Konstantin A. Bogdanov. System of Power and System of Things: History of Philately

History of philately, when regarded in social-anthropological perspective, is presented as a history of people and communities for whom the stamp-collecting is a leisure activity rationality of which is emotionally and affectedly mediated. Stamp in the collection is deprived of its practical designation: it is no longer a sign of payment of mail correspondence but an object symbol of semiotic referencing and imagined reality. However, in different circumstances socially-psychological effectiveness of such symbolism varies. This report is limited by the history of USSR and changeability of Soviet ideology towards philately and philatelists. From popularization of Soviet philately in 1920s to direct repression towards philatelists during the Stalin era and the revival of philatelist communities during Khrushchev and Brezhnev rule, the collecting of stamps has been regarded differently but remains an illustration to the opportunities and limits of socio-psychological choice during ideological “non-freedom”. This is an example of proper (self) propaganda and manifestation of social escapism, an activity on the edge of dissidence and speculation, reprehensible nonsense and infantilism. The presentation will dwell upon the origin of such changes, on the matters that accompanied interest towards philately and the reasons of the fact that the word “philatelist” was previously (and still is) invested with socio-psychological connotations associated with the concepts of power and freedom, compulsory collectivism and individual abuse of power.