To back this, the author delves into social psychology, psychiatry, sociology and other disciplines. His viewpoint is somewhat unexpected, but is deserving of thought.

 

Bolshevism: Norm or Deviation?

// Herald of the Russian Academy of Sciences. Vol. 66. No. 1. 1996, pp. 54-61.

Download  PDF

* Il'yasov, F. N. (Iliassov Farkhad Nazipovich ) Candidate of Philosophy, researcher, Institute of Philosophy and Law, Turkmenistan Academy of Sciences.

 

Psychiatrists and pathopsychologists have recorded changes in the collective consciousness and mass psychology in the past 100 years. The percentage of hypnoprone people has declined, phenomena such as lethargic sleep and kleptomania have vanished almost completely, and mass psychoses take milder forms and occur far less frequently than before. Yet even in the early years after the 1917 revolution it was assumed that Bolshevism was collective insanity, though the hypothesis was not thoroughly examined. Let us look at the Bolshevik movement from this angle as a mass psychosis whose symptoms were in many ways similar to the clinical picture of an afflicted individual.

 

STALIN'S MENTAL STATE AND THE PARTY

 

Leave the question of Stalin's sanity to psychiatrists. We are interested in the sociological aspect of the matter: can a mentally ill individual be a leader of a state? Even an absolute monarch cannot rule without the support of a loyal elite. But if the dictator's ailment conflicts with the elite's interests, it will not hesitate to eliminate him. As we know, however, no one ever tried to remove Stalin. Lenin's intentions date to the beginning of Stalin's career and are not typical, though they do conform with regularities of the Bolshevik movement referred to below.

This leads to two assumptions: either Stalin was of sound mind or his affliction did not come into collide with the interests and outlooks of the majority of the Bolshevik elite throughout the period of his rule. From the sociological point of view, therefore, it is immaterial whether Stalin was paranoiac or not. In either case, he reflected the needs of the Bolshevik movement and personified the near mythical and always fear-inspiring general line of the party.

"The Ail-Union Communist Party (Bolsheviks) travelled a long and glorious path from the first small Marxist circles and groups that sprang up in Russia in the 1880s to the great Bolshevik party that now stands at the head of the world's first socialist state of workers and peasants," says the Short History of the All-Union CP (B) [1]. The paradox is, however, that neither the "glorious path" nor the general line had, in effect, been scientifically analyzed. Admittedly, Soviet mathematical folklore produced the striking construction that to build a strictly mathematical model, we must consider the party's line a fairly shallow curve. As we know, at the bending point of such a curvature, the curve drops to zero. And since in reality every point of the general line is a bending point, its curvature equals zero. It follows that the general party line is shaped as a straight line.

The above definition is largely true. In all this, one does indeed intuitively sense an immanent preconception, even doom, and a certain logical consistency that is all but beyond comprehension. As for the conclusion, it surprisingly coincides with the viewpoint of the Bolsheviks themselves, who said the party's line was a straight line that connected 1912 (the year of the Prague Conference) with the periodically postponed date when the construction of communism would be completed.

But even a superficial acquaintance with the history of Bolshevism shows that mathematicians dramatize the process somewhat, while the Bolsheviks obfuscate the difficulties. More trustworthy, as we see it, is the not entirely proper and rather anecdotic popular version that Soviet history is broken down into periods based on the specific outer appearance of the Bolshevik leaders. The Bald (Lenin, Khrushchev, and Gorbachev) were "reformers," and the Hairy (Stalin and Brezhnev) were "conservatives." They alternated at the helm, imparting a specific nature to the general line peculiarly reflected in the mass consciousness.

The division into periods, by the way, conceptually resembles the periods of tsarist rule. It would probably be correct to speak of a certain tradition among researchers: "In the line of tsars, starting with Peter, a good reign was followed by a bad, and a bad unfailingly by a good: after Peter I came Catherine I—a bad rule; after Catherine I came Peter II—a much better; after Peter n came Anna—a foul rule," observed S. M. Solov'ev [2].

 

-54-

 

HOW TO PLOT THE PARTY'S GENERAL LINE

 

Before we tackle the main object of our analysis, we must define some of the terms. By general line of the party we mean the character (direction) of the collective behavior of a specific social group: the Bolsheviks and the Ail-Union CP (B); furthermore, these terms are used in a narrow sense, applying to the elite, the transmitters and achievers of the party's principles. By collective behavior we mean coordinated group actions reposing on a single (common) determinant: single aims, motives, and the like.

Studies of collective behavior go far back in time. Francois Chateaubriand noted in his study of revolutions that even back in antique Athens the activity of party movements was in the nature of high and low tides. "They materialized out of selfinterest in one case, and declined to exhaustion in another, and at times, it appeared that for a minute they were destroyed, but soon sprang up again with new fury" [3].

Gabriel Tarde, also spoke of the alternating nature of imitation processes (i.e., collective behavior) [4, pp. 11, 194]. He maintained that "statistics help deduce something like an empirical law from each separate type of imitation that produces a graphic expression, as it were, of the cumulative effect of many causes" [4, p. 145]. Regrettably, Tarde left no examples of such a "graphic expression." If we apply his idea to the general line of the Communist Party (Bolsheviks), we are bound to notice that it is also subject to alternating high and low tides. Reformers and conservatives replace one another: Lenin-Stalin-Khrushchev-Brezhnev-Gorbachev. The other leaders, whose rule was shortlived, may be considered transitional, for theirs were periods when the general line was being corrected.

To depict the general line graphically, let us accept the axiom that reformism is upgrade and conservatism is downward motion. We get a curve with three upward gradients (Lenin, Khrushchev, Gorbachev) and two downgrade (Stalin, Brezhnev). Each leader personified his era and the main Bolshevik ideals in the respective periods of history. The general line had its own intrinsic logic of development and its own determinant underlying the advancement of the respective leader.

Relating the curve to the time scale, we can measure the duration of the phases of reformism and conservatism. The magnitudes are admittedly approximate, but wholly legitimate for our hypothetical analysis. What we must note, however, is that the limits are not fixed to equal the time of each leader's rule, but to fit the beginning and end of the phase each of them personified.

The duration of the Lenin phase was seven years (1917-1924), the Stalin phase 30 years (1925-1955), the Khrushchev phase seven years (1956-1963), the Brezhnev phase 19 years (1964-1983), and the Gorbachev phase seven years (1984-1991).

Let us mark off the duration of the above phases on the horizontal line proportionately to the time scale. However controversial the limits we set may be, and

 

Bolshevism

 

even if they are corrected to fit other points of view, the basic regularities survive. First, the reformist phases are shorter than the conservative; second, the reformist phases are approximately equal in all cases; and third, the conservative phases tend to shrink with the passage of time (by approximately a third according to our estimate).

Let us mark off the intensiveness of the Bolshevik movement vertically: the reformist phases above the horizontal line, and the conservative phases below it. The degree of deflection equals the intensiveness of the process. But to build the graph of the general line we must measure or, more precisely, correlate, this intensiveness.

All we can rely on is a vaguely definable concept of "one order." In other words, when constructing the graph, we must consider the intensiveness of each successive phase as being one order below the one before. Though, evidently, different approaches are possible, we decided on the following: to assume (conditionally) that the intensiveness of the phases changes in geometric progression to the term of progression equal to 2. As a result, the intensiveness of Bolshevik reformism in the Khrushchev phase was half that of the Lenin phase, and in the Gorbachev phase half that of the Khrushchev phase. And the intensiveness of conservatism (and repressions in the sense of their quantity and quality) in the Brezhnev phase was lower than in the Stalin phase also by half.

For the convenience of our further results let us conditionally number the intensiveness of the Bolshevik movement, and take the Gorbachev phase as the point of departure, defining the intensiveness of its reformism as 1. Since the horizontal line (time) in our

 

-55-

 

construction runs midway between the peaks of the reformist and conservative phases, the intensiveness of the phases of one cycle may be considered equal. By a cycle we mean here the sum of two successive phases, beginning with the Lenin phase. In that case, the intensiveness of the Lenin-Stalin cycle will be 4, and that of the Khrushchev-Brezhnev cycle 2. Mind you, regardless of the numerical expressions, the basic tendency remains the same: the intensiveness of the Bolshevik movement declines in the two phases from past to present.

In sum, we have a curve as given in the figure represents a graphic interpretation of the party's general line. A few essential remarks. Two phases reflecting the 1905-1907 revolution and the postrevolutionary recession from 1908 to 1916, have been added to the curve preceding 1917. And 1991 is interpreted as the end of the reformist Gorbachev phase and the beginning of a new conservative phase. The dotted line is the result of extrapolation. It was constructed on the assumption that events would continue to develop according to the established regularities: the conservative phase shrinking by approximately one-third, and the intensiveness of the Bolshevik movement declining by cycles in geometric progression with the term 2.

 

COLLECTIVE BEHAVIOR IS A CRITERION OF PATHOLOGY

 

In individual terms, pathological and deviant behavior is thoroughly explored. Pathological behavior is connected with mental disorders or specific deviant (delinquent) development, with violations of the law, essentially criminal law. As it concerns collective behavior, the criteria of pathological delinquency and normality are clearly defined. Take the concept of "pathological mob cruelty." For all its metaphorism, it allows for certain criteria. But it is unclear whether we can, say, classify wars by proceeding from delinquent forms of collective behavior. Here we may probably apply criteria of individual behavior and, among others, the criterion of excessive use of force (violence).

Speaking of a pathological state of the mass (collective) consciousness, we employ the concept "mass psychosis." "Sometimes," writes B. D. Parygin, "whole nations may succumb to mass psychoses that take the form of various emotional eruptions: from mass frenzy in sports or religious ecstasy, to politically colored psychosis (such as nationalism or fascism)" [5, p. 258].

We refer to a religious psychosis, A. Vigouroux and P. Jucelier wrote that epidemics of demonomania raged in Lombardy in the early 16th century, where Dominican friars burnt more than a thousand sick people at the stake every year in just one district. The Inquisition attested that hundreds of defendants admitted to turning into cats and penetrating homes with children in the form of animals; there they deceived vigilant mothers

and sucked the blood of infants until they died [6, p. 186].

Bolshevism is often compared with religion. If we proceed from a broad sociological conception of religion as a system of notions, moods, and actions (G.V. Plekhanov) which coordinates and regulates the life of society (Tarde) and is based on people's faith in specific dogmas (E. Durkheim), we will have to admit that this comparison is not groundless.

The religious community is totally dogmatized, its social thinking is restricted, and all its elements related to ideology and world outlook are aggressively replaced by dogmas. It is collective dogmatism and aggressiveness that predispose to psychic pathology, surfaces in definite circumstances.

Mass psychoses may be interpreted by an analogy psychoses in psychiatry as a mental affliction marked by severe disorders of psychic activity in reflection and behavior. In this case the subject of reflection and behavior is by definition a specific social group (society).

Although at present, pathosociology is not yet a comprehensive subdivision of science, pathological collective behavior is dealt with in a number of interesting studies. Full use is made of them in inadequate psychic and behavioral reactions as analytical criteria of general pathopsychology are. Look at the history of Bolshevism from this angle and you will see numerous inadequacies: renunciation of general human values, narrowness of the collective consciousness, suppression of the truth by dogmatic formulas, brutal large-scale repressions, and so on. Much can be said of the inadequacy of Bolshevik behavior, with examples from all periods of the party's history and from every sphere— economics, politics, art, and so on. Indeed, the entire history of Bolshevism is a history of inadequate collective behavior, which in all cases did not correspond to the proclaimed aims. The Bolshevik elite itself was balanced between the immoral and the criminal, and lived in constant fear.

Fear, by the way, is one of the main components of the religious collective consciousness. It is its intrinsically characteristic and a constantly active impulse which cements the religious forms of collective behavior. The system of "producing fear" is an attribute of Bolshevism. Take the graph depicting the general line: it shows that fear of departing from the general line declined in Soviet society from cycle to cycle. When it became minimal, the movement began falling apart. The Bolshevik mentality conceived fear as a necessary emotion associated with a sense of stability. A person who was not afraid of departing from the party line ceased to be a Bolshevik.

Fanaticism is sometimes interpreted as interiorized fear, that is, fear which takes the form of some conviction or dogma, combining with the latter and becoming the intrinsic substance of conviction. It exists "within" the conviction, as it were, and manifests itself through

 

-56-

 

inflexible loyalty. The vision of the world based on such conviction is a vision based on fear.

As the poet (N. Korzhavin)

 

Fear those who are like iron,

Those who have closed their minds to doubt,

Whose fear to look into the abyss

Is greater than the fear to step over its edge.

 

At the end of the 19th century, Gustave Le Bon : "Owing to its tendency to become religious dogma and depart from the realm of reason, socialism is for contemporary society the greatest danger of all that ever threatened it" [7, p. 129]. Le Bon saw the danger in the intuitively apprehended possibility of pathological collective behavior based on socialist dogmas. He deduced this from his study of religious collective behavior. Vigouroux and Jucelier maintain that "no morbid emotion has ... a more distinct tendency to spread rapidly in epidemic form than madness of a religious nature" [6, p. 174]. They also suggest the first classification of mass psychoses: "Acts of religious madness may be simply classified and divided into asthenic forms marked predominantly by depression and asthenic forms marked by exaltation" [6, p. 175]. The aforesaid conforms amazingly with the graph of the party's general line. The Bolshevik movement is a succession of "exaltations and depressions." Thus, we arrive at the conclusion that Bolshevism as a form of collective behavior is a variety of mass psychosis that at first gripped the center of the Russian Empire, then its outskirts, and subsequently the countries of the so-called socialist camp. Affliction with one and the same "disorder" explains the common processes (clinical picture) that gripped them (dictators, totalitarian mentality, and much else).

 

AN ATTEMPT AT PATHOSOCIOLOGICAL DIAGNOSIS

 

"Revolution," wrote N.A. Berdiaev, "is a grave disease ... which speaks of a shortage of positive creative powers, and of neglected duty" [8, p. 210]. The assumption of mass psychosis presupposes a pathoso-ciological analysis of the phenomenon resulting in diagnostic hypothesis. Our analysis will repose on analogy with studies made in personal psychiatry. But since the legitimacy of this approach may appear dubious, a short methodological introduction is called for.

The idea of such analogy, suggested by Herbert Spencer, has been frequently (and often rightly) criticized. Still, as we see it, it can be used as a point of departure in the study of some social phenomena, especially in the early stages, i.e., when the problem has not yet been thoroughly examined and a conceptual shortage is felt.

"Society," Tarde wrote, "is closer each day to becoming merely a large cumulative brain in which the

small individual brains are but cells" [9, p. 146]. We are inclined to agree that it is true that "the psychology of societies presents very astonishing analogues with the psychology of the individual" [9, p. 104].

When adjectives such as "social," "mass," and "collective" are attached to the words "consciousness," "opinion," "memory," and "attention," they are not mere metaphors in relation to the individual mind and imply tangible resemblances in the functioning of the personal and social psychology.

Take the course of particular psychiatry [10-15] and compare the description of clinical signs of individual psychosis with the mass psychosis schematically described above.

In the group of affective psychoses, our attention is above all attracted to the circular type (continual course) manic-depressive psychosis. It is marked by alternation of mental states, with the phase of morbid excitement and exaltation (reaching vital euphoria) giving way to a phase of retardation and pathological depression not short of vital anguish. The phase of excitement is known as manic and the phase of decline as depressive.

To begin with, let us compare the "external" statis-tico-graphic manifestations. The graph of the disorder will (of course, in its "ideal," i.e., mean statistical, case) have the same appearance as that of the party line. First, the manic phase is shorter than the depressive by half or two-thirds. Second, the disorder is preceded by (a) a "hypomanic affection," i.e., a short period of near morbid excitement (in our graph this applies to the phase of the 1905-1907 revolution), and (b) a so-called introductory depression (here the period of postrevolutionary decline between 1907 and 1917, the Stolypin reaction). Third, the following degrees of intensiveness are seen in the manic phase: manic frenzy, manic state, and hypomanic state (when the manic condition is moderate). In the graphic depiction of the party line this applies to the Lenin phase ("revolution"), the Khrushchev phase ("radical breakup"), and the Gorbachev phase ("perestroika").1 Lastly, the manic affect develops more rapidly than the depressive, and here, too, the history of the Bolshevik movement is true to form.

It is typical of the individual psyche that "as a rule, the processes of excitement and retardation not only alternate, but induce and stimulate each other" [14, p. 103]. In a society the ups and downs also alternate organically. The distinctive feature of psychosis is that these alternating phases run beyond the norm and become pathological, turning into manic and depressive states. And though they may appear to contradict each other, they blend to produce a general line of behavior. "It should be borne in mind," writes V.A. Giliarovskii, "that emo-

 

1 A noteworthy detail: psychiatrists note that during the intensive-ness of excitement described as "manic state" (the Khrushchev phase of the party's general line), the afflicted "make gifts of things and money to strangers." Here recall the Crimea, presented as a gift to the Ukraine, and other equally "extravagant" excesses.

 

-57-

 

tional manifestations are in general periodical. The manic and depressive states are doubtlessly connected and represent a unity" [10, p. 393]. It is safe to say in this sense that the party's general line is logical both psychologically and socially, and that all its apparent absurdity fits into the regularities of the pathological process.

 

HOW SENSE OF OWN VALUE GAINS EUPHORIC COMPLETION

 

Let us now compare individual and mass manic-depressive psychoses in terms of content. And let us take the manic phase first. Here psychiatrists note the following symptoms: high spirits; accelerated course of notions, and excitement in the sphere of motion. The afflicted thirst for action, and make innumerable plans which they try to carry out immediately but are never able to fully carry out. Their attention switches continuously from one object to another (Wernicke symptom). Various manifestations of aggressiveness are frequent.

The events in the manic phases of Bolshevism conform with the above description. In the Lenin phase, the emphasis was on world revolution, with the construction of communism beginning almost at once. Thereupon, the revolution ran into difficulties, which led to the reintroduction of money and to red terror. In the Khrushchev phase, things proceeded more quietly, the main slogans being, "The present generation of Soviet people will live under communism!" and "Roll up your sleeves, comrades!" In the Gorbachev phase it was discovered that socialism was not yet "constructed." The only thing left of the Bolshevik ideology as a final invocation was the phrase about the "socialist choice." Per-estroika (its initial proclamations) turned out to be nearly as indefinite as communism, and as nearly unrealistic.

In all the manic phases of Bolshevism, society's attention switched continuously from one object to another, one idea to another. The Gorbachev phase is fresher in our minds: what a kaleidoscope it represented of unrealized plans, promises, and "programs!"

The sense of their own value gains a euphoric complexion in those afflicted by manic-depressive psychosis. They exaggerate their "talents" and achievements; when in the hospital, they "interfere in the affairs of the department, and give advice to doctors and the personnel" [14, p. 27]. The above is also typical of the Bolshevik elite, and to a certain extent of Soviet society as a whole.

Psychiatrists observe that patients have mad ideas and delusions of grandeur, are boastful and obsessed with reformism. They claim outstanding achievements and discoveries. Recall the following boasts: "The party is the mind, honor and conscience of our epoch," "Marxism-Leninism is the sole correct and all-con-

quering teaching," "the Soviet system is the best in the world," and many others.

While the consciousness of patients contracts, their intellect stays intact. What is absent is criticism of their state and behavior. The Bolsheviks, indeed, persecuted criticism, often savagely.

As we see, the clinical pictures of the individual and mass manic phases are wholly comparable.

The physiological explanation of the manic phase is that excitement begins in the cortex and gradually descends from higher to lower levels, encompassing the whole brain. "This is followed by chaotic activity of the cerebral hemispheres," leading finally to what I.P. Pavlov described as "rage of the subcortex," when the subject manifests low instincts. Extreme tension in the cerebral hemispheres is followed by a decline of functions when the most negligible of thoughts is an unbearably painful effort" [14, p. 102]. Apparently, analogous processes occur in cases of mass psychosis. Excitement passes from the Bolshevik elite to the functionaries and encompasses all society as it descends the hierarchic ladder precipitating "turbulent creativity of the popular masses."

During the relatively shortlived but pathologically active manic reformist phase, society's energy "burns out" and is rapidly exhausted, causing retardation, i.e. the depressive phase during which the system's energetic capacity is slowly and painfully restored.

Psychiatry defines the following precursors of the depressive phase: (1) increasing difficulties in resolving day-to-day problems, and (2) the related progressive loss of initiative in resolving them. Stalin found the difficulties of building a radiant society so puzzling that he arrived at the raving idea that internal enemies redoubled their resistance as society came closer to communism. Considered and original actions were rejected; the mechanism of pathosociological inhibition—wholesale repressions—was set in motion.

Stalin kept saying, "Life has improved, life is merrier."

And the mass of the people carried the tragedy of the absurd to its logical conclusion: "Our necks are thinner, but for that they are longer."

During the Brezhnev phase everything followed the same pattern. At first, Brezhnev declared that in his time it is harder to build socialism than it was in the past to make a revolution; thereupon he began locking up dissidents in lunatic asylums.

Aside from sluggishness in the mental and locomotive spheres, the depressive phase is marked by "psychic anesthesia," a morbid lack of feeling for relatives and close friends. Friends and relatives were repressed (especially in the Stalin phase), but depression reigned in society and feelings were suppressed. As one afflicted lady said of her daughter: "My eyes see it is my child, but my heart feels nothing" [10, p. 388].

 

-58-

 

For the afflicted, life loses its value. "Value blindness" sets in. The same occurs in a sick society. The thinking process suffers in the depressive phase, and the range of vision grows narrow. This is also typical of the Stalin and Brezhnev periods. The afflicted experience a "primary guilt feeling," accompanied by selfa-basement. Similar phenomena were observed in society as well: fear to do wrong in the eyes of the party, a feeling that the individual is "nothing" compared with the party, resolve to have a "clear conscience before the party," and so on. The afflicted are pursued by obsessive ideas, a sense of anxiety, a delirium of selfaccusation, condemnation, and negation. The afflicted are unaware they are sick. In many ways, the above matches the state of Soviet society in the depressive phase.

An interesting detail: psychiatrists discovered a correlation between manifestations of certain deranged ideas and the person's social background. The sense of guilt and sinfulness, for example, is stronger among Protestants than among Catholics [13, p. 70]. This is evidence that a connection exists between the collective behavior and the psychic peculiarities (including pathological) among persons encompassed by the said collective behavior.

But back to the question of Stalin's mental sanity. Note the definite resemblance between his psychic peculiarities (slowness of movement and speech, sense of anxiety, demented ideas of persecution, accusation, condemnation, etc.) and the state of the collective Bolshevik consciousness in the depressive phase. The man who personified the collective behavior of mass insanity must have had corresponding pathopsychological characteristics, and Stalin had them. We may allow that he was psychically capable as an individual. But as a Bolshevik leader, he was at the center of a gravely afflicted collective consciousness ("the central brain cell") in a state of depression.

 

"FORWARD TO THE VICTORY

OF COMMUNISM UNDER THE BANNER

OF MARXISM-LENINISM!"

 

The above slogan had gradually and unnoticeably receded into the background. The last popular slogan of the Bolsheviks still alive in our memories, "The Economy Must Be Economical," was less ardent. Oligo-phrenic in bathos and content, it was a morbid brainchild of the stalwarts of the Bolshevik consciousness of that time.

Even the change of slogans show the general tendency of the Bolshevik movement: it was in decline. At present, this conclusion is obvious. The genesis and prognosis appear to be more interesting. The medical profession distinguishes between a "bad prognosis" (with little hope of recovery) and a "favorable prognosis." People suffering from manic-depressive psychosis often recover and, what is more, without any psychological complications. Mass psychoses, one would

think, are cured in all cases. What is of interest here, however, are the dynamics of the process and what the medical profession calls the "etiology and pathogene-sis."

Usually, psychoses occur among predisposed persons, caused by severe mental injuries, long-drawn-out stresses, or a grave disease. We may assume that a predisposition to mass psychosis developed in Russia due to its specific social evolution and moral metamorphoses. In this context, we may classify the Tartar-Mongolian subjugation as a hereditary injury to Russian statehood, and World War I as a factor that badly injured the mass psyche.

Socialism's victory in a single country was predicted by Le Bon at the end of the past century (long before Lenin). "This horrible socialist regime," Le Bon wrote, "seems inevitable. At least one nation should fall prey to it and serve as a lesson for the rest of the world" [7, p. 143].

Le Bon also predicted the first two phases of socialism—the manic phase, which he described as "revolutionary turmoil" and "execution of exploiters," and the depressive phase, that is, the coming to power of a dictator general (here he was off the mark, for we had a generalissimo) who would establish "a tough regime" and whom the people would glorify despite the "countless catacombs" (brutal elimination of large numbers of people).

As Le Bon assumed, as a result of socialism's victory "ability and skill would be replaced by mediocrity. Equality in slavery would prevail" [7, p. 141]. Amazingly enough, he also forecasted some of the socialist revolution's "particular" consequences, such as the death from hunger of several million people, and the introduction of forcible loans [9, pp. 137, 138].

Speaking of the mechanisms that brought about the victory of socialism, psychosis first gripped a small group of Bolsheviks and then, assuming the nature of an epidemic, spread to the mass of the people by integrating group activity through psychic contagion, suggestion, conviction, and imitation. The masses brought the Bolsheviks to power. "The mob," Le Bon observed, "was the victim rather than the executioner."

The spread of mass psychosis may be described as a "socio-psychological contagion" whose mechanism is as yet unexplored. "Contagion," writes Parygin, "characterizes the many ways unconscious and unintentional subordination of an individual to certain psychological conditions. This occurs through transmission of emotionally highly charged states of mind, through high-wrought feelings and passions, rather than through passive contemplation and a more or less conscious adoption of outwardly apparent examples of behavior (as in imitation)" [5, p. 258]. Vigouroux and Jucelier established that "the action of psychic contagion is unconscious, with the subject succumbing to its influence against his will" [6, p. 65]. It may be added that the phenomenon of Bolshevik contagion was stimulated by

 

-59-

 

violence and the resulting fear. Berdiaev was a socialist himself, and his opinion is therefore particularly valuable. "I had the impression," he wrote of the socialists, "that all these people who represented diverse revolutionary and opposition currents felt themselves in the grip of spontaneous and fatalistic forces that they could neither govern nor direct according to their reason" [8, p. 211].

The fact that the leader personifies the party's general line is illustrated, among other things, by the Gorbachev phase which is clearly marked by a rapid hypomanic reformist upsurge, the obvious peak and evident decline of the movement, which dropped to zero (the critical point) in 1991. Gorbachev's behavior gave rise to rumors and misinterpretations. It seemed on the surface that he gravitated one way and then another, and finally renounced the latter as well. Yet in fact, Gorbachev's actions merely marked the party's general line. His behavior did not reflect a lack of system and confusion as such, but rather an unconscious subordination to the general rule we described above. His "route" was predetermined by the curve of mass psychosis. As general secretary he moved instinctively and inexorably along the general line to the end of his career, and, we might add, he was the very kind of person who had to be leader in that phase. Gorbachev was often described as a centrist. In fact, however, he stood on the spot crossed by the general line of the Communist Party, and changed positions to suit that line like all Bolshevik leaders. He lacked the qualities of a non-Bolshevik civilian leader capable of functioning effectively outside a collective gripped by mass psychosis.

In conclusion, let us examine the clinical meaning of the zero point shown in our figure. In all processes, the moment of a system's transition from one state (phase) to another is critical, and is often, like its consequences, hard to predict. Two interpretations are possible in principle. For one, we witnessed an "ordinary" systemic transition in 1991 from one phase to another. Consequently, the frustration ("sense of disaster") that gripped the collective Bolshevik consciousness was simply the opening stage of the depressive phase.

According to the second version, the 1991 transition from one phase to another had therapeutic value. In that case, the subsequent collective frustration may be interpreted as the initial stage of recovery. Let us note here that in individual manic-depressive psychoses recovery sets in upon the completion of one or another phase.

As we see it, the transition from phase to phase had a dual meaning. The Bolshevik movement split into two. One part of it remained in the state of mass psychosis and entered upon the depressive phase which will last some twelve years, i.e., until 2003 (if the former tendency survives). It may be expected that its intensiveness will border on pathology and norm. And most probably the psychosis will no longer affect as large a mass of people as before. The other part of the Bolsheviks "recovered"—they left the collective move-

ment gripped by mass psychosis and are now trying to acquire new consolidating ideas and new guidelines of social morality. It stands to reason, that many people are on the borderline between the one and the other.

It follows that the answer to the question, "is Bolshevism a political movement or a diagnosis?" may be that Bolshevism is a political movement that assumed the form of a collective mental disorder. This definition is highly conditional. The above is not even a hypothesis, but rather a discussion point in the search for a possible area of research.

Of late, people say Marxism (socialism, a leftist idea) discredited itself for good and will soon cease to exist. I think this is absolutely incorrect. It only illustrates Le Bon's prediction that the socialist state would disintegrate: "Then the same mobs of people which socialism had seduced will be its enemies" [9, p. 107].

A certain type of people will always reach out to Marxism as a certain ethical paradigm of a Utopian humanistic complexion. It reflects what may be infantile but are certainly people's fundamental needs and is just as necessary for humanity as, say, the world religions. Marx's teaching is allpowerful not because it is right but because it is eternal.

 

REFERENCES

 

1. Istoriya Vsesoyuznoi Kotnmunisticheskoi partii (bol 'she-vikov). Kratkii kurs. (History of the All-Union Communist Party (Bolsheviks). Short Course), Gorkii: OGIZ, 1938, p. 3.

2. Zapiski Sergeya Mikhailovicha Solov 'eva (Notes of Sergei Mikhailovich Solov'ev), Petrograd: Prometei, 1917, p. 153.

3. Chateaubriand, R, Essai historique, politique et moral sur les revolutions anciennes et modemes, Paris, 1797. Translated under the title Opyt istoricheskii, politicheskii i nravstvennyi o drevnikh i noveishikh revoliutsiiakh, Hi vzaimnoe slichenie gosudarstv drevniago i novago mira, 2 volumes, St. Petersburg: Osobennaia Kantseliariia MinisterstvaPolitsii, 1817, pp. 40-41.

4. Tarde, G., Les lois de I'imitation. Translated under the title Zakony podrazhaniia, St. Petersburg, 1892.

5. Parygin, B.D., Osnovy sotsialno-psikhologisheskoi Teorii (Basics of Socio-Psychological Theory), Moscow, Mysl', 1971.

6. Vigouroux, A. and Jucelier, P., Psikhicheskaya zZaraza (Psychic Contagion), Moscow: Sovremennaya Prob-lemy, 1912.

7. Le Bon, G., La Psychologic du socialisme, Paris, 1897. Translated under the title Psikhologiya sotsializma, St. Petersburg, 1899.

8. Berdiaev, N.A., Samopoznanie (Opyt filosofskoi avto-biografii) (Selfknowledge. An Experiment in Philosophical Autobiography), Moscow: Mezhdunarodnye Otnosheniya, 1990.

 

--60-

9. Tarde, G., Les lois societies, Paris, 1898. Translated under the title Sotsial'nye zakony, St. Petersburg, 1906.

10. Gilyarovskii, V.A., Psikhiatriya (Psychiatry), Moscow: Medgiz, 1954.

11. Portnov, A.A. and Fedotov, D.D., Psikhiatriya (Psychiatry), Moscow: Meditsina, 1971.

12. Zharenkov, N.M., Ursova, L.G., and Khritin, D.F., Psikhiatriya (Psychiatry), Moscow: Meditsina, 1989.

13. Klinicheskaya psikhiatriya (Clinical Psychiatry), Moscow: Meditsina, 1967.

14. Lukomskii, I.I., Maniakal'no-depressivnyi psikhoz (Manic-Depressive Psychosis), Moscow: Meditsina, 1968, 2nd ed.

15. Manic-Depressive Psychosis, in Bol'shaia meditsin-skaya entsyklopediya, Moscow: Sov. Entsyklopediya, 1972, 3rd ed., vol. 13, pp. 405-410.

 

-61-

 

 
 
 
@Mail.ru