Volume 57 Number 3 Abstracts

Assembling the Square: Social Transformation in Public Space and the Broken Mirage of the Second Economy in Postsocialist Budapest

Judit Bodnár

This study interprets a postsocialist urban vista through the historical sociology of the physical and social landscapes of a prominent public space, Budapest's Moscow Square. A main traffic intersection connecting neighborhoods of radically distinct social locations, Moscow Square is dominated by commerce in a bewildering range of commodities, including labor. By the mid-nineties, this bricolage of commercial activities had acquired a fierce character in contrast to which the "second economy" of late state socialism appears quaint. Bodn.r investigates this shift in the conceptual landscape by applying Karl Polanyi's "mosaic typology" of economic integration. Involvement in the state socialist second economy was a low-risk strategy of economic autonomization that has been overruled by a high-risk economic and social existence with the large-scale proliferation of market processes after the demise of state socialism. The "unsightliness" and "chaos" of public spaces such as Moscow Square are thus not passing signs of a transition. They are stamps of a new order that is less orderly, whose premises are nakedly commercial, and one in which openly acknowledged, sometimes celebrated, uncertainty becomes a matter-of-fact condition of everyday existence.

A Postwar Perestroika? Towards a History of Private Enterprise in the USSR

Julie Hessler

This article draws attention to the resurgence of private enterprise in the Soviet Union at the end of World War II. At this time, the private sector expanded beyond its traditional domain of petty market trading to include home manufactures of all kinds and even formal businesses such as restaurants, billiard halls, photography studios, and beauty salons. In every republic, illegal private economic activities grew into a mass occupation, prompting discussion over the appropriate official response. The financial bureaucracy emerged as a voice for radical reform, advancing the argument that private businesses ought to be legalized but taxed. On the basis of archival research in Moscow, Riazan', and Kursk, the article traces the legalization movement to its 1948 undoing, and charts the rise and fall of private enterprise between 1945 and 1952.

A Catalogue of Commercialism in Nikolai Gogol''s Dead Souls

Russell Scott Valentino

The thesis of this essay must be understood within the broad confines of political economy. Dead Souls, suggests the author, carries on where Pushkin's "Queen of Spades" left off, presenting a complex, politically conservative reaction to a perceived loss of social value as the result of the rise of commercial culture in the upper echelons of post-Napoleonic Russian society. This loss of value, represented as a gradual and complete disintegration, appears most clearly in the sequence of landowners encountered by Chichikov. Each landowner exhibits a varied, temporally specific, and morally significant reaction to Chichikov's commercial proposal, while the sequence as a whole represents the progress of commercialism and its - for Gogol' - attendant spiritually inflationary consequences. The analysis takes place within the historical framework provided by such works as Albert Hirschman's The Passions and the Interests, Stephen Holmes' Passions and Constraint, and J. G. A. Pocock's Virtue, Commerce, and History.

On Laughter and Vladimir Solov'ev's Three Encounters

Judith Deutsch Kornblatt

Although students of Solov'ev often refer to his laugh, few can reconcile humor with serious philosophy. This article calls into question the standard interpretation of Solov'ev by juxtaposing his mystical visions of Sophia to his theory of laughter. In this way, the article attempts to explain why Solov'ev chose a humorous poem (Three Encounters, usually translated as Three Meetings) as the vehicle for his most precious beliefs. A comparison of Solov'ev's explicit statements to other philosophies of laughter (Freud, Nietzsche, Bergson) follows an analysis of Sophia in his literary and philosophical texts. Because the philosopher compared the roles of Sophia and laughter to that of poetry, the article also examines his use of humor in Three Encounters and other works, including the White Lily and Three Conversations to that of other Russian authors to whom he refers (Pushkin, Dostoevskii, A. K. Tolstoi, Gogol'), concluding that laughter for Solov'ev reinforces Sophia's creative role in bogochelovechestvo.

What Did Russians Mean When They Called Themselves 'Slaves of the Tsar?'

Marshall Poe

This paper explores the meaning of the sixteenth- and seventeenth-century Russian regalian salutation. In the salutation, Russians ritually prostrated themselves, calling the tsar "master" and themselves "slaves." The salutation was born in the last quarter of the fifteenth century in a court-sponsored effort to create an image of the tsar as a patrimonial lord and great territorial prince. As these new usages of the salutation were routinized in the sixteenth century, they lost much of their explicit connection with the patrimonial image of kingship. The salutation was slowly transformed from an explicit ideological expression into a means of polite social intercourse. Yet the patrimonial meanings remained as metaphors for the relation between the tsar and his servitors. In Muscovite ceremonial speech, the tsar was figured as benevolent "slaveholder" and his men as humble, supine "slaves."

Economics and the Russian Transition

Richard E. Ericson

In 1997 several books and conference volumes appeared discussing the transition experience and, inter alia, what economists believe they have learned about the transition from command to market economies. The key issues revolve around the severity and necessity of the initial shock, the decline in economic activity, the causes of and barriers to economic recovery, and the appropriate policies to bring the transition to a successful conclusion. This essay briefly reviews some of these issues and lessons, and what they might tell us about the more difficult transition in Russia.

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