The paper is devoted to the study of the village phenomenon being the cradle of mankind calling for it again at every new stage of historical development. The etymology of the word “village” shows the synthesis of natural and human and refers to the earth, in which concept we see the metaphysical roots of the village. A village is a civilized nature in which man is dissolved. The development of productive forces of the village creates a new reality, which pushes a person into the city in search of his Self. In the pursuit of isolation from the village, a person gains awareness of his Self in the city, but then the city washes away the human individuality in the flow of industrialization. A person falls into the search for a new synthesis. He is tempted by the village, but upon return he transforms it in the spirit of the city. Introducing the values of productivity and profitability, he receives the pseudosynthesis represented by unpromising villages and collective farms, which are eventually ruined. In a new round of development, humanity comes across digitalization processes. The powerful spread of social networks, the spread of new forms of labor, the limitless nature of communication and the world as a whole create a different reality, where a person again begins to lose himself and search for his roots. Nowadays the village is a platform for the implementation of his own projects in various versions.
The relevance of the study of the Project of Return to a Village is related, on the one hand, with the “escape” of rural youth to the city and often unwillingness to see the potential for the development of their “small homeland” and the opportunities for realizing and developing their potential in its conditions, and on the other hand, the need to recognize that the industrial culture project has shown its failure, and a modern person in the situation of cyber reality, pandemic and mass society is increasingly turning his eyes at the village, a cottage, a detached house, a settlement, an ancestral estate and eventually at families and traditions.
In this regard, we decided to consider the project of return to a village in the metaphysical plane and address a certain ontology of the village, since this is where its huge potential lies, both anthropologically and socially.
The problem of the study is associated with the insufficient identification of the philosophical foundations of the village phenomenon, in connection with which, under the pressure of external factors, the village risks losing its metaphysics, although it is exactly in return to it that a person gains the possibility of a complete disclosure of himself. It can be noted that today, in the context of digitalization, the village has great potential to rediscover its metaphysical roots, to channel its being in modernity. It is important not to miss this in the race of a person to new anthropological foundations, but to consider, peer into the project of the return to a village, in the topics of which it is possible to realize both the inherent features of the human being and the potential gained in the era of digitalization.
At present, it is necessary to note the lack of complete and deep philosophical studies of the village phenomenon. Hence, the objective of this study is to fill this gap.
The subject of the study is the village phenomenon in its main aspects: ontological, anthropological, socio-cultural, as well as the related transformation of human consciousness, which reveals itself in the dialectical movement in the process of “escaping” from the village to the city and the desire to return to it.
Purpose of the Study
The purpose of this study is to understand the phenomenon of the village in various planes in order to discover its potential in the formation of a new person in the conditions of digitalization, as well as to consider projects of return to the village embodied in modern culture.
In addition to the main purpose of the study, the authors also see the need to introduce the concept of the “village” into modern discourse and remove the negative background of the village phenomenon in the general cultural field, and therefore put this, if not as the purpose of the paper, but as a kind of a guideline, since the unconscious displacement due to negative connotations of the concept leads to ignoring the phenomenon of return to a village by the public or to its perception as marginal.
The main methods used in the study are as follows:
phenomenological method in the understanding of A.F. Losev, consisting in the desire to consider the phenomena from within themselves, having come to their own point of view, contrary to external explanatory methods that prevent the reality and reduce some phenomena to others, leveling their specificity. The authors are convinced that in order to understand the village phenomenon, it is necessary to proceed from its own existence, because otherwise – analyzing it from the outside without penetrating its metaphysics – we will inevitably lose the object itself, which is not grasped by a language, methods of knowledge and sensuality born in another culture;
dialectical method, which allows identifying the specifics of the village as a synthesis of natural and artificial, as well as demonstrating the movement of a person from the village (thesis) to the city (antithesis) and the return to the village (synthesis) of a person who has undergone qualitative changes and transformed the village phenomenon in the process of dialectical development;
etymological method, which allows identifying a point of concentration of meanings thus revealing the metaphysical roots of the village phenomenon.
The locality, “soil”, τόπος is the essence of euphemism replacing the inconvenient-obscene word “village”. Indeed, in scientific, and even in purely philosophical discourse, we often feel shame for such colloquialism; it almost does not correspond to the stylistic canon that exists “by default”. Accordingly, given that “shame” is a marker of pleasure, it would be appropriate to assume the following. When a yesterday’s applicant through – literally – coming-out (“disclosure”) when first meeting his classmates, feeling shame, admits that he is a “rural resident”, maybe this “shame” means the “abyss” of pleasures inaccessible to a resident of the metropolis?
Today, the word “village” has quite a negative connotation. Often this word is used as a generic name; to refer to “a rude, simple person”, as well as to note the absence of a sense of style in clothes, interior and the absence of a sense of delicacy in personality behavior. Obviously, such an understanding of the village as “absence”, denial is based on the opposition to the city. According to V.I. Dahl, the village is a peasant village in which there is no church. It is also a field, a strip, a land, a wasteland, and a villager is the opposite of a citizen, a villager, a resident of a city, a village (Dahl, 1880). From the very definition of the village also follows its opposition to the village: in the village, unlike the village, there is no church. This later Christian understanding of the village attaches the phenomenon of absence to it. This leads to a quite logical conclusion: the word “village” refers to an illiterate, rude, uneducated, uncouth person, i.e. a subhuman being, who is also called the “unbeliever”. Christian culture makes a negative imprint, which is preserved in the subsequent secular culture up to today. We address the village in the perspective of the presence, not what is it missing, but what is has. We will try not to be scared of such a narrow-minded and evaluative concept, we will try to understand the historical projects of the village in order to understand what a village is today through the material reflecting what was earlier and what it is today, unlike the generally accepted apophatic definition through what it is not.
According to the composite authors of the (Shansky et al., 1975), the word “village” traces its origin directly to a “tree”, and only through this the latter connects with “ –”. According to M. Fasmer, the word “village” is derived from “ –”, “”. “Original[ly] “arable land”, then “a peasant yard or a farm with a plot of land”, finally, “village”” (Fasmer, 1986).
From the etymology of the word “village” it follows that the process of creating a village consists in “pulling out” of trees, i.e. the extraction of timber for arable land, converting hunting and gathering into cattle breeding and agriculture. It turns out that the village itself is originally a synthesis of nature as a natural beginning and a way of economic management as an artificial phenomenon.
So, although there is no unambiguous interpretation of the etymology of the word “village”, however, with different interpretations, we clearly feel that the village is a way of structure built on the ground and/or from the ground. It is here in the village as in the connection with the earth that an integral reality is created, the metaphysics of which we can trace in all aspects.
From the ontological perspective, the earth turns out to be the firmament, the basis of being, the place of rooting of all being. The earth is a special topic – metaphysical space-time unfolding the village life. The earth is a plastic, pliant space, capable of giving and receiving, forming an image of a voluminous, embracing reality, a space included in the whole world. (A completely different image of space is represented in the Newtonian worldview, where space is presented as a kind of empty place indifferent to what is present in it). The ontology of the village immerses us in a special mode of time. The earth keeps the past, turns us to the roots, it is a visible embodiment of time, history. In this context, it is noteworthy referring to the memories of the Russian philosopher Pavel Florensky, who tells about his childhood, when he traveled with his father, watched the mountain in the section, in the formations of which the story itself was visible – the time that clearly rebelled before us. “On the Ajarskoye motorway, I learned from childhood to see the earth not only from the surface, but also in a section, even mainly in a section, and therefore looked at the time from the side. <…> The fourth coordinate – time – became so alive that time lost its character of bad infinity, became cozy and closed, approached eternity. I was used to seeing the roots of things. This vision habit then sprouted the entire thinking and determined its main character – the desire to move vertically and little interest in the horizontal” (Florensky, 1992). And therefore, the earth is an inextricable merger of the horizontal and vertical, the “earthly” world turns out to be a topic, each point (both spatial and temporal) of which refers us to the sacred. This is the sphere of mixing space and time: we say “in far distant lands”, which means walking for a long time, “sink into the earth” referring to a long wait.
In the anthropological aspect, the earth is directly related to a person. The concept homo is in tune with a human, derives from humus – the earth. “The connection between homo and humus should not be understood in a simplistic way: man is the earth, because he is mortal; the meaning is that a person lives because he is born of Terra Mater and will return to it” (Eliade, 1999). The earth appears in the image of a womb, mother/matter (“Mother earth”), the source of human life (“The earth stores the seed, feeds the person”) and the points of his return, death – departure to the earth (“We come from the earth, we will go to the earth”). Here the connection of the time of man – his past, present and future – whole, eternal return, circle. “The Earth is round” tells us the principle of return as retribution (“Water finds its own level”), which manifests itself both philo- and ontogenetically: both his good/bad will return to man, and the ancestors return to the family in newborns.
The circular earth refers us to the social aspect. In this aspect, the earth is identified with the world, where everyone knows each other, all are fellow countrymen. The village is a world of polyphony, folk song, where there is no solo and accompaniment, but where a lot of voices create a single field.
Man, in turn, is always part of the society. A rural resident, a peasant, an agrarian is traditionally part of the world, a peasant community. A person from birth is “dissolved” in it. He is not manifested, not personalized and does not need it. Constructive labor, and often the struggle for existence, is its inheritance. This is “eternal return”, “soil”, “solstice”. A rural resident – man of labor – is “dissolved” in nature; it is God; he is in it and it is in him. Man “copulates” with nature through work – this is how knowledge happens, the development of the world (this is the gnoseological aspect) – through an active love interaction with it. Such integrity of man-nature-society is supported and manifested in the phenomena of folk culture: songs, fairy tales, dances, etc. The tale preserves the connection of man with nature and conveys it in oral tradition, as well as the tale reflects the space-time continuum mentioned above.
When we claim that a person in a village is dissolved or not manifested, it is rather our personalistic vision, the culture of individualism everywhere tries to see the personality, and in a village it does not find it in the form in which we imagine it. It is rather included in life, serves an integral link inside it. Even when we try to talk about it, we use the words “part”, “link”, “not manifested”, and the traditional culture itself is outside these terms, it is integral, unified, and natural. Thus, we fall into the trap of our own language, because we can describe the person of nature, traditions only using the artificial language of civilization disconnected from nature.
The village can be thought of only as an opposition to the city, but this was not always the case. Before the urbanization process began, the village was the main form of unification of people. The earth tied a person both directly and figuratively. Only the agricultural coup in western Europe (primarily in England) ensured a sharp increase in yields, which freed a significant part of people from rural labor, and now they, excluded from the economic system, experienced the need to search for themselves, felt their detachment, incompleteness, non-presence. For the sake of gaining their individuality they went to the cities to become artisans, merchants, officials in order to become someone, find your face in the city.
The city undoubtedly provided an opportunity for the development of personality, individuality. The person here becomes isolated, unique. The city becomes the complete opposite of the village, antithesis. It gives rise to a different culture, a different life, a nuclear family, different from the traditional one, in the end, individualizes a person. The personality in the city is personified in the craft – this is a creative work, which is a synthesis of the personality (master) similar to God in creating things and society/family (represented by students and apprentices). Then the development of the city gives rise to new processes – manufacturing, industrial revolution, the development of capitalism and the build-up of the interclass struggle. The human project in such conditions is undergoing strong changes. Work is no longer a way of knowing the world, showing oneself, coping with nature. Now labor becomes just a way of physical survival, losing its other facets. The whole depth of human nature is reduced to his work.
The nature of machine labor reduces the essence of a person to one simple operation. There is a loss of self in return for gaining individuality. Man is a screw in the system, he is the carrier of the mechanistic worldview, and turns into a mechanism himself. Capitalism absorbs the individual putting money as the main value. The face of the townsman acquires a faceless mask of the worker. In the industrial era, individualization takes place following the principle of atomicity. Atoms are simple and indivisible, the world consists of atoms and emptiness. Atomicity from physics passes into society. Every person is an atom with some rights and freedoms, private property (which was not in traditional culture), but, in fact, his individuality is reduced to isolation from others. He is as simple as an atom, therefore he feels the insufficiency of being and again tries to find himself going beyond his isolation. “In large cities one can easily be as lonely as almost nowhere else. But one can never be in solitude there. Solitude has the peculiar and original power not of isolating us but of projecting our whole existence out into the vast nearness of the presence of all things.” (Heidegger, 2008). We see a huge gap between privacy, in which only personality can be manifested, and the isolation, so common in the experience of urban life, is locking this very person.
When the industrial era becomes obsolete, man again becomes nostalgic. There is a need for a new synthesis. Man sees the salvation of his human (not machine) image in returning to the village.
In this context, the village ceases to be the past, there are hopes for the future. This not only “was”, but also “will be”. We are talking about the traditional way, village life, earth, which call on a man again. A traditional society – an agrarian society – is, if we use the famous poetic prose of I. S. Turgenev, the “support” of a person; this is έ̓ντερον, a “womb” of “life”. This is evidenced not only by a common sense or ordinary calculation; we find examples of this in the Russian song culture of the late XX century.
I consider myself urban now,
Here is my job, here are my friends,
But still at night I dream of a village,
My homeland does not want to let me go.
Derbenev L.P. (We cannot be without songs, 2003)
The last line can be interpreted backwards, a person does not let the village go, there is his childhood, there is his cradle, in fact, like the childhood of all mankind passes in the village and refers to it on every new round of development. Moreover, the “unletting go” of its roots takes place at night in a dream, i.e. it is a matter beyond the control of human consciousness, a manifestation of the unconscious or even archetypal. Urban noises, fuss, running are not able to famish the longing for their native, however, in the next composition, the author just notes this process of oblivion. The memory of the home is inevitably erased by time:
House windows to the garden
Where my mother is waiting for me,
Where she rocked my cradle at night.
House windows to the garden
Golden leaf fall,
One more fragment of songwriting seems very interesting, since it reflects a mythopoietic consciousness.
Here I bathe in a winding river,
I feel my father’s strong hands,
And therefore it is easy and careless for me,
And therefore I can swim endless
(We cannot be without songs, 2003).
The memory of the house here appears as a prerequisite for human development. Movement is possible as the opposite of immobility, it is it that sets the angle of movement, immobility is sacred, it makes any desire possible. In order for a person to move and develop, it is necessary to have a certain point of support, inaccessible, in a sacred peace. And at this point of support, the concepts of family, nature, and the past merge.
It is worth noting that this song was created and was relevant in the era of the so-called Brezhnev “Stagnation” (1964-1985), Perestroika (1985-1991) and economic reforms of the early 90s, i.e. when, it would seem, the so-called “traditional society” forever goes into vulgarity due to radical recultural changes in our country and in general a new “proletarian culture”. But, again, agrarian – traditional society is extremely stable; this is the “womb” of “life”.
A new synthesis of the city and the village is seen in the process of industrialization of the village. Now this urbanized man keenly senses the erasure of his self in the productive power of the working class, turns his eyes to the village, rushing there, and inevitably transforming it according to his own, mechanistic laws. The historical examples of our country show how the principles of industrialization penetrated into the traditional living soil, the essence of which was now reduced to productivity and profitability.
We previously emphasized the idea that there is no individuality in the village. “I” here is proportionate to “We”. In Russia, in many ways this situation developed until the middle of the 20th century. Man seeks to the city in order to find his, to stand out from, to feel his uniqueness. There are some examples in history when this desire to the city is not radical, but only episodic, caused by economic problems, among other things. Even the so-called “night soil collectors”’ – peasants previously various seasonal work – thanks to the institute of fraternity, “managed to largely maintain the traditional peasant mentality not only in the village, but also in the conditions of the city” (Mironov, 2003). But at the same time, the roots of the individual are in the earth. In the village a person is not individualized, but rooted, and in the city individualization occurs without roots, hence longing for the village, for the earth.
What happens to the domestic rural infrastructure, and most importantly to its inhabitants in the middle of the 20th century? One of the directions of the state USSR policy in the 1960-1970s was the liquidation of “unpromising” villages – the process of dividing the so-called “small settlements” depending on the population, communications, compliance with the conditions and tasks of economic development of the area into “promising” (at least 1-1.5 thousand people) and “unpromising”. “Initially, the liquidation of “unpromising” villages, according to D.V. Kovalev, “was carried out on a limited scale and was local in nature. The main focus was on the audit and re-registration of rural settlements, the design of territorial and economic organization of areas. Since 1968, new construction and overhaul of buildings and structures in “unpromising” villages ceased, social and production infrastructure was cancelled, and transport links were limited. However, there were not enough funds for the improvement and expansion of individual housing construction on the central estates (often people were provided with urban-type apartment buildings for relocation), and some of the residents of “unpromising” villages were negative about the change of residence” (Kovalev, 2013). So, as D.V. Kovalev notes, the number of villages in the USSR by the mid-1980s decreased by 54.3% (to 383.1 thousand), in the RSFSR – by 60.2% (to 177.1 thousand). For example, in the vicinity of the village of Novo-Ivanovka (the former fifth branch of the state farm “Way to Communism”) of the Novo-Warsaw district of Omsk region such “small settlements” as Yampol, Breslavka, Stalinka, Kyzyltu, Iltayi, and others disappeared as a result of these processes.
Another area of agricultural policy from the middle of the 20th century was the development of virgin lands. This is an artificial creation of a village based on agriculture, and in this case the genus is replaced by an international. People who are absolutely strangers to each other become a unified whole bound by labor. Labor creates a “family”, a village, a tradition, and not vice versa.
That is, the rise of virgin land completely reproduced the appearance of villages. Uproot the forest, plow – the difference is only that the creation of the village does not take place on the basis of a single family, and the international becomes a labor family at the behest of the highest beginning – the state. And the goal of this campaign was to increase agricultural turnover, supply cities and industrial centers with food, rivalry with the United States in terms of agricultural development.
An industrial person wants to return, but returning to the village makes it industrial. And such industrialization of the non-industrial demonstrates the pseudosynthesis of the city and the village, the failure of which we see in the above examples.
But most likely this is one of the manifestations of a more global socio-cultural transformation, namely the desacralization of human life, labor and nature. As already mentioned, a person within a rural community, the “world”, is not personalized; “I” = “We”. But the processes of industrialization in our country, including the campaign for the liquidation of “unpromising” villages, the creation of agro-cities, incorporated the “man of labor” into the urban environment. These processes of liquidation and industrialization desacralize labor, together with unpromising villages eliminate the values of traditional culture, and through this personify the person. And here, as a result, – and this in many ways is the antithesis to the position of man in traditional society – literally the “I” of man “cuts through”, is “highlighted”; he acquires self-awareness, reflection and – even excessively – feels his worth:
Not so ringing I got a voice,
But I wanted to see the world.
And one morning in a muddy city
I left to sing city songs.
(We cannot be without songs, 2003)
Urban conditions play a key role in this process. The topic of the city is its special living conditions. They are associated with a special organization of labor. Hence – free time, leisure, which entails sophisticated leisure practices. Splitting the phenomena of human being: play, work, love, death – in the city these are separate processes, they are now split in time and space. The “new” person distinguishes himself from the “world”, looks at the “world” down.
Having escaped from the village for the sake of gaining individuality, breaking off the connection with the roots, with the earth, a person was in a state of oblivion. The loss of soil under his feet and the dizzying movement in the city forced him to look for a new support. Man creates another space, another topic, the metaphysical basis of his being. Urban space is solid, static – this is the foundation (it is not surprising that this concept is often used metaphorically in industrial culture: fundamental knowledge, foundation of culture, etc.).
For no reason, the Art Nouveau culture from whatever side we approach it, either the birth of a new era in connection with Christianity, or the modern birth of the industrial era, is oriented towards the future. Both Christianity and industrial culture tear a person out of the family, free him from binding to the earth. The past ceases to rule and set a frame for a person, he gets the opportunity to independently determine himself, the present. But it is impossible to do this without support, and therefore the future becomes such a support, it is it that begins to rule over the present, the present unfolds here and now through the desire to realize the “bright future”.
An industrial project is a separation project: division of labor, division of spheres of life, division of society, etc. There is a separation within the person himself: feelings, emotions, thoughts, body – all this begins to live independent lives (“What the eyes fear, the hands do”). Only so, through separation, it is possible to obtain individuality, certainty, since any definition is a limitation.
A man fell into a kind of a trap, a trap of mass society. Where he tried to manifest himself as an individual, he was lost, impersonal.
In the late 1990s, there was a massive outflow of the village population into the city directly related to the political processes in our country, accompanied by a severe deterioration in the economic condition of the village and the need to feed. And again, a man of perestroika rushed into the city leaving the failed project of an industrial village in order to realize his potential or simply survive. The city at this time very quickly and confidently enters a new era, more exactly, it is covered by an information wave. Now man dissolves not in the urban environment, not in the mass of the working class, but in the virtual reality, and again loses himself, loses contact with reality, finds thousands of persons created by himself in search of his face, but not being such. The situation is aggravated by a strong deterioration in the environmental situation, problems of unhealthy nutrition, many complexes and neurosis. Both the land and the foundation created by the industrial culture go from under their feet.
This is a natural and necessary path. The key idea here is that a person gaining his “individuality”, “Self” through forced migration and integration into the urban environment receives through the educational practices of the metropolis – and these are, it should be noted, mainly young people – new applied knowledge, which to advantage for themselves and, the main thing, for others – the “world”, the rural community – he can apply only “returning” to the “soil”, to the village, to the local. It turns out that the village youth, unable to determine their place in the village (thesis), leaves for the city (antithesis). The urban environment completely denies the village. The city gives education, i.e. the image of a person, the student shows his individuality in choosing a profession, in the process of learning. Then, having gained experience of individualism in the city, a young specialist gains the opportunity of self-realization returning to the village, the soil of which is more amenable to change than the urban foundation (synthesis). It is important to note that the state supports such an initiative with such projects as the Zemsky Doctor, the Rural Teacher.
The second option presents the village as a universal platform for the development of ideas, goals, and projects. Such projects are built by very wealthy people, they also set a trend. Such a layer of people resembles a prosperous class in Florence, which was no longer satisfied with the existing medieval philosophy and it (layer) formed a request for a new worldview, moreover, it financially participated in its formation. Today we see how the ideas of establishing ancestral settlements are being implemented by a privileged class, this process is going along with others. It is noteworthy that it is progress that lured a person from the village that now takes him back (the possibility of remote work, the availability of cars and roads, the opportunity to split time between two homes). First of all, the most “progressive” class “returns” to the village. Twenty years ago the village was the inheritance of the poor, the neo-village was the inheritance of the rich, they most often had their own business in the city, but living in the center of the industrial world from now on is not prestigious. Hence, the process of deurbanization, which began quite recently in Russia, and in developed countries – since the middle of the 20th century.
It should be noted that there are similar projects in modern Russia at the federal level and as federal “propaganda”. This is the so-called “Family Estates” and “Far Eastern Hectare”, which make it possible to realize the village that is seen by the creator. For example, the Far Eastern Hectare is an “unprecedented” “mechanism” enshrined by the federal law, which provides the opportunity for all citizens of the Russian Federation to obtain a land plot under state or municipal ownership, the area of which does not exceed 1 hectare (Federal Law No. 119-FZ “On the peculiarities of granting citizens land plots that are state or municipal property and located in the territories of the constituent entities of the Russian Federation that are part of the Far Eastern Federal District, and on amending certain legislative acts of the Russian Federation” dated 01.05.2016). Thus, a person can get 1 hectare of clean slate to realize his plans.
The interest in craft, agriculture, and construction also came up with a bang, and young people are trying themselves in a new capacity. All these seemingly different projects are united in one, since the village here is. People of the new generation often do not represent the village reality, or rather just represent, not knowing. A man who has never lived in a village is free to build a new image of it and seeks his embodiment.
It is noteworthy that what used to be burden people and what they wanted to free themselves from – hard physical work – now becomes something that inspires and gives them strength. In a technologically developed world people wanted to build houses themselves, grow food, dress themselves and equip their lives with their own hands, and in this return to the body, to their nature they gain strength, including spiritual.
Today the village turned to be the steadier than the city whereas is once the city, apparently, independent of natural powers, attracted people with its stability and fundamental nature. Now urban life is so fleeting, and changes in it are sometimes so fundamental that they force a person to radically change himself and his lifestyle in the shortest possible time. Thus, for example, over the several months of the pandemic, the appearance of an urban resident and modus vivendi were so transformed that against this background, life in the village flowing in rhythm with nature creates a sense of greater stability and reliability.
And finally, the third option is the option of a new life for those who have always lived in the village, and now receive the benefits of civilization and digitalization (state projects on universal gasification and the Internet in all parts of the country). Here we see the beginning of the transformation in the way of a villager, who at the same time became a resident of a global village. Now it is not his house, the land of his native home, the mother land, but the information space in which he is immersed while remaining on earth, which becomes decisive for a person. If earlier work for him was a sacred act of copulation with the earth, then the modern inhabitant of the global village is connected to the whole earth through the product of his creativity, the noosphere created by him, which finds its visual embodiment in the phenomenon of Internet. The Internet space becomes the intermediary between the person and Earth, which now he can capture, embrace, lavish attentions. The evolution of relations between man and nature is clearly traced: in the village a man is in harmony with nature, he is dissolved in it, his life cycles come from its cycles. In the industrial era, a man is the king of nature, he studies it in order to subjugate it, adjust it to himself, and today we see a completely different situation. The concept of nature has a global scale, the native land is understood as the planet earth, and the village is understood as a global village, which is foreseeable at once due to the resources of the Internet. In the industrial era, man is the king of nature, he studies it in order to subdue it, to adjust it to himself. Currently, a person comes to a different attitude to nature – careful, caring. The consumer attitude towards nature, the attempt to take it under control and gain the upper hand, have shown their unproductiveness – nature "puts a person in his place", returning him a sense of connection, his place in nature. Ceasing to compete with it, a person enters into a relationship of cooperation, interaction. Having found a face through individualization in the city, a person found himself face to face with nature. A person has "grown up" and nature has received a new, global scale: the native earth is understood as planet Earth, and the village is understood as a global village, which is visible at once, thanks to the resources of the Internet. This modern trend exists and is gaining momentum, but it does not cancel the models of the relationship between man and nature that were formed earlier. That is, the indigenous people of Russia live in the first synthesis of natural and artificial, the majority of the population adheres to the principle of "Man is the king of nature" by inertia, and the advanced, modern stratum of society rushes to the village, seeing in it a huge potential for a new synthesis, thereby representing great interest for us.
Such a way, in parallel with the process of territorial return of a person to the village, we also observe the process of returning to the metaphysics of the village. Modern life brings man to a new digital world – a global village. Unwittingly, developing technology, we found ourselves in the middle of a historical spiral of the village unfolding on a new round. Moving from standardization and mass nature to uniqueness and singularity, the value of handmade work, interest in “local” brands (Siberian village, for example), currently fashionable personal naming (for example Oleg Sirota's cheese factory) is now seen as a kind of return to the values of traditional culture. Digitalization has returned large families to culture giving them a single space for interaction in instant messengers.
Based on digital technologies, not only different spaces are connected (thanks to the Internet, geographically distant spaces are easily combined and interacting with each other), but often also the mixing of real and virtual space, their flow into each other. The modern world is gaining the features of the meta-universe, and we were involved in a certain reality unfolding simultaneously in several spaces. Despite its enormous territorial scale, the world again turned out to be “close”: here everyone knows each other. The theory of six handshakes demonstrates the return of the village setting, only the “word of mouth” is now replaced by a network – a transparent interpersonal space of the Internet.
There are several times in parallel. The fashion for alternative history in modern culture indicates that a person no longer treats history as the past that has happened, he is ready to constantly review history as if it is unfolding here and now and can be replayed indefinitely – a certain image of eternal return, a return to a feeling of nonlinear time.
The new image of the holographic universe, which returned to us the connection of all and everything (which was acquired earlier through the earth), the coincidence of micro- and macrocosm, reveals a man as a part of the universe containing a whole. Man is no longer an atom, he should rather be considered as a homoiomery (Anaxagoras), a fractal. The man is back in touch with the family, but now he is no longer consumed by it and the genus itself is getting covered by it.
We see the disappearance, the erasure of boundaries everywhere: between social classes, ages, different spheres of society – all this begins to exist in a certain unity. The new virtual space creates no boundaries for communication: neither the language environment, nor territorial separation, nor time zones, nor the standard of living, etc. – nothing is an obstacle to interaction. The ability to know about everyone and contact everyone, the speed of information dissemination signals to us about social connections by the type of village.
The work woven into life (24/7) returns. A person stopped dividing when he is at work, and when he lives his personal life, at home. The borders created in the industrial era are erased again. The 8-hour work day and work space is a thing of the past, while the concept of “work” is replaced by “labor”. Labor again became a natural continuation of life, and not a period snatched from the time of life for impersonal work, where “there are no irreplaceable people”. A vivid embodiment of this is the pages of people on social networks, where the sale of the results of their work comfortably and already naturally gets along with the demonstration of elements of their personal life (shopping, travel, family members, pets, …). The boundaries between the spheres of human activity are erased: in a situation of “presumption” (Toffler, 1999) a person turns out to be a producer, a consumer, a seller, and a marketer, etc.
Science, art, religion, myth are mixed. Post-positivism proclaims methodological anarchism (P. Feyerabend). In art, the boundaries between genres are blurred. It is already difficult to classify postmodernist narratives: elite or mass, for children or for adults, serious or humorous – it is difficult to find where one ends and another begins, they go side by side. Theater and cinema can no longer be content with the previously assigned space of the stage and screen. Through VR, mobile response to events in the outside world, immersive technologies, they burst directly into our reality.
In the space of life, we see the erasure of boundaries in the formation of the real estate market with a free layout (i.e. the boundaries are not set initially according to the plan), and in general, the zoning of the space sometimes takes place not due to walls, but using furniture, interior items, color, design, which build the structure of the space. Thus, a person prefers not to divide space, but to indicate its integrity, continuity in the presence of differences and features within it. In this we can see a correlation with the relativistic concept of space, where it is seen as a form of the existence of things, gaining its existence in relation to them.
According to McLuen, “when a new technology expands one or more of our feelings, taking them outward into the social world, a new relationship of all our feelings is formed in this culture” (McLuen, 2004). Digitalization radically changes not only the world, but also the person. Perhaps today we can state the sunset of a man of print culture. A person of a new era perceives text information in a completely different way: F-scrolling instead of reading, replacing the text with smiles, stickers and memes, preferring photos and video textures – all this demonstrates the agony of the previous way of interaction and the birth of a person with a new sensuality. In this formation of a new image of sensuality, we guess the features of the oral, audio-tactile culture of the village.
Immersion in life in the global village returns us to the metaphysics of the village, and in this return, perhaps, the curtain is slightly opened for us before the mysterious nature of man –.
Summing up, we can note that despite the absence of a positive connotation of the very concept of "village" in the modern cultural field, interest in the village is really shown in all segments of the population of Russia, and all options are supported by the state, which also testifies to the political interest in the versatile development of the village.
Of course, as popular wisdom says, "it is better to be the first in the village than the last in the city." But this is only at first glance, and when approaching, it turns out that the first in the village is the end of development, the limit, and the last in the city is potential growth. The evaluative characteristic greatly simplifies the essence of things. In real life, everything is more complicated. The federal center – Moscow – for a number of reasons now literally "sucks" the human potential of the "province". Russian youth, including rural youth, has the following “route”: “community”, rural community, regional center, federal center, “near” and “far” abroad. Today, we observe in modern Russia two opposite tendencies: centrifugal and centripetal ones. At the same time, it should be noted that there is an increase in interest in the countryside and the growing trend of deurbanization.
Initially, a person feels the impossibility to manifest himself, the impossibility to discover his individuality in the village, since the past and family absorbs him. And therefore, in order to personalize, to get individuality, a person (both in ontogenetic development and we see it in the life of individual people) goes to the city, where he gets the opportunity to gain his own face outside the generic assignment, since the city, due to ontological specifics, does not draw him into itself, but acts as a foundation, a plane where a person can realize. And then the city, with the same force with which it attracted a person, begins to push him out by mechanizing and erasing human faces. And the impersonal man-mechanism returns to the village for the synthesis of the traditional and the industrial. As Russian history has shown, such a synthesis failed, but today we are witnessing the formation of a new village synthesis - a synthesis of the local and the global, the real and the virtual (Shumakova, 2021).
Acknowledgments [if any]
The reported study was funded by RFBR, project number 19-29-07366.
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31 March 2022
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Skosyreva, N. D., Zinich, A. V., Poroshina, A. M., Sablin, A. Y., & Felde, V. G. (2022). The Project Of Return To A Village Under The Conditions Of Digitalization. In I. Savchenko (Ed.), Freedom and Responsibility in Pivotal Times, vol 125. European Proceedings of Social and Behavioural Sciences (pp. 1289-1302). European Publisher. https://doi.org/10.15405/epsbs.2022.03.153