The Soviet and the Post-Soviet Discourses of Contemporary Ukraine: Literary Scholarship, the Humanities and the Russian-Ukrainian Interface

George G. Grabowicz 29 April 2009


1. Background Issues: the Colonial Paradigm, Ukraine and Poland

The two main topics proposed by this volume-colonialism and postcolonialism on the one hand and Sovietology (which I understand here primarily as the study of the Soviet legacy) on the other-involve broad and important areas which have a special relevance for contemporary Ukraine in general and for Ukrainian studies in particular. This is all the more true in that Ukrainian studies is a relatively young discipline and one that has suffered inordinately from distortions of the Soviet period-which themselves clearly imply the workings of a colonial relationship. At the same time, as a consequence of recent dramatic political changes it is a field which is now in a period of ferment and transition and which exhibits a range of polar features, many negative as well as some positive.
This volume's paired focus on Poland an Ukraine is highly valuable both by reason of the intrinsic value of any comparative and typological inquiry and also because the Polish-Ukrainian connection provides an important frame of reference for examining historical, political and cultural developments in both societies. It is now generally accepted that one cannot study the early modern period of one without addressing the other (although one can still argue that Poland is more central for Ukraine than the other way around (after all, a large part of what is now Ukraine was part of the Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth; at the same time the inheritance of that Commonwealth for modern Poland is something that is only now being problematized, i.e., seen as a complex devolution and not as an exclusive "property" of Polish history). Another fundamental given of contemporary (expressly post- or non-Soviet and also, obviously, not Russian-centered) Ukrainian historiography is that Ukrainian history, particularly the emergence of the modern Ukrainian nation-i.e., principally the period of the 19th and the early 20th centuries-is a product of a triangulated Ukrainian-Polish-Russian process and relationship and that the inadequate consideration, let alone absence of, any of the three constituent components distorts and impoverishes the full picture.
The special, indeed defining feature of the post World War II political setting for both Poland and Ukraine is that they were then, and would be until the collapse of the Soviet Union, not independent players, but parts-albeit in different circles, so to speak-of the Soviet Empire. A certain symmetry is thus introduced and as a result of the overarching geopolitical situation and border changes, massive population shifts and, lest we forget, highly traumatic ethnic cleansing (the term was invented later, but the phenomenon existed earlier) the conditions were laid for future normalization. (That, however, occurred, if it did, only as a consequence of the Orange Revolution of 2004 and this very delay should also be a subject of more detailed analysis. And indeed of socio-psychological scrutiny: the very enthusiasm of the "orange" response in Poland may be in various ways compensatory and more complex than it seems.) For our immediate purposes, this time frame is something of a detriment, for by focusing on the last 60 years (the post-1945 developments) we elide the whole question of the antecedent Polish-Ukrainian historical interface as one that also contains-with whatever qualifications-a colonial component. Thus, for example, the nature of early 19th century Polish literature in its treatment of the Ukrainian subject matter-particularly the so-called "Ukrainian school of Polish poetry," but also the Cossackophiles ( Michał Czajkowski and Bohdan Zaleski), such conservative writers as Michał Grabowski and Henryk Rzewuski, and indeed writers extending into the post-Romantic period, including Henryk Sienkiewicz-clearly suggest a "possessive" colonial or quasi-colonial stance [Grabowicz 1990]. In the 20th century, particularly in the post World War II era this finds its echo in the topos of the kresy (which is also a subject of our conference).
In a word, the colonial (or quasi-colonial) component in the Ukrainian-Polish relationship is one that clearly deserves attention, all the more so in that the popular or populist discourse in Ukraine is predisposed to address it in a casual or indeed demagogic fashion. And even though the new Ukrainian historiography is more than prepared to counter it and deconstruct it [Iakowenko 2003], it is a formidable and highly interesting issue-and moreover one that has its counterpart in Polish society (and indeed scholarship) where an analogous array of biases, distortions and blind spots is also in evidence. Discussion of this Polish-Ukrainian interface will need to be postponed, however, for another occasion. The focus here will be on the Russian-Ukrainian interface and on some of its reflections, particularly in literature and the study of literature.

2. The Colonial Paradigm: Ukraine and Russia

The question of Ukraine's colonial relationship with Russia, i.e., the Russian Empire, is more immediate, i.e., both continuous and contemporary for us by virtue of the fact that that Empire was subsequently transformed into the Soviet Empire. That Soviet period, however, clearly has important divides-most strikingly the Stalinist and post-Stalinist periods-which themselves necessarily entail both discontinuity and continuity and project different issues and discourses.
The colonial or quasi-colonial status of the newly emerging Ukrainian literature in the Russian Empire in the course of the 19th century is a broad and central subject which I have addressed at various occasions and one which I can hardly attempt to summarize here [Hrabovych 2003, 46-126 and 180-126]. But it would be useful to make a few points, the first relating to the colonial model itself. As I had argued earlier, while:

Among younger and western trained scholars and critics, particularly in literature, philosophy and intellectual history, the colonial and postcolonial paradigms have not only become current, but have stimulated new and interesting revisionist studies... the model itself has not been the object of rigorous examination. A number of terms and criteria that have already surfaced in the colonial paradigm - legitimacy/illegitimacy, centrality/marginality, cultural identity under circumstances of cultural and political oppression, and so on - [still] beg to be tested [Grabowicz 1995, 676].

At the same time questions of dominance, subordination, and de-legitimization clearly obtain in 19th century Ukrainian literature in the Russian Empire and characterize the official Russian imperial response (and indeed much of the unofficial Russian response) to Ukrainian literature and culture and by extension the national movement they were articulating. Its main markers are 1847, the suppression of the Brotherhood of Saints Cyril and Methodius, the "high point" of repression, the Ems Ukaz of 1876, and 1905 when in the aftermath of defeat in the Russo-Japanese war, and then the Revolution of that year, the Imperial Academy of Sciences conceded that Ukrainian was a language and not a dialect and the authorities lifted various restrictions on writing and publishing in Ukrainian.
Two more moments need to be noted to sketch out the colonial paradigm in 19th century Ukrainian literature. The first is that the model of colonial dependence/subordination/inferiority vis-à-vis the center is hard to distinguish from a provincial model. In the Ukrainian case this provincialism-at least for the first part of the 19th century, and in fact for much of the century-is a defining feature; it certainly animated the phenomenon of kotliarevshchyna (i.e., literature in the style of Ivan Kotliarevs'kyi, 1769-1838) where the burlesque mode and "crude," earthy, nativist and implicitly subversive elements came to be identified with Ukrainian literature as such [Hrabovych 2003, 291-305]. For the Russian critics, beginning with Vissarion Belinsky and extending to the 20th century, this was in fact the major if not sole visage of Ukrainian literature that they perceived. Beyond the humor and earthiness, however, these critics failed to see that a powerful sense of identity was being forged-on the basis of the vernacular language, a symbolically potent set of devices that suggested intimacy and identity, and the subversive stance of rejecting the Russian canon in favor of a nascent Ukrainian one.
Secondly, for all the individuation that was occurring in Ukrainian literature in the course of the 19th century the overall picture was problematic-particularly in the area of intellectual activity and specifically in the area of intellectual/academic self-reflection. In short, due to administrative and political restrictions the ability to conceptualize and study one's own history and culture was curtailed and de facto relegated to the periphery or to individual, non-professional efforts. Ukrainian studies as such were to develop in western Ukraine under Austria-Hungary or in the emigration (emblematically in the activities of Mykhailo Drahomanov). In Russia itself they were strictly limited and to the extent that they were allowed to exist they were home-grown and implicitly populist efforts. Obviously, scholarship that was rooted in a counter-culture project could not but be inherently contradictory and problematic; for its part, as I had noted, "from the point of view of official (imperial) scholarship ukrainoznavstvo, the field of Ukrainian studies, was often seen as simultaneously amateurish and tendentious." [Grabowicz 1995, 680].

3. The Early Soviet Period: The Ukrainian Cultural Renaissance of the 1920s

Despite the legacy of restrictions and built-in handicaps the period immediately following the Revolution of 1917 saw a remarkable upsurge in academic and scholarly activity that made it largely commensurate with what was being achieved in neighboring societies.[1] From a cultural and scholarly perspective, the years of ukrainizatsiia (Ukrainianization; 1924-1929) are a watershed in Ukrainian history, superceded only by the attainment of national independence in 1991. The 1920s in Ukraine also witnessed a major revival in the arts, especially in literature, theater, music and cinema, a broad expansion of literacy and education on all levels, and the establishment of a profile of institutions of scholarship in the arts and sciences, as well as in the technical sciences. It is hardly surprising that because of these achievements-and also because of the ruthless termination of this period-that it has long been perceived by non-Soviet cultural historians, and now, in the post-Soviet period, by the broad consensus of both scholars and the intelligentsia, as an unparalleled renaissance in Ukrainian cultural history.
Probably the major, enabling feature of this scholarly and intellectual revival was its institutionalization. That which had been the single most acute problem in the past was now reversed in a plethora of older and newly created, specialized as well as interdisciplinary institutions. The activities of Mykhailo Hrushevs'kyi may serve as a particularly dramatic illustration here. In 1924 the first president of the Ukrainian Republic returned from exile determined to work exclusively in the area of scholarship. The institutional locus of his work included his Chair, as Academician, of Modern Ukrainian History, the Historical Section of the former Ukrainian Scientific Society in Kyiv and the Research Chair of Ukrainian History; in addition he headed a separate commission for the preparation of a historical-geographic dictionary. In 1926 the Historical Section of the Academy of Sciences established a subsection of Economic History which was also headed by Hrushev'kyi. A similar pattern obtained in various other disciplines [Polons'ka-Vasylenko 1993, 77-84].
From the point of view of ideology, ukrainizatsiia, both as period and process, reveals a specific, multileveled duality-or hybridity-precisely in the areas of our focus: in culture and scholarship. On the one hand, in the area of high culture, the arts, especially literature, theater and cinema, the presence not only of slogans and topoi, but of new revolutionist attitudes and values, a worldview, or indeed ideology, that accepts (or seems to accept) the basic tenets of official thinking cannot be denied. Its main features, for example, are the belief that art and culture need to be engaged and oriented towards the masses, that not only history, but culture, too, has a teleology and linearity, that not only society but even creativity can be ordered, planned and subordinated to history, that mimesis, various privileged themes, and rhetoric constitute essential aesthetic values, and so on. In part this stems from the fact that various artistic-stylistic movements of this time-futurism, constructivism, expressionism and so on-programmatically threw in their lot with the new order and the ascendant ideology; in part this is a general, non-ideological or ambient coincidence of attitudes, which has often been labeled "revolutionary Romanticism." In Ukrainian literature the former is illustrated by Mykhail Semenko, futurist poet, gadfly and literary impresario who in numerous theoretical manifestoes and essays, and in his journal "Nova generatsiia" [The New Generation] energetically promulgated revolutionary, leftist art (and in the eyes of many sought thereby to curry favor with the new masters). The principal exponent of the modernist art is the outstanding Ukrainian prose writer of this period, Mykola Khvyl'ovyi, who espoused a kind of national communism specifically oriented towards Europe and away from Moscow, who saw as the main task on the road to national revival the need to overcome Ukrainian provincialism, and who, in the literary organization he shaped and animated, the ironically styled "Free Academy of Proletarian Literature" or VAPLITE, and in its several publications, gathered together the best literary talents of the time without serious reference to the writer's ideological orientation, and with the express purpose of counteracting the devaluation of literary art that was being caused by the traditional parochial and populist values. (In effect, all but explicitly, his was an anti-proletarian platform.) Because of his principled opposition to Russian hegemony and his stress on the nationally reconstructive tasks of the Party, the state and of culture in general, Khvyl'ovyi (himself a member of the Party and half-Russian by birth) came to be vilified by the Party and singled out as a dangerous element by Stalin himself. In a final gesture of protest against the man-made famine of 1933, and the ever-widening repressions, he committed suicide on May 13 of that year. Until his "official rehabilitation" well into the Gorbachev period Khvyl'ovyi remained the single most demonized figure in the official Soviet Ukrainian discourse [Luckyj 1956, Grabowicz 2000 and Hryn 2005].
On the other hand, scholarship in the humanities in this period presents a totally different picture. Until the end of the 1920s, the humanities, and indeed scholarship in general, is largely unaffected by the ideological tempests of the day. There is simply no analogue in the scholarly discourse, particularly in the academic one, to the "Literary Discussion" of 1925-1928, where dozens of writers, critics and political figures debated and argued at great length as to the future course of literature. It is not that there was no ferment or vitality in the humanities at this time (there surely was), but that the issue of its ideological profile had not become a problem. In fact scholarship is expanding at an unprecedented rate, particularly in the areas of history, source studies, bibliography and in the study of newly established fields-Oriental studies, Byzantine studies, Jewish studies, the studies of Ukraine's other minorities and so on.
In light of subsequent developments, however, it is all the more remarkable that this state of affairs, in effect, the non-ideological, "purely scholarly" nature of the humanities, is accepted as entirely normal by the cultural elite. There is in fact ample evidence that in the eyes of the general public such institutions as the Ukrainian Academy of Sciences were held in extraordinarily high esteem [Polons'ka-Vasylenko 1993, I, 40-49]. In a preliminary way this tolerance (not only by the general public, but by highly prominent and engaged cultural figures like Khvyl'ovyi) of a non-political, non-ideological approach to the humanities characterizes the pre-Stalinist state of affairs and establishes its major parameter. In effect, this is still the paradigm of national rebirth with a semblance (albeit using authoritarian, voluntaristic rhetoric) of a relatively open society, certainly far from a totalitarian society. For all the difficulties we have in visualizing at this stage a genuine civil society-which clearly could not exist in a Soviet state-a sense of a genuine patriotic, Ukraino-centric consensus, where the nominally ideological was actually subordinate to more broadly conceived national issues, where an implicit national communism holds sway and where the Communist party does not constitute an ultimate value, can still be discerned across a wide range of cultural, scholarly and political figures and attitudes. This, however, was its last glimmering.

4. The Core Legacy of Sovietism: Stalinism

Stalin's counter-attack against korenizatsiia and ukrainizatsiia began virtually as soon as they were promulgated. He himself had long proposed "autonomization," the subordination of the regions, later the "republics," to the "center" but this had been overruled by Lenin who proposed a "union of equals." After Lenin's death, one of Stalin's first steps as General Secretary was to counter ukrainizatsiia and its implicit nation-building program by the appointment in 1925 of Lazar Kaganovich to the post of General Secretary of the Ukrainian Communist Party with a mandate, among other things, to dismantle this process. Although officially in charge of it-as head of the Politburo commission on Ukrainianization-Kaganovich proceeded to systematically eviscerate this policy, most notably at first by organizing in 1926-1927 the demise of Oleksandr Shumskyi, the National Commissar for Education who was cast, among other things, as having been insufficiently vigilant towards various forms of nationalism on the part of a number of Ukrainian writers [Mace 1983, 86-119]. Shumskyi's successor, Mykola Skrypnyk, continued to argue for Ukrainian cultural rights and the principled equivalence of Ukrainian and Russian cultures-even while implementing ever greater Party control. Under him, however, the policy of Ukrainianization became ever more defensive, and purely formal, as the full weight of the party and government apparatus was oriented toward eradicating so called bourgeois nationalism. By 1929-1930, Ukrainianization is seldom mentioned as a priority in Party pronouncements. Its symbolic termination can be seen in the suicides of Khvyl'ovyi and two months later (July 7, 1933) of Skrypnyk. It is significant that with but one exception, all the high government and party officials who had been members of the Politburo commission of the Central Committee of the Ukrainian Communist Party relating to Ukrainianization were in time declared "enemies of the people" and "liquidated." [Danilenko 1991, 267]
It is generally known that large show trials, on trumped up charges, with massive orchestration and publicity, and with preordained results not only for the defendants but for hundreds or thousands of others who fell into their orbit, were a tried technique in the establishment of Stalinist rule (and were in fact initiated under Lenin). The trial of the so called Spilka Vyzvolennia Ukrainy (SVU) [League for the Liberation of Ukraine], was a watershed in the Stalinist struggle against recalcitrant national forces, Ukrainianization, and most significantly the still relatively independent Ukrainian Academy of Sciences. Arrests of various intellectuals and especially members of the Academy of Sciences-later characterized by one of the defendants (Osyp Hermaize) as "an island in a communist sea"-began in 1929 and continued throughout the year. The Academy, ever more subservient to the communists and desperate to distance itself from the accused, disowned and condemned them even before the trial began [Polons'ka-Vasylenko 1993, I, 67-76]. The main defendants were the academician Serhii Iefremov, Secretary of the Humanities, the first and largest of the Departments of the Academy, a foremost literary historian and highly popular critic and writer, generally called "the conscience of the nation," the academician M. E. Slabchenko, such prominent scholars and members of the Academy as Osyp Hermaize, Hryhorii Holoskevych, Volodymyr Durdukivs'kyi, Andrii Nikovs'kyi, Liudmyla Staryts'ka-Cherniakhivs'ka and many others. Of 45 defendants, 26 were from the Academy; with but a few exceptions all were in the humanities. All the defendants were found guilty. All perished in the camps. The trial also produced thousands of other victims arrested and destroyed for alleged participation in the SVU. By the end of the 1930s the Ukrainian Academy of Sciences was reduced to a shell of its former self. Most devastated were the humanities [Polons'ka-Vasylenko 1993, II, 65-81].
The destruction of institutions, of research in a broad range of areas, particularly in the humanities and especially in Ukrainian studies, which were now deemed virtually synonymous with "bourgeois nationalism," the elimination of whole theoretical and methodological lines of inquiry (now deemed "counterrevolutionary," bourgeois" or "formalist") and of normal scholarly functioning, procedure and etiquette, was equally ruthless. Already in 1929-1930 a number of Commissions, especially in history and philology were simply liquidated, for example, of Modern Ukrainian History, Archaeography, various commissions on the Ukrainian language, on Jewish Studies, etc. [Polons'ka-Vasylenko 1993, I, 102-107]. Between 1931 and 1934 the process only gathered speed, resulting in the further elimination of other humanities institutes, of Oriental and Byzantine studies, of the remnants of linguistic, ethnographic, minority studies, studies of art history, and so on [Polons'ka-Vasylenko 1993, II, 9-29].
Simultaneously with the removal of eminent or simply genuine scholars, came the appointment to the Academy of Party functionaries (e.g., [Volodymyr Zatons'kyi, the commissar for education), or cultural figures seen as pliant tools of the Party (e.g., the poet Pavlo Tychyna, appointed Academician in 1929), or, indeed, as in the case of Trofim Lysenko (who was appointed in 1936 having been a collective farm agronomist)-scholarly charlatans.

5. Stalinism Continued; Russification

The Stalinist terror is, of course, only a prelude to our frame of reference. But it needs to be factored in to understand the process of adaptation to the Soviet system that was so long identified with Stalinism. One can begin with the question of ideology.
It is obvious (and particularly stressed by those who survived that system) that there was on the one hand a surface or "virtual" ideology-"dictatorship of the proletariat," "the class struggle," "dialectical materialism," "the leading role of the Party," economic determinism, the Marxist-Leninist notion of an ongoing struggle within each national culture between a "progressive" and a "reactionary" strain, the teleology of History, and so on-and on the other the "real" ideology: values, positions, configurations-all relating to power and authority, to signs and culture, which had only a nominal, or conditional relationship to the surface "ideology" in question. At the core of the latter, "real" ideology was the State-adulated, absolutized, and aggrandizing-and its incarnation in the revived Russian Empire; and Russocentrism, and Russification as the major means for serving and expanding the empire.
The imperative of total control, and of a unified monolithic "ideology", in effect a unified, totalitarian spiritual space, necessarily led, on the one hand, to a hypertrophy of the ritual and symbolic (Georgii Pochepcov, for example, astutely notes the ever increasing role of anniversaries and jubilees, so that by the time of Brezhnev the country was continually celebrating some feast or other [Pochepcov 1994]), and to a pronounced, unwavering anti-intellectualism and anti-humanism on the other. In the sphere of scholarship this also translated into an anti-humanities bias, which is most evident in the non-Russian context, where the "local" culture, and by extension all things dealing with culture, were strictly confined to a subordinate status. In this sense, too, a colonial status was enforced vis-à-vis the local, "peripheral" cultures. (Since the state had official use for Russian culture as an integrating and legitimizing force this tendency was ameliorated and masked with respect to it.) In the "regions," culture as high culture (and not as local color or ethnographic articulations) was often replaced, particularly in the institutional and budgetary contexts, by official glorifications of technology-thus masking both the profound anti-humanistic bias of the system and the growing inability to actually keep up with modern technology. All of these moments, moreover, became deeply ingrained in the fabric of Soviet authority and lasted, with specific variations, to the very end of the system.
The administrative apparatus for assuring the hegemony of the center is a subject in its own right, and deserves separate attention. It includes such features as a centralized authority to grant higher degrees (VAK), requirements as to the language of Ph.D. dissertations (Russian), prioritization and distribution of disciplines (more on this below), special extra-territorial status for various institutions (whereby, for example, the University in Dnipropetrovsk, and various other institutions, had a status that made them answerable only to the authorities in Moscow), strict control over travel abroad and total control over contacts with the West, control, both direct and indirect, over the profile of publications, and most basically of all a language policy that was inexorably geared toward Russification and the full, in effect colonial, subordination of the political, productive, cultural and intellectual capacities of the "national Republics."
The nationalities policy, and specifically the language policy of the Soviet Union has received much attention, and can hardly be summarized here [Simon, 1986]. But one can note that this is the area that establishes the greatest continuity between the Stalinist and the post-Stalinist periods and thus demonstrates my basic contention that Stalinism was the determining imprint for Soviet policy and society over its entire subsequent history. Given this continuity and the need for a systemic "start up time" it is not surprising that the strongest attempts at Russification occurred in the 1970s and early 1980s, following on the heels of Brezhnev's claim at the XXIV Congress of the Party in March 1971 that the nationalities issue had finally been resolved and that a new historical community had now appeared, the "Soviet people (narod)" [Brezhnev 1974, 4]. As to the situation in Ukraine itself, according to one source,

Between 1969 and 1980 the general number of journals that appeared in Ukrainian was reduced from 46% to 19%; between 1958 and 1980 the percentage of books that appeared in Ukrainian fell from 60% to 24%.
During the 1970s and early 1980s the Ukrainian language was progressively eliminated from the theaters. Of the seven Theaters for the Young Viewer only one, in Lviv, was in Ukrainian. Of the 50 theater-studios created in Ukraine at the beginning of the 1980s, only two were in Ukrainian. All the theaters of musical comedy were in Russian.
Film, which for the Soviet authorities since the time of Lenin was the most important of the arts by dint of its impact on the mass audience was never made in Ukrainian, except in the rarest of exceptions [Masenko 1995, 68].

The effects on the academic setting were no less severe-on all levels. According to official, Ministry of Education data, in the 1970s and early 1980s the 4,500 Russian language schools in Ukraine taught more than half of all the students of the Republic. Of the 300,000 students in Kiev, only 70,000, less than one quarter, were taught in Ukrainian [Masenko 1995, 69]. Most important for our context: all teaching in higher institutions of learning, with the exception only of some subjects in the humanities (largely Ukrainian language and literature), and in some professional-technical schools, was in Russian [Masenko 1995, 69].
The fate of the humanities is a telling detail in this larger picture: they illustrate the same process of narrowing, reduction and, as the Soviet term expressed it, "absence of prospects" (besperspektivnost'). The first indicator is critical mass. Whereas in the 1920s the humanities, and within them Ukrainian Studies (ukrainistyka), were the largest sector in the Academy of Sciences, the bulwark and avant-garde of its work, in 1993 (this is, of course, after independence, but the figures have been constant for at least the last decade) the humanities had a 7.7% share of the total number of the academicians and corresponding members in the Academy. The personnel in the humanities (scholars, researchers and staff) constituted only 4.5% of the total membership of the Academy. The combined total in terms of funding for the humanities was 2.8% in 1992 and 5.0% in 1993. More revealing still are the numbers that lie behind them. At issue is not just the number of institutes (roughly speaking there are 10 to 12 times as many institutes of the sciences and the technical sciences as there are in the humanities), but the size of them as well: whereas a typical humanities institute may have around 100 co-workers, the typical scientific institute may have two or three thousand, and in some cases as many as ten thousand. In contrast, the entire Sector of Literature, Linguistics and Art, had 689 members (in 1992) and 748 (in 1993), or respectively 1.4% and 1.5% of the total. This may be compared with the Sector of the Physical-Technical Problems of Materials, which for 1992 had 11,391 persons (or 22.4% of the whole Academy) and in 1993, 11,076 (or 21.7%). [Zvit pro diialnist' Akademii Nauk Ukrainy u 1993, r., 1994]. One should also note here that the Sector of the Physical-Technical Problems of Materials, i.e., the various institutes of welding as they are popularly called-and the President of the Academy, Borys Paton, is a specialist in this field and heads this Sector-had not only more than one fifth of the total personnel of the Academy, but more academicians and corresponding members than all the humanities combined.

6. Sovietism and Post-Sovietism: Ideology and Cultural Style

As the above figures indicate, we have moved into the post-independence period without, apparently, even stopping to note it. That was not my intent: the attainment of independence-so momentous for any nation-was no less a fundamental divide for Ukraine. Even more, as the figures cited in the Masenko study intimate [Masenko 1995], it was a reprieve from imminent cultural extinction (in the guise of the new "Soviet" nation). As such, the importance of independence can hardly be overstated. And yet, in the areas in question, in scholarship in the humanities, in the realm of cultural institutions and particularly of cultural policy, the picture is hardly rosy. In many respects it is entirely dim-and basically a continuation of the pattern established in the final years of the Soviet period. Rather than fully analyze it I will provide only some illustrative details-particularly with reference to the continuities in question and particularly as they portray structures of discourse and behavior.
The key moment here is that in the post-Stalinist Soviet Union ideology became cultural style: what began in the Stalinist 1930s as terror and administrative fiat became a model of thought and behavior, indeed this is what establishes the continuity in the Soviet system after the terror has been removed. This also follows from our above distinction between "manifest" and "deep" levels of ideology. If we focus, as we must, on that deep level, on the existential dimension of ideology, its Lebenswelt, it is clear that we must see it as a form of social psychology, as cultural patterns deeply affected by history and historical trauma.
The subsequent central issue is the pattern of adjustments to the demands of ideology. Synoptically one can speak of several such forms or modes. Perhaps the most elemental, in a sense pre-existing, cultural model is populism. This, after all, was the legacy of the entire early phase of the modern period, the nation-building stage of the 19th century, which, broadly speaking, was reflected in literature from Kotliarevs'kyi and the earthy, burlesque style of kotliarevshchyna at the beginning of the century through such central figures as Mykola Kostomarov and Marko Vovchok to the classics of Ukrainian ethnographic realism, Ivan Nechui-Levyc'kyi and Panas Myrnyi at the end of the century. (The most prominent Ukrainian writer of the 19th century, the poet Taras Shevchenko, can be, and has been, interpreted in the tradition of populism, but his role is so central that it transcends this mode and implies an all-national one.) In early 20th century Soviet Ukrainian literature, especially with the onset of Stalinism, populism is reworked in a pervasive pattern of neo-kotliarevshchyna. In effect this is also a colonial Procrustean bed into which Ukrainian culture was placed as the country and its culture were assigned their place in the imperial plan. (Thus while the study of Russian literature was allowed both its historical past and, despite some limitations, the possibility of comparative approaches, e.g. "Turgenev and Flaubert," or "Pushkin and Byron" etc., the canon of Ukrainian literature was historically truncated and increasingly confined to its own, "internal," ethnographic frame of reference: the ever-more popular analytical paradigm for writing about a Ukrainian writer was "N.N. and folk culture"). But while this "ethnic" tag was indeed imposed, and implicitly served to effect a subordinate, subaltern status, it could also serve as a form of defense, precisely as a sanctuary. Thus, just as in the tradition of the early 19th-century kotliarevshchyna, the tradition of travesty and burlesque, the role of a folksy and simple "local character" was functional: it reduced threat by adopting submissive behavior, while at the same time allowing a degree of surreptitious, sly resistance, indeed forms of subversion-of the canon, of authority-through putatively self-deprecating but actually mocking humor. (In some instances, as in the poetry of the premier 20th-century Ukrainian poet, Pavlo Tychyna-who in his later career was fully canonic and "loyal," indeed a high party functionary and an "academician" in the Ukrainian Academy of Sciences-it also assumes subtle ironic and deflecting roles.) While this was not, to be sure, an open or professed academic or scholarly strategy, it was an ambient response, a form of internal, covert opposition. At the same time it was-almost universally-not perceived as opposition by the general public, but taken precisely as submission, as currying favor and as genuine self-abnegation in the face of higher authority. The demoralizing effect of this cannot be overestimated.
After recourse to the "encoded" tradition of populism, the traditional value of "uniting with the narod," an equally prominent and preset pattern is found in various devices of mimicry and adaptation. While forms of survival, these are also forms least congruent with the ethos of scholarship. Their typical features in written production are rote schematism, citations instead of original thinking, and ultimately utter derivativeness. While the matter needs further study, one may hypothesize that the flourishing of mimicry and adaptation-and, of course, the antecedent cause of actual physical destruction of scholarly cadres on a scale proportionally much greater than in Russian culture-explain why there was less principled opposition in various matters relating to academic policy and quality in the Ukrainian academic establishment, especially the humanitarian one, than in, say, the Russian.
This may also explain the putatively greater openness in the Ukrainian case to academic quackery-of which the Lysenko case is paradigmatic (albeit it falls outside the humanities). Apart from culture, this tolerance for non- or anti-scholarship in the very midst of the scholarly establishment is also a function of academic structuring; see below. The overall phenomenon, of course, is also quintessentially colonial [Fanon 1963]. This colonial pattern becomes particularly evident when we see the pattern of the "center," on the one hand, bringing in ("harvesting") the best talents from the "provinces" to work in Moscow or Leningrad (thus making them into "Russian" writers or scholars) and, on the other hand, disposing ("dumping") its own undesirables (for example incompetents or plagiarists) to serve in positions of authority in those same "provinces": after all, scholarship there is trash anyway.
Less obvious-precisely because it has become so normal, so much a part of the cultural setting and the daily reality-was the near total hybridization of the humanities establishment, particularly in matters relating to literature. This hybridization was, of course, officially sanctioned and inspired, and projected the basic (both surface and deep) ideological premise of fusing structures (the "elite") with "the masses," "the people" (narod). Thus, as already noted-and particularly in the humanities-academicians were chosen not on the basis of their scholarship but because they were, for example, popular writers, such as Tychyna, Maksym Ryl's'kyi, Oles' Honchar, Borys Oliinyk and others. Institutionally, this was expanded to the point where, for example, the Ukrainian Union of Writers became co-founder and co-sponsor, along with the Institute of Literature of the Academy of Sciences, of the major academic literary journal, Radians'ke literaturoznavstvo (since 1990-Slovo i chas). Clearly, this could not but dilute or "popularize" the level of critical discourse, and indeed serve as a permanent, structural deterrent to academic professionalism. The value (or as some might be inclined to put it-the virus) of populism thus became part of the system, an integral part of the code that manifested itself in a range of guises, all of which were, to repeat, accepted both by the broad public and the rank and file of the profession (here literary critics, teachers and students of literature) as entirely normal: informality of presentation, broad complacency about incompetence and lackluster standards ("It's the system's fault, after all, that we're not properly trained"), general tolerance of plagiarism and intellectual theft and derivative thinking, melding of the academic and the publicistic, parochialism of intellectual horizons, near total ignorance of languages other than Ukrainian and Russian, and so on. The discourse of the humanities, in general, and literary scholarship in particular, became closely intertwined with a publicistic and populist and often unabashedly propagandistic idiom. After decades of such melding, the scholarly and the para- or indeed anti-scholarly are not at all easy to distinguish-in the minds of the public at large and indeed of the establishment itself-and the very fact of referring to such distinctions is taken by many as somehow improper: stating the obvious becomes "out of frame."

7. Sovietism and Post-Sovietism Continued: the Question of Continuity

A crucial nexus, where the Soviet and post-Soviet discourses in Ukraine meet and especially where the issues of ideology (in the form of doctrine and "theory"), of critical praxis and of popular reception, collective values and conditioned behavior all intersect, is the literary, critical and socio-cultural phenomenon of socialist realism, specifically its legacy and continuity. This too, of course, is a broad subject, one that is again attracting new attention in the West [Lahusen and Dobrenko 1997], and which can only be tangentially addressed here. The major issues it subtends-each of them deserving close attention-are the imposition of ideological (implicitly totalitarian, police) control and censorship, recourse to earlier, traditional and populist-collectivist values and aesthetics (the hegemony of "realism" and unabashedly xenophobic anti-western feeling, couched as anti-modernism), institutional continuity, and the above-discussed notion of adaptive behavior becoming cultural style. Each of these moments has its historical locus and extension (police sanctions and censorship, for example, are different in severity in the Stalinist and in the post-Stalinist periods) and each has its culturally marked role, and none of these moments, characteristically, has been adequately studied in the Ukrainian context. While the official diktat of socialist realism was abrogated already in the late 1980s with perestroika, the legacy and inertia of that mode has continued in various more or less overt guises and is quite inescapable in the institutional guise of the still extant Union of Writers and its various organs, especially its newspaper, Literaturna Ukraina. Most strikingly, the humanities in Ukraine, and particularly literary scholarship and criticism, have for the most part blithely avoided discussion of both the phenomenon and especially aspects of its continuity, and this abnegation of institutional and disciplinary self-reflection is in itself an acute indicator of the blurring between the Soviet and post-Soviet discourses in the humanities, and again particularly in literary studies.
The basic question here, of course, is legacy and continuity. The hypothesis that the literary system, whether under socialist realism or not, tends to find its "natural" level or profile (and thus whatever the official injunctions, Ukrainian socialist realism will have its peculiar profile and texture and the Russian will have its own) would suggest that the principle of continuity is essentially built in. It is buttressed by language and historical experience, by institutions and above all by "cadres"-by people, both the literati, and the para-literati, and the audience and its horizons of expectations in general. At the same time, of course, there are always powerful forces of discontinuity; the relationship is always dynamic-by reason of being alive and part of the real world. In all this the ideological moment becomes decidedly secondary-and may appear to be totally abandoned as communist slogans are replaced by nationalist or nativist ones (although on the fringes one may still find even today echoes of the ideology and the rhetoric of communism and indeed Stalinism). But even a cursory glance will show that that continuity can be found, much more essentially, in a range of structures and modalities-all of them important and all of then only scantly analyzed.
Institutional continuity is central. As is well known, various structures and institutions, from what is now called the National Academy of Sciences to universities and governmental structures (ministries), and not least the Union of Writers, have not really been changed or reformed and more than one generation that functioned full well under the Soviet system is still basically in place-and with them the style and values of that system. The changes that have occurred are arguably smaller and less decisive than the continuities. One can also speak of a continuum of basic values, above all populism and collectivism, a distrust, if not outright animus towards the West, and more specifically (if not always well articulated) an on-going anti-modernist bias. As reflected in various journalistic effusions from the traditionalist camp, the struggle with the bugbear of "postmodernism" has broad currency and many supporters, not least of all in the academic establishment [Shved 2005].
On the other hand there is the ongoing efflorescence of native pseudo-history, popular mythmaking, and various mystifications. While such marginalia exist in all societies, what is particularly revealing here-and clearly indicative of the ossification and virtual breakdown of some institutions-is that these mystifications have entered the mainstream of education and are now regularly part of the curriculum and putatively the canon of the new post-Soviet Ukrainian literature. (In most school textbooks and anthologies the Book of Vles, written by a Russian emigre some time in the 1950s, stands as the first monument of Ukrainian literature, i.e., from the 6th century or so [Kaganskaia 1986-87].) Remarkably, no Ukrainian academic institution is on record as debunking that "fact." The lack of quality control this suggests is perhaps the sharpest indictment of a rudderless cultural and educational policy and of a general institutional crisis.
Ukrainian socialist realism is marked by Russocentrism. This is implicit in the theory and inevitable in practice. The doctrinal notion of ideological control, of the "Party principle"(partiinost') and so on, clearly projects a center/ authority to which the (implicit) periphery is to look for inspiration and guidance. While the slavishly applied topos of Stalin as Father, Leader, Teacher and so on was seemingly jettisoned with his cult during the "thaw" of the Khrushchev era, the structures of center, of control, of hierarchy, of empowerment and dignity remained firmly in place. The very claim to seriousness, to solidity and "correctness" meant that the given discourse or argument would, as a rule, take as its point of departure such or other moment, position, development, thesis or articulation from the center. Thus, in 1989, on the eve of independence, at what was to be the first and for more than a decade virtually the only such discussion of socialist realism in Ukrainian literary criticism, the key presenter at the forum of the "Learned Council" (vchena rada) of the Institute of Literature of the Academy of Sciences, S. A. Kryzhanivs'kyi, begins with, and repeatedly refers in his talk to developments in Russia ["Socialistychnyi realism-poniattia teoretychne chy istorychne?", 1989, 3-10]; Ukrainian material enters that discussion almost as an afterthought, although one can encounter studies that do focus on it [Aheieva 1989]. (It goes without saying, of course, that the great majority of western writings on socialist realism are also implicitly Russocentric-as are western Slavic studies in general.)
A reflexive Russocentrism is, of course, part of the general, everyday discourse of Ukraine, particularly its southern and eastern parts-although perhaps less pronounced than it was a decade or two ago. Thus, not only the uncommitted, but the highly patriotic Ukrainian writer, critic or scholar writing in a non-academic setting will use long quotations in Russian on the tacit assumption that the Ukrainian reader must (and ought to) know Russian. (If told that the Poles or Czechs, or Lithuanians or Estonians do not go in for such practice he would probably first express surprise and then respond that "this is our misfortune": ce nasha bida.). On the other hand, in a formally academic setting that same critic or scholar will also happily cite only the Russian translations of, say, western authors without sensing anything untoward in it and without even trying to mask this with references to the original (Hegel and Kant, like Marx and Engels, must have surely been writing in Russian). It would appear that the obverse of this sense of "automatically belonging" to the broader (i.e., Russian) sphere is a disinclination to doubt the universality of this context. Presumably, too, this sense of norm is characteristic of a colonial relationship.
This then is the single most corrosive factor-corrosive, that is, for the normal functioning of scholarship, and for cultural creativity as well-a parochialism and isolationism, that easily melds into nativism and xenophobia. Narrowly speaking, this too is part, of course, of the legacy of socialist realism, i.e., the sense of a system of writing and reading, and more broadly-of creating and perceiving-that was putatively organic to, and obligatory for a society and an ethos. But framing it in this way naturally suggests that it is actually part of a much larger isolationist mind-set of the Soviet system in general, and of the Russian Imperial tradition that preceded it and animated it. The trans-rational, or simply irrational sense of exclusiveness that this entails is amply documented in the 19th century Russian tradition (one need only hearken back to Tiutchev's formulations about the "incomprehensibility" of Russia). Beneath the sense of uniqueness, of chosenness and megalomania, however, a sense of anxiety, a repressed fear of appearing inferior is also apparent. This, at any rate, is what seems to animate the endemic factor of isolationism in both the Soviet and the post-Soviet traditional and establishment-based Ukrainian academic discourses, particularly those in our purview. In effect, by bracketing out the need for a constant comparative frame, for constant reference to and participation in a broader external setting, of implicitly opening oneself up to the challenge and competition of a broader "market" of ideas and intellectual products the academic, and more specifically the literary-critical establishment preserve a status quo that symbolically deflects the problem of change, of transition from the Soviet to the non-Soviet, or simply to the normal. In effect, it ensures that in such crucial moments as scholarly quality and the means of quality control, in institutional structures and especially cadres, the "post-Soviet" is indistinguishable from the Soviet. (Emblematic of this is the fact that the present-still today, at the end of 2005!-president of the Ukrainian Academy of Sciences, Academician Borys Paton, was appointed to his post some forty years ago, at the time of Khrushchev. At present there are no apparent efforts at, nor even any talk of replacing him.) In terms of core values, the end result of the isolationist stance is an abnegation of scholarship as a universal value: the very notion of parallel truths ("one for us, one for them") must lead to an avoidance of the notion of scholarly truth itself. An indirect-but now ever increasing-result is the above noted scourge of plagiarism [Grabowicz 2004].

8. The Present Predicament

The core issue, to repeat, is institutional. In the broadest sense this is still the dilemma of the humanities in Ukraine today: institutional scholarship (the Academy of Sciences, the universities and so on) is largely unreformed and in many key respects (the actual personnel or "cadres," intellectual and methodological horizons, the work ethic, governance and so on) barely distinguishable from what it was in the late Soviet period. Parallel to it there exists a new, and basically altogether normal scholarship which is represented, however, only by the middle and younger generation of scholars and which has virtually no or only a very small institutional base-and, unfortunately, little prospect of receiving an adequate one in the foreseeable future. In effect, while the new, "normal" scholarship, though still small, has an adequate critical mass, it is totally marginal with respect to the institutions and their levers of power, budgetary access and so on. In a word, the institutions are all but totally in the hands of the Soviet/post-Soviet nomenklatura. Underlying this is the fact that in the entire post-independence period-whether in the governments of Presidents Kravchuk, Kuchma or the first months of the Iushchenko regime-Ukraine has not had any cultural policy or educational policy to speak of-and hence no policy whatsoever as to reform. The only analogue to policy is a pattern or unstated "policy" of laissez faire: "the market will take care of it." While not perhaps unique in world affairs, it is telling that this is the stance of a government of a country and nation created on the brink of cultural extinction.
To be sure, this non-policy, or policy of non-engagement, or of non-intervention, may be interpreted as the absence of political confidence or will and hence an unwillingness to "rock the boat," to engage in any action that might have a political cost-especially with more important battles to fight. On closer analysis, however, this argument of political expediency is unpersuasive: the political cost of mandating reform, of removing dead wood, of retiring a Paton or hundreds of similar members of the Academy's nomenklatura does not seem that high or indeed that unpopular-especially when compared to the political upheaval of the Orange Revolution of 2004. But precisely when seen in the context of the Iushchenko government's total inactivity on matters of academic, educational and cultural reform throughout 2005 it must be inferred that for this government-as for the preceding Kravchuk and Kuchma governments-these issues are simply not a priority, and that no foreseeable set of circumstances will stimulate them into a reform mode. Its basically insider- and/or nomenklatura-oriented record on appointments also suggests that such a non-policy will remain in place. And this continuous non-policy again confirms-the Orange Revolution notwithstanding-that the Soviet/post-Soviet period is hardly at an end, or, more importantly, that-in the sphere we are discussing-it is, for all practical purposes, a seamless continuum.
Rather than dwell on the dim prospects presented by the establishment and its institutional structures, and a non-existent government policy in the area of culture, scholarship and education, I would like to conclude by briefly focusing on some recent developments. I shall give this in summary fashion and in the hope that these points can be developed in time.
A major shift-which was generated and implemented by the educational establishment within a few years if not months of formal independence-was the creation of a secondary literature (textbooks, anthologies and so on) that would serve the vision of a newly independent Ukraine. In itself this was not the new academic canon.
The scholarly underpinnings, a new historiography, new research and new syntheses were still barely planned out, let alone in place. But the presumption of a new canon was there-and its central theme and value was one of national revival and with it an implicit distancing from the Russocentric Imperial model of the Soviet period. In time, to be sure, this distance would prove to be more rhetorical than substantive, but on the general, popular level this became a major topos, and a new orthodoxy, which while playing to the new patriotism could at the same time easily conceal the underlying dependence on old (even at times colonial) patterns of thought and behavior. (The notion of automatic Ukrainian-Russian bilingualism, the assumption that all Ukrainians should automatically know Russian, or that Ukrainian history is somehow indelibly linked to the Russian, was not questioned, for example.) In a word, the discourse of surface patriotism was often accompanied by an underlying traditional Russocentrism.
The above noted stasis of educational and academic institutions-apparent already in the period of "ripe" communism or Brezhnevism-became in the years of independence a growing rigor mortis. To be sure, a number of small non-sclerotic institutes did arise; one such normal instituition, albeit still not fully accredited, is the Catholic University of Lviv. But these are the exceptions. The great majority of institutions is still quite unreformed, and indeed there is still neither talk nor any prospect of reform. No member of the old Soviet academic establishment was fired or retired (only natural causes could do this work). The present (Socialist) Minister of Education (appointed to fulfill the "quota" of a coalition partner) stated publicly that all talk of reform only impeded the business of education. Ukraine has even officially signed up to the Bologna process (which foresees a common European academic space)-although no public discussion has occurred as to how to insure common standards. Indeed the question of the commensurability of European and post-Soviet (or indeed Soviet) standards has basically not even been broached.
At the same time the issues of rampant corruption (especially in higher education), academic dishonesty (ever more frequent and brazen cases of plagiarism) and a breakdown of elementary quality control (where notorious mystifications like the Book of Vles become normal components of the school curriculum) are consistently not discussed in official academic/educational settings and are rarely mentioned even in the non-official ones. Still, curiously, the implosion of the entire humanities enterprise seems to be deferred from year to year-by virtue, perhaps, of "external investments" like the Soros-funded Renaissance Foundation or the recently established Krytyka Institute, as well as the work of scholars who remain involved despite their inability to influence institutional decisions.
In the specific area of Ukrainian-Russian scholarly contacts (particularly in literary studies) an even more curious reversal seems to have taken place. The remnants of the old Soviet establishment-still, however, firmly in power-are apparently quite content with the breakdown of contacts with Russia and especially with the end of the erstwhile administrative and intellectual subordination to the "center." By all indications they also welcome the end of the requirement to heed the "center's" directives and ideas and discourse-including even the field of Russian studies. The fact that it often comes at the cost of cutting oneself off from the only source of contacts with the broader outside world (few of the nomenklatura know any languages other than Ukrainian and Russian) is also not deemed a tragedy. As reflected in the pages of Slovo i chas, the official organ of the Institute of Literature of the Academy of Sciences, articles on Russian subjects, even reviews of Russian books are quite rare-and in this the contrast with pre-independence practice is altogether striking. This new moratorium on dealing with the former "center" may be inevitable and indeed have a certain purgative effect, but like any form of isolationism it is perhaps more a deflection or a denial of the problem than its resolution.
A very different picture obtains in the field of history. Here the middle and younger generation of scholars actively engage their western, and also their Russian colleagues as equals and indeed not only hold their own, but often lead in that dialogue. This newly found authority may be the strongest indication yet of a post-post-Soviet and genuinely post-colonial potential among the new ranks of Ukrainian scholars-at least in this discipline. This may be a small consolation given the larger picture-but even that is something.


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[1] The argument of sections 3-6 draws on my earlier study of this topic, "Sovietyzacia ukrains'koi humanistyky," which appeared in Ukrainian in Krytyka (Kyiv), Nos. 1 and 2, 1997.