Cover Osteuropa 12/2020

In Osteuropa 12/2020

The psychopathology of totalitarianism
Andrei Platonov’s The Macedonian Officer and Rubbish Wind

Hans Günther

Deutsche Fassung


Andrei Platonov’s short prose written in 1933-1934 is among his most radical work. The central theme of these texts is the psychopathology of totalitarian rule. The oriental despotism depicted in The Macedonian Officer, with its psychotic ruler and masochistic subordination rituals, is like a distorted reflection of the Soviet Union under Stalin. By contrast, the setting for The Rubbish Wind is a dehumanised National Socialist Germany, where the protagonist, a critical scientist, must inevitably undergo terrible suffering. Both systems suppress all forms of independent thought. The fact that these stories were not allowed to be published until the late 1980s is due not to their political content, however, but rather to their drastic nature and the level of cruelty portrayed.

(Osteuropa 12/2020, pp. 165–178)