"ON THE OTHER HAND..." -- A HISTORY
On the Other Hand: News from the Russian Environment,
began in February, 1992 as a newsletter, co-edited by The
Gadfly and Anton Struchkov, an historian of science at the
Russian Academy of Sciences. Three issues later (in May, 1993), the
project fell victim to a lack of funding, and to difficulties of
intercontinental communication. Fortunately, the computer revolution
has now come to our rescue allowing a revival of On the Other
Hand. First of all, thanks to international e-mail, we are once
again in constant communication with our Russian friends in St.
Petersburg and Moscow. And second, with the availability of internet
publishing and this website, the prohibitive costs of postage and
printing are off the budget.
And so, On the Other Hand returns as a component of
The Online Gadfly.
The Gadfly's direct involvement with Russian scholars and
environmentalists began, quite unexpectedly, in October, 1989. At the
home of our late friend, Gregory Kavka, a gathering of southern
California philosophers hosted a group of visiting scholars from the
Institute of Philosophy of the Soviet Academy of Sciences. An
informal conversation concerning environmental philosophy led to an
impromptu invitation to the Gadfly to present a paper the following
December at an international conference in Moscow on
"The Ethics of
At that conference a young scholar from the Buryat Republic (Lake
Baikal region), Zoya Morokhoeva, stepped out of the crowd, introduced
herself, and began to discuss quite knowledgeably some of our
publications on the posterity issue. That conversation led to an
invitation to participate in a summer 1990 conference at Lake Baikal.
After a deliberation of approximately three pico-seconds, we accepted.
As of October, 1989, we had never ventured outside of the Western
Hemisphere. Since then we have visited Russia seven times -- most
recently in the summer of 1999, when we met with students at St.
Petersburg, presented a paper at Saratov-on Volga, and renewed our
contacts with the Socio-Ecological Union at a transformed Moscow. We
have twice seen Lake Baikal, the second time following an
unforgettable journey on the Trans-Siberian Railroad. In 1995, with
two Northland College students, we visited the ancient cities of
Pskov and Novgorod, and carried on biological research at the Valaam archipelago
in Lake Ladoga.
However, memorable the sight-seeing, we have been even more
impressed by the people of Russia and the former Soviet Union: most
notably, scholars who have kept the light of learning alive through
seven decades of ideological myopia, and ordinary citizens who,
despite the censure of non-official civic activity, spontaneously
organized an effective citizen-based environmental movement. Many of
these individuals remain, to this day, among our most cherished