in 1922, the Soviet Union began to expel intellectuals in a planned and systematic way. More than 100 Russian elites left the motherland in two German ships and went to the West – only by eliminating them can Russia be “purified”. This is called the “philosophy ship event” by Russian historians.

a famous Russian philosopher, berjayev

who was expelled in the philosophy ship incident ■ this article comes from the original topic of

published in June 2010: history is special, but life is repeating itself — an exclusive interview with British writers In 1922, the Soviet Union began to expel intellectuals in a planned and systematic way. More than 100 Russian elites left the motherland by two German ships, Captain Haken and Prussia, To “purify Russia”. This is called the “philosophy ship event” by Russian historians.

in April this year, this magazine introduced the context of this incident in detail, which is the first time in the domestic media. In the English world, the first systematic book about the “philosophical ship incident” was written by Leslie Chamberlain, a British writer and historian. Leslie Chamberlain recently accepted an exclusive interview with this magazine.

■ “Russian truth”

: Why did you write the book “philosophical ship incident”?

Leslie Chamberlain: “the philosophy ship incident” is a part of Russian history, but it was ignored during the cold war. I think there are many political reasons for this. In the Soviet Union, this topic was taboo because it was viewed critically. In the west, Lenin is still respected by critics; The same is true of Western historians, although they are full of sympathy for the major thinkers who were deported in the autumn of 1922. Of course, there were also realistic factors. At that time, the Soviet archives were not unsealed, and historians could not find relevant materials. Although I am quite far away from Russia, I have always been interested in these expelled dissidents because of their non mainstream philosophical tradition. When I started writing this book around 2000, all the files I needed could be seen, and most of them had been put online.

writing this book is also related to my personal experience. When I was a student, in 1971, I met the expelled Victor Frank in Munich, Germany. He was the son of the famous philosopher semjan frank, who was in his sixties. He died soon after. After that, I knew that decades ago, the then 13-year-old boy and his family were deported from petersgrad on the same ship. He devoted his life to writing and broadcasting in order to maintain the cultural connection between the exiles and Russia. Since then, the story of Victor Frank has haunted me and finally urged me to write this book.

: before that, you have published another book on Russian history – “Motherland: a history of Russian Philosophy”. What is the relationship between the two books? Why are you so interested in Russian history and philosophy?

Leslie Chamberlain: of course you can connect these two books. They both reflect my strong interest in Russian thought. As a student, I devoted myself to the study of German and Russian literature and found that they are very different, but they complement each other in some aspects, so I began to study the ideological history of the two countries at the same time. I am particularly interested in German Idealism Kant,, Schiller, Schelling and their influence on 19th century Russia. Facts have proved that the impact is indeed great. Moreover, its influence mode makes me have a deeper understanding of intellectual borrowing, because German idealism is highly philosophical and aesthetic, but it has become a scheme of political reform in Russia in the 19th century. From 1978 to 1979, I spent some time in Moscow, the Soviet Union, which triggered my interest in Russian research. I found that newspaper editors in this country are still talking about the language of the 19th century German Enlightenment. I understand the answer to the question I’m thinking about, and I want to tell it to the world.

: is this answer like what you said in the book motherland? Russian thought has such characteristics: first, Russia lacks the tradition of Kadir rationalism; 2、 Russia has a tradition of looking for so-called “Russian good people”.

Leslie Chamberlain: indeed, I understand the Russian ideological tradition from two perspectives. On the negative side, the Russian tradition of irrationalism does have a great negative impact. Although irrationalism has established a key link between “concept” and life and art, it has produced a strong culture of soul discussion; However, it leads to the fact that Russian thought is only “concept” and cannot become “philosophy”.

I often think that Russia is a country with only art, so its spiritual attraction and artistic greatness are often related to political terror. Compared with the west, you will see more clearly the negative impact of irrationalism on Russia. The West values rationality, especially the individual’s special responsibility for knowledge and scientific objectivity. If you look at Russia, you will feel that it is like a mammal without spine in politics and society. Those Russian thinkers who were purged found that the Russians habitually lack the distinction between right and wrong and right, which is the worst factor in Russian philosophy. The Russians themselves have also found that the theoretical problem of right and wrong, the first order, is often subordinate to political and social interests to meet Russia’s limitations. Russian philosophy is not to find truth, but to find “Russia”Many of the various political movements in the Soviet Union replaced the great achievements and preserved the fire of Russian thought. Do you agree with this statement?

Leslie Chamberlain: to some extent, I agree with this view. If they were not expelled, they might not be able to survive in the Soviet Union. In this sense, expulsion is a kind of luck for these Expellees. Once they are accepted by the west, intellectual leaders like berjaev and Frank will certainly enable Westerners to better understand Russian culture. Moreover, they not only looked at Russia from the outside, but also criticized the west, which raised their works to a new level. They are not only important Russian critics in the 20th century, but also Western critics. Among those expelled are the author of Dr. Zhivago and the famous novelist Pasternak, as well as the exiled American sociologist Sorokin. He will become the first Dean of the Department of sociology at Harvard University and is known as the “father of American sociology”. However, I think only the expelled person can finally judge whether the expulsion is a good thing.

■ if you do not consider the real men and women, there will be no real ideological history

: you said that “the ‘philosopher event’ has universal symbolic significance” and “its position in history should become a myth”. Why do you think this event has such a high historical status?

Leslie Chamberlain: This is a unique event in which not only ideas are prohibited, but also those who hold and represent them are expelled from the country. In Plato’s philosophy, there is a requirement to exile poets. But the Russians made it a reality. This country often seems to be one step ahead of Westerners: ignoring the differences between theory and reality and establishing a systematic nightmare relationship between them. At other times in history, in other countries, groups and nationalities were exiled or deported for political reasons. But the reason why I call this event symbolic is that the Expellees in this event are dissidents from different factions. They are included in a unified list and supervised by the highest political leadership. This is the closest reality to Plato’s assumption. Of course, in your China, you also have your own similar history of cleaning up the intellectual class.

: you are not only an ideological historian, but also a non fiction writer and novelist. The philosophical boat incident is an excellent non fiction work. In China, non fiction writing is becoming more and more popular. Can you talk about the importance of non fiction writing and its difference from academic history research? Leslie Chamberlain:

: I received academic training and then worked as a reporter for nine years, but I always wanted to write novels, so it seems very personal for me to express my interest in the form of best-selling books. I try to combine academic honesty with the pleasure of telling stories.

when I write stories like “philosophy ship incident”, I constantly tilt between personality and principle. It can be said that the views of historians and non fictional writers have converged, which has had an impact in two different ways. Without considering the real men and women and their thoughts and actions in the changing environment, there will be no real history of thought. If nonfiction writing is becoming more and more popular, it may be because there is a broad readership who are not satisfied with the novels that represent the times, life, places and countries. Instead, they find the joy of reading from “real stories” and “events”. I think we live in an era that prefers “facts” to imagination. This has advantages, but also disadvantages. I personally hope to write more novels. Because for a writer, the greatest thing is to be able to make characters who will continue to regain their lives in other periods of time live. History is special, but life repeats itself. In the same way. Without considering the real men and women and their thoughts and actions in the changing environment, there will be no real history of thought. If nonfiction writing is becoming more and more popular, it may be because there is a broad readership who are not satisfied with the novels that represent the times, life, places and countries. Instead, they find the joy of reading from “real stories” and “events”. I think we live in an era that prefers “facts” to imagination. This has advantages, but also disadvantages. I personally hope to write more novels. Because for a writer, the greatest thing is to be able to make characters who will continue to regain their lives in other periods of time live. History is special, but life repeats itself.