Go to Golgotha (Author’s preface)

Alexander Zinoviev


In early youth I realized that the real communist order in Russia did not match the bright communist ideals by and large. At the same time any other social order was unacceptable for me. How could I sustain, with such convictions? In 1939 I said to myself: “There has never been an ideal society that would suit me completely and it is very unlikely to arise at all.”

I came to the conclusion that it was not so important what was the actual society that I had to face but the way I had to adapt to its conditions, considering my views about the ideal human. This task seemed achievable, though only through sacrifice and sufferance. This did not frighten me, on the contrary, it gave my life a reason.

I abandoned all attempts to transform our society and started an experiment of my own case study: creating an ideal one-man-society of myself. Little by little I developed my own system of behavioral rules that made it possible for me to survive and to develop as an autonomous personality in conditions of the Soviet (communist) society. I did it exclusively for myself with no intention of going public with my “experiment”.

Destiny made me turn to writing in 1974, when I was already over 50. As a matter of fact a great number of my ideas and considerations that had been made up in my one-man-society for personal use only landed in my books through the mouthpieces of my personages, at times as witticisms. It would be erroneous to identify the writer with his personages, though some of my heroes do in fact express my beliefs. Thus, Ivan Laptev, the main character of this book can be regarded as my mouthpiece.

Ivan Laptev accepts the communist society as a fact and as a natural phenomenon, but he’s not happy with it. On the contrary, he is repelled by this society. He does however not want to reform or to destroy it, as he believes that any other society is worse and that any attempts to improve it only worsens it. He decides to create his own religious teaching (“teaching on life”) that enables one to live decently in Soviet society. To quote Laptev, he “wanted to teach people how to become a saint without being disengaged from the vicious cycle of life”. As author of this book I am far from encouraging the reader to follow Laptev’s example and advice. I have only described it as one of many possible life concepts. Moreover, I tried to demonstrate that not everyone could possibly follow this path, as it is a path of suffering that leads to Golgotha.

I finished this book by 1982, and now, after careful rereading I wouldn’t change anything in it. Moreover, becoming aware of the developments in today’s Russia I am getting more and more convinced that my life credo chosen as early as in 1939 was right. The era of great socio-political ideals is over, the time of their demolition, distortion, slandering and vulgarization has set it. That is what I do not accept. Humankind has been thrown back to the very bases of existence. We stand now at the beginning of a new historical cycle and are again in for centuries of wars for Paradise on Earth (the kingdom of God). If you like it or not, we’ll have to start at its very foundation – we’ll have to change in accordance with certain ideals – like those “Russian God” Ivan Laptev was aspiring to create.

Alexander Zinoviev

Munich, 15th August 1990