases and idioms are capable of executing the same ideological function. The following are standard expressions of Soviet literary criticism:

+real function:

"the truth of life" pravda zhizni

"a close connection with reality" tesnaia sviaz' s deistvitel'nost'iu

"the genuineness of that which podlinnost' perezhitogo

has been experienced"

"an emphasis on the facts" opora na fakty


-real function:

"dragged down by facts" plestis' v khvoste u faktov

"description without feeling" beskrylaia opisatel'nost'

"to be a prisoner of one's ostavat'sia v plenu

own sensations" sobstvennykh oshchushchenii


+ideal function:

"flight of the imagination" poliot voobrazheniia

"to create a new, spiritualized sozdavat' novuiu, odukhotvorionnuiu

reality" real'nost

"to soar to higher generalization" voskhodit' k vysshim obobshcheniiam

"artistic transformation of the khudozhestvennoe preobrazhenie

facts" faktov

-ideal function:

"delirium" romanticheskie bredni

"a struggle against common sense" bor'ba so zdravym smyslom

"a subjective arbitrariness, sub'ektivnyi proizvol i

contempt for the facts" prezrenie k faktam

"idle day-dreaming" prazdnye griozy


Because ideological functions are stable and embrace a variety of single and multiple-word units, it would be instructive to trace the history of at least one of these functions through different ages and cultures. Although expressions may change, the functions remain the same. Entire texts of literary and political works may principally express one or another ideological function; for example, practically all works of the famous Russian literary critic Pisarev embody the "-ideal" function, which represents a nihilistic world-view.


The "Liberty - Organization" Opposition

The next tetrad of ideological functions deals with the philosophical concepts of "liberty" and "organization." Here it should be made clear that in Soviet ideological mentality, the word "organization" indicates that "liberty" is limited by "necessity," "order," and "discipline."

+lib -org

liberty svoboda oppression gnet

freedom svoboda or volia slavery rabstvo

freedom-loving repression

svobodoliubie podavlenie

free-thinking authoritarianism

vol'nomyslie avtoritarnost'

emancipation enslavement

raskreposhchenie zakreposhchenie

rebelliousness submissiveness

buntarstvo pokornost'

independence nezavisimost' dependence podnevol'nost'

insurgency miatezh(nost') subjugation poraboshchenie

democracy demokratiia totalitarianism totalitarizm

activism aktivnost' fatalism fatalizm

self-government samoupravlenie tyranny tiraniia

initiative pochin coercion prinuzhdenie

+ org -lib

order poriadok anarchy anarkhiia

discipline distsiplina laxity raspushchennost'

planned character spontaneity

planovost' stikhiinost'

centralism centralizm provincialism mestnichestvo

necessity neobkhodimost' arbitrariness proizvol, samoupravstvo

organization organizatsiia chaos khaos

determinism determinizm voluntarism voliuntarizm

responsibility otvetstvennost' connivance popustitel'stvo

vigilance bditel'nost' carelessness bespechnost'

lawfulness zakonnost' lawlessness bezzakonie


The "Property" Opposition

The fourth functional tetrad is based on oppositions which involve the concept of property, such as "to give - to take," "to share - to acquire," "to donate - to become rich." Here the attitude towards the ownership of material goods (generosity-stinginess), as well as the corresponding attitude towards one's own life (bravery - cowardice), should be borne in mind. The names of the four ideological functions produced by splitting the initial "+" and "" property opposition are derived from the Latin words "donare" ("to grant," "to refuse") and "habere" (" to possess," "to keep").

+don (to give) -hab (to possess)

generosity shchedrost' stinginess skupost'

bravery khrabrost' cowardice trusost'

selflessness samootverzhennost' selfishness svoekorystie

altruism al'truizm egoism egoizm

philanthropy zhertvennost' exploitation ekspluatatsiia

magnanimity acquisitivenesss

velikodushie stiazhatel'stvo

readiness to share hoarding

beskorystie nakopitel'stvo

asceticism podvizhnichestvo utilitarianism deliachestvo

+hab (to possess) -don (to refuse)

thriftiness berezhlivost' wastefulness rastochitel'nost'

enterprisingness mismanagement

predpriimchivost' beskhoziaistvennost'

businesslike delovitost' negligence khalatnost'

zealousness rachitel'nost' laziness lenost'

practicality praktichnost' impracticality nepraktichnost'

efficiency effektivnost' inefficiency neeffektivnost'

prudence predusmotritel'nost' recklessness bezrassudstvo

zealousness rachitel'nost' slipshodness razgil'diaistvo



The "Time" Opposition

Finally, the fifth functional tetrad consists of evaluations which are connected with the passage of time. Here the general oppositions of new and old, development and succession, of novelty and tradition, are ideologically transformed:


+nov -trad

the new novoe the old staroe

innovation novatorstvo conservatism conservatizm

revolution(ary) reaction(ary)

revoliutsiia reaktsiia

progress progress regression regress

development razvitie backwardness otstalost'

renewal obnovlenie staleness kosnost'

perestroika perestroika stagnation zastoi

acceleration uskorenie retardation otstavanie

shock-worker udarnik, peredovik laggard otstaiushchii

creative spirit dogmatism

tvorcheskii dukh dogmatizm

topical actual'nyi, nasushchnyi outdated ustarelyi

striving towards the future remnants of the past

ustremlionnost' v budushchee perezhitki proshlogo


+trad -nov

tradition breaking with tradition

traditsiia razryv s traditsiei

continuity preemstvennost' revisionism revizionizm

stability subversive activities

stabil'nost' podryvnaia deiatel'nost'

the classics avant-gardism

klassika avangardizm

tried and true newly fashionable

ispytannii novomodnyi

veteran veteran up-start vyskochka

Marxist testament revision of Marxism

zavety marksizma reviziia marksizma



The Classification of Ideologems

A tentative examination of Soviet ideolanguage reveals that the overwhelming majority of ideologems belong to one of the five lexical subsystems listed above. Ideologems can thus be arranged according to the twenty ideological functions contained within the tetrads of these five groups:


1. + un – dif + dif – un

2. + real – ideal + ideal – real

3. + lib – org + org – lib

4. + don – hab + hab – don

5. + nov – trad + trad – nov


At this time, we can only conjecture as to why these five specific sub-systems encompass so many ideological concepts. The oppositions of "unity - differentiation," "the real - the ideal," "freedom - necessity," "giving - acquisition," "development - continuity" are those most deeply rooted in the structure of the human intellect, to which the long history of philosophy attests. We can find expressions of these basic oppositions in the paradoxes of Heraclitus, in Xenon's "aporia," in the Kantian antinomies of reason, and in the Hegelian principles of the dialectic.

It is significant that three of the oppositions discussed in this section approximate three of the Kantian antinomies, those which concern the relationship between "freedom and causality," "unity and divisibility of composed substance," and the "finiteness and infinity" of time. A purely theoretical solution of the problem posed by two opposing concepts is extremely difficult, perhaps impossible, to reach. For this reason, human thinking is inclined to subdivide these irreconcilable concepts further, giving each one a set of two opposing evaluations__overcoming the tension of the dual structure by establishing a tetradic framework. The predilection of human beings to do away with logical paradoxes may explain the attraction and power of ideology in society.

A paradox is divided into two opposite, yet individually self-evident, statements which together comprise the basis for totalitarian thinking. Instead of one intractable antinomy of freedom and causality, two indisputable judgments emerge: that freedom is superior to slavery (complete causality) and that organization is superior to anarchy (complete freedom). In this manner, totalitarianism suggests nothing but the solution of the sharpest contradictions of the human mind. The theoretical insolubility of antinomies leads one to believe that only in a specific historical situation can the priority of one particular element of the antinomy be established. Since the thesis and antithesis (freedom and causality, or matter and ideas) are equally valid, their relationship is removed from the sphere of objective truth to the sphere of pragmatic evaluation. The practical determination of this relationship is the core of ideological thinking, which endows each concept with a relative value.

Hegel and Marx both suggested ways of treating these radical antinomies. Hegel tried to solve such a contradiction through the self-development of an absolute idea, which divides itself into thesis and antithesis in order to promote a final synthesis. For Marx, the highest principle was not the ideal absolute, but the historical subject (class, party, or group) which uses both thesis and antithesis to raise itself above its one-sidedness. The Hegelian absolute is located beyond history and thus displays a dialectical triad, as the struggle between thesis and antithesis results in synthesis. Ideology is immersed in the dynamics of the historical process itself. Instead of reconciling thesis and antithesis, it constantly rejects one-sided elements, only to use their energy to ascend to higher and higher levels of totality.

Since this totality is intra-historical (i.e., "within" history), it cannot be resolved in a synthesis of all elements, but exists only in the process of its own self-construction and self-destruction. The totality appears not as an all-comprehensive synthesis where all oppositions are reconciled, but as an incessantly fluctuating system that moves from left to right and back again. The opposites themselves double, alternately approved and condemned, included and excluded, from the totality. Thus Marxist ideology, as distinct from Hegelian idealism, is best described in tetradic, not triadic, terms. While the triadic model accounts for the birth of a new idea and thus is progressive, the tetradic model is circular and envelops opposing ideas without producing anything substantially new.

Marxist ideology fulfilled the need to explain certain peculiarities of Russian history__peculiarities which display a huge diversity of, as well as alternation between, opposing tendencies. Russian history appears to revolve around a stable axis instead of advancing in a particular direction. Revolution and reaction, conservatism and radicalism, monarchy and democracy, authority and the people, leader and the masses, freedom and unity, material and spiritual, idealism and realism__all these theses and antitheses never reach a synthesis in Russia. Rather, they continually succeed one another. Constantly evolving tetradic models suggest a logical expression of this cyclical historical process.

It is therefore natural that the largest groups of ideologically charged words in Soviet ideolanguage can be classified according to the fundamental oppositions of philosophy. All possible methods of solving these basic oppositions are present in the ideolanguage itself, embodied in its system of lexically fixed evaluations.




Although syntax seems to be an ideologically neutral dimension of language, in this section I shall try to demonstrate that the tetradic patterns of totalitarian discourse can be found not only in the lexical realm, but even in such a grammatical sphere as forms of address. These forms usually appear in oral communication in Soviet ideolanguage, but occasionally permeate the written Russian language of the Soviet regime as well. I am not referring here to forms used to address a mass audience in oratorical speech, but to those used between individuals.

The Russian language has two typical forms of address, formal and informal. The formal combines the second person plural pronoun with an individual's forename and patronymic: "Vy, Aleksei Nikolaevich." The familiar form of address combines the second person singular pronoun with only the forename, often shortened to become a diminutive (in the same way Americans might change "Stephen" to "Steve"): "Ty, Aliosha."

Ideological language, however, most often combines the familiar pronoun with the formal name and patronymic: "ty, Aleksei Nikolaevich." This form of address is the norm between members of the Communist Party, even in the Politburo. Such a combination reflects the two-fold nature of ideological language: in addressing an ideological brother it is impossible to use the vy form, but since this "brother" is not a blood-relation, it is necessary to retain some element of formality when addressing him. The element of formality was strengthened when ideological language became the official language of Soviet society. Ideological language is thus simultaneously brotherly and official, a combination of familiarity and formality.

Members of the Young Communists' League (Komsomol) adapt this ideological form of address to correspond to their (younger) age; they drop the patronymic and employ the ty form with the formal forename: "Ty, Aleksei." In principle, "Aleksei" sounds as formal as "Aleksei Nikolaevich," perhaps even drier. In colloquial speech, the formal first name is used very seldomly, especially between young people of the same age, who normally address one another shortened, or diminutive, forms of their first names: Aliosha, Misha, Lena, and so on. In the famous novel of Nikolai Ostrovskii How the Steel Was Tempered (1934), the central character__Komsomol leader Pavel Korchagin__is usually addressed in the typical Komsomol manner, "Ty, Pavel," although older people and intimate friends sometimes call him the informal "Pavka."

It is significant that within intelligentsia circles, the most common form of address between young people first meeting or not closely acquainted is the polite, plural pronoun with a shortened first name: "Vy, Aliosha." This form of address is the diametric opposite of that encountered in ideological language ("Ty, Aleksei Nikolaevich"). It is possible to conclude that both the choice of the form of an individual's name and the choice of pronoun have their own significance. The choice of the form of a person's name is largely a question of the level of officialdom: Komsomol or Party dealings are decidedly formal, whereas dealings between members of the intelligentsia are purposefully informal. On the other hand, the use of a particular pronoun indicates the relationship between the two people. By using the polite pronoun, a person shows respect for his interlocutor as an individual and indicates that he seeks neither to belittle or intrude into the life of his conversation partner. By addressing a man "Ty + full name," ideological language elevates officialdom at the expense of personal dignity and private freedom. The language of the intelligentsia combines precisely the opposite components: informality and politeness.

In terms of ideological evaluation, forms of address constitute a tetradic structure. They have two sets of oppositions: official - informal and positive - negative. From an ideological point of view, official forms of address in ideological language have both positive (full name) and negative (vy) modes of expression. Informal address also has ideologically charged positive (ty) and negative (short name) forms of address. The schematic of this tetrad could be drawn as follows:

+ familiar – formal


+ formal – familiar



+ –

Singular pronoun Plural pronoun

(Ty) (Vy)


Full name Short name

(Aleksei Nikolaevich) (Aliosha)


All previously described relationships between ideologems can be observed here. "Ty - vy," as well as "Aleksei Nikolaevich - Aliosha," constitute contrative pairs; they have opposite denotative (official-informal) and connotative meanings (ideologically acceptable - ideologically unacceptable). "Ty - Aliosha" is an example of a conversive pair; both elements have an informal meaning, even if one is part of the ideological lexicon and the other is not. The same goes for the other conversive pair, "Vy - Aleksei Nikolaevich." It is noteworthy that these two conversive combinations are the forms of address typical in non-ideological usage__the concepts of officialdom and politeness naturally coincide in ordinary language. In non-

ideological language, either an individual's full name is used with the plural pronoun, or his or her diminutive is used with the singular pronoun.

Finally, "Ty - Aleksei Nikolaevich" constitutes a correlative pair: both the informal and official components have a positive connotative meaning. It is only ideological language which uniquely combines officialdom with familiarity. As examined earlier in Chapter 3 (pp. 24-25), correlatives are usually juxtaposed in ideological speech as grammatically homogeneous units. The juxtaposition of informal and official components in "Ty - Aleksei Nikolaevich" is an example of the same kind of correlative combination as "the strengthening of international and patriotic upbringing" or "commitment to materialistic ideas" (materialisticheskaia ideinost').

Each of these oxymoronic expressions is a result of a modification of orthodox Marxism by totalitarian ideology. For example, the original Marxist conception of international proletarian solidarity had to accept the incorporation of patriotic sentiment for the sake of protecting the Soviet state. Likewise, the original orthodox conception of materialism was supplemented by Lenin's conception of "Party spirit" (partiinost') and ideological commitment (ideinost'). Finally, pre-revolutionary feelings of proletarian brotherhood called for the use of ty, but this class, having attained power, could not help but adopt the traditional forms of address of the state bureaucracy. Thus, the forms of address used in Soviet ideolanguage demonstrate again the oxymoronic nature of totalitarian thinking originating in Soviet Marxism's dual "official state - revolutionary" structure.





The rules of ideological syntax are determined by the relationship between ideologems. These ideologems, however, not only evaluate reality, they evaluate one another as well. The system of meta- ideologems__the meta-tetrad__is so vital to the operation of ideological language that it merits special discussion as a lexical subsystem apart from those lexical groups classified in Chapter 8.

The meta-tetrad is the premise for the existence of all other lexical subsystems; it is this "super" tetrad which makes self-reflection and self-evaluation possible in Soviet Marxist ideology as a whole. For example, the ideologems "to blacken," "to smear" (ocherniat') or "to whitewash" (obeliat') impart a negative evaluation to words which already have been used ideologically. Let us take another look at the situation described by Thucydides: A characterizes his own inclination to risky activities as "bravery," while his opponent B characterizes A's inclination as "recklessness." The positive and negative evaluations contained in these words may then be reevaluated and reflected by each opponent. From A's point of view, B is "blackening" his bravery, but from B's point of view, A is "whitewashing" his recklessness; one evaluation becomes grounds for further evaluative judgements and the alteration of defensive and offensive arguments. A uses B's negative term directed against him ("recklessness") in order to disgrace his opponent B ("blackening" ). B, on the other hand, uses the positive term which A attributed to his actions ("bravery") in order to disgrace A ("whitewashing").

Verbs like "to blacken," "to whitewash," "to falsify," and "to discredit" are elements of an ideological meta-language which describes (or evaluates) ideologems themselves. In this discussion, I will call ideologems which are described "primary" ideologems, those which describe them, "meta-ideologems." In analyzing the structure of meta-ideologems, we will use the same plus and minus (+ and ) scheme we used for primary ideologems. The first "+" or "" will describe the connotative meaning of the meta-ideologem, the second "+" or "" will describe its denotative meaning. As distinct from primary ideologems, which denote specific objects or concepts ("+freedom" or "–unity"), meta-ideologems are evaluations of evaluations, thus their denotative meanings are indicated not by concrete words, but by a "+" or "." For example, the meta-ideologem "to blacken" may be designated as "––" because it gives a negative evaluation of something positive, and is thus itself negative (a person who blackens another person is reprehensible). The meta-ideologem "to whitewash" may be designated as "+" because it gives a positive evaluation of something negative, and so must be evaluated negatively itself.

A mutual interdependence exists between ideologems of these two levels ("primary" and "meta") and is regulated by the following rules. If a primary ideologem is positive, then a meta-ideologem can give it either a positive evaluation and evoke a positive attitude in the speaker ("++"), or a negative evaluation and evoke a negative attitude ("––"). Such positive ideologems as "peace," "freedom," "equality," and "progress," may be referred to by meta-ideologems of the "++" type: "to proclaim" (provozglashat'), "to praise" (vospevat'), "to glorify" (slavit', proslavliat'). For example, "Marx and Engels proclaimed full emancipation not only for the working class, but for all mankind." However, the same positive ideologems can also be referred to by meta_ideologems of the "––" type: "to blacken" (ocherniat'), "to find fault with" (okhaivat'), "to defame" (shel'movat'), "to slander" (klevetat'), "to trample upon" (popirat'). For instance, "the enemies of our nation are slandering the freedom which the Soviet people won in the fierce battles of the Great Patriotic War." These meta-ideologems contain a negative evaluation of some positive object, thereby also giving a negative characterization of the speaker who is "slandering" or "defaming" the positive value.

Negative primary ideologems like "aggression," "violence," "confrontation," "exploitation," and "lawlessness" can be referred to by "+– " or "+" meta-ideologems. Meta-ideologems of the "+–" type__"to unmask" (razoblachit'), "to stigmatize" (zakleimit'), "to condemn" (osudit'), "to denounce" (oblichat')__express a negative attitude towards negative objects and therefore are themselves positive. "One of the primary goals of Soviet political education is to unmask the subversive intentions of imperialist circles against the legitimate socialist governments of Eastern Europe." The same negative primary ideologems can be referred to by "+" meta-

ideologems__"to relish" (smakovat'), "to whitewash" (obeliat'), "to sow" (seiat'), "to cultivate" (kul'tivirovat'), "to advertise" (prevoznosit'), "to proclaim" (proklamirovat')__which express an actively positive attitude towards negative phenomena and therefore have negative meanings. "The mass culture of the West relishes violence and permissiveness."

The aforementioned rules of ideological syntax allow us to predict the most probable word combinations. Certain ideologems may be used only with specific meta-ideologems. We can "strengthen" ("++") or "trample upon" ("––") lawfulness (+org): ukrepliat' or popirat' zakonnost'. We can "condemn" ("+–") or "sow" ("+") lawlessness (–lib): osuzhdat' or nasazhdat' bezzakonie. But it is impossible for ideology to use the following word-combinations: "to trample upon lawlessness" (popirat' bezzakonie) or "to sow lawfulness" (nasazhdat' zakonnost'). If the verbs "to falsify" (fal'sifitsirovat'), "to discredit" (discreditirovat'), or "to torpedo" (torpedirovat')__that is, negative meta-ideologems__are encountered in an ideological text, then the object of these verbs will invariably be a word with a positive connotation: "a constructive suggestion" or "a peaceful initiative." Positive meta-ideologems such as "to condemn," "to restrain," and "to unmask," to the contrary, describe negative objects: "criminal actions," "the arms race," etc.

We can now create a table depicting the possible combinations for two levels of ideologems.


Level 1 Level 2


+ ++

+ ––

– +–

– –+

If the relationship of ideologems in a tetradic structure is as simple as two times two equals four, then the relationship between meta-ideologems and primary ideologems in linear text mirrors the rules of multiplication: multiplying two identical signs produces a positive result and multiplying a positive sign by a negative sign produces a negative result. The tetradic structure of Level 2 ideologems reproduces exactly the ideological functions represented by Level 1 ideologems in a tetradic structure. Thus meta- ideologems carry out four functions which in turn comprise a meta-tetrad:


+pro –contr

+contr –pro


The essence of ideological thinking is expressed in an even purer and more abstract form by this meta-tetrad than by primary ideologems. On Level 1, ideologems are connected with real phenomena: specific and informative concepts such as "freedom" or "necessity," "innovation" or "tradition". On Level 2, ideological language abandons this diversity of ideas because it does not describe reality, but the ideologems themselves. The denotative meanings of meta-ideologems reflect the connotative meanings of primary ideologems; the meta-ideologem is an "evaluator of evaluations." The double evaluation results in a combination of all "+"s and ""s, which we see in the structure of the meta-tetrad.


++ ––

+– –+


The following list summarizes the substitutives which carry out the four functions of the meta-tetrad.

+pro –contr

to praise vospevat' to find fault with okhaivat'

to glorify proslavliat' to defame shel'movat'

to proclaim provozglashat' to encroach posiagat'

to exalt vozvelichivat' to discredit diskreditirovat'

to augment priumnozhat' to undermine podryvat'

to elevate vozvyshat' to debase unizhat'

to ennoble oblagorozhivat' to disgrace porochit'

to beautify krasit' or ukrashat' to blacken ocherniat'

+contr –pro

to unmask razoblachat' to whitewash obeliat'

to brand kleimit' to advertise prevoznosit'

to condemn osuzhdat' to relish smakovat'

to sweep away otmetat' to sow seiat' or nasazhdat'

to nail down prigvozdat' to provoke provotsirovat'

to denounce oblichat' to cultivate kultivirovat'

to debunk razvenchivat' to proclaim proklamirovat'

Once again we see the untranslatable essence of Soviet ideological terms, whose connotative meanings are far more specific and "pre-determined" than those of their American English equivalents. For example, we are forced to use the same English verb, "proclaim," for two different Russian verbs, "provozglashat'" and "proklamirovat'," even though the first Russian verb is positive ("to proclaim truth, freedom") and the second, extremely negative ("to proclaim something false, illusory, unrealizable").

It is important to note that meta-ideological functions are not always expressed by verbs, they can also take the form of interjections, nouns, and adjectives, as seen below:


Interjections: "long live!" da zdravstvuet! (+pro)

"hurrah!" ura! (+pro)

"hands off!" ruki proch! (+contr)

"down with!" doloi! (+contr)

Nouns: "proclaimer" provozvestnik (+pro)

"comrade in arms" spodvizhnik (+pro)

"apologist" apologet (–pro)

"adherent" adept (–pro)

Adjectives: "respectable" respektabel'nyi (–pro)

"fashionable" feshenebel'nyi (–pro)


In spite of their seeming simplicity, the adjectives "respectable" and "fashionable" serve as meta-ideologems in Soviet ideolanguage: they give ironic (positive) praise to negative phenomena ("a respectable bourgeois," "a fashionable resort for moneybags [tolstosumov]") and thus have a negative connotation.

The meta-tetrad "++ –– +– –+" is in its own way a structural nucleus of Soviet ideological language; a nucleus capable of division and reproduction at higher and higher levels of self-consciousness. This ability of the basic structure to reproduce itself confirms that ideological thinking is not confined to one level; rather, it is capable of working on any level of consciousness. Ideological thinking can counter criticism by moving to a higher level of abstraction and encompassing the negative evaluations directed against it by subjugating them to its own logic. Critics of Soviet Marxist ideology can label it "scholastic," "dogmatic," "authoritarian," "nationalistic," "aggressive," or "non-class." These evaluations directed against Soviet ideology do not undermine its foundation__they simply become prisoners of the ideology's own logic and are assigned a place within the tetradic model. The breadth of this model allows the ideology to further extend its totalitarian activity by means of self-reflection and self-reproduction. Any type of criticism only serves to raise the tetradic model to a higher level of generalization, allowing it to reproduce in much the same way as cancerous cells reproduce themselves within an organism.





Soviet Marxism is an enigmatic, hybrid phenomenon in the history of human consciousness. Like postmodernist pastiche, it combines within itself very different ideological doctrines, including, among others:


- Marxist teaching about class struggle and communist revolution

- Teachings of the French Enlightenment directed against the church and clergy and justifying revolutionary terror

- Slavophile ideas of the spiritual advantages of the Russian nation, destined to resolve all Western European controversies and unite the whole world

- Ideas of revolutionary democrats and Populists (Nikolai Chernyshevsky, Nikolai Dobroliubov, P.tr Tkachev, and others) who proclaimed the Russian peasant commune the germ of the future social structure under socialism

- Nikolai F.dorov's ideas about armies of labor overcoming the laws of nature, resurrecting the dead, and exploring and populating cosmic space

- Tolstoy's idea of simplification, calling the intelligentsia to return to the conditions of human existence of simple working people

- Mythological beliefs about the coming of the golden age and immortal heroes whose blood and suffering will become a foundation for the happiness of future generations.


Viewed from this broad perspective, Soviet Marxism escapes all specific definitions and appears to be an arbitrary aggregate of widely varying ideas that chiefly serve the pursuit of maximal power. An ideology is usually perceived as a set of ideas which are connected and together give a very specific, coherent picture of the world. This postulate of inner consistency, self-sufficiency, and wholeness is, however, absent in totalitarian ideology. The fact that Soviet Marxism incorporates ideas from so many different sources has been indispensable to its power and survival. Just as the Bolsheviks proclaimed a Party of a completely "new type," Soviet ideology was celebrated as an ideology of a "new type" and contrasted to all previous ideologies.

Traditional logic can be applied only to the "specific" or "partial" ideologies which are not self-contradictory and express the outlook of some concrete individual or collective. Classical Marxism, the French Enlightenment, American transcendentalism, Russian Slavophilism, and Tolstoyism are examples of particular ideologies whose messages are pure to the point of sterility. Each elaborates a very stable hierarchy of values which never contradict one another. This generation of "specific ideologies," so characteristic of the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries, was succeeded in the twentieth century by a new generation of "thinking machine" ideologies, produced in much the same way as technology creates newer, improved generations of computers. This new mode of ideological thinking has been accurately called "total," or "totalitarian." Total ideologies, as distinct from specific ideologies, are not limited to a single set of ideas and therefore are not bound to proclaim the same stable views. The history of totalitarian ideologies is a series of betrayals__ideology betrays its own prerequisites and its own assertions of yesterday. Totalitarian ideologies must betray and be betrayed in order to maintain their all-encompassing grip on society. Ironically, the "total" ideologies constantly complain that they are betrayed by leaders and followers who deviate from the purity and cohesiveness of the "orthodox" line (which coincides with the will of the absolute leader).

Most previous theories of ideology, including those elaborated in the Marxist tradition, proceed from the idea that specific ideologies are forms of false consciousness. Such theories describe ideology as "...a process accomplished by the so-called thinker consciously indeed but with a false consciousness. The real motives impelling him remain unknown to him, otherwise it would not be an ideological process at all. Hence he imagines false or apparent motives." Of course, every specific ideology does give priority to certain ideas, the worth of which can be disputed as subjective bias or a deviation from reality. Thus Slavs have their advantages over Western European nations, but the English and French also have certain undisputed advantages over Slavs; this line of reasoning reveals the limitations and subjectivity of the doctrine of Slavophilism.

However, the definition of ideology as a false consciousness cannot be applied to totalitarian ideologies, which reconcile and incorporate very different, even opposing, ideas. Totalitarian ideologies embrace all aspects of contending ideas, encircling and assimilating the whole of reality until reality becomes indistinguishable from the ideology which transforms it. As Herbert Marcuse remarked in his discussion of Soviet Marxism, "... ideology thus becomes a decisive part of reality even if it [is] used only as an instrument of domination and propaganda." The difference between false and real images loses all relevance because ideology itself becomes a comprehensive way of life. Since ideology creates reality in its own image and likeness, ideology's image of reality becomes indisputable. In a totalitarian society, ideology cannot but be a faithful reflection of reality because reality itself is a faithful reflection of ideology. Internationalist ideology cannot but be truthful in a society where all national traditions are broken or neglected, just as patriotic ideology cannot but be truthful in a society separated from the entire world by an "iron curtain."

A classic example of the fusion of ideology and reality in a totalitarian regime is the origin of "subbotniks" in the USSR. On Saturday, April 12th, 1919, fifteen workers of the Moskva-Sortirovochnaya depot voluntarily repaired three locomotives without pay. This modest job grew under Lenin's pen into "The Great Beginning," a grandiose image of emancipated workers volunteering their labor for the good of the happy future of humanity. From that moment on, communist "subbotniks" (voluntary in form, mandatory in fact) became a permanent ritual in the Soviet Union and brought billions of rubles into the State Treasury. Was Lenin's idea about subbotniks false or genuine?

Soviet Marxist ideology is totalitarian because it erases the difference between idea and reality, as well as that between opposing conceptions. Ideas become indistinguishable not only from reality, but from each other. "Internationalism," "materialism," "communism," "socialism," "Marxism," "Leninism," "five-year plans," "collective farms," and "space exploration" merge into one concept and become signs of the same paramount signified. This signified may be rendered equally as "truth," "strength," "greatness," "victory," or simply, "hurrah!" Even opposing ideas lose their distinction. Ask an average Soviet citizen to explain the difference between internationalism and patriotism__I wager he will find it difficult to answer. For the majority of Soviet people, these conflicting concepts have been transformed into one "ideologically correct" expression.

Soviet ideology has assimilated so many words that all words come to constitute a single language unit, signifying nothing but the ideology itself. "Materialism," "spirituality," "freedom," "discipline," "tradition," "innovation" all refer to a single penultimate concept: "the triumphant and all-powerful ideology." Whereas specific ideologies developed their own particular systems of signs for interpreting reality, totalitarian ideology is itself the only reality to which all ideological signs and interpretations refer.

I am inclined to believe that Soviet Marxism, which for seventy years survived as the dominant ideology of the Soviet Union and accommodated itself to enormous historical change, has become de- ideologized in direct proportion to its ideological expansion. This ideology has exceeded and absorbed all other systems and is now approaching the limits of ideological imagination. Over the course of seven decades, Soviet Marxism has lost its specificity as a particular ideology and has become instead an all-encompassing system of ideological signs which can acquire any significance desired. The era of glasnost' and perestroika has not changed the "multi-ideological" essence of Soviet mentality. Rather, it has brought the ideology even beyond the limits of totalitarianism and transformed it into a new type of ideological consciousness, one which might be called post-communist, or universal.

Under perestroika, practically all meanings and all words have become ideologically charged, yet at the same time, they do not express the values of any particular ideology. For example, the classic Marxist opposition of "private property" versus "public property" long identified the basic difference between capitalism and socialism. Today, however, according to the process of ideological maturation discussed in Chapter 7, the original dyad "private property - public property" has been submerged into a tetradic structure and its meaning completely obfuscated. By adding the dyad "citizen's property - state property" (the first stimulated through perestroika, the second responsible for the inefficiency of the Soviet economy), the "total" ideology creates a tetradic structure which enables it to be "socialist" and "capitalist" at the same time:


public property - private property

citizen's property - state property

obshchestvennaia sobstvennost' - chastnaia sobstvennost'

sobstvennost' grazhdan - gosudarstvennaia sobstvennost'


Obviously, "citizen's property" is nothing but a positive evaluation of what was previously condemned as "private property," and "state property" is a denunciation of what was previously extolled as "public property." To introduce private property into economic reality proved to be easier than to bestow this very expression with a positive meaning. Ideology must retain its sacred words regardless of what economic development occurs. Market reform concepts, instead of destroying the ideology, have inevitably been subsumed by it.

Soviet Marxist ideology today is acquiring an increasingly universal character deprived of any particular system of opinions; it continues to manipulate different ideologies, managing to combine capitalist and communist ideas without ceasing to function. As a result, ideology becomes simply a habit of thinking, a manner of expression, the prism through which all views and expressions are refracted, functioning as a medium of thinking which does not depend on particular views and ideas__a sort of universal network which may be compared to the communications networks of Western nations.

If, as Marshall McLuhan put it, "the media is the message," then ideology is the message of all modern Soviet media. What sort of ideology? It does not matter. In today's Soviet Union, ideology exists unto itself, a form of discourse independent of any specific content, be it scientific, religious, aesthetic, or otherwise. Practically no one in the Soviet Union would interpret a statement regarding a specific element, say a religious or artistic pronouncement, at face value. Such statements are perceived above all as ideological pronouncements for which religion or literature simply provide a convenient vehicle. Over the course of seventy years of Marxist rule, even economics has turned out to be a matter of pure ideology. No specific economic cause, law, or regularity can be definitively identified as the reason for the regime's periodic transitions from one economic policy to another__from the amalgamation of all kolkhozes to their disintegration, from the requisitioning of farm produce to taxes in kind, from intensified cultivation of potatoes to urgent cultivation of corn. All these changes in economic policy were the result of the interplay of different ideas, not economic realities.

Marx and Engels used to say that in all pre-communist social formations, there was no such thing as a history of ideas because ideas in those societies served only as false miraculous reflections of economic history. Following this logic, we must conclude that after a socialist revolution, there is no other history than that of ideas__economic history ceases to exist. The entire hierarchy is reversed: ideology becomes the base and economics the superstructure. Under Soviet socialism, the life of ideas is self-sufficient and self-propelling, while economic issues arise out of their ideological foundations. Supposedly, the genuine significance of a "socialist" revolution is not just its reversal of the power of the lower and upper classes in a society, but the reversal of the society's base and superstructure as well. It is hardly surprising, then, that Soviet Marxist ideology has become the underlying force of all economic, political, and aesthetic movements in the USSR, relating to each of them as a whole relates to its parts. Engels and Lenin were clever to emphasize that in different countries and under different circumstances, ideology might take the place of economics as the basic structure of the whole society. This was precisely the case in communist countries__economics and ideology changed roles and ideas, not economics, determined material life and produced the "real."

In Western society, postmodernism is often regarded as a continuation of the logic of "late capitalism," a condition in which all ideas and styles acquire the form of commodities and become "manageable" and "changeable." In the Soviet Union, postmodern relativity of ideas arises from its own ideological, not economic, base. All those concepts previously alien to the essence of communist ideology, such as "private property" and the "free market," are now freely entering this ideological space, stretching it beyond its limits__allowing the ideology to embrace its own opposite. This is a process of de-ideologization, but not in the sense of Daniel Bell's understanding of the phenomenon in his famous book, The End of Ideology. In the Soviet Union, de-ideologization means the end of the "particular" ideology which originally had a definite class character, social ideals, and aimed to inspire the proletariat to launch a socialist revolution and construct communism. The current de-ideologization of Marxism in the USSR is a process of the universalization of ideological thinking as such, its final move from the realm of militant modernism to a more playful, relaxed, postmodern mentality.

This de-ideologization, or super-ideologization, of Soviet Marxism raises a vital question: are there two distinct postmodernisms, one Western and one Eastern, or is there a single, shared postmodernism? The best answer, in the author's view, is that "one-and-a-half" postmodernisms exist. The postmodern condition is essentially the same in the East and West, although it proceeds from opposite foundations: ideology and economics, respectively. Late capitalism and late communism are polar opposites in terms of economic structure and efficiency, but economics alone does not determine culture as a whole. The fundamental underlying patterns of cultural postmodernism in the East are not economic, they are ideological. Communism has proved to be a more radical challenge to capitalism than was originally thought, not only did it change the mode of production, it changed the relationship of base and superstructure in society.

A comparison of capitalist economics and communist ideology is imperative for elucidating the postmodernist traits common to both societies. Such a "cross" examination would be more interesting than a parallel comparison; if one compares communist and bourgeois ideologies, or socialist and capitalist economics, little can be found beyond commonplace oppositions. It is far more relevant__even from a Marxist-Leninist perspective__to examine the common ground between communist ideology and capitalist economics, as the two perform identical functional roles in their respective social structures. The circulation of goods in capitalist society is essentially identical to the circulation of ideas in communist society. Ideology, like capital, allows for the growth of surplus value, or, in this case, surplus evaluation. In a communist society, every concrete fact of the "material" world is treated ideologically, as evidence of some general historic tendency__its significance increases from one instance of ideological interpretation to the next.

The famous formula of a capitalist economy which Marx suggested in Das Kapital is "commodities - money - commodities," or "money - commodities - money." The same formula can be applied in modified form to the ideology of Soviet Marxism: "reality - idea - reality," or "idea - reality - idea." Facts are exchanged for ideas in communist society in the same way as goods are exchanged for money in capitalist societies. Ideas, as a sort of currency, acquire an abstract form of "ideological capital." They do not constitute material wealth, but the "correctness" of communist ideology. This "correctness," or absolute truth, compensates people for their labor ("heroic deeds and sacrifices"), as well as recoups the cost of so-called "particular" mistakes resulting from Party policy.

What happens in the late stage of communist development? Why does it move toward a "postmodernist condition" along the same path followed by "late capitalist" societies? Totalitarianism was a superlative machine for accumulating and exploiting all sorts of ideas: leftist and rightist, revolutionary and conservative, internationalist and patriotic, etc. However, this machine spawned a phenomenon bigger than itself. Just as capital eventually outgrows the capitalist "machine" and becomes a self-sufficient entity, Soviet ideological capital has outgrown the "machine" of a particular personality or system of ideas and has become an omnipresent mentality, appropriating any fact to serve any idea. Such is the current state of Soviet society under glasnost'. Marxist ideology, the most powerful of all modern ideologies, is losing its identity and becoming only one possible interpretation of reality (in the Soviet Union, it would be the least probable one!). The expansion of Marxist ideology overcame Marxism as a form of modernity and created the postmodern condition in the USSR.

The overarching expansion of Soviet ideology occurred in the Brezhnev era, when the difference between facts and ideas was practically erased. Ideology was gradually transformed from a system of ideas into an all-encompassing ideological environment which retained all possible alternative philosophical systems as latent components within itself. Existentialism and structuralism, Russophilism and Westernism, technocratic and ecological movements, Christian and neo-pagan outlooks__everything was compressed into the form of Marxism, creating a sort of post-modernist pastiche.

The Gorbachev era is magnifying this postmodernist condition of Soviet society by encouraging the growth of tens, hundreds, even thousands, of new ideological systems, each of which playfully uses all the buzzwords of Soviet Marxist ideology for its own ends. Gorbachev himself is a very ideological being; in his domestic speeches one can find nothing but ideology. Don't ask him, however, what sort of ideology he proclaims. It is simply ideology, nothing more. Usually, it follows the routine tetradic patterns: "democrats" are criticized for endangering "stability" and "unity," while "conservatives" are criticized for threatening the ideals of "reconstruction" and "acceleration."

In the USSR today, there exists a continuous, complete ideological environment which is transpersonal, transcollective, transparty, and ultimately, transideological, because no particular ideological position remains consistent or comprehensive. Soviet ideology has developed beyond any particular rational or irrational system; it is reality itself - chaotic, charming, exciting, disgusting, boring, physically threatening, maddening. No other reality exists except that of ideology: there is little food (but plenty of ideas about how to feed the country) or clean air (but an abundance of ideas on how to make it clean). Communist ideology has succeeded in creating an "ideological personality" and, through the triumph of pan-ideology, has abolished communism itself.

Thus post-communist ideology is universalist rather than totalitarian. Totalitarian ideology incorporates all available ideas and claims to be a unified and coherent system, sharply opposing left and right deviations. Universalist ideology tries to eliminate all oppositions and use the entire range of various ideas as if they were complimentary. The transformation of all oppositions into complementarities was the ideological strategy of Gorbachev under perestroika and, although it undoubtedly brought him success, it could not prevent real rightists and leftists from fighting this ideology of compromise from both sides.

Perhaps the most striking postmodernist trend found in universalist ideology is its ability to surmount historical differences and eliminate the dimension of time. Louis Althusser made the stunning pronouncement that "ideology in general has no history...or, what comes to the same thing, is eternal, i.e. omnipresent in its immutable form throughout history." Althusser's famous definition of ideology as "the imaginary relationship of individuals to their real condition of existence" seems too broad, too vague__it does not allow one to distinguish ideology from other realms of consciousness such as mythology, religion, art, dreams, utopia, etc. In this author's view, ideology is a very specific sphere of consciousness: the doubling and reversal of mental oppositions which cannot be reconciled in purely theoretical terms and therefore need to be permanently evaluated and reevaluated in order to create a hierarchy of values. It is this permanent play of evaluations which pushes mature ideology beyond history to converge with postmodernism and its rejection of any specific ideology.

Specific ideologies with stable hierarchies of values and ideas have histories which arise out of the differences between them. Totalitarian ideologies, which reverse every idea to become its diametric opposite, indeed tend to become one ideology, "omnipresent in its immutable form throughout history." Finally, universalist ideology is so total that it expands infinitely to incorporate all possibilities of ideological thought. Despite the variety of specific ideologies, it is hardly disputable that there exists only one ideological consciousness, as distinct from religious, mythological, scientific, or artistic forms of consciousness. The process of building totalitarian ideologies from specific ideologies makes the resulting, accumulated ideology increasingly coincide with the entire spectrum of ideological consciousness as such, realizing all its potentialities. It is this process of enveloping multiple ideologies into one, all-comprehensive, omnipresent ideology that makes the phenomenon of "de-ideologized ideology" possible.

The aim of this work was to discuss the ideology of Soviet Marxism in postmodern perspective, to deconstruct the units of this ideology and disclose the intended and unintended lack of significance in ideological pronouncements. The ideology of Soviet Marxism is usually considered to be the most rigid and stagnant component of twentieth century intellectual development. I have tried to argue that this rigidity is a form of the postmodernist elimination of time and significance, one which works through a constant play of meanings and redistribution of evaluations. I believe there is no more relativistic system of ideology than the Soviet ideological system: it constantly changes and expands its set of ideas in order that its power remains unchallenged. In order to win the world, this ideology is ready to lose its identity.






  I would like to finish this rather dry presentation with a lighter essay. Soviet money is very beautiful: it is green, blue, red, lilac, and decorated with fine multi-colored lines and iridescent patterns. Soviet money is intended above all to satisfy the aesthetic needs of its proprietor. It is very pleasing to have beautiful money, and therefore not necessary to spend it. This money is much brighter and more attractive than the dull, dusty goods which it can purchase in Soviet shops. In America, the flagship country of capitalism, the situation is quite the reverse. American bills are so dull that one wants to get rid of them as soon as possible, to exchange them for bright, eye-catching products displayed in store windows. Money, under socialism, is just a series of pictures in the style of op-art, artistic miniatures, distributed in billions of copies to satisfy the need of the citizen for pocket portraits of Lenin and sights of the Moscow Kremlin.

No society, however, can do without some kind of conventional currency which functions as the general equivalent of all values. What can be considered real money and used to acquire tangible goods in a socialist society? This question has yet to be answered. The political economy of socialism remains to be established, although a discipline under this title has long been studied in Soviet universities. This Soviet discipline assumes that "the basic economic law of socialism ensures the complete well-being and free all-round development of all members of society through continual growth and improvement of social production." This definition could explain, with the same success, the basic aesthetic law of socialism or the basic sexual law of socialism, because these, too, serve to satisfy the growing needs of society and provide its members complete well-being. The political economy of socialism was never created because under socialism, economics is only the superstructure, while ideology (the superstructure under capitalism) has become the base.

For all that, what is the general equivalent of ideas, if money is the general equivalent of goods? Language is such an equivalent, attaching various ideological labels to phenomena. With the aid of language, people have the opportunity to enrich themselves and impoverish their enemies__ideologically. The ideological value of different words can even change. The value of "internationalism," for example, once had the greatest exchange rate in Soviet society. Then it fell to the lowest rate of "cosmopolitanism." The highest rates are now reserved for Russian nationalist bills: "motherland," "memory," "patriotism." These securities do not represent numbers, only words, but nevertheless are the currency used in the Soviet Union to buy power, work, life, and further satisfaction of all growing needs.

Words and money have much in common. Each may relate to such concepts as inflation, devaluation, speculation, and the rise and fall of the exchange rate. It appears that a flexible relationship and mutual interdependence exist between a sign and its significance, or a bill and its value. A proprietor can use the difference between a bill and its value to enrich himself; in the same way, an ideologist can use the difference between a sign and its significance to gain surplus evaluation. The same phenomena can increase in value if signified as "ideological commitments," or become worthless if signified as "idealistic biases." Language is a system of rising and falling prices, a semantic stock exchange, which allows a skilled player to accumulate enormous ideological capital. By attaching different labels to different facts, the ideologist appropriates the difference between their values. One can play the market to multiply one's own stocks or reduce the stocks of one's rivals.

When one hears that "the October Revolution has liberated the toiling people from capitalist oppression," or that "a fascist putsch has brought innumerable sufferings upon the toiling people," one cannot help but agree. Why? Because the very words "revolution" and "putsch" already contain a final judgement; the first word is a commendation, the second a condemnation. A standard ideological device is to designate the same or similar phenomenon with opposite evaluative signs and extract ideological surplus value from the evaluative difference of their meanings. The difference between "revolutionaries" and "putschists" is purely emotional and evaluative, ideologists use it to accumulate ideological capital. "Putsch" is a negative value, a great loss, while "revolution" is a winning ticket, one which has brought Soviet power great benefits over a period of seventy years.

Capitalism rules the citizen with the help of a check (cheka in Russian), while socialism rules with the help of the Cheka (the Soviet secret police). The difference is in the first letter of the two words: one is lower case, the other, upper case. Socialism adores capital letters, it lives off the profit derived from their verbal capital. Thus the repeated use of words such as "Fatherland," "October," and the "Communist Party" by the Soviet regime. The total significance of each of these words is superior to its direct meaning, the difference constitutes surplus value under socialism. The basic law of socialism is the surplus significance of all phenomena. These phenomena do not simply exist, they also represent highly valued historical laws and progressive tendencies.

Soviet money is indeed beautiful, but not because of its picturesque bills__these are nothing more than soft currency. Soviet money should be considered the most beautiful in the world because it is composed of bright, expressive words and not dry numbers. Of course, such money cannot help you acquire commodities, but can provide you with power. Imagine the whole world plastered with bills printed with the words of Soviet Marxist ideolanguage: "revolution," "reaction," "nation," "freedom," "honor," "glory," "spirituality," "heroism," "sacrifice," "the bright future." These words are the genuine units of Soviet hard currency. What can be acquired with such words cannot be measured. Quality, not quantity, is of primary significance. Soviet Marxist ideology has proven rich enough to acquire fiery souls hating capitalism and striving for "the bright future," rich enough to appropriate the mighty forces of progress and youth in the world. How miserable is capitalist money, which can only buy that which is sold! There is a type of money that can be used to buy something which is not sold: the entire world can be bought with "beautiful money."









The abundance of ideologems in Soviet usage may be explained by the structural properties of the Russian language itself. In linguistic terms, Russian is properly called "synthetic," because two kinds of meaning, the semantic relationship of a word to the signified phenomenon, and the pragmatic relationship of the speaker to the word he or she uses, are combined in one word.

Usually, languages with synthetic structure, such as Russian, are opposed to languages with analytic structure, such as English. In the former, semantic and syntactic meanings are expressed in one lexical unit, while the latter requires separate lexical units. For example, the Russian term "bratu" contains both the semantic meaning "brother" and the grammatical meaning of direction, which in English are conveyed by two separate words (preposition + noun): "(otdai) bratu" - "(give) to brother." The distinction between synthetic and analytic structures may also be observed in the relationship between semantic and pragmatic meanings. The Russian word "zakleimit'" means "to denounce" with cause; "proklamirovat'" means "to proclaim something falsely or without proper grounds." Semantic and pragmatic meanings are combined in one Russian word, but expressed separately in English ("with cause" or "falsely" indicate the attitude of the speaker towards the actions, which are neutrally designated as "to denounce" or "to proclaim").

Interestingly, a comparison between Russian and French, another analytical language, leads to the same conclusion. "Neutral French words have [Russian] equivalents with distinctly negative or positive expressive nuances...Very often one French word which is stylistically neutral finds a parallel in several Russian words with various stylistic qualities (negative, positive, neutral)," observes the Soviet linguist V. G. Gak. For example, the French word entente is devoid of nuance, but can only be rendered in Russian by several words containing opposing evaluative meanings: positive - soglasie, negative - sgovor, neutral - soglashenie. The French word fameux has at least three Russian equivalents: positive - znamenityi, negative - preslovutyi, neutral - izvestnyi. Here, again, an evaluative component is incorporated into the semantic core of a Russian word, while in French it constitutes a separate lexical unit.

According to the author's rough calculations, about one-fifth of the entries in Ozhegov's dictionary of modern Russian (approximately 10,000 words), are synthetic in their semantic-pragmatic dimensions. The precise amount could be calculated using the dictionary definitions and style tags containing specific pragmatic labels. These are not merely words, but word-judgements, or evaluative statements. This is an indication of how deeply Soviet ideology has pervaded the structure of the Russian language. It could also be argued, vice-versa, that the synthetic structure of the Russian language gave birth to the abundancy of Soviet ideologems. This seems to be a classic example of the "chicken and egg" dilemma.

A short digression concerning the history of Russian "bilingualism" might also be useful here. Where are the roots of Soviet ideological language? Why was it fated to grow on the soil of the Russian language? One could advance the argument that the ideological bias of the Russian language had longstanding cultural preconditions. Since its birth in the ninth century, Russian culture has used two languages: the vernacular, oral Russian and literary Old Slavonic. A duality of styles, or "doublespeak," became a guiding force of Russian literary development__the same idea could be expressed both colloquially, in Russian, and sublimely, in Slavonic. The word vorota indicated gates such as those which enclose a peasant's yard. A different word, however, vrata, was used to denote the gates of Heaven. Even today, the Russian word golova refers to an anatomical head, while the Slavonic glava refers to the head of an organization.

The duality of vernacular Russian and Church Slavonic led Mikhail Lomonosov to create his theory of the three styles in the eighteenth century. He defined the high style as Church Slavonic, the low as Russian, and the middle as a balance between the two. In an attempt to become closer to the people, the great nineteenth century authors Krylov, Griboedov, Pushkin, Lermontov, and Gogol adopted vernacular Russian as the basis of their literary language. The 1830s and 1840s thus marked "the collapse of the old system which presupposed the isolated and privileged position of old Slavonisms as high, `poetic' means of speech. The time for a mature and self-supporting language had arrived." But, as the saying goes, "nature hates a vacuum." It was particularly during the 1840s that the Russian lexicon adopted a large group of social and political terms from French and other European languages: communism, socialism, proletariat, solidarity, emancipation, innovator, progress, bourgeoisie, exploitation, reaction, conservative, obscurantism, and so forth. Through the efforts of "progressive" public opinion, these terms immediately acquired positive or negative connotations which have remained stable until the present. These words carry the same value, whether found in Chernyshevsky's revolutionary-democratic journalism, Dobroliubov's literary criticism, Lenin's revolutionary writings, or the front page of today's Pravda.

In the European languages from which they were borrowed, these social and political words retained the ability to assume different evaluative meanings in different contexts. However, the foreign origin of these terms prevented their smooth assimilation into Russian__they remained outside the system of changing connotations in Russian colloquial speech and literary styles. These terms came to comprise their own distinct lexical system which eventually replaced Church Slavonic as the language of ideological orthodoxy and the ruling elite. This ideolanguage, systematically imposed on all social opinions and journalistic styles, crisply divided the dictionary into positive and negative concepts. In this way, bilingualism remained the distinctive feature of Russian cultural tradition.

Despite the introduction of the foreign political lexicon in the 1840s, Old Slavonic remained the ceremonial and rhetorical language of Czarist manifestos and the semi-official press up until the Bolshevik revolution. This ceremonial language used such solemn and sublime words as "the Most High" (Vsevyshnii), "Fatherland" (otechestvo), "holding supreme power" (derzhavnyi), and "to hoist banner" (vodruzit' stiag). The October revolution was a decisive event in the development of the political power of language__it not only eliminated the last remnants of Old Slavonic, it appropriated many of its expressions to serve the victorious ideology of Marxism-Leninism. Many superlative forms of the old regime, such as the "most evil foe" (zleishii vrag), or the "most complete obedience" (polneishee povinovenie), or imperative forms such as "Long live!" (da zdravstvuet!), survived the transition to the language of a new ruling elite.

An interesting difference between czarist ceremonial style and Soviet ideological language is the latter's more explicit evaluative bias. Old Slavonic elements, although sublime and solemn, could refer to any phenomena, positive or negative. By contrast, ideological language began to use the high stylistic elements to designate only definitely positive phenomena: "the Party's promulgations" (prednachertaniia partii), "treasure- house of the people's wisdom" (sokrovishchnitsa narodnoi mudrosti), "to keep one's communist honor as the apple of one's eye" (berech' chest' kommunista kak zenitsu oka). Simultaneously, vulgar lexical elements began to signify negative phenomena. Previously, the enemies of the state and their acts were named solemnly: "sedition" (kramola) or "foe" (nedrug), but in the Soviet era, they received much harsher epithets such as "fascist degenerates" (vyrodki), "Trotskyist scum" (svoloch), and "counter-revolutionary vermin" (gady). The evaluative bias of the lexical system thus became even stronger in ideological language than in the czarist ceremonial style.

By virtue of its two historical sources, vernacular Russian and Old Slavonic, the Russian language possessed a foundation for "double- speak." This duality saddled Russian words with a definite stylistic range in addition to specific evaluative meanings; the same phenomenon could be expressed in a high, positive manner or in a low, negative manner. One may conjecture that the "double-speak" of early Russian culture created the linguistic preconditions which made Soviet "double-think" possible.






The following short bibliography on Soviet ideological language includes works by Soviet authors whose contributions are relatively unknown in the West. The entire body of Soviet scholarship on ideological language is divided into six theoretical models for which some representative works are then cited in chronological order of their publication.




The study of ideological language began in the twenties, when it was mostly represented as "the language of the October Revolution" or the language of "socialist transformation of society." Although the first authoritative investigation in this field was initiated by a French Slavonic scholar (Andr* Mazon, Lexique de la Guerre et de la R*volution en Russie, 1914-1918, Paris, )douard Champion, 1920), it was soon succeeded by a number of qualified Russian scholars. In this period, theoretical emphasis was put on neologisms, the turbulent innovations in the vocabulary and phraseology of post-revolutionary society, whereby hundreds of new words and unprecendented idioms came into usage. Historical context and extralinguistic factors were considered most important. Some publications of this period were more linguistic journalism than scientific research; they discussed such questions as the culture of speech and changing norms of literacy.

Gornfel'd, A.G. Novye slovechki i starye slova. Petersburg: Kolos, 1922.

Kartsevskii, S. Iazyk, voina i revoliutsiia. Berlin, 1923.

Vinokur, Grigorii. Kul'tura iazyka. Moscow, 1925.

Selishchev, A.M. Iazyk revoliutsionnoi epokhi. Iz nabliudenii nad russkim

iazykom poslednikh let (1917 - 1926). Moscow: Rabotnik Prosveshcheniia, 1928.



In the thirties, "the language of revolution" was replaced by the new theoretical model of "social dialect" or "class language." "A sign becomes an arena of class struggle" (Voloshinov, Marksizm i filosofiia iazyka, p. 27). Academician Nikolai Marr, the father of Soviet socio-linguistic studies, wrote:

"...National language, common to the whole nation, does not exist. It is class language that exists. Various national languages of the same class have identical social structure and have more affinity, than languages of different classes inside the same country, the same nation."

(N. Marr, Selected Writings, 2:415)

Thus, Marr argued that the democratic Georgian language is closer to the democratic Armenian language than to the aristocratic Georgian language, even though Georgian and Armenian belong to different language families. "There is no language which would not be a class language, and therefore there is no thinking which would not be class thinking." (Ibid., 3:91)

While proletarian dialect introduced many lexical and metaphoric components into ideological language, the latter drew even more components from scientific, official, and even Church Slavonic language than from proletarian dialect. Also, ideological language equally addresses all strata of society and functions as a literary norm rather than as a specific class dialect.

Voloshinov, V.N. Marksizm i filosofiia iazyka. Osnovnye problemy

sotsiologicheskogo metoda v nauke o iazyke. Leningrad, 1930. (Voloshinov, V.N. Marxism and the Philosophy of Language, trans. L. Matejka and I.R. Titunik. New York, 1973.)

Ivanov, Anatolii i Iakubinskii, Lev. Ocherki po iazyku. Moscow, 1932.

Marr, N. Ia. Iazyk i sovremennost'. Leningrad, 1932.

__________. Izbrannye trudy v 5 tomakh. Leningrad: Sotzekgiz, 1933-1937.

Zhirmunskii, Viktor. Natsional'nyi iazyk i sotsial'nye dialekty. Leningrad,



In the early fifties Stalin initiated a famous discussion about language in order to substitute outmoded "class theory" or "vul'garnyi sotsiologizm" for a theory of language as a phenomenon common to the whole nation. Since that time, ideological language has been studied as a "stylistic function of the Russian national language," namely, the "publicist style," one among several other styles such as "scientific," "official," and "artistic." Of course, publitsistika (social and political journalism, writing on current affairs) is not the only sphere where ideological language manifests itself. In the USSR ideological language has a much broader scope than pure journalism: it pervades literature, the arts, economics, the humanities, and all other fields of study. Even today, a great amount of academic work in Soviet linguistics, including doctoral dissertations, is devoted to the publicist style of the Bolshevik and Soviet presses, although the very term seems to be a euphemism for "ideological language."

Sirotinina, O.B. "Nekotorye zhanrovo-stilisticheskie izmeneniia sovetskoi

publitsistiki" in Razvitie funktsional'nykh stilei sovremennogo russkogo iazyka. Moscow: Nauka, 1968.

Panfilov, A.K. "Razvitie publitsisticheskogo stilia russkogo literaturnogo

iazyka v pervye posleoktiabr'skie gody," in Problemy russkogo iazykoznaniia: Uchenye zapiski Moskovskogo gosudarstvennogo pedagogicheskogo instituta, no. 403. Moscow, 1970.

____________. Lektsii po stilistike russkogo iazyka. Moscow, 1972.

____________. "Istoriia stanovleniia publicisticheskogo stilia sovremennogo

russkogo literaturnogo iazyka." Avtoreferat doktorskoi dissertatsii (Ph.D. dissertation abstract), Moscow State University, 1974.

Vadkovskaia, T.P. "Iz nabliudenii nad publitsisticheskoi rech'iu do

oktiabr'skoi epokhi" in Voprosy grammatiki i leksiki russkogo iazyka. Sbornik trudov. Moscow, 1973.

Rogova, K.A. Sintaksicheskie osobennosti publitsisticheskoi rechi. Leningrad,



Shvets, A.V. Publitsisticheskii stil' sovremennogo russkogo literaturnogo iazyka.

Kiev, 1979.

Kapralova, S.G. "Funktsionirovanie v publitsistike i leksikograficheskaia

traktovka leksiki i frazeologii." Avtoreferat doktorskoi dissertatsii (Ph.D. dissertation abstract), Moscow State University, 1980.

Kozhin, A.N., Krylova, A.O., i Odintsov, V.V. Funktsional'nye tipy russkoi

rechi. Moscow, 1982.

Iazyk sovremennoi publitsistiki. Moscow: Goskomizdat, 1989.




The "language of newspapers" is a technical and somewhat narrow field within the realm of publicist style. Although philosophical aspects of ideological language are eliminated from this sort of research, its focus on the specific style of the daily press allows for a fairly detailed, sometimes statistical, approach to the peculiarities of Soviet ideological language.

Gus, M., Zagorianskii, Iu., i Kaganovich, N. Iazyk gazety. Moscow, 1926.

Kostomarov, V.G. Russkii iazyk na gazetnoi polose. Moscow: Izdatel'stvo

Moskovskogo universiteta, 1971.

Poliakova, G.P., Solganik, G.Ia. Chastotnyi slovar' iazyka gazet. Moscow:

Izdatel'stvo Moskovskogo universiteta, 1971.

Solganik, Grigorii. Iazyk i stil' peredovoi stat'i. Moscow: Izdatel'stvo

Moskovskogo universiteta, 1973.

_______________. "Sistemnyi analiz gazetnoi leksiki i istochniki ego

formirovaniia." Avtoreferat doktorskoi dissertatsii (Ph.D. dissertation abstract), Moscow: Izdatel'stvo Moskovskogo universiteta, 1976.

_______________. Leksika gazety: funktsional'nyi aspekt. Moscow: Vysshaia

shkola, 1981.

Stilistika gazetnykh zhanrov, pod redaktsiei D.E. Rozentalia. Moscow, 1981.

Vasil'eva, A.N. Gazetno-publitsisticheskii stil' rechi: Kurs lektsii po stilistike

russkogo iazyka. Moscow, 1982.

Lysakova, I.P., Rogova K.A., ed. Sovremennaia gazetnaia publitsistika:

problemy stilia. Leningrad: Izdatel'stvo Leningradskogo universiteta, 1987.




Another technical approach concerns the history of those social and political terms which comprise the lexical substance of ideological language. Investigations of the socio-political lexicon in both the pre-revolutionary and post-revolutionary epochs are very useful for understanding the changing patterns of ideological thought, although they tend to reduce its scope to esoteric discussions of particular words and idioms.

Sorokin, Iurii. Razvitie slovarnogo sostava russkogo literaturnogo iazyka 30-90

godov XIX veka. Moscow, 1965.

Razvitie leksiki sovremennogo russkogo iazyka. Moscow, 1965.

Kogotkova, T.S. "Iz istorii formirovaniia obshchestvenno-politicheskoi

terminologii" in Issledovaniia po russkoi terminologii. Moscow: Nauka, 1971.

Protchenko, I.F. Leksika i slovoobrazovanie sovetskoi epokhi. Moscow, 1975.

Issledovania po iazyku i stiliu proizvedenii V.I. Lenina. Moscow: Nauka,



Paradoxically, the Soviet scholarly community most closely approaches the specificity of ideological language when treating its Western counterpart__the tricks and devices of "bourgeois propaganda." The same "tools of deception" which are used in "bourgeois propaganda" provide insights into the subjectivity, logical traps, predominance of value judgements, and other pitfalls of Soviet propaganda.

Tekhnika dezinformatsii i obmana. Pod redaktsiei Ia. N. Zasurskogo.

Moscow, 1978.

Strizhenko, Ada. Rol' iazyka v sisteme sredstv propagandy (na materiale

burzhuaznoi pressy). Tomsk, 1980.

Strizhenko, A.A. Rol' i sredstva sotsial'no orientirovannogo obshcheniia v

burzhuaznoi propagande: Uchebnoe posobie. Barnaul, 1982.

Ukhvatova, Irina. "Otbor i semanticheskaia obrabotka leksiki sredstvami burzhuaznoi propagandy." Avtoreferat kandidatskoi dissertatsii (thesis abstract, professorial qualifying level), Minsk, 1980.




1. Bernard Susser, The Grammar of Modern Ideology (London: Routledge & Kegan Paul, 1988), 3.

2. Ibid., 3-4.

3. Arkhiv Marksa i Engelsa, vol. 4 (Moscow, 1935), 99.

4. The concept and term "ideolinguistics" were proposed in the author's article "Sposoby vozdeistviia ideologicheskogo vyskazyvaniia," in Obraz dvadtsatogo veka (Moscow: Institut nauchnoi informatsii po obshchestvennym naukam, 1988), 167-216. See also Mikhail Epshtein, "Otsenochnost' v liksicheskoi sisteme iazyka," Iazyk sovremennoi publitsistiki (Moscow: Goskomizdat, 1989), 28-47.

It goes without saying that I cannot claim to have discovered this field; my task here is to clarify its specific boundaries. Among recent works elaborating various aspects of ideolinguistics, one should mention the following, listed in chronological order of their publication: Theodor Pelster, Die politische Rede im Westen und Osten Deutschlands (DHsseldorf, 1966); Claus Mueller, The Dialectics of Language: A Study in the Political Sociology of Language (New York, 1970); Colin H. Good, Die deutsche Sprache und die Kommunistishe Ideologie (Frankfurt, 1975); Dominique Labb*, Le Discours Communiste (Paris: Presses de la Fondation Nationale des Sciences Politiques, 1977); Roger Fowler et. al, Language and Control (London: Routledge & Kegan Paul, 1979); Gunther Kress and Robert Hodge, Language as Ideology (London: Routledge & Kegan Paul, 1979); Paul E. Corcoran, Political Language and Rhetoric (St. Lucia, Australia: University of Queensland Press, 1979); Dwight Bolinger, Language, the Loaded Weapon (London: Longman Group Ltd., 1980); O. Reboul, Langage et Id*ologie (Paris: P.U.F., 1980); Essais sur le Discours Sovi*tique: Semiologie, Linguistique, Analyse Discoursive, III (Universit* de Grenoble, 1981); Maurice Cranston and Peter Mair, eds., Langage et Politique (Language and Politics) (Brussells, 1982); Michael J. Shapiro, ed., Language and Politics, (New York: New York University Press, 1984); Patrick Seriot, Analyse du Discours Politique Sovi*tique (Paris: Institut d')tudes Slaves, 1985); Fran(oise Thom, La Langue de Bois (Paris: Julliard, 1987); Fran(oise Thom, Newspeak; The Language of Soviet Ideology, trans. Ken Connelly (London: The Claridge Press, 1989); Ruth Wodak, ed., Language, Power, and Ideology; Studies in Political Discourse (Philadelphia: John Benjamins Publishing Company, 1989).

While some works in this field have been published in the USSR, the majority of Soviet texts are, in the author's opinion, excessively influenced by "Marxist-Leninist Ideology" and too engaged in the dispute with "bourgeois ideology" to offer objective investigation. See: Iu. V. Kovalenko, Iazyk i Ideologiia: Filologicheskie etiudy, Vypusk I (Rostov-on-the-Don, 1974); T.B. Kriuchkova, Iazyk i ideologiia: K voprosu ob otrazhenii ideologii v iazyke (Leningrad, 1976), Iazyk i ideologiia: Kritika idealisticheskikh kontseptsii, funkstionirovaniia, i razvitiia iazyka (Kiev, 1981); Funkstionirovanie iazyka kak sredstva ideoligicheskogo vozdeistviia (Krasnodar: Kubanskii gosudarstvennii universitet, 1988).

The weakness of Soviet literature is offset by works published abroad by Russian emigr*s. These works include: L. Rzevskii, Iazyk i Totalitarizm (MHnchen, 1951); Andrei i Tat'iana Fesenko, Russkii iazyk pri Sovetakh (New York: Rausen Bros., 1955); Roman Redlikh, Stalinshchina kak dukhovnii fenomen, Part II: Sovetskii iazyk (Frankfurt/Main: Possev, 1971); Il'ia Zemstov, Sovetskii politicheskii iazyk (London: Overseas Publications Interchange, Ltd., 1985) [English translation: Manipulation of a Language; The Lexicon of Soviet Political Terms (Hero Books, 1984)]; Il'ia Zemtsov, Real'nost' i grani perestroiki: Spravochnik (London: Overseas Publications Interchange, Ltd., 1989).




5. Alfred Korzybski, Science and Sanity: An Introduction to Non-Aristotelian Systems and General Semantics (Lancaster, PA: Science Press Printing Company, 1933). Works based on the central tenets of Korzybski's thought can be found in ETC, A Review of General Semantics, a quarterly published since 1943 by the International Society for General Semantics in San Francisco, California.

6. See Stuart Chase, The Tyranny of Words (New York: Harcourt, Brace, and Company, 1938), 182-206, 334-349.

7. Ibid., 328-332.

8. "A rule can then be formulated as a general guide in all our thinking and reading: police officer1 is not police officer2... This rule, if remembered, prevents us from confusing levels of abstraction..." S.I. Hayakawa and Alan R. Hayakawa, Language in Thought and Language, 5th ed., (San Diego: Harcourt, Brace, Jovanovich, 1990), 125-126.

9. V.N. Voloshinov, Marksizm i filosofiia iazyka; Osnovnye problemy sotsiologicheskogo metoda v nauke o iazyke (Leningrad, 1930), 14, 19, 20, 27.

10. Ibid., 107.

11. A.J. Greimas and J. Courtes, Semiotics and Language; An Analytical Dictionary, trans. Larry Crist et. al. (Bloomington: Indiana University Press, 1982), 149.

12. Roland Barthes, Elements of Semiology, trans. A. Lavers and C. Smith (London: Jonathan Cape, Ltd., 1969), 91.

Semiotics interprets a sign as a unity of two components: the signifying (a letter, a symbol, a word) and the signified (a concept, an idea, a notion).

13. Ibid., 92.

14. "During the past twenty years, one has witnessed a gradual shift in the kinds of facts linguistic practitioners professed to be interested in. Roughly, this shift is describable as from syntax through semantics to pragmatics." Jacob L. Mey, "Introduction" in Pragmalinguistics: Theory and Practice, Jacob L. Mey, ed. (Paris: Mouton Publishers, 1979), 10.

15. Charles Morris, Writings on the General Theory of Signs (Paris: Mouton Publishers, 1971), 203-232.

16. A classic example of the sociolinguistic approach can be found in W. Labov, Sociolinguistic Patterns (Philadelphia, 1972), which explores phonological variants in the speech of New Yorkers; these variants are correlated with social differences (education, profession, income). For a general introduction to the discipline, see W. Bright, ed., Sociolinguistics (The Hague, 1968); J.A. Fishman, ed., Readings in the Sociology of Language (The Hague, 1968); P.P. Giglioli, ed., Language and Social Context (Harmondsworth, 1972); J.J. Gumperz, Language in Social Groups (Stanford, 1971); Sotsial'no-lingvisiticheskie issledovaniia (Msocow, 1976); A.D. Shveitser, L.B. Nikol'skii, Vvedenie v sotsiolingvistiku (Moscow, 1978).

17. The term "psycholinguistics" was coined by C.E. Osgood and T.A. Sebeok in 1954. This discipline is outlined in such books as S. Saporta, ed., Psycholinguistics: A Book of Readings (New York, 1961); T.G. Bever, J.J. Katz, and D.T. Langendoen, An Integrated Theory of Linguistic Ability (New York, 1976); H.H. Clark and E.V. Clark, Psychology and Language (New York, 1977); D.J. Foss and D.T. Hakes, Psycholinguistics (New York, 1978).

18. Noam Chomsky, Language and Mind (New York: Harcourt Brace Jovanovich, Inc., 1972), 98-99.

19. Ibid., 66.

20. Emphasis is the author's.

21. Raymond Aron, The Opium of the Intellectuals (New York: Doubleday & Company, Inc., 1957), 236.

22. Daniel Bell, The End of Ideology; On the Exhaustion of Political Ideas in the Fifties (Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press, 1988), 400.

23. The New Encyclopaedia Britannica, 30 vols. (Chicago: Encyclopaedia Britannica, Inc., 1976), 9:194.

24. The Great Soviet Encyclopaedia, A.M. Prokhorov, ed. (New York: Macmillan, 1973), 10:120.

25. For a discussion of the conditions which make the Russian language particularly susceptible to ideological use, see the Appendix.

26. S.I. Hayakawa cites several good examples of latent judgments which express the opposite ideological bias: "To many people, the word "communist" has both the informative connotation of "one who believes in communism" and the affective connotation of "one whose ideals and purposes are altogether repellent." Words...applying to believers in philosophies of which one disapproves ("atheist," "radical," "heretic," "materialist," "fundamentalist") likewise often communicate simultaneously a fact and a judgment on that fact. Such words may be called "loaded" -- that is, their affective connotations may strongly shape people's thoughts." Hayakawa and Hayakawa, Language in Thought and Language, 48.

27. For the selection of examples, the following dictionaries proved to be helpful: Slovar' sinonimov russkogo iazyka, V. 2, tomakh (Leningrad: Nauka, 1970); Z.E. Aleksandrova, Slovar' sinonimov russkogo iazyka (Moscow: Sovetskaia entsiklopediia, 1969); M.R. L'vov, Slovar' antonimov russkogo iazyka (Moscow: Russkii iazyk, 1984); G.P. Poliakova, G.Ia. Solganik, Chastotnii slovar' iazyka gazet (Moscow: Moscow State University Press, 1971).

28. The term "conversive," as used in semantics, refers to the opposite roles of the participants of the same interaction: when A "wins," B "loses;" if A "sells," B "buys." Pragmatic, or evaluative, conversives refer to the opposing attitudes of the participants to the same phenomenon: what A views as "dreams," B views as "ravings" (mechty - bredni).

29. Soviet ideological conversives often express a positive concept by a word formed from a Russian root, while its negative counterpart is expressed by a word of foreign origin: soiuz - al'ians, razvedchik - shpion, ob"ediniat'sia - blokirovat'sia. The reverse is relatively rare: optimizm - prekrasnodushie.

30. A.S. Makarenko, Sochineniia (Moscow, 1958), 7:13.

31. This does not preclude the Western press from using evaluative conversion; after all, the laws of ideological thinking are everywhere identical, although they may have different weight in different cultures. "During the Boer War, the Boers were described in the British press as `sneaking and skulking behind rocks and bushes.' The British forces, when they finally learned from the Boers how to employ tactics suitable to warfare on the South African veldt, were described as `cleverly taking advantage of cover.'" Hayakawa and Hayakawa, Language in Thought and Language, 46.

32. This analogy of "money" and "ideas" is regarded in more detail in the Conclusion.

33. The title of Vsevolod Vishnevskii's dramatic play which became a symbol of the necessity of suffering in order to achieve the final triumph of communism.

34. Substitutives are not synonyms in a strict linguistic sense; they may be substituted for each other only on the abstract level of ideological consciousness. Synonymy is a relationship between words, substitution, between ideologems.

35. In traditional logic, the tetradic structure is generally known as the "logical square." Since antiquity, the logical square has represented the relationship between four types of propositions: affirmative and negative, universal and particular.

The French philosopher and logician R. Blanch* points out that "[t]he traditional theory on quantification follows a binary pattern. First, it distinguishes the universal from the particular. Then dividing this first dichotomy with a second, establishes both positive and negative forms for each of these terms. The result is a total of four quantitative concepts." Blanch* immediately follows this assertion with his principal qualification: "But common language, whose standard usage continues to be employed, has only three terms at its disposal: all, none, and some; the particular concept lacks the duality known by the universal concepts." [R. Blanch*, Les Structures Intellectuelles (Paris: Librairie Philosophique J. Vrin, 1966), 35.]

Indeed, the majority of ordinary words expressing "particular" concepts, such as "tree" or "cup," are alien to any duality. Ideologems are easily organized within tetradic structures because they express judgments or propositions more so than do other words.

For a general review and bibliography of the "logical" and "semiotic" square see: Oswald Ducrot and Tzvetan Todorov, Encyclopedic Dictionary of the Sciences of Language (Baltimore: The John Hopkins University Press, 1979), 114-117; A.J. Greimas and J. Courtes, Semiotics and Language: An Analytical Dictionary (Bloomington, Indiana: Indiana University Press, 1982), 309-311; and "The Logic of Propositions" in The Encyclopedia of Philosophy (New York: Macmillan Publishing Co., 1972), V.5, 35-36, 45.

36. Here, as in some other cases, I have not listed the exact American equivalent of a Russian tetrad or dyad__that would be impossible, but a roughly similar lexical pattern which makes sense to an American reader.

37. Thucydides, The History of the Peloponnesian War, ch. 9, in Great Books of the Western World (Encyclopaedia Britannica, Inc., 1952), 6:437.

38. Yeltsin apparently realizes this himself: "Yeltsin speculates that Gorbachev kept him around for political balance. With the prickly, impetuous Yeltsin to his left, the conservative Ligachev to his right, Gorbachev himself seemed the omniscient centrist." Bill Keller, "Boris Yeltsin Taking Power," The New York Times Magazine, 23 September 1990, 81.

39. George Orwell's "doublethink" is an appropriate intuitive description of this tetradic model: "...To hold simultaneously two opinions which cancelled out, knowing them to be contradictory and believing in both of them, to use logic against logic..." George Orwell, 1984, (New York: The New American Library, Inc., 1983), 32.

40. Niccolo Machiavelli, The Prince, in Great Books of the Western World, vol. 23 (Encyclopaedia Britannica, Inc., 1952), 32.

41. Ibid., 27.

42. V.I. Lenin, Polnoe sobranie sochinenii, 55 vols. (Moscow: Politizdat), 5th ed., 30:152.

43. Ibid., 30:133.

44. Ibid., 31:91.

45. Ibid., 26:34.

46. Ibid., 30:21-22.

47. Ibid., 34:379.

48. Ibid., 35:251.

49. Ibid., 30:39.

50. Ibid. Compare pp. 20-21 to p. 39 in vol. 30.

51. Ibid., 7:233.

52. Ibid., 31:440.

53. Karl Marx, Frederick Engels, Collected Works, vol. 5 (New York: International Publishers, 1976), 5.

54. The Soviet world view is characterized by extreme materialism in theory and extreme idealism in practice. We could even say that Soviet Marxism's overstated materialism is nothing but an ideological phantom, in the postmodern sense of the word. Such "hypermaterialism" is a sort of simulacrum, the product of pure mentality. The self-serving raison d'etre for such countless Soviet simulacra as hyperunity, hyperlabor, hyperparty, hyperpeople, hyperpower, and hyperfuture does not differ much from that of Western media. If in the West visual simulacra bring great profit, in the Soviet Union ideological simulacra have long brought great power.

For more information on the concepts of "simulacrum" and "hyper" phenomena, see Jean Baudrillard, Simulations (New York: Semiotexte, 1983).

55. J.V. Stalin, Works, vol. 12 (Moscow: Foreign Languages Publishing House, 1956), 189.

56. Ibid., 189.

57. Ibid., 199.

58. I.V. Stalin, Sochineniia, vol. 13 (Moscow: Politizdat, 1951), 601-602.

59. K. Marx, F. Engels, Sochineniia v 50 tomakh, 2nd ed. (Moscow: Politizdat), 35: 131-132.

59 a. M.S. Ob osnovnykh napravleniqkh vnutrennej i vneshnej politiki SSSR (Mikhail Gorbachev, "On the Main Directions of the U.S.S.R.'s Domestic and Foreign Policy."). Moscow: Polizdat, 1989, p. 30-31.

60. A lexical function may be defined as "an abstract, typical meaning which, like grammatical meaning, is expressed by a rather large amount of words." Iu. D. Apresian, Leksicheskaia semantika (Moscow: Nauka, 1974), 45.

The theoretical approach to lexical functions was elaborated in the late sixties and early seventies by a group of Soviet linguists: Igor Mel'chuk, Aleksandr Zholkovskii, Iurii Apresian. An example of semantic function is "Magn," which means "very," "high degree" and is expressed in different contexts by such words as "jet" (jet-black hair, jet-black eyes), "pitch" (darkness), "deathly" (silence), "pouring" (rain), and so on (zhguchii briunet, kromeshnaia t'ma, grobovoe molchanie, prolivnoi dozhd'). I.A. Mel'chuk described approximately forty such functions in his book Opyt teorii lingvisticheskikh modelei "Smysl - Tekst" (Moscow: Nauka, 1974).

Deeper analysis has shown the difficulty of describing ordinary language in terms of semantic functions. On the one hand, the number of such functions cannot be limited to specific logical groups; on the other hand, the lexical variety and richness of ordinary language does not yield to functional classification, no matter how many functions are introduced.

Ideological language, however, is more appropriately described in terms of abstract, typical meanings than is ordinary language. All ideological words are divided into "positive" and "negative;" this considerably facilitates their functional description. Ideological language is also devoid of specific words with narrow meanings which resist any generalization, such as "strawberries," "auburn," "to lisp." Thus, the functional approach may prove to be much more applicable to the sphere of pragmatics than to the sphere of semantics, the field from which it originally emerged.

61. In Soviet ideological language, "naturalism," "empiricism" and "positivism" generally refer to the adherence to scientific facts regardless of Party doctrine and a "class approach."

62. There are a number of popular Soviet ideologems with the same negative meaning for which exact American equivalents cannot be found: sobstvennichestvo, knishchnichestvo, priobretatel'stvo, potrebitel'stvo, veshchizm. All of them refer to the "bourgeois" vice of "consumerism."

63. An informative review of Russian modes of address and their changes in the Soviet era may be found in Bernard Comrie and Gerald Stone, The Russian Language since the Revolution (Oxford, England: Oxford University Press, 1978), ch. 7, 172-199. Unfortunately, the authors do not dwell on the Party and Komsomol "ideolects" of speech etiquette.

64. For the sake of clarity, "full name" here refers to an individual's formal forename and patronymic.

65. Engels, Letter to Mehring, 14 July 1893.

66. Herbert Marcuse, Soviet Marxism: A Critical Analysis (Harmondsworth, England: Penguin Books, 1971), 16-17.

67. For a critical discussion of this issue, see the chapter entitled "Basis and Superstructure__Reality and Ideology," in Marcuse, Soviet Marxism, 106-107.

68. Louis Althusser, Lenin and Philosophy and Other Essays (New York: Monthly Review Press, 1971), 160-162.

69. Ibid., 162.

70. V.G. Gak, Sopostavitel'naia Leksikologiia (Moscow: Mezhdunarodnye othosheniia, 1977), 99.

71. Iu. S. Sorokin, Razvitiia slovarnogo sostava russkogo literaturnogo iazyka 50-90 godov 19 veka (Moscow, 1965), 30, 31.

72. As the Soviet scholar Panfilov has observed, "in the epoch of stylistic changes evoked by the Great October Socialist Revolution and by virtue of those transformations in the country to which it gave birth, the ceremonial, rhetorical style ended its existence as a specific style of Russian literary language. Its legacy was adopted by the publicist style, which turbulently developed during the first years of the revolution." Strange as it may seem, Panfilov does not conceal that the new ideological language (or publicist style, as he calls it) acquired the same functions as the czarist rhetorical style. A.K. Panfilov, Lektsii po stilistike russkogo iazyka, (Moscow, 1972), 95.






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