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SOVIET POLICY SCIENCES AND EARTH SYSTEM GOVERNMENTALITY

  • EGLĖ RINDZEVIČIŪTĖ (a1)
Abstract

This article introduces non-Western policy sciences into the burgeoning field of the intellectual history of Earth system governmentality, a field that studies the ideas, institutions and material systems that enable action at the global scale. It outlines the rise of debates on the idea of the governability of the global biosphere in late Soviet Russia (1970s–1980s), focusing particularly on the extension of Vladimir Vernadskii's famous theory of the biosphere and its governance (the stage of the noosphere) into computer modeling and systems analysis. As a result, a new notion of governance as guidance through milieu arose to conceptualize global governance of the biosphere. This conceptual innovation was part of Soviet scientists’ attempt to liberalize the centrally commanded Soviet governmental system.

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This is an Open Access article, distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution licence (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/4.0/), which permits unrestricted re-use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.
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1 Michael Mahony and Martin Hulme, “Epistemic Geographies of Climate Change: Science, Space and Politics,” Progress in Human Geography (2016), 1–30. For antecedents of the Anthropocene concept see Bonneuil, Christophe and Fressoz, Jean-Baptiste, The Shock of the Anthropocene: The Earth, History and Us (London, 2016); Robin, Libby, Sorlin, Sverker and Warde, Paul, eds., The Future of Nature: The Documents of Global Change (New Haven, 2013).

2 Crutzen, Paul, “Geology of Mankind,” Nature, 415/3 (2002), 23.

3 Steffen, Will et al., “Planetary Boundaries: Guiding Human Development on a Changing Planet,” Science 347 (2015), 736.

4 Oldfield, Jonathan and Shaw, Denis, eds., The Development of Russian Environmental Thought: Scientific and Geographical Perspectives on the Natural Environment (London, 2016).

5 Although Vernadskii's biosphere theory is familiar to environmental historians, the Russian version of noosphere theory is little known in the West. Oldfield, Jonathan and Shaw, Denis, “V. I. Vernadskii and the Development of Biogeochemical Understandings of the Biosphere, c.1880s–1968,” British Journal for the History of Science 46/2 (2013), 287310; Shmelev, Stanislav, Ecological Economics: Sustainability in Practice (Berlin, 2012); Serafin, Rafal, “Noosphere, Gaia and the Science of the Biosphere,” Environmental Ethics 10/2 (1988), 121–37; Moiseev, Nikita, “Reflection on Noosphere: Humanism in Our Time,” in Pitt, David and Samson, Paul, eds., The Biosphere and Noosphere Reader: Global Environment, Society and Change (London and New York, 1999), 167–79.

6 See the volume comprising statements on Vernadskii's influence by scientists representing different disciplines: Lapo, Andrei and Ianshin, Aleksandr, eds., V. I. Vernadskii: Pro et Contra (St. Petersburg, 2000).

7 Also see Rindzevičiūtė, Eglė, The Power of Systems: How Policy Sciences Opened Up the Cold War World (Ithaca, 2016); Rispoli, Giulia, “Between ‘Biosphere’ and ‘Gaia’: Earth as a Living Organism in Soviet Geo-ecology,” Cosmos and History: The Journal of Natural and Social Philosophy 10/2 (2014), 7891; Oldfield, Jonathan, “Russia, Systemic Transformation and the Concept of Sustainable Development,” Environmental Politics 10/3 (2001), 94110.

8 For important studies see Weiner, Douglas R., A Little Corner of Freedom: Russian Nature Protection from Stalin to Gorbachev (Berkeley, 1999); Josephson, Paul, Nicolai Dronin, Ruben Mnatsakanian, Aleh Cherp, Dmitry Efremenko, and Vladislav Larin, An Environmental History of Russia (Cambridge, 2013); Bruno, Andy, The Nature of Soviet Power: An Arctic Environmental History (Cambridge, 2016).

9 This is based on Moiseev's contemporaries’ memoirs; a study of archival materials is necessary in order to establish the concrete forms of Gorbachev's and Moiseev's relation. Petrov, Aleksandr A., Nikita Nikolaevich Moiseev: Sud′ba strany v sud′be uchenogo (Nikita Nikolaevich Moiseev: The Destiny of the Country in the Destiny of the Scientist) (Moscow, 2011), 106–7.

10 Ibid., 107–9. This agricultural decision-making model was developed by F. Ereshko, V. Y. Lebedev and K. Parikh in 1983. See I. V. Iakimets, “Background and Requirements for the SOVAM: Soviet Agricultural Model,” IIASA working paper, WP-84-097, IIASA, Austria, 1984.

11 Moiseev's biographies and volumes engaging with his work were published shortly after his death in 2000. See Larin, Ivan, On uchil berech zemliu (He Taught to Protect the Earth) (Moscow, 2002); Voprosy filosofii, Myslitel′ planetarnogo mashtaba: materialy “kruglogo stola” po kn. N. N. Moiseeva “Byt′ ili ne byt′ chelovechestvu?” (The Issues of Philosophy, A Thinker of a Planetary Scale: Proceedings of a Round Table on N. N. Moiseev's Book “Humanity: To Be or Not to Be?”) (Moscow, 2000). Prominent politicians such as former Prime Minister Evgenii Primakov endorsed Moiseev's contributions. Primakov, Evgenii, “Nikita Moiseev: vydaiushchii sia uchenyi i grazhdanin,” Alma Mater 6 (2007), 43. Many contemporary Russian scholars draw on Moiseev's work to rethink Russia's development: Glushenkova, Elena, Ekopolitologiia N. N. Moiseeva i ustoichivoe razvitie Rossii (N. N. Moiseev's Eco-political Approach and Sustainable Development of Russia) (Moscow, 2015). Major memorial conferences marking anniversaries of Moiseev's birth were convened by the Moscow State University (2007) and the Trapeznikov Institute of Control Problems at the Russian Academy of Sciences (2017), not to count the many events organized by the International Independent Ecological–Political University in Moscow, that was cofounded by Moiseev and Nikolai Reimers in 1992.

12 Beniger, James, The Control Revolution: Technological and Economic Origins of the Informational Society (Cambridge, MA 1989); Galison, Peter, “The Ontology of the Enemy: Norbert Wiener and the Cybernetic Vision,” Critical Inquiry 21/1 (1994), 228–66; Gerovitch, Slava, From Newspeak to Cyberspeak: A History of Soviet Cybernetics (Cambridge, MA, 2002); Mindell, David, Between Human and Machine: Feedback, Control, and Computing before Cybernetics (Baltimore, 2002); Agar, John, The Government Machine: A Revolutionary History of the Computer (Cambridge, MA, 2003); Rindzevičiūtė, Eglė, “Purification and Hybridisation of Soviet Cybernetics: The Politics of Scientific Governance in an Authoritarian Regime,” Archiv fur sozialgeschichte 50 (2010), 289309; Pickering, Andrew, The Cybernetic Brain: Sketches of Another Future (Chicago, 2009); Medina, Eden, Cybernetic Revolutionaries: Technology and Politics in Allende's Chile (Cambridge, MA, 2011); Kline, Robert, The Cybernetics Moment, Or, Why We Call Our Age the Information Age (Baltimore, MD, 2015); Siskin, Clifford, System: The Shaping of Modern Knowledge (Cambridge, MA, 2016).

13 Foucault, Michel, Security, Territory, Population: Lectures at the Collège de France 1978–1979 (Basingstoke and New York, 2009), 2021, 23.

14 For Canguilhem's influence see Gabrys, Jennifer, Program Earth: Environmental Sensing Technology and the Making of a Computational Planet (Minneapolis, 2016).

15 Canguilhem, Georges, “The Living and Its Milieu” (trans. from the French, originally published in 1952), Grey Room 3 (2001), 731.

16 Bennett, Tony, Making Culture, Changing Society (London, 2013); Bennett, Tony, Fiona Cameron, Nélia Dias, Ben Dibley, Rodney Harrison, Ira Jacknis, and Conal McCarthy, Collecting, Ordering, Governing: Anthropology, Museums, and Liberal Government (Durham, NC and London, 2017).

17 Gabrys, Program Earth.

18 Luke, Timothy W., “On Environmentality: Geo-power and Eco-knowledge in the Discourses of Contemporary Environmentalism,” Cultural Critique 31 (1995), 5781; Agrawal, Arun, Environmentality: Technologies of Government and the Making of Subjects (Durham, NC, 2005).

19 Moiseev, Nikita N., Kak daleko do zavtrashnego dnia . . . Svobodnye razmyshleniia 1917–1993 (How Far Away Is Tomorrow . . . Free Reflections 1917–1993) (Moscow, 2002; first published 1993), 148, 331. Petrov, , Nikita Nikolaevich Moiseev.

20 Moiseev, Kak daleko, 339.

21 Ibid., 22, 111.

22 For more on Soviet space program see Sidiqqi, Asif, The Red Rocket's Glare: Spaceflight and the Russian Imagination, 1857–1957 (Cambridge, 2010); Gerovitch, Slava, Voices of the Space Program: Cosmonauts, Soldiers, and Engineers Who Took the USSR into Space (London, 2014).

23 Moiseev, Kak daleko, 25–28; Moiseev, Nikita N., Izbrannye trudy (Selected Works) (Moscow, 2003), 261. Moiseev retired from the Computer Center in 1987, but served as a member of the center's directors’ board, alongside several other high governmental posts, until 2000.

24 Rindzevičiūtė, Eglė, “A Struggle for the Soviet Future: The Birth of Scientific Forecasting in the Soviet Union,” Slavic Review 75/1 (2016), 5276.

25 For Moiseev's links with mathematical economics see Boldyrev, Ivan and Kirtchik, Olessia, “The Cultures of Mathematical Economics in the Postwar Soviet Union: More Than a Method, Less Than a Discipline,” Studies in History and Philosophy of Science Part A 63 (2017), 110. For Lavrent′ev's role in the modernization of Soviet science see Tatarchenko, Ksenia, “Calculating a Showcase: Mikhail Lavrentiev, the Politics of Expertise, and the International Life of the Siberian Science-City,” Historical Studies in the Natural Sciences 46/5 (2016), 592632. For Moiseev's correspondence with Lyapunov see the Open Archive of the Siberian Branch of the Russian Academy of Sciences, fund of A. A. Lyapunov, odasib.ru. For Gluskhov see Peters, Benjamin, How Not to Network a Nation: The Uneasy History of the Soviet Internet (Cambridge, MA, 2016).

26 Zubok, Vladislav, A Failed Empire: The Soviet Union in the Cold War from Stalin to Gorbachev (Chapel Hill, 2009); Ziegler, Charles, Environmental Policy in the USSR (Amherst, 1987).

27 Warde, Paul and Sörlin, Sverker, “Expertise for the Future: The Emergence of ‘Relevant Knowledge’ in Environmental Predictions and Global Change, c.1920–1970,” in Andersson, Jenny and Rindzevičiūtė, Eglė, eds., The Struggle for the Long Term in Transnational Science and Politics during the Cold War (New York, 2015), 3962.

28 DeBardeleben, Joan, The Environment and Marxism–Leninism: The Soviet and East German Experience (Boulder, CO, 1985); Ianitskii, Oleg, “Environmental Sociology Yesterday and Today,” Sociological Research 33/1 (1994), 732, at 9.

29 For ritualistic scientific expertise in Soviet planning see Rutland, Peter, The Myth of the Plan: Lessons of Soviet Planning Experience (London, 1985).

30 On Koopmans's links with Soviet science see Düppe, Till, “Koopmans in the Soviet Union: A Travel Report of the Summer of 1965,” Journal of the History of Economic Thought 38/1 (2016), 81104.

31 Wiener, Norbert, Cybernetics; Or, Control and Communication in the Animal and in the Machine (Cambridge, MA, 1965), 25.

32 Moiseev, Kak daleko, 193–5.

33 Boldyrev and Kirtchik, “The Cultures of Mathematical Economics,” 7; Moiseev, Nikita, Prosteishiie matematicheskie modeli ekonomicheskogo prognozirovaniia (Basic Mathematical Models of Economic Forecasting) (Moscow, 1975).

34 Moiseev, Kak daleko, 230; Moiseev, Nikita, Chelovek i noosfera (Man and Noosphere) (Moscow, 1990), 269–70.

35 In his memoir Moiseev dates this trip to 1959, although he mentions meeting Rudolf Kalman, which makes it more likely to be the late 1960s. Although Moiseev noted reading Hayek as a significant event, he did not engage with Hayek's theory of a centrally non-governable economy in his writings. Instead, Moiseev often referred to the Russian organization theorist Aleksandr Bogdanov, who proposed that any governmental apparatus must be regularly decentralized. It is clear, though, that Hayek's neoliberal ideas had appeal for policy scientists interested in complexity. For Hayek's intellectual affinity with the resilience approach see Chandler, David, Resilience: The Governance of Complexity (London, 2014).

36 Moiseev had close links with some of the leading cyberneticians: he copublished with Alexei Rumiantsev, and Sergei Sobolev was the opponent of Moiseev's doctoral dissertation. Moiseev's key publications from this period are On the Theory of Optimal Systems (1975); Methods of Optimization (1978); and Mathematics, Governance and Economics (1970).

37 Budyko, Mikhail, Global Ecology (Moscow, 1977); Oldfield, Jonathan, “Mikhail Budyko's (1920–2001) contributions to Global Climate Science: From Heat Balances to Climate Change and Global Ecology,” WIREs Climate Change 7/5 (2016), 682–92.

38 Fedorov, Evgenii, Vzaimodeistvie obshchestva i prirody (The Interrelation between Society and Nature) (Leningrad, 1972); Fedorov, Ecological Crisis and Social Progress (Moscow, 1977). On Fedorov's thought about global environmental systems see Julia Lajus, ongoing.

39 For an overview of Soviet scientific ecology's shift toward mathematization see Weiner, A Little Corner of Freedom, 384–9.

40 Moiseev, Kak daleko.

41 Badash, Lawrence, A Nuclear Winter's Tale: Science and Politics in the 1980s (Cambridge, MA, 2009); Masco, Joseph, “Bad Weather: On Planetary Crisis,” Social Studies of Science 40/1 (2010), 740; Rubinson, Paul, “The Global Effects of Nuclear Winter: Science and Antinuclear Protest in the United States and the Soviet Union during the 1980s,” Cold War History 14 (2014), 4769; Rindzevičiūtė, The Power of Systems, chap. 6.

42 Crutzen, “Geology of Mankind,” 23.

43 Moiseev, Nikita and Frolov, I. T., “Vysokoe soprikosnovenie: obshchesto, chelovek, i priroda v vek mikroelektroniki, informatiki i biotekhnologii” (Prominent Encounter: Society, Man and Nature in the Age of Microelectronics, Informatics and Biotechnology), Voprosy filosofii (The Issues of Philosophy) 9 (1984), 2441.

44 For scientific and civic activists in the Soviet Union see Weiner, A Little Corner of Freedom, 12–14; Priestland, David, Merchant, Soldier, Sage: A New History of Power (London, 2012).

45 Those few of Moiseev's publications that are available in English lack the lucidity of argument and engaging style that characterize Moiseev's writings in Russian. Moiseev, Nikita, “A New Look at Evolution: Marx, Teilhard de Chardin, Vernadsky,” World Futures 36/1 (1993), 119.

46 Oldfield and Shaw, “V. I. Vernadskii,” 299.

47 Radin, Beryl, Beyond Machiavelli: Policy Analysis Comes of Age (Washington, DC, 2000); Heyck, Hunter, Age of System: Understanding the Development of Modern Social Science (Baltimore, 2015); Rindzevičiūtė, The Power of Systems.

48 Bassin, Mark, The Gumilev Mystique: Biopolitics, Eurasianism, and the Construction of Community in Modern Russia (Ithaca, 2016).

49 Elie, Marc, “Formulating the Global Environment: Soviet Soil Scientists and the International Desertification Discussion, 1968–91,” Slavonic and East European Review 93/1 (2015), 181204.

50 Moiseev, Nikita, “‘Mirovaia dinamika’ Forrestera i aktual′nye voprosy mirovoi evoliutsii” (Forrester's World Dynamics and Important Questions of World Evolution), in Forrester, Jay, Mirovaia dinamika (World Dynamics) (Moscow, 1978), 264–90.

51 Moiseev's afterword inspired the prominent dissident Viacheslav Igrunov to organize an alternative department of the Club of Rome in Russia. Viacheslav Igrunov, “O Nikite Nikolaiche Moiseeve i o tom, kak nesostoialsia Moskovskii Rimskii klub,” igrunov.ru.

52 Moiseev, Chelovek i noosfera.

53 Moiseev, Nikita, Aleksandrov, Vladimir and Tarko, Aleksandr, Chelovek i biosfera (Man and the Biosphere) (Moscow, 1985), 5; Moiseev, Chelovek i noosfera, 235.

54 Robertson, Thomas, “Revisiting the Early 1970s Commoner–Erlich Debate about Population and Environment: Dueling Critiques of Production and Consumption in the Global Age,” in Hartmann, Heinrich and Unger, Corinna, eds., A World of Populations: Transnational Perspectives on Demography (New York, 2014), 108–25, at 109.

55 Erlich, Paul and Raven, Peter, “Butterflies and Plants: A Study in Coevolution,” Evolution 18/4 (1967), 586608, at 606; Lapenis, Andrei, “Directed Evolution of the Biosphere: Biogeochemical Selection or Gaia?”, Professional Geographer 54/3 (2002), 379–91, at 380.

56 Moiseev, Chelovek i noosfera, 10–11.

57 Ibid., 55.

58 Ibid., 141.

59 Ibid., 61.

60 Moiseev, Aleksandrov and Tarko, Chelovek i biosfera, 11.

61 Moiseev, Chelovek i noosfera, 7.

62 Ibid., 72, 84–5.

63 Ibid., 85.

64 Fedorov, Evgenii, Man and Nature: The Ecological Crisis and Social Progress (New York, 1981), 8899, 164.

65 Rindzevičiūtė, The Power of Systems; Leeds, Adam, “Dreams in Cybernetic Fugue: Cold War Technoscience, the Intelligentsia, and the Birth of Soviet Mathematical Economics,” Historical Studies in the Natural Sciences 46/5 (2016), 633–68.

66 For OGAS see Peters, How Not to Network a Nation.

67 Moiseev, Chelovek i noosfera, 319.

68 Ibid., 319.

69 Ibid., 316–19. Moiseev noted that his concept of guided development is similar in principle to the prominent geographer Lev Berg's concept of “guided evolution,” although Berg based his theory on completely different argumentation. Moiseev, Nikita, Izbrannye trudy (Selected Writings) (Moscow, 2003), 111.

70 Oels, Angela, “Climate Security as Governmentality: From Precaution to Preparedness,” in Stripple, Johannes and Bulkeley, Harriet, eds., Governing the Climate: New Approaches to Rationality, Power and Politics (Cambridge, 2013), 197–216, at 205–6.

71 O'Riordan, Timothy and Rayner, Steve, “Risk Management for Global Environmental Change,” Global Environmental Change 1/2 (1991), 91108, at 103–4.

72 Collier, Stephen, Post-Soviet Social: Neoliberalism, Social Modernity, Biopolitics (Princeton, 2011); Aradau, Claudia and van Munster, Rens, Politics of Catastrophe: Genealogies of the Unknown (London, 2011).

73 Oels, “Climate Security,” 208; Schrickel, Isabell, “Von Schmetterlingen und Atomreaktoren: Medien und Politiken der Resilienz am IIASA,” Behemoth 7/2 (2014), 525; Walker, Jeremy and Cooper, Melinda, “Genealogies of Resilience: From Systems Ecology to the Political Economy of Crisis Adaptation,” Security Dialogue 42/2 (2011), 143–60.

74 Moiseev, Chelovek i noosfera, 275.

76 Ibid., 305.

77 Ibid., 331–6.

78 Ibid., 340–42.

79 Hughes, Thomas, Networks of Power: Electrification in Western Society, 1880–1930 (Baltimore, 1993); Hecht, Gabrielle, The Radiance of France: Nuclear Power and National Identity after World War II (Cambridge, MA, 1998); Barry, Andrew, Political Machines: Governing a Technological Society (London and New York, 2001); Paul Edwards, A Vast Machine.

80 Porter, Theodore, “Thin Description: Surface and Depth in Science and Science Studies,” Osiris 27/1 (2012), 209–26.

81 Moiseev, Aleksandrov and Tarko, Chelovek i biosfera, 34.

82 O'Riordan and Rayner, “Risk Management,” 91.

83 Deudney, Daniel and Mendenhall, Elizabeth, “New Earths: Assessing Planetary Geographic Constructs,” in van Munster, Rens and Sylvester, Casper, eds., The Politics of Globality since 1945: Assembling the Planet (London, 2016), 2043, at 25–7.

84 Bennett, Making Culture, 37.

85 Eglė Rindzevičiūtė, “Toward a Joint Future beyond the Iron Curtain: East–West Politics of Global Modelling,” in Andersson and Rindzevičiūtė, The Struggle for the Long Term, 115–43.

86 Wynne, Brian, “Strange Weather, Again: Climate Science as Political Art,” Theory, Culture and Society 27/2–3 (2013), 289305, at 295.

87 Visseren-Hamakers, Ingrid, “Integrative Environmental Governance: Enhancing Governance in the Era of Synergies,” Current Opinion in Environmental Sustainability 14 (2015), 136–43; Schellnhuber, Hans Joachim and Wenzel, Volker, eds., Earth System Analysis: Integrating Science for Sustainability (Berlin, 2013).

88 de Chardin, Pierre Teilhard, The Phenomenon of Man (New York, 1959); Boulding, Kenneth, Ecodynamics: A New Theory of Societal Evolution (London, 1978).

89 The noosphere is often invoked in contemporary political discourses in Russia. One example is the theory of a Eurasian civilization, developed by the anthropologist Lev Gumilev (1912–92), that incorporated some mystical aspects of Vernadskii's noosphere theory. From the 1990s Gumilev's Eurasianism inspired a new era of Russian geopolitical thinking, according to which Russia is the hearth of a spiritual civilization, different from the rationalist West and therefore destined to become a world leader. In the 1990s Moiseev too became attracted to Eurasianist ideas, writing about the North Eurasia continent as a geopolitical future of Russia. Furthermore, a peculiar version of Vernadskii's noosphere theory recently attracted international attention when it transpired that Vladimir Putin's newly appointed chief of staff, Anton Vaino, published several fairly senseless articles on government of the global noosphere, claiming to have developed a global predictive control machine, the nooscope. Vaino, Anton, “Kapitalizatsiia budushchego” (Capitalization of the Future), Voprosy ekonomiki i prava (Issues of Economics and Law) 4 (2012), 4257.

90 Rockstrom, Johan et al., “Planetary Boundaries: Exploring the Safe Operating Space for Humanity,” Ecology and Society 14/2 (2009), 32; Steffen et al., “Planetary Boundaries.”

91 Nowotny, Helga, The Cunning of Uncertainty (Oxford, 2015).

*This work was supported by the European Research Council under an ERC Grant 283706 awarded to the A Political History of the Future: Knowledge Production and Future Governance 1945–2010 (Futurepol) project, PI Prof. Jenny Andersson, the Paris Institute of Political Studies (Sciences Po), France, 2012–15. I thank the four anonymous reviewers and the editors of Modern Intellectual History for their constructive and helpful comments and I am particularly grateful to Paul Warde, Jonathan Oldfield and Francis Dodsworth for their generous feedback at various stages of this work.

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