Saturday, November 7, 2015

Putin Takes the Revolution Out of the 1917 Revolution Anniversary

Paul Goble

            Staunton, November 7 – Vladimir Putin’s decision to mark what is the anniversary of the 1917 Bolshevik revolution with a recreation of the 1941 Soviet military parade reflects both his fear of revolutionary change as such and thus his desire to keep the Soviet inheritance which he values as far removed from its revolutionary origins as possible.

            That conclusion is offered by two Russian commentators, Artem Rondaryev in an essay entitled “How the Revolution was Taken From US” on (, and by Alina Vitukhnovskaya in one entitled even more pointedly “Fear of Revolution” on (

            In the 1990s, Rondaryev points out, Moscow played down this anniversary because it did not want those who wanted to restore the Soviet system to have an occasion to demonstrate and thereby attract attention to that cause. But now the situation is more complicated because the Putin regime is restoring Soviet elements but doesn’t want to mention their revolutionary origins.

            Among Russians now, there is “a strange fragmented quality of all [their] political field, in which no one ideology exists as a totality (a condition necessary for any successful ideology) but is an assembly” of ideas drawn without much regard for logic and thus creating “an ad hoc ideology” in which there is little or no consistency.

            As a result, those who are interested in the restoration of aspects of the USSR act as if that state formation “arose from nowhere.”  The pre-1917 sources of revolution and the revolutionary declarations of the new regime’s first leaders are ignored. Instead, Soviet  opposition to Western liberalism is stressed as “an ally of our current essentialist ideology.”

            In this scheme of things, the 1917 revolution becomes “yet another metaphysical incarnation of ‘the Russian spirt’ or of ‘the Russian character,’ yet another super-human, nonhuman monster, the dehumanization of which is so absolute that it did not even need to be born in order to exist.”

            The desire not to remember how “it all began” is completely understandable because the current regime has no interest in calling attention to Bolshevik slogans, to revolutionary aspirations for equality or to any other utopian idea.  The regime only wants the past as a symbol of “’the unity of the people’ and the totality of the state.”

            As a result, for Russians today, under the influence of this vision, “love for the USSR is combined in a paradoxical hatred to everything that the revolution, which created this very USSR initially brought with it – the avant-garde, feminism, free morality, and social transformation as such,” Rondaryev points out.

            Vitukhnovskaya for her part says that this all reflects a fear on the part of the current regime of any revolution “regardless of its color or meaning.”  In fact, she continues, “the present-day Russian authorities subconsciously fear an analogous outcome for themselves,” a fear that will grow as the country approaches the centennial of the 1917 revolution two years from now.

            And consequently, the Putin regime has replaced the 1917 revolution with the victory over Germany as the central value of the state, a backward looking approach which does not define where the country is going and only has the effect of making Russia appear even further behind the key players of the international system.


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