This is the eighth in a series of translations of the articles in BASTA!, a special Russian-only issue of Chto Delat that addresses such pressing issues as the fight against racism and facism, the new Russian labor movement, the resistance to runaway “development” in Petersburg, the prospects for student self-governance and revolt, the potential for critical practice amongst sociologists and contemporary artists, the attack on The European University in St. Petersburg, and Alain Badiou’s aborted visit to Moscow.
NB. The conflict at the Moscow State University sociology department, described below, continues. On March 11, three OD Group activists—Sveta Erpyleva, Katya Tarnovskaya, and Olya Bushneva—were expelled for “amoral conduct.” You can read about this latest disturbing turn of events here (in Russian).
Towards a History of the Conflict in the Moscow State University Sociology Department
Oleg Zhuravlyov & Danail Kondov
The knowledge generated by the social sciences cannot avoid being critical knowledge. First and foremost, this is because only the impenetrability of scholarly discourse to the strictures of common sense—that is, political strictures—can underwrite an objective description of the world. What makes this impenetrability possible? How can we avoid the substitution of political doxa for scientific rationality? What is needed are particular social conditions for the production of scholarly knowledge about society—an institution autonomous from the political conjuncture and the pressures of the market.
The OD Group, which united students from the sociology department at Moscow State University interested in improving the quality of their education with civil rights and political activists who criticized the department’s authoritarian regime, made manifest the “family resemblance” between its two factions. What the demands for “academic freedom,” the protection of the social rights of students (and teachers), the creation of an independent professional union, and the improvement of the quality of education have in common is that they move the educational institution in the direction of greater autonomy.