Edmund Griffiths  

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Aleksandr Prokhanov and Post-Soviet Esotericism

ibidem-Verlag, 2023

    “One of the most informative books you could read on modern Russian nationalism”
                — Morning Star

Front cover of Aleksandr Prokhanov and Post-Soviet Esotericism by Edmund Griffiths     Back cover of Aleksandr Prokhanov and Post-Soviet Esotericism by Edmund Griffiths

Aleksandr Prokhanov (born 1938) is a prize-winning novelist and also, as editor of the weekly newspaper Zavtra (Tomorrow), a leading figure in Russian ‘imperial patriotism’. Ever since 1991, when he signed (and reputedly wrote) the manifesto for the failed putsch against Mikhail Gorbachev, he has been an influential voice in Russian political culture—helping to turn the ‘irreconcilable opposition’ of the 1990s towards Empire, grappling with whether to endorse Vladimir Putin as a saviour or expose him as a fraud, and promulgating a bewildering series of ‘conspiracy theories’ in which Russian and international affairs are explained in the most extravagant terms. He has also been a remarkably prolific writer; and the best of his novels are real works of literature, at once muckraking and lyrical, interweaving Moscow scandal so tightly with the mystical yearnings of ‘cosmism’ that the reader can hardly prise them apart. The same themes flow backwards and forwards between Prokhanov’s fiction and his non-fiction. World conspiracies, space exploration, the resurrection of the dead, Stalin as a supernatural redeemer—these and other preoccupations recur again and again, in his leading articles as well as in his novels. This book, the first on Prokhanov, offers an account of his writing and of the ‘red-brown’ esotericism he expounds. It will be of interest to anyone concerned with modern Russian literature or politics, and also to students of ‘conspiracy theories’, esoteric belief systems, or the conspiracy novel.

We have been waiting for a long time for a book on Alexander Prokhanov, and here it is. Prokhanov has been a central figure in the Russian nationalist landscape. Edmund Griffiths finally offers us a very useful analysis of Prokhanov’s ideological contribution to today’s Russia, and explores the different faces of Prokhanov’s Stalinist imperialist esotericism.
  — Marlene Laruelle, Research Professor of International Affairs, George Washington University

Edmund Griffiths’s engagingly written and erudite new book on the writing and political thought of Aleksandr Prokhanov adds important dimensions to our understanding of this crucial figure in the Russian nationalist pantheon. Griffiths analyzes Prokhanov’s work as a significant contribution to what he calls the ‘red-brown esoteric patriotism’ of post-Soviet Russia. For today’s reader, the linkages between Prokhanov’s world view and Vladimir Putin’s own imperialist thinking and actions in Ukraine are profound.
  — Norman M. Naimark, Professor of Eastern European Studies, Stanford University

Order now for €34.90 or request a review copy

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Palgrave Macmillan, 2014 — now in paperback

    “Fascinating... a joy to read”
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    “Very useful and informative... a significant contribution”
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People believe in a great many things: the New Age and the new atheism, astrology and the Juche Idea, the marginal utility theory and a God in three persons. Yet most of us know almost nothing about why other people believe the things they do—or indeed about how it feels to believe them. This book presents an objective method for understanding and comparing belief systems, irrespective of their subject matter and of whether or not the investigator happens to agree with them. The method, descriptive logic, is illustrated through analyses of various phenomena, including Zoroastrianism, Dawkinsism, Fabianism, 9/11 Truth, ‘alternative’ Egyptology, Gnosticism, flying saucer sightings, and the hymns of Charles Wesley. Special attention is given to beliefs that are not supposed to be wholly believed, and to how descriptive logic relates to the materialist conception of history. The book also outlines a new theory of superstition.

Table of Contents
Introduction. The Idea of a Science of Belief Systems
1. You Don’t Know What It’s Like!
2. A Descriptive Science of Logic
3. Some Notes on Affect
4. Elements of Comparative Method
5. Belief Systems and the Materialist Conception of History
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7. A Theory of Superstition, in Thirteen Paragraphs
8. Believing in Fictional Beings
Instead of a Conclusion
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