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1. Utopia

A utopia is an ideal society with a perfect functioning social, economical, political and technological system. From a literary point of view it is a mental experiment serving a goal of understanding society. In this research I also consider utopias as projects for practical implementation. Ideology and reality seem to form communicating vessels in utopia: some times reality informs ideology and vice versa. This project tries to find these relationships between utopias and the development of Russia and its hinterland. As I show, the connections between utopias on the ideological level (literature) and in real life (projects of development of the hinterland) sometimes remain indirect, but some show a very clear similarity. Most Russian utopia’s were written either at the end of XIX - beginning of XX century or the period of 1950’s-60’s –times of relative liberalization and activization of society. For the big utopian developments the most productive time is seen in early to middle XX century. Utopia’s come in various scales: from big governmental utopic initiatives to local ideal projects. On the local level utopia is active throughout last 100 years. The aim of this project is to analyse how utopias manifest themselves in developments of the hinterland, to understand the effects and the regularities of this process.



Timeline of connections between Utopian ideas and development




1.1 Connections There are two timeline diagrams on the previous page. The two curves at the top of the diagram shows the correlation between utopian ideas and social activitism and their interconnectedness. The large second one, shows three levels of interconnected utopian activity: literary utopias, the development of big ideas and cases. This approach helps to demonstrate a number of tendencies and points of interest which are the core of this project. The aim of this section is to show particular connections. Some of them are expected to occur and correspond time-wise, while the others are unexpected. Distant in time or in nature of elements, they are the most interesting. Connections are between three layers utopias, dealing with three scales of utopias: ideological - utopian literature, country scale - big projects of development of hinterland, and small-scale idealistic projects for implementation - case studies. Their connections are mostly implicit. They are based on similarities of the ideas and approaches to development of the hinterland. These connections also show that if in the Soviet era utopias were strong and influential at any given scale, from literature to local cases, although in modern Russia utopias are influential only at a small scale. Soviet time development was largely dependent on utopian ideas. Modern-day developments are still trying to create utopian models to rely on. This proves that a certain dependency still exists, but also shows that it is unable to sustain itself on the same scale. It had to shrink down to the level of local initiatives. In most modern developmental cases we can find traces of only old-days utopias, by which we mean those written before the collapse of the Soviet Union. Even though some of these developments are based on very pragmatic ideas, most of them are striving to create an ideological base for their work.Thus, the need for new utopias is still relevant. Analysis of the connections shows that all of them can be divided into three major topics: - Hinterland & Society - Hinterland & Politics - Hinterland & Space


A) Hinterland & Society: 1

The emancipation of serfs (1861)

This part will focus on ways of dealing with problems of hinterland society, like peasant backwardness, lack of social and political activity, relation to the population of the centre, on utopian level and in the real hinterland and analysing the influences they had on each other. 1. Focus on peasants.

“Journey of my brother Alexii to the land of peasant utopia”A.V. Chayanov (1920) connection 1: “focus on peasants”


Big project: The emancipation of serfs (1861) Utopia: “Journey of my brother Alexii to the Land of Peasant Utopia” A.V. Chayanov (1920)

The emancipation gave serfs their freedom. It was the first step into turning them into rightful citizens of Russia and therefore officially making them largest social group inhabiting, developing and overall making the hinterland of Russian Empire1. Same as in Chayanov’s peasant utopia, where peasants are only politically relevant part of the society and the base for all the prosperity of “Russian agrarian system”. 5. Peasants as a political power Big project: Stolypin reforms (1906-1910) Utopia: “Journey of my brother Alexii to the Land of Peasant Utopia” A.V. Chayanov (1920)

Stolypin perceived peasants as a political power and his reforms were focused on creation on wealthy, conservative peasants.2 It is the same peasant who inhabits the world of Chayanov’s utopia, where the power lies with the “peasant council”. Stolypin was the first who recognized this potential and tried to develop hinterland accordingly. While Chayanov pushed this potential to extreme making the peasantry the most important part of the society.

Stolypin reforms (19061910)

6. Industry to agriculture Utopias:“In a 1000 years”, V.D. Nikolskii (1923), “Flying Proletarian”, V.Mayakovskii (1926) “Neznaika in the Sun city” N. Nosov (1956) “Journey of my brother Alexii to the land of peasant utopia”A.V. Chayanov (1920)

connection 5: “peasants as political power”

Big projects: Mechanization/industrialization of agriculture (1928-...)

Agricultural production used to require a lot of space and manpower. If space might not be an issue for some of the utopian authors, the necessity of hard work always is. In a perfect society one should not have to work, but should have a natural desire but no actual need. Mechanization or industrialization of agroproduction is a strong idea appearing in all of the utopias concerned with this topic. “And now, food fabrics had pushed away fields and gardens, where are now continuous fabric of garden-cities.” (Nikolskii, 1923)

“And our travellers saw some kind of strange machine, looking like some kind of mechanical snow cleaning machine, or some kind of tractor... ...But the most surprising was that where was nobody operating this machine.” (Nosov,1958)

These two quotes show two stages of utopian industrialization of agriculture: first is more idealistic (no space for food production, so it has to be not only



“In a 1000 years”, V.D. Nikolskii (1923)

atomized but industrialized as well), the second is more “down-to-earth” approach (agriculture is robotized, so no human effort required to maintain it). Automatization of agriculture has another unexpected effect on the image of hinterland, due to agriculture being the most important purpose for it. Hinterland becomes uninhabited. Or at least this is the goal for some utopias. 9. Agriculture controlled from the city


Utopia: “Neznaika in the Sun city” N. Nosov (1956) Big project: Agroholdings (2000-...)

Agroholdings are companies that unite numerous large-scale agricultural enterprises and are controlled form the centre. They are usually also characterized by high levels of mechanization of agrarian production. In Nosov’s utopia “Neznayka in the Sun City” (1958) agriculture has these same characteristics: large-scale, controlled from the city trough means of mechanization and automation.

Letaushii proletarii”, V.Mayakovskii (1926)

Mechanization/industrialization of agriculture (1928-...) 9 “Neznaika in Sun city” N. Nosov (1958)

“On machine like this you can cultivate the earth and at the same time stay in the city. ” (Nosov. 1958)

“We manage to harvest two, tree or even four harvest in one summer.” (Nosov. 1958)

Agroholdings are not perceived as something utopic in modern Russia, but as something purely practical. And this seems reasonable because they take on most of the production of grain and animal products. At the same time they receive the most governmental support, so in the case of agriculture it is clear that Russian government today has a strong vision of perfect agriculture. We cannot be certain if it is actually the best, but we can clearly see the manifestation of old utopian model in the real development of Russian hinterland.

Agroholdings (2000-...)

21. Food tradition. connection 6+9: “industry to agriculture”/ “agriculture from the city”

Utopia: “Journey to the Sun CIty”, Y. Muhin (2000) Case: LavkaLavka. 2009.

Regional development based on a traditional agriculture production, distinguishing different parts of Russia and wherefore making food from these regions economically attractive to tempted customer is one of the long-turn goals of the LavkaLavka project. Almost identical concept of value of local, healthy but most importantly traditional food can also be found in utopia written by Muhin “Journey to the Sun City”: “People eat locally and seasonally.” ;“On household plots people usually grow their own vegetables in sufficient amount.” (Muhin, 2000)

It is not clear if this utopia had influence the LavkaLavka project, but the fact that this idea manifests so strongly in real life proves that the trend of local, traditional food is very active and relevant today.


14. Hinterland for Farmers 14

Utopia “Journey of my brother Alexii to the Land of Peasant Utopia”, A.V. Chayanov (1920) Case: LavkaLavka (2009)

The main figure in farmers cooperative “LavkaLavka” is obviously a farmer, modern agrarian worker, with preferably small farm, growing organic food, which requires a lot of manual labour. “Journey of my brother Alexii to the land of peasant utopia”A.V. Chayanov (1920)

LavkaLavka (2009)

Same as in Chayanov’s utopia, in which the main citizen of perfect society is the peasant working on a small private field only by handwork. This fact ensures productivity of agriculture and prosperity of perfect Russia.

connection 14: “hinterland for farmers”

Dreams of scientific advancement of agriculture were never not limited with Russia. Source: “Closer than You Think” magazine. (Jan. 28, 1962)



Kolkhoz “Frunze” Belgorod region

“Frunze” is a unique mple of kolkhoz successfully operating throughout the Soviet times as well as in the modern conditions. The kolkhoz was founded in the 30’s.Good management, concentration on quality of production not on quantity, taking social responsibility, and presence of exceptional leader – V.Y. Gorin (since 1959) - turns an organisational system that is failing in many places, into a success.4

Vasilii Yakovlevich Gorin Source: “Belgorod Business Magazine” №10 (60) 2009

“Kolkhoz is not utopia but reality” V.Y. Gorin

Concentration on quality Since Gorin became the head of this kolkhoz its main focus was on the increase productivity and decrease of costs, by implementation of new technologies, new breeds of animals (they even developed their own breed of milk cow), stimulation of workers, increase of trust between them and management and by diversification of production: pork, beef, milk, feed. They produce all the feed for their animals, which allows them to be self-sufficient. The kolkhoz has 560 pieces of agricultural machinery and it’s own repair facility which was developed out of normal workshop into a small factory capable of doing any kind of repair work. All this with yet enormous amount of cattle (65 000 pigs, 5300 cows, 2300 - milk cows who give in aver-


age 7 tonnes of milk per year) put kolkhoz “Frunze” on 33rd place in Russian top 300 agro producers and on 9th place in top 100 milk producers.5 Biggest problem for them is selling their produce. Each year it’s harder to find a buyer for whole milk of top quality they produce, and the price at which they have to sell it is very low (9 rub/l. Up to 50 - 70 rub/l in stores for milk of top quality). So low that it might get unprofitable to keep milk cows at all. They deal with this problem by diversification of production, and thinking about investing in milk processing factory, but do not have enough capital for that yet. They invest a lot into new technologies and into infrastructure for the production. Since 2003 they build 6 new cowsheds and two more piggeries. But one third of all the income goes to the social support of 4000 people living in two villages on the territory of the kolkoz. Only 1500 of them work in agriculture. Others are too young or too old, or work in service area.

Kolkhoz canteen with meal for 2 rubles (2009) Source: “Belgorod Business Magazine” №10 (60) 2009

Social responsibility

productivity and profitability possible.

Making life of all the inhabitants of kolkoz better – is the main goal of this enterprise. Of course this not comes out of pure idealistic causes. Support of social infrastructure is the main tool to keep workers of kolkhoz loyal to this enterprise. As well as relatively high salaries (15 000 rub. 375 euros/ month). Support of social infrastructure consists of so many aspects: the kolkhoz has two fully equipped kinder gardens and charges it’s workers only 5 rubles per month for the use of it, it has a canteen, the cost of one lunch in it costs only 2 rubles.The Kolkhoz takes care of all planing and organization of public services, culture and sport, as well as adds to the pension and other governmental donations a significant sum. This creates what seems to be an utopia, even visually. Neat, clean houses, roads in good condition, lot’s of greenery and flowers and the monument of the leader – V.Y. Gorin – in the centre of the settlement. And all this support results in trust. Between the workers, between workers and administration, trust in the future. And this makes the increasing

What separates this kolkhoz from all the others, which failed to survive, or had to go trough drastic changes is its permanent (since 1959) leadership. He managed to create a management system successful for planed and market economy. Apart from centralized control on each segment of production where is a man responsible of anything in his part. This system can only work on mutual trust. But Gorin himself is very energetic and dedicated leader with good knowledge about all parts of his enterprise.



Kolkhoz “Shukti” Repiblic Dagestan Making all the workers of kolkhoz economically responsible for their work and stimulate them to work better seems like an obvious idea, but Russian economists of 1990’s considered it to be an invention, a break trough, a model which should be implemented on a federal level. The main goal was to turn citizens of kolkhoz from “semi-slaves” who sell their time to entrepreneurs who sell the product of their labor.6 The head of this kolkhoz got tired of constant stealing of resources, problem of alcoholism and overall poor productivity of his workers so he tried to made it profitable for themselves to achieve good results. A personal account was created for every worker of kolkhoz, making them responsible for all the costs of production but at the same time giving half of the income kolkhoz made from their produce. But what about workers who don’t have direct production? Like zoologists, agronomists, teachers, doctors, etc. Their salary depends directly on the income of workers. This changed the relations between them, from two independent workers to the producer and his help, who is interested in maximizing the end production, so has great stimulation for improving their work. 25% of income went to a communal budget - the more worker produced, better he worked, the more he gave to the community. This created tension between the most productive workers and administration. To solve this all the money going to communal budget was considered to be investments and bringing dividends once every year. Then, to establish the amount of dividends ex-workers should have the long and extremely difficult process of establishing the input of each and every worker since the foundation of kolkhoz was initiated.

Mahamed Chartaev Source: (2006)

Income of kolkoz worker Share in communal capital 25% Technology workers 15% Service sector 10%

Material expenditures

Profit Savings Consumprtion


In two years after implementation of this reforms (1984-1986) the production increased drastically. Average income per kolkhoz worker increased 3 times. And in some time the birthrate exceeded death rate 6 time. But in 2001 M. Chartaev died and community he build was soon to follow.


universal farmers cooperative. Moscow. LavkaLavka is a farmer cooperative which tries to create infrastructure supporting small scale agrarian producers. central aim of the project is to provide him with conditions suitable for his work. Found gains it resources from consumers, who are the part of cooperative, restaurants and from donations and spends these resources on development of farms.

Ideology. LavkaLavka provides distribution and support infrastructure for small-scale farmers. But they don’t necessarily disregard all big enterprises, but rather search for personalized ones which produce organic food. Initially this project was a search for good healthy food produced locally, but now this is not the main priority. Boris Akimov, the founder of LavkaLavka: “By reorganizing their budget anyone can buy food from our farmers”, but looking at prices it’s clear that it is not affordable for large parts of the population. The food is not luxurious, but because of the quality and small scale of production prices are high. The second idea that drives this organization is regional development trough gastronomic selfidentification, which can distinguish different regions on the global map. “If everybody grows the same Holland breed of cucumbers, even if it’s perfect, why should I care where it came form? But if I can get different cucumbers from different regions I can decide according to my gastronomic preferences, or just because I’m bored”, said Akimov. This regional differentiation can improve profitability for products, freshen up the economy and generate gastronomic tourism. They don’t accept genetically modified strains of products because they lack regional and historical identity. Not because of health or safety reasons. Organization. LavkaLavka is based on interaction of seven players: farmers, consumers, stores, supplier of machinery, supplier of feed, fertilizers, logistics and energy, restaurants and found supporting farmers initiatives. The farmer is a central figure of cooperative. The

Any restaurant or consumer can join the cooperative. For that they get lower prices for farmers produce and expanded variety of supply. Cooperatives can buy feed, fertilizers, machinery etc. on wholesale bases making it more profitable for producer and for farmers.7 Competition. The success of LavkaLavka has set a new trend of farmers food. More and more new LavkaLavka-like businesses appear on the market. For example: marbled beef from Lipetsk, “Vse Svoe” (All local) on-line shop, “Eda iz derevni” (Food from village), “Okraina” (Hinterland), “Rossiiskii krolik” (Russian rabbit), and many more. They all offer organic food delivered to your doorstep. But they don’t share neither LavkaLavka’s ideology, neither the diversity of farmers and produce, nor the success. They all have a very rigid farmers base with whom they work, and they are not open for changes in this.

LavkaLavka children Source:



B) Hinterland & Politics: Communism ideology: - Communal property - Equality of members - Focus on labour - Self-governance


2. Communism as a base Utopias: “Red star”, A.A. Bogdanov (1908), “World to Come”, Y.M. Okunev (1923), “In a 1000 Years” V.D. Nikolskii (1923), “Flying Proletarian” V.Mayakovskii (1926), “Andromeda Nebula” I.A. Efremov (1956), “Return (Noon XXII Century)” A. Strugatskii & B. Strugatskii (1962) Big project: Attempt of establishing communism society.

A large number of utopias written before and during the Soviet times were based on the ideas of communism. Appearance of communal property, equality between sexes, unification of labour etc. This unites almost all of them, but what is most interesting is that the presence weakens as we move closer to more contemporary utopias. In “World to come” there is no private property, but 39 years later, in “Noon XXII century” there is. There is still no need to pay for property. This is contrast to older communist utopia’s where a clear sense of ownership completely is absent, or strongly rejected. Authors seem to have started such refining communistic ideas, turning them to more moderate ones closer to capitalism. 3. Europe in ruins Utopia:“European letters” V.K. Khuhelbekher (1820) Big project: Putin’s reforms (2000-modern times)

In his work Khuhelbekher shows Europe in ruins serving only as attraction for tourists from utopian society in USA. In a way similar to the image some contemporaries are trying to recreate. If we just look at the newly opened web pages like, the main goal of which is to create this image of slowly dying, rotten Europe, or mr. Putin stating:

“European letters” V.K. Khuhelbekher (1820)

Putin’s reforms (2000-modern times) connection 3: “europe in ruins”

“Economies of USA and countries of Western Europe are balancing of the verge of recession”.8

This is not to say that Putin read or even heard about Khuhelbekher’s work, but the connection going through 180 years seems evident. 8. Value of Private Property Big Project: Privatization (1991-1993) Utopias: “Journey to Sun city”, Y. Muhin (2000), “Day of Oprichnik”, V. Sorokin (2006)

Privatization set a new ideological trend which reflected to some of modern utopias. In some, like “Journey to Sun city” it is glorified and taken to the extreme: “Every person has a real piece of planet and he is responsible for it. He owns it.”

But the importance of private property for a farmer appears already in Chayanov’s utopia in 1920. Despite the ideas of communal property which won over the minds of utopian writers of that time, the private property for Chayanov is a core value for success of a peasant.


17. Dystopian modernity 17

Utopia:“The Day of Oprichnik”,V. Sorokin (2006) Big project: Putin’s refroms (2000-modern times)

The Day of Oprichnik is a dystopia imagining the transition of Russia back to monarchy in it’s dark medieval sense. Russia is controlled by a special governmental organization called “oprichiniki”, the same oprichniki which were active during the rein of Ivan IV (Groznii),(meaning fearsome).

“Day of Oprichnik”,V. Sorokin (2006)

Putin’s reforms (2000-modern times) connection 17: “dystopian modernity”

Oprichnina is the organization characterized by unlimited freedom of prosecution, submission only to the Tsar and it’s members are being rewarded by Tsar as well. Recent events in contemporary Russia with violent arrests of opposition represent a moderate version of the same concept: the special police force “OMON” operates far out of legal boundaries and its members receive rewards from the government. The relation to the development of the hinterland is evident as well. Russia in this dystopic future acts as an extreme extrapolation of modern tendencies: large part of it is occupied by Chinese: “where are 28 million Chinese in West Siberia.” The economy is based on natural resource extraction. Russia is physically divided from outside world by a huge wall. This particular dystopia is based solidly on the modern conditions of Russia. It doesn’t make it less valuable or less influential, but it doesn’t answers to the question what would happen if something would change, it answers to the questions, what will happen if everything will stay the same. 18. Transparency of Power Utopia:“Fifth journey of Gulliver”, V. Savchenko(1979 written, 1988 published) Big Project:Putin’s refroms (2000-modern times)


“Fifth journey of Gulliver”, V. Savchenko(1979 written, 1988 published)

The oficial policy of Putin’s government is transparency and can be connected to the “Fifth jouney of Gulliver”. This utopia is based solidly on the fact that all the people of the society are physically transparent, and this changes social structure, customs, basically everything. For example eating in public considered to be rude and offensive, because everybody can see processed food travelling trough your guts. As such this novel might serve as a huge metaphor for official policy of modern Russia.

Putin’s reforms (2000-modern times) connection 18: “transparency of power”

“I suggest and ask CEC [Central Elections Committee] to install web-cameras on every precinct in the country. We have more than 90 thousands of them. On all of them. And they should work day and night. Put it online, so the whole country could see what happens at every box. To eliminate any frauds”9



Connection between hinterland and politics in it’s most dystopic form. Source: Command & Conquer: Red Alert 2 art. 2000.


Arakcheev’s military settlements. Novgorod oblast

Russia’s huge standing army needs to be occupied and provided for in times of peace. So Alexander the 1st ordered Arakcheev to create military settlements, so they would provide themselves. First attempt was made in 1810. The peasants were moved to different villages and on their place soldiers were put. But first settlements didn’t survive for a long time, because of the war of 1812. Next attempt after the war had some changes. Moving the peasants proven to be too expensive, so solders were brought to the villages and peasants were turned into new military units.10 Ideology and structure Alexander I thinking about these settlements “imagined future idylls of Gesner, gardens and sheep”. Arakcheev showed to the emperor both gardens and sheep. The emperor was very happy with the precise uklad of settlers: everything was neat, clean, highly organized and typological. All peasants were classified by different criteria, and each type had their own uniform. In one of settlements women had to add a new boy to the new breed of man each year, and if they had a girl they had to pay the fee. In others even marriages were controlled by the authorities. To maintain such dystopic society Arakcheev needed to be extremely harsh in his measures. “Only a rigorous treatment can cause them to serve as follows.” And his closes subordinates took this as an example.

A.A. Arakcheev. Source: Author: George Dawe (1824)

“In the life of settlement officer (as soldier) was not dark or light sides, one side was a colourless, oppressive, heavy routine, which affect all human ability, determined the absence of any reasonable thought and speech.”11 Results So the resentment of this model was universal not only by peasants but by soldiers and officers as well. Arakcheev ordered that the beards of the peasants is to be cut, which was a real tragedy for the oldbelievers. Some of them wore chains under their uniform to compensate for this horrific act and considered Arakcheev to be devil himself.This resulted in a violent revolt of 1931 which resulted in the death of many officers and generals and numerous amount of peasants and soldiers.

Ruins of Arakcheev’s military settlement Source: dlia_arakcheevskogo_polka.html

But was Arakcheev the real cause of this events or he was just a tool for implementation of Alexander’s utopian ideas? UTOPIA


Sovkhoz “Verblud” Rostov oblast

Modernization of agriculture is the basis of creation of new social structure. This idea started a set of transformations in Russian Hinterland between 1920-1930. But Soviet people had nether knowledge, neither the technology to actually turn it into reality. This was the foundation for strong cooperation between Soviet and American activists of mechanization of agriculture. But at that time American agriculture was based on family farms. In whole USA there were only few agro-factories, so for American specialists, the Soviet Union was a -literally- perfect breeding ground for these ideas. There are several cases of such collaboration and I take the case of sovkhoz “Verblud” because it’s the most representative. Foundation In 1928 Stalin announced the creation of new largescale mechanized sovkhozes in the South regions of USSR. For that hundreds of agrarian specialists were invited from States – managers, agronomists, engineers and machine operators. One of the first large grain-producing enterprises was sovkhoz №2 “Verblud”. American mechanic Lament Harris worked here and after returning to States wrote a book about his experience. Which is the good source of knowledge about this era. Sovkhoz “Verblud” occupied area of 200,000ha. It’s main purpose was production of cheap grain on fertile black-soil lands of Rostaovskaya region, but also demonstration of latest agrarian technology and training of students of agrarian universities and collages. The area of Sovkhoz was divided in to 8 parts. Each part had a camp in the middle of the field and workers lived where in the most harsh conditions. Even though Russian workers lacked knowledge in agrarian technology and in use of the machinery, they showed enthusiasm for learning. They showed huge respect for this new machinery, but sometimes not for the man who brought it to them. Relations with USA workers US based “Caterpillar” delivered to sovkhoz “Verblud” a new small tractor. One of Russian workers eager to try it, started the engine without checking if there was water in the cooling system. American and non-russian speaking mechanic Robertson pulled him away for the machine and stopped the engine. Resentful Russian worker complaned about this to the union and a Robertson was accused of sabotage. Things were not going in favour of Robertson

until the representative of “Caterpillar” spoke in his defence:

“The circumstances are set out correctly. I’m not defending actions of Robertson, I even judge them. But there are circumstances you need to know. Robertson has no wife. He never married. His whole life is dedicated to tractors and other machines. In fact, he is so devoted to his cause, that you can say that he is married to his machines. When he saw that the tractor was started with no water in the radiator, he could not think of anything else, except that the life of machine is at risk. His actions were spontaneous – the same as would have behaved any man is someone would insult his wife”12 It was a strong move. In the USSR machines were ideologically protected. After such speech union leaders closed the case, not wanting to worsen the

Training sovkhoz “Zernograd” commonly known as “Verblud” after the name of nearest railroad station. Source:


1930’s caterpillar tractor. Source:

relations with Americans. It didn’t end well for all. Only American specialists got high salaries. For some of them that it was the primary reason to come in the 1st place. This inefficiency was caused by many factors: limited knowledge in agrarian technology,ineffective,very expensive and very centralized means of control, huge losses in transportation of fuel, spare parts and production, increased by systematic stealing of the way. Peasants mobilized to transport so deficient high-quality fuel for this new machinery used any way possible to steal some and mix the rest with water, which effected negativity the work of not so reliable machinery anyway.

Modern state Surprisingly the grain city still exist but it evolved into different type of agrarian activity. It became the center of agrarian science and education for the region. In it’s institutes new types of agrarian machinery are being developed as well as new strains of wheat, rice, corn, etc. Now city suffers from heavy economical crisis because it’s main factory “Zernogradgidroagregat” has gone bankrupt on 06.02.2009.

In 1932, by the end of 1st 5-year plan sovkhoz “Verblud” as well as all other sovkhozes and kolkozes started to show signs of crisis. The precipitous decline in production has began.

Map of modern Zernograd. Source:



C) Hinterland & Space: “In a 1000 years”, V.D. Nikolskii (1923)

Vetockins travel to the future”, A. Svetov (1960)

7. Energy as a Base Utopias: “In a 1000 Years”, V.D. Nikolskii (1923), “Vetockins Travel to the Future”, A. Svetov (1960) Big projects: Putin’s reforms(2000-modern times), Focus on energy (1971-1980) Cases: Gas mono city “Nadim” (1972)

In Nikolskii’s utopia “In a 1000 years” bowels of earth were to be extracted and used by humans: “Main core of the Earth on the depth of 2600 kilometres turned out to be made out of pure metal. The one which can be found in meteors...” (Nkolskii, 1923)


And on the example of gas mono-city “Nadim” we can clearly see that this part of Utopian model - hinterland as a source of natural resources - fulfilled itself in real life. Still this focus on energy is seen in other utopian novels: the strongest example of this is Svetov’s utopia “Vetochkins travel to the future” (1960), which is based solidly on the new ways of generating, storing and transmitting energy: Focus on energy (19711980)

Gas mono city “Nadim” (1972) 7

“Solar power station supplies city, fabrics, farms... … Electricity transferred by air with no wires where it needed. Artificial suns are made out of semiconductors. During the day they accumulate energy and during the night they send it to Earth. They help us to grow vegetables, fruits, wheat faster. We collect three harvests annually.” (Svetov, 1960)

And it can’t be disregarded as a coincidence, that the focus of next five-year plan of 1971-1980 focused on energy as well. Putin’s reforms (2000-modern times) connection 7: “energy as a base”

Combining the two motives of resource extraction and focus on energy makes evident the connection with modern state of Russian economy, which is based on resource extraction. 10&4. Focus on Transportation Utopias: “Republic of South Cross” V.Y. Brusov (1904), “In a 1000 Years” V.D. Nikolskii(1923), “Day of Oprichnik” V. Sorokin (2006) Big projects: BAM (1966-1980)

Focus on transportation is a very strong motive going throughout almost all of the utopias to a different extent, but mostly it is a very important tool of bypassing the vastness of hinterland trough means of advanced transportation system, for instance in Brusov’s “Republic of South Cross”: “Suspended electric roads connected cities. Thousands of people and millions tonnes of goods. About the rest of the country – it remained uninhabited.” (Brusov, 1904)


“Suspended electric roads connected cities. Thousands of people and millions tonnes of goods. About the rest of the country – it remained uninhabited.” Another example of this bypass is formulated in dystopia “Day of Oprichink” (2006) in which the only purpose of Russian hinterland is the transition point from Asia to Europe. “Since all world production of main goods went to Great China the road connecting Europe and China was created. 10 line wide with 4 underground railways for high-speed trains.”

“Republic of South cross” V.Y. Brusov (1904)

(Sorokin, 2006) 10

“In a 1000 years”, V.D. Nikolskii (1923)

BAM (19661980)

connection 10&4: “focus on transportation”

This is the example of confrontation of “cultivated” vs. wilderness. Russia being the absolute wilderness. And the only way to deal with it is by means of transportation, basically underneath it. The motive of transportation is very evident in the development of real Russian hinterland, for example in the construction of BAM or “Moscow as a harbour of 5 seas” project. They all emphasize the importance of transportation and the need to connect outer points by passing the space in between as efficiently as possible. 11. Space Race Utopias:“Red star”, A.A. Bogdanov (1908), “World to Come”, Y.M. Okunev (1923), “In a 1000 Years”, V.D. Nikolskii (1923), “Andromeda Nebula”, I.A. Efremov (1956), “Vetockins Travel to the Future”, A. Svetov (1960), “Return (Noon XXII Century)” A. Strugatskii & B. Strugatskii (1962) Big project: Space Race (1957-1975)

Space is a powerful storyline in almost all the utopias up until the 1980’s. Starting with space as unreachable by any human technology and as a placeholder for the utopic society. For example in “Red Star” by A. Bogdanov (1908) trough modest attempts of using nearest to the Earth space in “World to come” by Y. Okunev (1923) to just an expansion of human world, “space hinterland” in “Andromeda nebula” by I. Efremov (1956). The development of this idea corresponds surprisingly accurately to the development of relations with space in real life. From the space as something existing, but completely unknown to something which needs to be conquered. So it’s no surprise that book “Andromeda nebula” was published in 1956, the year before the first satellite on the orbit, stars the space race and space era in Soviet utopic literature.




12. Space Hinterland Utopia: “Andromeda Nebula”, I.A. Efremov (1956) Case: Gas mono city “Nadim” (1972)

“Andromeda nebula”, I.A. Efremov (1956)

Space race (1957-1975)

The idea of space as the infinite hinterland of the earth can be traced in many utopias in the period 1950s - 1980s. But it also appears in the development of real hinterland. For example, mono-city “Nadim” and the small planet “Zirda” in Efremov’s “Andromeda nebula” are very similar in their relationship to nature to that of the Ministry of Geology in 1960s. Mono-city and mono-planet share a very similar place in the utopia and the real hinterland: small, distant, very hard to reach. Where life goes on under extremely harsh conditions, but most importantly they are both used for only one purpose extraction of natural resources.13


Gas mono city “Nadim” (1972) connection 12: “space hinterland”

15. Focus on Science Utopias:“4338”, V.F. Odoevskii (1835) “Andromeda Nebula”, I.A. Efremov (1956), “Return (Noon XXII Century)”. A. Strugatskii & B. Strugatskii (1962) Case: Sience town “Pushino” (1966)

Science in all of the utopias above is put on the most prominent position. In “4338” the existence of advanced science itself is already a guarantee of advanced social, economical, political and cultural structure, for reasons that to achieve such levels of technology society needs to be accordingly advanced. 120 years later, science did not loose it’s importance. It became the most important driver of developments of hinterland. In Return (Noon XXII century)” by A. Strugatskii & B. Strugatskii (1962) hinterland even serves as a giant exhibition of scientific achievements or as a place focused on science in case of science cities. This manifests in the appearance of science mono-cities like Pushino across the USSR in the 1960’s (master plan for Pushino was approved in 1956).

“Andromeda nebula”, I.A. Efremov (1956) 15

“Return (Noon XXII century)”. A. Strugatskii & B. Strugatskii (1962)

“Andromeda nebula”, I.A. Efremov (1956)

connection 15: “focus on science”


The connection here is most evident. Same as in utopias of that time scientific achievements opened up possibilities of change. But the idea of concentration of science in the hinterland appears both in utopias and in real life as well. Giving the hinterland new purpose, new way of supporting the centre. “You see, Sergei Ivanovich, each civilization must leave a footprint. Look at us, humans. How do we go about new planet? We put new satellites near it.. ..If we are able to land it, we start to construct bases, science cities.” (A. Strugatskii & B. Strugatskii, 1962)

Construction of science cities here is the obvious thing of almost first priority in the developing of utopic hinterland.


20. Hydro-Power Plants Utopia:“World to Come”, Y.M. Okunev (1923) Big project: Mass construction of hydro power plants (1971-1980)

“World to come”, Y.M. Okunev (1923)

Specific idea of water as a power-source in a way of gain hydro power plant first appeared in “world to come” in 1923: Mass construction of hydro-power plants

(1971-1980) connection 20: “hydro power plants”

“Huge artificial waterfall drops from the height. Water goes to the giant turbines. They rotate and set in motion dozens of dynamos.” (Okunev, 1923)

And it manifested in real development of hinterland with mass construction of hydro-power plants in 1971-1980.

Cultivation vs. Retreat Hinterland & Society

Hinterland & Politics

Hinterland & Space

Focus on peasants.

Communism as a base

Energy as a base

Peasants as a political power

Europe in ruins

Focus on Transportation

Value of Private Property

Space Race

Dystopian modernity

Space Hinterland

Transparency of Power

Harmony with Nature

Industry to agriculture Agriculture from the city Hinterland for Farmers

Focus on Science Hydro-Power Plants Appearance of cultivation and retreat motives in connections between utopias and developments

From the utopian perspective we can see the evidence of increasing cultivation (civilization) or retreat (wilderness) in most of the connections. And this evidence of increase both in cultivation and retreat appears on all scales: utopian, dystopian, big projects and local cases. So surprisingly utopian approach never only meant increase of cultivation. For example the whole concept of importance of transportation appears in utopias and big projects only as an instrument to deal with increasing, overwhelming wilderness, or wilderness which cannot be managed in any other way. UTOPIA



Gas mono-city. Yamal region. One of the first cities developed for natural gas extraction at the north of Russia. Very compact, microcircuit-like, it was build around gas fields regardless of infrastructure or other practical concerns.14

Gazprom rules the city like Soviet power used to in the past. They construct new buildings pyramidal in their shape to associate with gas. Working at Gazprom is considered to be the best possible job in the city and all the inhabitants and migrating workers desire it. Yes, there is a Russian orthodox church is, as well as a mosque, but Gas is still the center of ideology, little is changing this. The utopia was never finished, like the railway connection to Salekhard, or at some points fell apart, like the factory producing prefabricated panels for building, but geographical, social and economical conditions preserved it’s essence, even if this utopia is not for living it’s for work.

Nadim on Google maps.

The ideological core of this city was the construction of the perfect mono-city focused only on extracting gas. It is still operates on this bases today. Because it’s the northest of all gas cites and has the least conditions for any development in other directions, it’s very strictly controlled by the authorities. In some way it didn’t suffer from the transition to market economy as other parts of Russia. The main cityforming production is still very active. Yes Soviet ideology long gone, but this city was never about Soviet power, it was always about the power of gas.

Wedding rover

People don’t actually live in this city. It does not have any facilities for prolonged stay not mentioning climate conditions of living aboth polar circle: this city used to produce special type of prefabricated houses which special form would withstand cold arctic winds and people still widely use outside refrigerators - a metal box hanging outside the window and keeping everything inside frozen during the winter and cold during the summer. Workers from Russia, from Boku (the once who have a lot of experience in gas mining trade) come and go from this city with no intention to stay.

Gas propaganda replaced usual Soviet propaganda in this city. Photo: Gleb Vitkov


Science town

Pushino. Moscow oblast Pushino was planned to be a pure science town utopia to become fully self sufficient. But only the most primary facilities were actually build: housing, schools, and institutions. It remains a prominent attempt to create a linear 100% science city which, to some extend, succeeded.15 Master plan of Pushino (1956)

Development The city in its current form looks retro-futuristic now. It was designed, constructed and furnished by the highest standards of Soviet architecture of 1966. Today still a lot of the interior decorations remain, such are very futuristic TV sets hanging from the ceiling. And the ideology behind this construction seems to be retro-futuristic as well. It seems created for the ideal scientist who remains stagnant through his entire life. He doesn’t grow older, doesn’t have any career ambitions, etc. It seems that no conditions for personal development were provided when this city was planned. So it’s not surprising that this city served as a transition point for scientists both from inside or outside of Russia. And it’s not surprising to see changes it went trough in last 50 years.

Source: NCBIAN USSR Actual plan of Pushino.

Source: MARHI

Location Place for such city were predetermined by three factors: 1. Military: Pushino was located at a distance from Moscow and other cities to prevent enemy air strikes. 2. Availability of free space and good geological conditions for secret underground facilitates. 3. Nature. However, this nice location actually had serious climactic difficulties. Cold air creeps on the slope facing north at every opportunity and north wind permeates the city, seemingly delaying spring for a week or two.21

Now no one has the resources or will to maintain this utopian structure on an urban level. The town was supposed to be car-free, with all facilities located at the walking-distance and only one bus circulating along the central boulevard separating production part of the town from the residential. But now, because not “everything” is there and Moscow is just 20km away, the town is filled with cars. All the empty plots of land are now sharing the fate of outskirts of Moscow – becoming mini malls, and many apartments are occupied by local small-scale businessmen. Results Yet the some ideological part of utopia is still alive. It is still a mono-city focusing mainly on science. The fair part of 12,000 people living in this town are scientists. Pushino has nine research institutes and one radio observatory remain and specializes in molecular biology. But to survive within the new conditions of the market economy the priorities in research switched from fundamental research to practical engineering. GE human insulin, drug for hepatitis B, artificial blood and others were created in this town.



Ecovillage “Tiberkul” This case as the most powerful moden attempt of realization of perfect society on very local scale. Yet opinions about Vissarion’s sect are mostly polar: some consider Vissarion a new Messiah, others think that this organization is harmful for it’s people because of harshess of conditions they live in.16

Vissarion and his followers Source: Alexei Bushov.

Foundation In 1995 Vissarion founded “Tabrat” ltd. and he and his followers and rented 250ha on mountain Suhoi. Though they were registered as a religious organization by the state, they established an ecovillage to prevent future prosecution from activists of the Russian Orthodox Church. Financial support for this initiative came mainly from Vissarion’s followers. They started building “Sun city” - the central settlement of the ecovillage. It has central radial structure, with a main temple in the centre and 14 streets extending from it. Close to the centre schools, a monastery, and gardens, are planned. At first workers lived in very harsh environment in temporary houses made mostly out of plastic film and heated by “divine fire”. But now settlement grew much bigger. It consist out of six villages and divided into three zones of “holiness”. With no possibility to go from one to another without a blessing from Vissarion.


The main intention was to create a completely independent, self-sustaining society. In the reality connections with outside world are only growing because of a need for trade. Vissarion’s commune produces a lot of crafts and sells it on the market. Ideology Life of the commune is based on 61 commandments of Vissarion.17 The commandments promote unity with earth, the importance of physical work and spiritual perfection, forbid any form of violence and consumption of any kind of food which is of animal origin, strongly condemns any forms of critical/scientific thinking (even tough a lot of followers are highly educated) and the judgment on any of people living. This corresponds completely with ideas from “Roze of the World” (1958) which propagandize “Contemplation, meditation, religious activities in all its forms, contact with nature”.

Center of Sun City. Very different from the plans. Source: Alexei Bushov.

But the most controversial are the 3rd:

“If your lie brings evil, your soul is at the gates of great suffering. If your lie brings disappointment, this would be evil. Lie covering evil is bigger evil. But lie which brings good is wisdom.” or the 17th:

“Do not doubt good deeds, but doubt evil. Great weakness lies in the temptation to expose someone in untruthfulness of his good deeds.” or the 36:

“Try to achieve harmony in Holy and Nature bases of your essence. Mind is given to you so you could create this harmony, After that it can develop on it’s own. But if you try to develop your mind form the start it will gain sickness.”

introduced at the beginning or after a wave of suicides:

“Do not judge the one who took his own life, Because if one is not developing spiritually devil can easily lead him to this end. Man does this with no strength to oppose the temptation. The one falling exhausted in no sinner. Sinner is the one who walked by and did not gave his hand.” All the decisions in the commune are made by meeting of men, yet if the agreement cannot be made Vissarion is coercive authority. Ecovillage “Tiberkul” still currently has 4000 inhabitants. Though the influx of new members is much weaker now, they have manage to increase the population by natural growth. They produce what can be considered to be organic food (with no use of chemical pesticides, fertilizers, herbicides, etc.), but such drastic change in diet (straight vegan with even elimination of wheat), leads to health problems of some of its members.

or the 58, because where is no clarity if it was



1.2 Portraits This section will focus on the utopian image of different subjects (hinterland, climate, nature, state, global hinterland, food) as it emerges in literature. These portraits serve the goal to understand how these utopian images changed over time and how it affected the real development of hinterland regarding these specific topics. The selection of topics is based on the themes of other researches and they are the most active motives regarding hinterland as formulated in the utopias.


Hinterland City

Industrial country


Nikolskii 1927

Garden city

Chaynov Okunev 1920 1923

Peasant country


Brusov 1904

Industry vs. Desert


Odoevskii 1835

City vs. Wilderness


Agro town

Nosov 1956

Sustainable Community

Muhin 2000


Change in portrait of hinterland going from extreme utopism of endless cities to almost plain reality of modern Russia.

Not all Utopias have a place for the hinterland. Some only mention it briefly, but some focus on the future of hinterland so to see how the portrait of the hinterland changes throughout time is relevant to understand how it was influenced/influence the development of actual hinterland. In the world created by V.F. Odoevskii in his novel “4338” (1835) he shows hinterland while his traveller flies over “Russian hemisphere”: “Flying other it I started believing that it was two cities, one named Moscow, and another Peterburg, and between them nothing but a steppe.” (Odoevskii, 1835)

So the hinterland here is nothing more than a tabula rasa, blank canvas for cities to appear. And this is similar to the hinterland in the “Republic of South cross” by V.Y. Brusov, hinterland were is nothingness uninhabitable by any human being:



“Only dull deserts white during winter and covered with poor grass in short summer months. Wiled animals were long extinct and wan had no businesses were.” (Brusov, 1904)

This motive of hinterland as lifeless desert is opposed by the image created by A.V. Chayanov in his “Journey of my brother Alexii to the Land of Peasant Utopia” in 1920. Hinterland here is the a perfect place for life and for work: “The whole country is now just one big agricultural settlement divided by squares of communal forests, stripes of cooperative fields and giant climatic parks.” (Chayanov, 1920)

Cities still exist, but almost no people live where, they serve as a social and trade hubs. So, in a way, hinterland disappears as well, because where is no centre to counter it. Hinterland in the “World to come” by Y.M. Okunev (1923) is a absolute opposition to the hinterland in Chayanov’s utopia. The whole world in one giant city, pure urbanization: “Streets, squares, streets again – infinite world city... By the 1st quarter of XX century all cities of the world joined into one. Across the oceans by artificial islands continents reached out to each other with their streets.“ (Okunev, 1923)

But yet again does it actually mean the absence of the hinterland? I think not. Hinterland exists not only as opposition to the city. Some unused parts of the city can also be considered as a hinterland, but the whole point of infinite perfect city is the absence of hinterland in it. V.D. Nikolskii created something in between these two. World of garden-cities – a mix between urban and rural: “And now, food fabrics had pushed away feileds and gardens, where are now continuous fabric of garden-cities.” “Need of big centers with high density of population... long gone. Since the time of travel reduced so much that in few minutes you could get tens of kilometers form the center flow form the center became something natural... …Green suburban areas become irresistible because of their clean air and vast areas.” (Nikolskii, 1926)


The real opposition to all previous concepts appears in the work of N. Nosov “Neznayka in the Sun City” (1958). The most down-to-earth utopic concept of hinterland and relations between hinterland and the centre: Some kind of mechanical snow cleaning machine, or some kind of tractor... ...But the most surprising was that where was nobody operating this machine.” (Nosov, 1958)

Hinterland serves only the purpose of agriculture. And has almost completely no population, for the agriculture is being operated from the city. This is influenced by the Virgin land campaign 1956-1960 when hinterland was perceived in exactly the same way. Similar to the Chayanov’s utopia the “Journey to the Sun City” (2000) by Y.Muhin. Hinterland here is also not only the ideal place for life and work, but the place of political power. “Commune in Russia is preferably small community living at the same place and therefore having same interests.” (Muhin, 2000)

The portrait of hinterland changes from being a space for development of a city (Odoevskii, 1835) to hinterland being a lifeless desert (Brusov, 1904) or a land for agriculture and peasants (Chayanov, 1920) to one giant city (Okunev, 1923, Nikolskii, 1927) and back to agricultural land (Nosov, 1958). In Muhin (2000) hinterland is portrayed as a perfect place to live, in a way very close to life in the hinterland is now. The main difference is that the small communities, villages from which it consist govern themselves.

Space hinterland. Another important part of hinterland portrait is space as a hinterland. Dividing all hinterland on two major levels of hinterland belonging to this planet and all other. And they are usually treated differently as well.

This change in portrait of hinterland reveals the nature of relations between authors and the hinterland: as something that can be changed according to changes in the centre. But also this change shows that modern utopias don’t see the hinterland as a place worth working with. Such lack of directive into the future, imagination, even utopism is the evidence of decline of role of hinterland on the ideological scale of development in modern Russia. Yet does this makes hinterland utopia irrelevant? Not necessarily. Because this change that is seen in portrait of the hinterland after the fall of Soviet Union can also be explained by the growing influence of western utopias on the development of Russian hinterland, and we see this influence on a local scale. This doesn’t mean that where is no place for new Russian Hinterland utopia, this means that the need for it is not fulfilled.

Image source: NASA “Space Colony” workshop. 1970.














1923 1927






Changing portrait of nature. The essence of the portrait of nature in utopian literature stays constant during the last 170 years.

Nature is undivided from the hinterland, especially given that 98% of Russia is nature. From completely wild forests where nobody ever been, to man-made artificial nature.If the relationship between man and the hinterland changes a lot during the history of Utopias,then the same holds for nature. In the selection of utopias up to the XXI century nature is opposed to human kind and needs to be conquered or even destroyed. In “4338” by V.F. Odoevskii (1835) we see the eternal struggle between man and nature in the constant attempt of mankind to control and shape it to it’s need:


“If asteroid would fall down a few miles further tunnel would surely collapsed and angry sea would have it revenge over humanity for it’s bold courage. But this time human skill survived the power of wild nature.” (Odoevskii, 1835)

But in this Utopia nature involves human as well:


“Maybe ancients wanted to show their victory over nature or over their passions? [about equestrian statue]”. (Odoevskii, 1835)

Man is also considered to be part of nature and therefore he’s needs, urges, instincts are to be restrained and controlled as well. This concept of human being a part of nature is very unusual and appears again only in 165 year in “Journey to Sun City” by Y. Muhin (2000):



“ the most important part of nature are humans themselves.” (Muhin, 2000)

Man is a part of nature, but relationship with it is completely different – it needs to be preserved. In the “Republic of south cross” by V.Y. Brusov (1904) nature is hostile to the mankind and in need to be separated from it:


“For the harshness of climate metal dome was created above the city with massive fans for air circulation.” (Brusov, 1904)

Completely opposite to what we see in “Journey to Sun City”. And this opposition of man and nature goes along trough “World to Come” by Y.M Okunev, where man was not only successful in shaping nature to his needs he managed to achieve creation of his own better urban “nature” where the best qualities of “old” nature coexist with the best qualities of old cities creating perfection:


“Streets, squares, streets again – infinite world city... By the 1st quarter of XX century all cities of the world joined into one.” (Okunev, 1923)

And yet again the use of actual nature, even man-made is concentrated, gigantomaniac and separated from all the rest of the world. Humanity needs to create a permanent solution, conquer nature once and for all:


“Huge artificial waterfall drops from the height. Water goes to the giant turbines. They rotate and set in motion dozens of dynamos.”


(Okunev, 1923)

Control over nature develops to it’s extremes in “in 1000 years” by V.D. Nikol’skii (1927) and “Vetockins travel to the future” by A. Svetov (1960). In the first one nature is given will so it would be possible for man to tame it:


“But them professor Antei moved his palm forward them, and plant reached out to it with it’s light-green leafs and ,as it was snuggling, entwine the hand of the scientist with them.” (Svetov, 1960)

“Discovered a way to modify form and characteristics of plants to unusual extend.”; (Svetov, 1960)

In the second one scale just increases to the planetary:


“Artificial suns are made out of semiconductors. During the day they accumulate energy and during the night they send it to Earth. .” (Svetov, 1960)



But as we can see going back to the Muhin’s utopia where it is all changed to the idea of harmony between man and the nature. But is it really? Even if it is clearly stated:





“The meaning of life of the Human – is ensuring the eternal life of Nature.” (Muhin, 2000)

It’s not. Because the scale just went up:


“Sobor [higher authority] invested in building a colony for 300 people on the dark side of the Moon equipped with powerful technology to explore the Universe and factories to build spaceships.” (Muhin, 2000)

A division of nature to the “centere-nature” and “hinterland-nature” appears. One belonging to the Earth, which is needed to be protected, and the over – the whole Universe. A new giant playground for exploration, study and conquering. The portrait of nature even if changing from something hostile and dangerous to something useful up until the end of Soviet Era seem to stay as something to be modified, concurred, created from scratch. It seems that only in last utopia nature is considered to be valuable in the state it is now. But this is not entirely true. The nature of this planet is protected in most recent utopias because another type of nature appeared. Space. New possibilities for conquer, modification. So unlike attitude to the hinterland, attitude to nature, in it’s most global scale, is still strong in it’s utopian sense.

Odoevskii 1835

Brusov 1904

Chayanov 1920

Maykovskii Nosov 1926 1956

Svetov 1960









Sorokin 2006

Change in portrait of climate. We can see the transition from climate being controlled intentionally to being influenced unintentionally.

Climate has always been an important issue in Russia. Because of it’s harshness and also because of it’s diversity across the county. Especially in the Soviet times, when the contrast of climate in different areas of the country inspired the ideas of climate change. Like the River Diversion project, which goal was to balance this natural climate injustice. And it was active for more than 30 years (1940’s - 70’s). So it’s only natural to see the tendency to fight this unbalance, to change climate in Utopian literature as well. For example in “4338” by V.F. Odoevskii (1835) this problem was solved in quite straight forward manner: “Start of heat storage system, which spread out from here [equator] all trough out northern hemisphere. Truly, worth being surprised! Work of ages and science! Just imagine: huge machines constantly suck in hot air into pipes connected to main reservoirs and this reservoirs are connected to heat storage in any city of this country. From city storage this hot air in transferred to houses and gardens and partly to the air roads.. This is how Russians defeated even their harsh climate! They told me that industrialist society wanted to offer to our government supplies of cool air straight to Beijing for cooling the streets.” (Odoevskii, 1835)



This motive of climate change continues in almost all the utopias, like in “Republic of South Cross” (1904): “No windows in walls, because building were lit from inside by electricity. Streets were also lit by electricity. For the harshness of climate metal dome was created above the city with massive fans for air circulation.”; “Constant temperature of air was maintained during all of the seasons”. (Brusov, 1904)

Artificial air temperature control is actually achieved on smaller scale with air conditioning or with use of electricity to heat up streets to prevent generation of snow. Even in Moscow. Or in Chayanov’s “Journey of my brother Alexii to the land of peasant utopia”: “Alexii found out that at 7th of September three armies of German Vsebuch escourted by clouds of airplanes invaded Russian Peasant Republic and in one day facing no resistance or any human being for that matter went deep for 50-100 kilometers.

In 3:15 in night of 8th of September according to the plan meteofors on the border started working on maximum power creating cyclone of small radius and in half and hour half a million armies and tens of thousands of airplanes were literally wiped away...”. (Chayanov, 1920)

Climate change here is the only technological advantage of “Russian agrarian system” over other countries. But this advantage is more than enough to ensure absolute domination and security of it in the world. Food and military wise. Same in “Neznayka in the Sun City”. (1956) The weather is controlled, but trough different means: “But out scientists invented a special powder: the moment clouds appear they get dusted with this powder and they disappear. That’s all chemistry, brother! And for rain we have another powder. But we make rain appear only where we need it – in gardens and fields.” (Nosov, 1956)

This relation to climate changes only in the dystopia “Den’ oprichnika” (2006). In it the universal discourse about actual climate change is at least recognized, even if completely disregarded: “All the way to -32. Here is the global worming foreigners keep blabbering about.”. (Sorokin, 2006)

The portrait of climate change in utopias in contrast to others is very constant. It’s always about artificial change and control. Even up until 2006 when discourse about real climate change is recognized, a process which started in Russia in mid 50’s. But more important in utopias is not the recognition of actual climate change, but the lack of the attempt to change it. This again shows that the power of utopias over development of hinterland shrinks. In this case to nonexistence.




Odoevskii 1835

Okunev 1923

Mayakovskii 1926


Nikolskii 1927

Svetov 1960


Muhin 1960

change in portrait of food from somethign absolutley out of this world to something absolutley ordinary

Food is not a very prominent topic for Utopia writers, but there are numerous attempts at extract food production from the hinterland: to synthesize it chemically, to discard food completely as useless waste of time, to industrialize food production, to move it to new geographical locations. And even more interesting to see food production brought back to the hinterland in it’s most ordinary state for Russia - household farms. Still the image of the food is very diverse and the one thing that unifies it, is that it has nothing to do with the food we are familiar with. Odoevskii in his work “4338” thinks of a food as a number of chemicals combined together, so it shows in his work accordingly: “Give me a good portion of starch extract with assparagus essence, a portion of densified nitrogen a la eur d’orange, pineapple essence and good bottle of carbon dioxide and hydrogen.” (Odoevskii, 1835)

No surprise to see that in the future all the food would be produced in a same way materials are produced now, that’s why it’s not strange to see, that “natural” food becomes a scarce and elite product: “Trees filled with fruit stand around garden. Some of these fruit were amazing product of art of gardening...

...I saw something that was a mix of pineapple and peach: nothing can compare to the taste of it.” (Odoevskii, 1835)

And we have to remember, that the upper-class in this society are the best scientists. So the perfect society divided into tow: one enjoying the benefits of



one science – chemistry allowing to produce huge amounts of food, and another – genetic engineering allowing to produce food of amazing taste. A very dystopic motive for utopia. The most similar to Odoevskii’s concept of food appears in “In 1000 years”, V.D. Nikolskii (1927). Food disintegrates into completely unknown to modern human substance: “I saw a yellowish jelly with round pieces of some vegetables or fruits... …I tried the contents of one of the cups. Aromatic, worm, a little salty but very tasty substance wasn’t like anything I ate before. Where was no meat, but one of the jellies was meat-flavored...” (Nikolskii, 1927)

This concept is changed by a total rejection of food. People in perfect society don’t have time to waste on cooking or eating, so they invent special liquid which incorporates all the qualities of a good meal and much more: “Baths are filled by transparent spicy liquid... … Each oscule of skin sucks in this liquid. Body becomes elastic, mussels are filled with strength, blood moves faster, mind is clearer. Good warmth spreads around the body.” (Nikolskii, 1927)

and this allows them to be efficient in “eating”. And in a bit more moderate way the same concept of food being waste in himan life in appears again in “Vetochkins travel to the future” 1960: “On the bottom of the sea where are our seaweed plantations.” (Svetov, 1960)

In this case food production seen as a waste of space and should be moved to the places humans can’t use otherwise. The only drastic change happens only in “Journey to the Sun City” (2000), in which food takes exactly the same place as it has in our life: “People eat locally and seasonally.” ;“On household plots people usually grow their own vegetables in sufficient amount.” (Muhin, 2000)

The portrait of food changes from something created artificially trough something created in a new but still conventional way to something which is grown in the most common, clear for any Russian way - on household plots. There is absolutely nothing utopian left in the portrait of food in Russian utopias today.


Okunev 1923

Nikolskii 1927

Nosov 1956

Svetov 1960







Muhin 2000

Energy is a common and constant topic.

New ways of production, transpiration and accumulation of energy is the constant promise to change or improve the production, transportation and overall quality of life, so it’s not surprising that Utopias often use new kinds of energy as one of the basic central topics. For example use of solar power and it’s further transportation trough high-frequency electromagnetic fields in “Neznayaka in the Sun City” (1958) gives all new opportunities for agriculture, industry, transportation: heavy and usual machinery which can work constantly without recharging, use of solar power so effective, so no other energy source is needed, etc. And this new kinds of energy are usually based on the most recent technological breakthroughs. Discovery of radioactivity in 1885 and the first radioactive material in 1902 gave a lot of feed for imagination of Utopian writers. This new kind of energy even considered to be healthy and radii was added to some creams and ointments. We can see both of this concepts appear in the “World to come” 1923: “Condensed atomic energy.”;“- Radioactive shower absorbs poisons and kills bacteria, which appear in brain when you are awake and which cause sleep.” (Okunev, 1923)

In a similar way use of solar power appears in “In 1000 years” (1927): “You ask me, what are these shiny squares? These are out main solar power stations.”, (NIkolskii, 1927)



“Neznayka in the Sun City” (1958) “What you think is scales are solar panels, photocells which are instilled on the roofs of the buildings. In this photocells solar energy is transferred to electrical, accumulated and serves to light, heat building, makes elevators and escalators run, etc.

Surplus of this energy goes to factories where they are transferred to radio-magnetic energy which can be transferred anywhere.” (Nosov, 1956)

“Vetockins travel to the future” (1960): “ “Solar power station supplies city, fabrics, farms... (Svetov, 1960)

“Electricity transferred by air with no wires where it needed. Artificial suns are made out of semiconductors. During the day they accumulate energy and during the night they send it to Earth. They help us to grow vegetables, fruits, wheat faster. We collect three harvests annually.” (Svetov, 1960)

“Sun City” (2000): “ “Sun gives, so it would be unforgivable to waste this . energy.” (Muhin, 2000)

Development of solar technologies started in 1860’s out of the fear of expectation that coal would soon scarce, and it was active until the early XX century, to come back again in 1970’s. So the obvious infinity of solar energy always found its way into very different utopias. However in all of them except for the last one, the problem of energy efficiency doesn’t come up. This again separates Soviet and Post-Soviet utopias. The cocept of infinate energy source appears again in a different form in “Vetochkins travel to the future” (1960): “The huge greenish waves run ashore, and loudly fell upon concrete dam. Throughout the length of the dam there were thousands of high-power turbines.” (Svetov, 1960)

Still this doesn’t change the sense of the energy portrait, which is the most constant of all of them, followed by climate. All utopia writers are interested in new, renewable, eternal energy source and in most of the cases it is solar power. It is surprising to see the similar solar power in Utopia written in 2000. Because by that time it become no longer utopian. Of course this way of energy production is still unconventional, but it is widely spread and recognized. So yet again we witness the weakening of utopian impulse.






Brusov 1904

Chayanov 1920

Nikolskii 1927


Andreev 1958


Muhin 2000


Sorokin 2006

Change in portrait of state. The transition looks much like a cycle with two tyranny distopic governments framing it and with total rejection of any modern government in the middle.

The nature of governance was given in Soviet times as a constant. For all the utopias which could be published. They are all based the aspect of governance on communism. The only change in portrait of state and governance appears in utopias before or after Soviet era, or in the the once going in different direction, and for obvious reasons of nature of Soviet power they are much fewer, yet they exist. The building up of communistic ideas starts with a rejection of capitalistic model, which is shown in the “Republic of South Cross”, Bursiov, (1904): “Economical life of the country was concentrated In the hands of this Board of directors... ...Influence of Board of directors in international Relations was huge... At the same time the influence of Board, even if not direct, on the internal politics was always decisive. The parliament, in a sense, was only a servant to the Board of directors.” (Brusov, 1904)

Absolute power of owners, in this case heavy industry, leads in this dystopia to the prosperity of the country, but based on censorship, repressions, etc, - things we see after in the Soviet era. So looking at this dystopia now, what was intended to be anticapitalistic turned out to be anti-communistic after all. Having this anti-capitalistic base we enter pro-communism stage and here it is important to start with Chayanov’s peasant utopia (1920) because it shows how the ideas of governance at first were unified and only later separated.



Chayanovs perfect society is governed by “Power of peasant councils”. (Chayanov, 1920)

Basically the same form of governance which was suggested by the People’s commissar of agriculture who was in charge of collectivization of 1929-1934 in his book “Red Villages” (1930)18. But at the end this form of governance wasn’t implemented and Chayanov was arrested in 1930 related to the case of “Workers Peasant Party” and killed in 1937. But the idea of self-governance by the soviets on different scale is actually the goal of communism. And we see it clearly in the “In 1000 years”, V.D. Nikolskii” (1927): “Self-governing communes are doing great job at resolving their local problems. For larger issues communal consuls are created in one of colsest cities, problems of regions are dealt by regional conuls, and above them stands Higher Consul which is permanently located in Mechanopolis.” (Nikolskii, 1927)

And repeated almost word to word in 2000 by Muhin in his “Journey to Sun City”. Self-governance is divided by scale. Only the “soviet” (council) is replaced by “sobor” (council). The strong opposition to all the governance structure appears only in “Roza Mira” (1958): “authority which has control over the activity of State and lead it’s bloodless and painless transformation from the inside.” (Andreev, 1958)

The opposition to the modern state of governance appears in the “Day of Oprichnik”, V. Sorokin (2006), in which the current state of executive power is extrapolated to it extremes: “Then Gorohov, as it should be, got his face covered in manure, after his mouth filled with money, sewn, candle in ass and hanged on the gates of his estate.” (Sorokin, 2006)

The permissiveness, loyalty to the higher authority, violence of modern Russian authorities unaffiliated to the law seen as a main reason for the degradation of the county. The topic of governance in Utopias seemingly at first as something very diverse and changing constantly actually keeps very constant giving different names for the same concept of self-governance on a local level. It seems that this is the everlasting dream of Russian utopia authors, which was always promised by new reformers but was achieved only in Utopias.


Okunev 1823

Chayanov 1920

Okunev 1923

Muhin 2000






Global hinterland

Sorokin 2006

Transition of Russia’s position and role on global map from largest power, to a neighbour of a number of developed countries.

The prerequisite for most of the utopias is the global scale on which they operate. It is rare that Russia stays in it’s current boundaries, so it is an example of how hinterland becomes global for the nature of utopia. Yet even in utopia Russia usually does not occupy the whole world. It has some neighbouring countries showing advancement or degradation of “Russian” hinterland. In most of the cases it’s China, whose comparable place slowly increase in it’s importance. China as a neighbour of the “Russian hemisphere” first appears in “4338” by V.F. Odoevskii (1835). The main character of this utopia is a historian from China who is travelling in Russia: “Of course, we, Chinese people, now try our best to mimic foreign habits. Everything is Russian-like: clothes, customs, literature, but one thing we leak – Russian smarts.” (Odoevskii, 1835)

China here is seen as county which has fallen behind way behind Russia, but this concept changes drastically in next 150 years. In “Journey to Sun City” (2000) Muhin Russia-China relationship is already develop into equality



And in “Den’ Oprichnika” (2006) Russia falls behind China is a same way China wasn’t able to compete with Russia 150 years ago: “In the living room everything was Chinese-like: beds, carpets, short tables”; “I learned how to speak Chinese, no way without it now.”; ”Since all world production of main goods went to Great China the road connecting Europe and China was created. 10 line wide with 4 underground railways for high-speed trains.” (Sorokin, 2006)

Russia in the end serves only as a transportation from one point of development to another. And for raw resources. And even if physically Russia is separated from outside world by a huge concrete wall (like in “Den’ Oprichinka” 2006), it is actually absolutely open for transportation. Because transit fee is a major source of income for Russia. Absolutely opposite on this point in the image of Global hinterland in Chayanov’s utopia (1920): “Alexii found out that at 7th of September three armies of German Vsebuch escourted by clouds of airplanes invaded Russian Peasant Republic and in one day facing no resistance or any human being for that matter went deep for 50-100 kilometers.

In 3:15 in night of 8th of September according to the plan meteofors on the border started working on maximum power creating cyclone of small radius and in half and hour half a million armies and tens of thousands of airplanes were literally wiped away...”. (Chayanov, 1920)

As we can see here Russia seems to be transparent and open, but at the same time completely self sufficient and enclosed. But the most common portrait of Global Hinterland in Utopias is actual world unity. Planetary scale is the one Utopian writers tend to work on. This leads to the appearace of once unified hinterland for all the world with no political oh physical borders. For example in “World to Come” by Okunev (1923): “Streets, squares, streets again – infinite world city... By the 1st quarter of XX century all cities of the world joined into one. Across the oceans by artificial islands continents reached out to each other with their streets.“ (Okunev, 1923)


1.3 Project highlights Analysis of utopias gives us an insight on thinking about the future and society in a particular period. During the Soviet era the cornerstone model for social, economic and political structure for almost all utopias was an improved form of communism, despite the existence of a small number of utopias opposing the general line, such as “The Rose of the World” (Andreev, 1958). With the fall of the Soviet Union, the strong ideology base behind it also collapsed, and so far there have been little replacements to be found. Contemporary authors enjoy greater freedom, but unlike their predecessors they seem to have to construct an entire ideological model from scratch, which is a threat to the utopian discourse. The evidence of this is seen in the Portraits section of the current research: the way in which Russia is imagined by modern utopists coincides with the actual state of affairs in the country. Modern utopias prove to lack imagination and strong utopian impulse. At the same time, they are more diverse and subjected to the influence of Western ideas. Similar situation occurs with the development of hinterland, especially on a local level. The demise of the formerly strong ideological base of communism sets the stage for projects like “LavkaLavka”. It is clearly influenced by a western ideology that promotes organic farming, but adopted to the Russian context. Another example of influence is the eco-village “Tiberkul”, whose leader managed to create a unique ideological/ethical base. Both projects are trying to create personal mini-ideologies. These examples show that the need for new utopian impulses is natural and it clearly exists. New developments of hinterland are more successful if they manage to achieve certain level of utopia. For example, “LavkaLavka” has numerous competitors , but none of them are able to match the robust network of customers and farmers. Even if some of the other initiatives would become more successful, “LavkaLavka” will always be responsible for the increased interest to farmers and to the hinterland, for the development of farms and for healthy eating habits. They were the first to promote these ideas on a broad scale. Another interesting aspect is the connections between Soviet utopias and modern development. They show that the influence of utopian models is strong even on a large scale of hinterland development, but has been inherited from the previous era. One of the strongest developments of past 12 years is the development of agroholdings, which almost literally follows the ideas on agriculture as explained in Nosov’s “Neznayka in the Sun City” (1958). These notions included centralization, mechanization, and remote control of agricultural production from the city. The absence of a universal ideological base destroyed the close relationship between utopias and the grand ideas of hinterland development in Russia. It also diminished the opposition to the ideology of the Western world. Modern development is therefor no longer influenced by utopian discourse in the same way as it once was. The influence and connection still exists, as it is difficult to disregard that the ideological component prevails over pragmatic, but this influence today is much broader, because it is globalized, but is implemented more locally. UTOPIA



1,2. Carol, Leonard. Agrarian Reform in Russia. USA, New York: Cambridge University Press, 2011. 3. Uzun, Vasilii. Agricultural holdings in Russia: identification, classification, the role and concentration of land... 2011. 4. Vasilkovskaya, S. “Pride of Gorinc’s”. Belgorod Business Magazine 10 (2009). 5. Uzun, V. Saraikin, V and Shishkina, E. Raitings of the largest producers of Agriculture in Russia (2006-2008). Moscow: Russian Academy of Agrarian Science, 2009. 6. Minister on one day. ... Directed by Komarova T. 1997. Tv channel “MTK”. 7. Akimov, Boris. interview by Ruben, Victor, April 26, 2012. 8. “Putin’s speach on Sochi Forum about grimm future of Europe and USA and about bright Russian future.” Last modified September 16th, 2011. 9. “Putin suggests placing web-cameras on all of the precincts.” Last modified December 15th, 2011. 10, 11. Davidova, E. Lyamina, E and Peskova A. Russia in the Memoirs: Arakcheev. Contemporaries. Moscow: New Literary Review, 2000. 12. Nikulin, Alexandr. “You’r in Sovkhoz now!..” Znamya 10 (2008). Accessed April 18, 2012, 14, 15. Vitkov, Gleb. interview by Ruben, Victor, May 4, 2012. 16. Rodoman, Boris. “Landscape for scientists.” Notes of the Fatherland 7 (2002). Accessed May 10, 2012, 16. “False Jesus bride.” Last modified September 28, 2004, 17. Official site of web-page of Vissarion church. “Commandments.” Accessed March 15, 2012, 18. Yakovlev, Y. Red Villages. Great Britan, London: Martin Lawrence, Limited, 1930.


References. Utopias

Adamchak, Ronald and Ronald, Pamela. Tomorrow’s Table: Organic Farming, Genetics, and the Future of Food. New York: Cambridge University Press, 2008. Andreev, D. Rose of the World. Moscow: Moscovskiy Rabochiy, 1991 (written 1958). Bogdanov, A. Red Star. St. Petersburg: Souz Hudognikov Pechati, 1908. Brusov, V. Republic of South Cross. Moscow: Scorpion, 1904. Chayanov, A. Journey of my brother Alexii to the Land of Peasant Utopia. Moscow: GOSIZDAT, 1920. Efremov, I. Andromeda Nebula. Moscow: Molodaya Gvardia, 1956. Khuhelbekher, V. European letters. Moscow: Molodaya Gvardia, 1977 (Written 1820). Mayakovskii, V. Flying Proletarian. Moscow: AVIOHIM, 1926. Muhin, Y. Journey to the Sun City. Duel. Last modified 2000, http://www.duel. ru/200025/?25_4_1 Nosov, N. Neznayka in the Sun City. Moscow: DETGIZ, 1956. Odoevskii, V. 4348. Moscow: GIHL, 1959 (written 1835). Okunev, Y. World to Come. Moscow: Tret’ya Straga, 1923. Nikolskii, V. In a Thousand Years. St. Petersburg, P.P. Soikin, 1927. Platonov, A, Trench. Moscow: SAMIZDAT, 1987 (written 1930). Platonov, A. Chevengur. Moscow: Drugba Narodov, 1987 (Written 1929). Savchenko, V. Fifth Journey of the Gulliver. Kiev: Radyanskii Pismennik, 1979. Sorokin, V. Day of Oprichnik. Moscow: Zaharov, 2006. Strugatskii, A. and Strugatskii, B. Return (Noon XXII century). Moscow: Children’s Literature, 1967 (Written 1959) Svetov, A. Vetochkins Travel to the Future. Moscow: Children’s Literature, 1960. Voinovich, V. Moscow 2042. Moscow: Ardis Publishing, 1986.



1.4 Will work for food Introduction An idea to write a utopia came to me at the beginning of this year, then we only started our work in hinterland team. I was very interested into new ways of agricultural production and to create an image of perfect Russian agrarian society based on these new technologies seemed to be a logical product to conclude my work. But as you can see I travelled a long way from this initial concept. My interest in utopias changed the nature of my research and made utopias a central topic of it. But I didn’t forget my ambition to created utopia of my own, and the resulting conclusion of my research supported my intention, proving to me that the place for new utopias exists and needs to be filled. Around this time I became personally acquainted with founder of LavkaLavka Boris Akimov. And his ideas of importance of farming, local, organic food, social value of food inspired me to create a utopia based on the one thought: “What if in the future of Russia the value of good food would increase to it’s extremes. What if people would became literally addicted to local, organic food?” How would it affect life in the hinterland, farmers who live and work there? So my story is about one of this farmers, who left the city to pursue his agrarian dreams. He witnesses this change in the relationship of man and food and experiences effects of this change on his personal life. But as I was creating this utopic world I came to realization that if I push this idea more and more into the details it becomes more and more dystopic. Because I unwillingly started to imagine what can go wrong with this scenario and how it might end up. It wasn’t actually nether surprising nether suppressing for me, because dystopias proven to be as valuable for the development of hinterland. Included in the following section you will find the beginning of my utopia entitled “Will Work for Food”


Chapter one. Critical review.

I looked around myself with pleasure: typical Russian dacha. Nice, small two storey building with a terrace: long, wooden, partly glassed in a most simple way. A big long table with a kind a small bed at the furthest end serving as a place to sit from time to time. At the side, closer to the wall – a long bench made out of two chairs and a board, at other number of different chairs: from “Viennese” of the beginning of XX century you can still find at any junk yard, to modern “minimalists” IKEA once. I was sitting of my favourite chair at the other end of the table. It was kind of antique, very beautiful. But in very bad shape, I must admit. Never got time to fix it and never trusted anyone of my “workers” to do it for me. It was much wider than a usual chair, almost square in it’s proportions, and overall looked very weird – therefore proving it’s authenticity for me. I liked it here. At least I used to. Put a lot of effort into making this place look as it it now. So did always put a lot of effort to match it. That’s why the guy sitting next to me annoyed me so much. He sat on one of IKEA chairs. Of course! Why choose a masterpiece of Soviet 60’s design I picked up somewhere. Yes it’s bitten up a bit, but it is still way better then an IKEA chair. Don’t know why I even kept them. Needed to place all my workers somewhere. Not enough now anyway. Now they need their own building. Royev was his name. Sergei Royev. Never liked a guy – a man strikingly opposite to me, if you care to reflect a bit: a bit doughy and very big, long dark hair, big eagle-like nose and aristocratic a bit pretentious mouth. And look at me: beige overalls, plain white t-shirt, not more than 5 millimetres of hair on my head. A working man. Farmer. Surprising how proud can I be about that fact these days. I put two man just outside of terrace. Or is it a man and a woman? Both very fit, wiry, tanned up, but not muscular. One of them had a metal ring with spikes, becouse he was cought drinking mik straight from the cow. Will would prvent him from doing this again, because if he did, the cow would kick him. They served me as guards, even if they don’t look one bit like it. I forbidden them to look inside, at least until I say otherwise, but they still gave occasional look on the big man in front of me. On what he was eating to be precise. “Let me speak from my heart,” Sergei said. “Then I say this is superb! Superb! I’m just saying: Doomov, you’ve outdone yourself this time!” I shrugged. “Glad you like it.” “Like it? I love it!” He screamed. “This feels like an explosion in my mouth which echoes trough all the body, touching all the senses.



“Doomov, you’ve outdone yourself this time!”

Like you can taste, see, smell, touch even hear it – all at once. I suddenly feel fresh, new, more alive then I ever felt in my life!” He kept on going about how much he liked it for some time. At first it was almost flattering, in a way, but now it became annoying. “You speak to much for someone who eats at the same time.” I said to shut him up. “I was always surprised how you manage to use your mouth to do two things at the same time.” “Oh, this is professional.” He stopped eating for a second. “I’m a TV food critic after all. I’m payed to talk.” “To pollute air. TV, or otherwise.” “Whatever you say, friend.” He was extremely polite with me. Like a heroin junky is being polite to a drug dealer. Friend? Who’s the hell he’s calling friend? “Just eat,” I got tired talking with him. “This is what you are here for.”


He was glad to be able to focus on food in front of him. Now it seemed that he was eating with double speed. Looking at him was kind of fascinating actually. Something raw, prehistoric appeared in his uncontrollable desire. Like all his physical, mental, professional energy was concentrated in this most simple, pure activity man ever indulged to – eating. Looking at he rapid consumption of my alcocumbers - the new vegetable I finally managed to create. Well, not create, recreate. Where was a believe that # god used to eat it, but it extinct around 4000 years ago. It didn’t really, it just assimilated with other plants and all I needed to do is to put all this qualities back together. Anyway, looking at alcocumbers being basically destroyed by this fancy moron, I couldn’t help to start remembering how it all started for me as a Farmer. So natural, so obvious for me now, back then, if I remember correctly, march of 2052 it seemed like a weird even marginal act. I was very effective in convincing myself that I loved the city, that my life would be dull and boring without it, that I am completely, 100% urban person: I love noise, concrete, speed, large amounts of people, and so on and so on. But if we look at my life in THE CITY back then, how I used all the opportunities it threw at me every hour of a day, any day of a week. Well, maybe, even if I used them, I did it mostly alone. At home. In the apartment I owned I’ve spent almost all of my time, working, cooking, eating, sleeping. Yeah, sure, I went out two – three time a week to meet somebody. But then I realized how efficiently I wasted all the opportunities of urban life the idea of moving to the rural areas started to look more and more attractive. Then I remembered a story of my friend which settled it. I was 20 and he was 23, back then any male from 18 to 27 had to spend out year of his life in the army. And nobody wanted to. I bribed my way out of it but my friend had a usual summer game of “hide and seek” with the authorities. This time he decided to spend almost all of it at out mutual friend’s dacha about 20 kilometres from Moscow. Good idea, nobody would look for him where, except that he was completely cut off from the city, the entertainment, the coffee, and such. I visited him from time to time, bringing him food, cigarettes. And one time he asked me to bring him radish seeds, because he wanted to plant them. At the end growing stuff became his main attraction during this summer and remained in his field of interest long after. So I decided to go this road. You need to do something in the countryside. Even though I had enough money saved to buy a plot of land not to far from Moscow, rent my apartment here and live



with no fanatical difficulties at all. But I knew that this would be way to boring. I would probably kill myself. I didn’t really know much about agriculture, only what I’ve heard in numerous TED lectures telling about new amazing ways of production. Maybe that’s why I succeeded at the end. Of course I had a lot of failures at first, but fortunately I had the opportunities to fail. At the end I started to produce food of such quality that the demand on it want sky-rocket high. I still remember the night I found out about it.


It was beginning of fall 2053. I was waken up by a strange noise somewhere near my house. Went up, put my overalls on and walked slowly to the terrace. Trying to be as silent as possible. Then I went out I looked into the darkness you can find only in the real hinterland and saw a blueish rectangle of light somewhere in my potato field. It was moving randomly and making a lot of noise. “Who the hell are you?” I shouted. “This is a private property! And you are trespassing!” I was extremely sceared. “You know that every farmer has I gun?” I didn’t. “Hey, man, wait, wait!” He said frighteningly. “Listen. I’m just on a food trip.” “Alone? In the night?” I felt his fear, and it worked wonders on mine. “Wait, on what?” I was beginning to come to my senses. “Well, you know, this thing, then people go out of the city to get some proper food.” “Never heard of it.” I never heard of such thing, but I never heard of lots of the stuff in last few years. “You know. This new amazing social network. It connects food enthusiasts like myself with best farmers in Russia. And you got very good rating.” Man was clearly crazy, but peaceful. “You really better leave now, or I’ll call the police.” I understood that we both realized how ridiculous I sounded just now. Police. Even if they would come in the middle of the night that would be much more trouble for all of us. I would better let this man rob myself blind than call the police. I laughed. He seemed to understand: “Yeah, go ahead, mate!” He laughed. “We’ll so how it will work out for ya! Anyway, I’ll pay for anything you got here now. Big time.” This is how I met Boris. In some time, my first employee. And that was the time that I realized that something had changed in this world.




Strelka 2011/12. Hinterland theme research. Chapter of "Five Hinterlands" book.

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