1926 Things Like This Tended to Happen--Why?

Wed Dec 21, 2005

According to Moscow newspapers, Stalin told the scientist: “I want a new invincible human being, insensitive to pain, resistant and indifferent about the quality of food they eat.”

In 1926 the Politburo in Moscow passed the request to the Academy of Science with the order to build a “living war machine”. The order came at a time when the Soviet Union was embarked on a crusade to turn the world upside down, with social engineering seen as a partner to industrialisation: new cities, architecture, and a new egalitarian society were being created.

The Soviet authorities were struggling to rebuild the Red Army after bruising wars.

[Via Jodi Dean].

It’s one of the questions, in a particular sense focused on novelistic representations of the British national experience, that I’m trying to answer. You may know Gumbrecht’s book In 1926: Living at the Edge of Time, and it’s always struck me as incredible how he insisted that it was an ordinary year. Dean mentions Agamben. I thought of D&G; and De Landa. And then there’s “Mr Ivanov’s ideas were music to the ears of Soviet planners and in 1926 he was dispatched to West Africa with \$200,000 to conduct his first experiment in impregnating chimpanzees.