Alexander Dolitsky: Remembering the Soviet psychological documentary film 'I and Others' that I took part in - Must Read Alaska
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Alexander Dolitsky: Remembering the Soviet psychological documentary film ‘I and Others’ that I took part in

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By ALEXANDER DOLITSKY

Communist propaganda in the former Soviet Union was based on the Marxist–Leninist ideology to advocate for the Communist Party agenda.

This propaganda was one of many methods and tactics the Soviet government utilized to control its citizens in all spheres of their social life, including education, science, art, literature, music, fashion, work place, and the list goes on. 

Western modern art, popular music, extravagant fashion, discoveries in natural science (genetics and cybernetics), anthropology (structuralism, symbolism and neo-evolutionary theories), psychology (empiricism and intelligence) and sociology (agency, rationality, structure and system) were condemned and forbidden by the Soviet government as “bourgeois life-style and pseudoscience.” 

In order to enforce Soviet socialist ideology, representatives of the internal security were always present at any public meetings, including meetings of the literature clubs held at the public libraries—I was involved in many of these gatherings with a peculiar individual quietly observing our activities and picking away at our discussions and conversations. 

The Soviet censorship was employed not only to eliminate any undesirable printed materials, but also to ensure that the “correct” ideological spin was put on every published item; any deviation from the dogma of the official Soviet propaganda was punished by reprimands, public humiliation, punitive psychiatry, prison, deportation, and loss of citizenship (e.g. Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn). 

The Soviet government made a remarkable effort to create a “Harmonic New Man”—a selfless, learned, healthy, muscular, and enthusiastic in spreading the socialist ideology (propaganda). Loyalty and commitment to Marxism–Leninism were among the critical traits required and expected of the “New Soviet” man. He was not driven by greed and self-interest but by conscious self-mastery and commitment to collective consciousness and collective representation. He also has lost any nationalist sentiments and identity—as being Soviet rather than Russian, Ukrainian, Belarusian, Armenian or any other nationalities and ethnic minorities in the former Soviet Union. 

In 1971, when I was a freshman student in the History Department of the Kiev Pedagogical Institute, I participated in a documentary film titled “I and Others.” All participants in this film, unknowingly and without their consent, were subjected to various psychological experiments related to the persuading of an individual by a majority of people (group-think).

Participants, like I was, were not aware that were in psychological experiments—these experiments that had been pre-arranged by the psychologists and producers. The producers pre-tested nearly 100 students from different departments of the school and selected the 10 most articulate and independent–minded individuals.

I was 19–years old, well–read, and well–versed in many social science subjects, theatre, classical music and the fine arts. And for me, it seemed an opportunity to participate in a film—what a journey and experience!

After the film was completed, it was released by the Soviet authorities for several years; but later, in the mid–1970s, realizing that this film can do more harm than good to the Soviet political and ideological regime, it was forbidden to the public, classified, and archived in secret facilities. 

The psychological experiments in the film demonstrated that almost any individual can be easily indoctrinated, manipulated and brainwashed by the unified opinion of a majority of people combined with a mass media propaganda.

Unfortunately, I never had a chance to watch the film in the Soviet Union, because, for some reason to me, I was not invited to the premier of the film in December of  1971.

I recall, however, that at the end of the filming in October/November of 1971, the producer, Felix Sobolev, approached me in a friendly manner, put his arm around my shoulders and whispered, “Never trust a majority of people that speak in one voice, believe in yourself and stand for your views.”

The film was again released to the public in Russia in 2012 (I left the Soviet Union on March 16, 1977). My good friend from Moscow sent me a YouTube of this documentary film in the spring of 2020. By then, I had nearly forgotten about it. Nevertheless, it was amusing to look at the person I was 49 years ago. My appearance in the film starts from 37.45 to 41.42 minutes. Viewers, do not be shocked! Yes, after three different experiments and intense behind the scenes brainwashing and “compassionate” manipulations by the producers of the film and their staged assistance, I was convinced that black and white pyramids are both white. 

A short version of the film is available at this YouTube link:

I realize now that these psychological experiments had been a traumatic experience for me, and that they had affected my life and decision–making process ever since. Today, I acknowledge that I and other participants in this film were a product and reflection of the collective consciousness and collective representation of the socialist ideology and Soviet upbringing. Indeed, the senior psychologist, consultant and interviewer in this film, Dr. Valeria Mukhina, and others involved in the production of this documentary film, knew exactly how a Socialist “New Man” was made within an atmosphere of limited freedom, liberty and intellectual views. 

As a result of my participation in this film, I learned an important lesson in my life: examine closely the premises of all groups, listen critically, and try to avoid the influence of mass media, which is easily manipulated by propagandists. I encourage our youth always to form their own credible and empirical opinion no matter how difficult it can be to resist a majority group–think and notions of collective consciousness, collective representation, and collective responsibility, especially when combined with a vigorous mass media propaganda.

For my friends and fellow Americans, do not allow Marxist–Leninist ideology to replace core cultural, religious and moral values of our diverse, free and democratic American society. Otherwise, our next generation in this country will call ‘black and white’ both ‘white.’ 

The film “Me and Others” now has English subtitles, so everyone can watch various psychological experiments presented in the film and grasp the entire production of it. Russian speakers will thoroughly enjoy and understand the narratives in this film.

Alexander B. Dolitsky was born and raised in Kiev in the former Soviet Union. He received an M.A. in history from Kiev Pedagogical Institute, Ukraine, in 1976; an M.A. in anthropology and archaeology from Brown University in 1983; and was enroled in the Ph.D. program in Anthropology at Bryn Mawr College from 1983 to 1985, where he was also a lecturer in the Russian Center. In the U.S.S.R., he was a social studies teacher for three years, and an archaeologist for five years for the Ukranian Academy of Sciences. In 1978, he settled in the United States. Dolitsky visited Alaska for the first time in 1981, while conducting field research for graduate school at Brown. He lived first in Sitka in 1985 and then settled in Juneau in 1986. From 1985 to 1987, he was a U.S. Forest Service archaeologist and social scientist. He was an Adjunct Assistant Professor of Russian Studies at the University of Alaska Southeast from 1985 to 1999; Social Studies Instructor at the Alyeska Central School, Alaska Department of Education from 1988 to 2006; and has been the Director of the Alaska-Siberia Research Center (see www.aksrc.homestead.com) from 1990 to present. He has conducted about 30 field studies in various areas of the former Soviet Union (including Siberia), Central Asia, South America, Eastern Europe and the United States (including Alaska). Dolitsky has been a lecturer on the World Discoverer, Spirit of Oceanus, and Clipper Odyssey vessels in the Arctic and sub-Arctic regions. He was the Project Manager for the WWII Alaska-Siberia Lend Lease Memorial, which was erected in Fairbanks in 2006. He has published extensively in the fields of anthropology, history, archaeology, and ethnography. His more recent publications include Fairy Tales and Myths of the Bering Strait Chukchi, Ancient Tales of Kamchatka; Tales and Legends of the Yupik Eskimos of Siberia; Old Russia in Modern America: Russian Old Believers in Alaska; Allies in Wartime: The Alaska-Siberia Airway During WWII; Spirit of the Siberian Tiger: Folktales of the Russian Far East; Living Wisdom of the Far North: Tales and Legends from Chukotka and Alaska; Pipeline to Russia; The Alaska-Siberia Air Route in WWII; and Old Russia in Modern America: Living Traditions of the Russian Old Believers; Ancient Tales of Chukotka, and Ancient Tales of Kamchatka.

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  • I watched a documentary the other night called “Cannibal Island.” I thought it might be some kind of Donner Party-type story. No, very interesting. 1930’s Russia and Stalin’s takeover and push to Communism. He cloaked this under the guise of transforming the nation from agrarian to industrial. Very scary, it looked just like our COVID tactics combined with the Green New Deal. All about control and filtering out the population. Many dissenters got sent to an island with no food, hence the title.

  • “Never trust a majority of people that speak in one voice”
    .
    (Especially when they are trying to coerce you into taking an experimental, ineffectual and possibly severely dangerous gene therapy treatment for a disease of extremely low mortality.)

  • We need to heed the words of Mr. Dolistsky and others who were raised in a totalitarian regime. They know the signs and have lately been warning us of of dire events coming if we don’t act to stop it.

  • One might ask what qualities empowered Alexander not only to resist drowning in the New Soviet Man muck but to recognize the hazard for what it was (and is).
    .
    Maybe these qualities are still alive and well among Americans despite the best efforts of our Peoples News Media to persuade us otherwise.

  • Another thought provoking article. Thank you Mr. Dolitsky.

    I watched the video and it is fascinating to see you and other participants fall in line with the others even when you certainly knew the difference between black and white, sweet and sour, and the men and women in the photos. These dynamics are always at play in groups and society, but the pressure to believe certain ways right now seems to have intensified with the most “woke” serving as the thought police—no government agent needed when you have people willing for free.

    Thank you for sharing.

  • While observing a black object and a white object, there is a vast difference between actually perceiving two white objects and simply saying you perceive them due to social pressure.

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