The book of Anya Bernstein "The future of immortality"

WIf there is a constant in Russian cultural history, it is the rejection of death. It is precisely because life in Russia is increasingly imposing on the population that the scandal of death is particularly evident. At the end of the eighteenth century, instructor Alexander Radishchev wrote the treatise "On the human being, its mortality and immortality". The philosopher Nikolai Fyodorov has devoted his whole life to the fight against death. In his "Philosophy of Common Work" he called for the unification of humanity and the biotechnological breeding of deceased fathers.

The contemporaries of Fjodorow, Dostoevsky and Tolstoy, were impressed by the deep fury of the ascetic thinker, who was not concerned with their own survival, but with the salvation of previous generations and the work of their lives. Fyodorov was deeply religious and believed that God himself had instructed humanity to fight against nature blindly angry. Contemporary medicine was also concerned with Fyodorov's problem. Ilya Metshnikov (1845-1916) is considered the father of Russian gerontology and even received the Nobel Prize for his discoveries.

He called aging as a disease that could be treated. One of his theories was that physical decline would be accelerated by harmful intestinal flora. This process can be slowed down by adding beneficial bacteria to yogurt in the digestive tract. This hypothesis was confirmed by the age of Bulgarian farmers who often drank sour milk. Nikolay Fyodorov took note with satisfaction of the work done by Metschnikows and recognized him as a fighter against death.

Unlimited man

After the seizure of power by the Bolsheviks, this fight against death received a new ideological justification. The Soviet government cleared the sky, revealing religion as a tool of bourgeois exploitation and seeking to create paradise on earth. The biocosmist Alexander Svjatogor denounced in a manifesto of 1922 death as "logically absurd, ethically unacceptable and aesthetically ugly".


The triple refusal of death has made biocosmists dream not only of freeing man from the old economic constraints, but also of going beyond all limits of time and space. The man should master the time himself and move freely in the cosmos. Although utopia remained, but after all, the Soviet Union, with Yuri Gagarin, the first man in space and brought back. Anya Bernstein, social anthropologist at Harvard, has just published a book to read, in which she traces the survival of such fantasies of adaptation to death in contemporary Russian culture. To date, Fyodorov has a fan base in Moscow, which meets regularly for discussions.