It argues with power, leveraging its lone resource – knowledge. This argument gives the intelligentsia the ability to shape and distinct society by the very fact of its opposition to power. That is, in the case of Russia, both Gramsci and Mannheim are right. There is no intelligentsia without power. And there is no society without the intelligentsia, as it needs to be created by the act of the intellectual opposition to power.
Stoppard's definition gives us a better understanding of the last decade of Russian public life, when the intelligentsia suddenly, after a long decline in importance, became nearly the driving force. For a broadly understood public, the intelligentsia offered a unique opportunity. Participation in learning, familiarization with opposing power, a sense of belonging to society – these are things that are hard to find in one place. But in Russia it was possible. Thanks to the intelligentsia. Going to educational courses was also an act of opposition. Going out to peaceful marches along Moscow in 2012-14, were intelligentsia shaped and leaded the manifestation of the political unhappiness of urban middle class was – for that middle class - an illuminating activity. Taken together it represented participation in the formation of Russian society. At first, the regime also received dividends: society was itself taking shape, protests remained peaceful, by controlling the intelligentsia that very society (and sometimes, as in December 2011, protests) could be controlled.
On the eve of the war, the intelligentsia, either due to a strengthening of its position in society or historical circumstances, almost went from being a state of mere intellectual opposition to a social force. At some points – such as, for example, the summer of 2019 – it was the leading social force in the country.
Then it all abruptly ended.