I’m not a big connoisseur of Russian music. My knowledge of it barely extends past ???????. And that’s because they constantly ran that damn ???? ???? video on MTV when I was in Russia. That said, the Moscow Times features a must have album in their Context section: Gulag Tunes: Melodies and Rhymes from the Gulag. Gulag Tunes combines Russian prison songs (??????? ?????) with surf music. I’ve been a fan of surf music since I had my Man or Astroman phase about ten years ago. The cover of Gulag Tunes, featured to the right, is worth its weight in gold. It pictures Stalin with a Hawaiian necklace of skulls, hovering over a silhouette of a prison camp.
As the Times describes the creation of the record:
Drinking red wine in an outdoor cafe, Antipov told the story of the album’s creation while seated next to his wife, Yelena, who translated the song titles into English and lived alongside the recording process in the couple’s home studio.
Antipov recalled how he recorded a couple of songs in the surf-music style and played them to rock critic Artyom Troitsky, who became the album’s producer. “Troitsky said that it was a great idea, and that I should develop it; that it would be possible to make a whole album, and maybe even more than one, because the topic is very rich, and there is a lot of material,” he said.
“No one has ever done this before, although the idea is lying on the surface. It’s an obvious thing,” he commented.
The album doesn’t have vocals. “If you know the words, you can sing along,” Antipov said. He made the album with guitarist Maxim Temnov, who is an expert on musical arrangements of blatniye pesni, and has also performed with the band Leningrad.
“Many of the authors really did write the songs while they were in the camps,” Antipov said, although he added that determining precise authorship can be tricky. The songs often have eight to 10 different versions. Some were performed by officially approved Soviet artists such as singer Leonid Utyosov, but the lyrics were often changed.
Songs reflecting gulag experiences include “Vaninsky Port,” which has the lyrics “May you be damned, Kolyma,” referring to the infamous region in northeastern Siberia that was home to a network of Stalin-era prison camps. The song continues, “You will lose your mind against your will. From there, there is no way back.”
“The album brought some people to tears,” Yelena Antipova said. After an initial printing of 1,000 copies, 300 were sold during the first week alone in Soyuz stores, despite a lack of promotion from the company.
Some blatniye pesni date back to the 19th century, while others were composed in the Soviet era. Originally, they were performed to the accompaniment of a seven-stringed guitar and accordion, Antipov said. The subjects are “love and betrayal, life and death, and freedom and imprisonment.”
Apparently a second album is in the works.
You can get more information and listen to a few of the Gulag Tunes at the album’s MySpace page.
You Might also like
By Sean — 9 years ago
“Lenin” and “Death”
these words are enemies.
“Lenin” and “Life”
are comrades . . .
–Vladimir Mayakovsky, 1924
Vladimir Ilich Lenin turned 139 last month making him the oldest living person on Earth. However, Lenin does not live like his eulogizers had imagined. When some mourners proclaimed that “Lenin has ceased to be an individual-Lenin belongs to the millions,” or that “Lenin has not died. Lenin lives. There is not a corner in the world . . . where Lenin is absent,” they imagined a transhistorical Lenin, whose spirit marched through time and space. His body may have died, but his essence continued to haunt the world. “And when Ilich was no more, we still had Lenin,” declared the Bolshevik jurist Peter Stuchka. And this transfiguration of the spiritual Lenin from the corporal Ilich even defied the empirical sensitivity of the human eye. “This metamorphosis went on before our eyes imperceptibility,” the jurist added. Yet, this metaphysical Lenin met his demise years ago. No longer does his spirit serve the “world proletariat” as source of inspiration or defiance. Yet, ironically, while Lenin is dead, Ilich still lives.
Perhaps it is wrong to say that Ilich lives. It might be more correct to say that he straddles the line between life and death. Ilich’s mummy state makes him undead. He is, as the wiki definition of undead states, “deceased yet behave[s] as if alive.” Granted, Ilich doesn’t wonder the streets of Moscow, attend restaurants, shits, pisses, or fucks. He hasn’t added to his oeuvre. “Better Fewer, But Better” remains the last article penned by his own hand. Ilich simply lies in state, motionless, in an eternal state of sleep. Mummy Ilich patiently waits for a time when science would revive him, and his two bodies, the corporal Ilich and the spiritual Lenin, would be a reunited whole.
There is, however, one way Ilich lives just like the rest of us. Every few years he’s given a new suit.
Or, he usually gets a new suit. Thanks to the economic crisis, Ilich’s attendants can’t afford to furnish him the threads he’s become accustom to. Lenin is supposed to get a new suit every three years, though his handlers admit it’s more like every 8-10 years. “There are hardly enough funds for the preservation works,” says Yuri Denisov-Nikolsky, deputy head of the Russian Institute for Healing and Aromatic Herbs. “Since 1992, the mummy has been sponsored by charity funds alone. And now we’ve got this crisis.” There is no doubt that Ilich’s suit costs a hefty buck. It’s tailor-made in Switzerland out of lustrine, a soft silky fabric that Lenin preferred when he was more mobile. And if Ilich does rise again, he’ll be in fashion. His suit is a modern cut, which Pravda says “is still popular nowadays in men’s fashion.” But alas, he will remain in the suit, though recently steam cleaned and pressed, he was fitted in 2003. Perhaps this is a testament to capitalism’s true universalization. It even dogs the indefatigable, albeit undead, Lenin.
One might say that the fact Lenin doesn’t acquire a new suit himself is a sign that he is indeed gone. After all, if Lenin truly lives, couldn’t he put in the order to the Swiss himself? Couldn’t he just say, “Bah! Suits are for the bourgeois. Their self worth is always wrapped in fine threads to mask their internal wretchedness and degradation. Give me something simple. Like a tracksuit.” But the truth of the matter is that if there is one constant in Lenin’s life and Ilich’s undeath, is that he rarely picked out his own clothes. Someone else always did it for him.
“[Lenin] was no dandy,” writes his biographer Robert Service. “While wanting to remain tidy, he did not enjoy shopping for clothes; he got others to do this for him–or rather he wore his clothes until such time as one of his relatives became sufficiently exasperated to buy a new suit or a pair of shoes for him.” Indeed, a read through Lenin’s correspondence shows that his mother and sisters were always furnishing his wardrobe. In 1896, in letter to his sister Anna, Lenin wrote, “You can put a few clothes in there, too-an overcoat and suit, a hat. The waistcoat, frock coat and rug that were brought for me can be taken back.” Or to his mother in 1901, “If I have to spend the next winter in these parts [i.e. Munich] I shall write for a quilted coat. Without it you either have to wear a woolen jersey or put on two sets of underclothes (as I do).” In another letter from 1897, Lenin reassured his mother that he had enough winter clothes. “As far as my winter clothes and other things (which you ask about) are concerned, I have ample. I have already bought many winter things in Minusinsk and will buy some more.” Lenin appeared somewhat frustrated with shopping in Minusinsk. In the same letter he complained that there “was practically no choice” in the village shops. “It is difficult for one accustomed to city shops to find anything in them,” he complained. Though he made a promise to rid himself of these “big city habits” when it came to shopping, he still thought in “the St. Petersburg way.” That is, “you have only to go into a shop and get what you want . . .”
Despite, his apparent love for Swiss lustrine, Lenin was never much of a flashy dresser. A lover of hunting, he tended to wear mountain boots, sometimes with a sheepskin coat to protect him from the cold. A 1970 photo of his clothes on display in the Lenin Museum shows that the Bolshevik leader at one time owned a bowler hat, suit jacket, and half boot shoes. Lenin was apparently somewhat vain. His early baldness concerned him, so much that he even asked his sister Maria if there was a way to reverse the process. He kept his beard and remaining hair trim and neat. According to Service, Lenin was a bit of a neat freak. “He hated untidiness–and he admonished family members if they failed to keep their buttons neatly sewn and their shoes repaired.”
Lenin left his own dress in other people’s hands. One such person was Karl Radek. During the journey from Switzerland to join the Revolution in Petrograd, Lenin and his entourage stopped in Stockholm to meet the city’s mayor, Karl Lindhagen. Also present was a reporter from the newspaper Politiken who was writing a profile on the émigré revolutionaries. The incident wouldn’t have been significant, except that it was Lenin’s first audience with an important politician, and perhaps more importantly, the first time his photograph was published in a newspaper. Having a keen eye for the importance of image in politics, Radek recognized that Lenin couldn’t present himself to the public in the shabby clothes. Radek recalled,
Probably it was the decent appearance of our solid Swedish comrades that was evoking in us a passionate desire for Ilich to resemble a human being. We cajoled him at least to buy new shoes. He was traveling in mountain boots with hug nails. We pointed out to him that if the plan had been to ruin the pavements of the disgusting cities of bourgeois Switzerland, his conscience should prevent him from traveling with such instruments of destruction to Petrograd, where perhaps there anyway were now no pavements at all.
Radek quickly rushed Lenin to a department store and fitted him with a new suit and shoes. Now properly dressed, as Service sardonically writes, “he was judged appropriately dressed to lead the struggle against the Russian Provisional Government.
Lenin’s dress markedly changed after arriving in Russia to lead the “proletarian” Revolution. Gone were the worn, heavy mountain boots. He often donned the suit purchased in Switzerland, but added the worker’s cap to his attire. The cap actually wasn’t the one popular among the Russian working class, but rather the cover worn by turn of the century painters. Regardless, Lenin’s suit and cap combo became his signature. It was a class statement that “distinguished him from [other politicians] and their solemn Homburg hats.”
The suit and cap also complimented his wild oral gesticulations. Lenin had a habit of rocking when he spoke. He shoved his thumbs in his waistcoat, and with his left foot forward and the right slightly back, he would bend his body back and forth as if in some Talmudic trance. When beads of sweat tickled down his brow, he would pull out a white handkerchief to dry his shiny dome, giving an almost Pentecostal flare to his theatrics. In his hagiography of Lenin, Lev Trotsky relayed this description from an eye witness:
[Lenin] got up on the platform. He was wearing a dark, I think, a black suit, a short with a turn-down collar and a tie, and a cap on his head. He pulled a white handkerchief from his pocket and wiped his bald head. I do not remember what he said. I was really paying more attention to how he was speaking. Sometimes he kept bending down quite low from the platform, stretching his arms in front of him; he had his handkerchief in his hand and often wiped his forehead. He often smiled. I was watching his face, his nose, his lips, and his small beard. His speech was often interrupted by clapping and shouting. And so I also shouted.
While Lenin’s cap and rousing sermons skillfully distinguished him from the “bourgeois” politicians, after the Civil War, his suit distinguished him the style of ardent Bolshevik. The latter was a lover of the leather jacket, military tunic, cap, and jackboots. The leather jacket in particular was a sign of an “iron Bolshevik.” For example, the writer V. F. Panova noted in her memoirs that beginning of the 1920s, her husband, a youth from the intellectual family, “forged” himself as an iron Bolshevik. Like other young militants of his time, he spoke with a echoing base, worked at a furious pace, and his main compliment to these was a leather jacket. The iron Bolshevik was a fashion ascetic who considered neckties symbols of the hangman’s noose or a reminder of the slavery of a bygone “bourgeois” era. Many Bolsheviks of Lenin’s generation mocked this fetishism of the leather jacket as “faux proletarian” and a symbol of “communist arrogance,” though there are scattered photos of Lenin in such militarist dress. Despite the ridicule from Bolshevik moralists, the style of the iron Bolshevik persisted throughout the 1920s and into the 1930s where it experienced a revival under Stalin. In the end, Lenin’s conservative and proper tastes contrasted with the Stalin generation, who, though not completely opposed to suits, were more comfortable in their military tunics.
When the Lenin Mausoleum opened on 1 August 1924, mourners passed by an iron gated courtyard of flowers and bushes as they approached two guards standing with fixed bayonets at the entrance. The tomb’s opening was fortified with lacquered wooden beams with a huge sign that read LENIN in black letters above it. Lenin’s new home was decorated in somber communist regalia. A red carpet lined the stairs to his chamber. The walls were covered with a red and black geometric pattern. The ceiling was painted red with a large hammer and sickle in the center. The sarcophagus was padded with red fabric, perhaps velvet, and covered with glass.
Inside was Lenin lying peacefully with his hands crossed above his waist. His lower extremities were covered with black and purple satin. And what was the leader of the proletarian revolution wearing, this so-called symbol of “Marxism in action” as one slogan claimed? Lenin was not dressed in his signature Swiss made suit. Nor did his legendary Lenin cap cover his shiny dome. Rather, Lenin was dressed in the old Bolshevik style: a khaki military tunic with the Order of the Red Banner and the badge of the Central Executive Committee pinned to his breast. And perhaps in an ode to Lenin’s supposed vanity or maybe his obsession with order and cleanliness, Ilich looked as natural as could be. As the American journalist Walter Duranty noted, “The embalmers have even contrived to impart a smile to [his] face.”
Clothes, it is said, make the man. And though afoul to his personal tastes, Ilich would wear his khaki military tunic until the outbreak of WWII. It was then, according to Denisov-Nikolsky, “someone decided that the uniform symbolized Lenin’s militant character and totalitarian policy, and he was immediately dressed in civilian clothes.” A new Lenin for a new era. He has been wearing the same style ever since. But not the same suit. He currently awaits another one not unlike he did when he penned those letters to his mother and sisters requesting clothes. Perhaps proves more than anything Vladimir Mayakovsky’s verses that “Lenin even now is more alive than the living.”
V. I. Lenin, Collected Works.
Robert Service, Lenin: a Biography, Papermac, 2000.
Lev Trotsky, Lenin, Capricorn Books, 1962.
Nina Tumarkin, Lenin Lives!: The Lenin Cult in Soviet Russia, Harvard University Press, 1983.
By Sean — 11 years ago
It is no surprise that the imminent ninetieth anniversary of the October Revolution in Russia has become the object of widespread attention. The events of October 1917 were, indeed, an earthquake that shook the world, altering its economic, social and cultural foundations.
Many media sources depict this world-historic phenomenon as a mere coup d’état, carried out by a handful of conspirators and adventurists with the help of Western security services. All sorts of things are circulated — outright lies, distortion of the facts, and malicious slanders about the participants in and leaders of this mighty event. The old fables to the effect that the “October coup” was provoked by the “German agent” Lenin and the “Anglo-American spy” Trotsky are still being repeated, despite having been rejected by distinguished scholars from various countries. Meanwhile, the Russian people are portrayed as unwitting toys in the hands of “revolutionary extremists”, even though the revolution could neither have begun nor triumphed without the population playing a decisive role.
Not a Conspiracy, But a Social Revolution
The October Revolution was not sparked by conspirators or by agents of foreign powers. It was a social earthquake, a hurricane, a tsunami, which no-one could ever have called forth by mere appeals. The revolution arose out of the internal logic of events, when a multitude of sources of popular discontent converged into a single, all-powerful stream. To interpret it as the product of a conspiracy is strange, to say the least. If this were true, why was a new governing authority set up in place of the old in a gigantic country and in a short time, and why did the Russian people not only support this government, but defend it with arms in hand during the Civil War?
For some reason, the critics of the “October coup” forget the profound crisis into which Russia had been plunged by the tsarist monarchy and the Provisional Government which succeeded it. Mesmerised by the slogan, “War until Final Victory!”, the authorities refused to take account of the real needs of the population. Critics also forget the spontaneous disintegration of the monarchy on the eve of the revolution, despite the direct evidence in the form of the endless intrigues and conflicts within the tsar’s court, the military defeats at the front, and finally, the outright abdication of Nikolai II, the autocrat and commander-in-chief of the Russian army. The bourgeois government that replaced the monarchy also proved impotent, failing to meet the great challenges of the time — stopping the war and giving land to the peasants.
October 1917 marked the culmination of the great Russian social revolution of the twentieth century. It was led by revolutionary social democrats who earlier than others, had recognised the needs and hopes of ordinary people — the pressing problems to which the Russian society of the time required solutions. Among the leaders, it was of course Vladimir Ulyanov-Lenin and his closest collaborators who played the key roles.
None of the leaders of the October revolution were flawless, but it is just as wrong to demonise as to idolise them. The calumnies that are heaped on them nowadays have no real basis. They were not in the service of anyone, only of their revolutionary ideals. None of the earthly temptations, such as money or the other accompaniments of a philistine prosperity, had any meaning for them. They measured their lives against the supreme standard of selfless service to the freedom and happiness of the oppressed and dispossessed.
Revolutions Cannot be Reduced to Violence
The October Revolution is often termed a “violent overthrow”. Yet the actual “overthrow” in Petrograd passed off almost without human victims. While we are not advocates of violence, we recognise that it is inevitable at particular stages of historical development, when it is bound up with the presence of class and national antagonisms. Revolution is indeed associated in many respects with violence, as was clearly evident, for example, in the bourgeois revolutions in the Netherlands, England, France and so forth. The ending of slavery in the United States was accompanied by the bloodiest conflict of the nineteenth century, the American Civil War. In Russia, the ending of feudalism was also accompanied by wars and revolutions.
These developments, meanwhile, were not called forth by the machinations of political intriguers, but by the crisis of the old system and by the impossibility of solving age-old problems by evolutionary methods. People resort to revolutionary violence in specific circumstances, when the ruling classes, blinded by thirst for their own enrichment and for the maintenance of their privileges, neglect the well-being of the population. The dispossessed classes then have no choice except to take their fates in their own hands. This is the main lesson of the Russian Revolution of the twentieth century.
At the same time, social revolution cannot be reduced to violence, and especially armed violence. Its ultimate goal is to lay the basis for a new world, to create better conditions of life for everyone, not just the social elites. In this sense, such revolutions really are the locomotives of history, accelerating its progress.
What the October Revolution Yielded
The history of different countries has always included numerous struggles by workers against capitalism. Only in Russia, however, have these actions taken on so far-reaching a character. This made twentieth-century Russia the epicentre of world development, where all the main questions of the contemporary world intersected, and where the fundamental sickness of capitalism, the conflict between labour and capital, was resolved. It was only the Russian workers who had the will and decisiveness to find a way out of this conflict, not only overthrowing capitalism, but also beginning the transition to a more progressive social system — socialism.
Like the Paris Commune before it, the October Revolution placed power in the hands of the lower orders of society — the workers and peasants, and those elements of the intelligentsia that reflected their interests. The revolution affirmed the soviets as the most democratic form of political power, granting the war-weary population the long-awaited peace and land, along with the opportunity for national self-determination. By raising millions of workers to the point where they could exercise social creativity, the revolution showed clearly that it is not only the “elites” that are capable of being the subject and demiurge of history.
As a result of the October Revolution two socially counterposed systems appeared in the world, a circumstance which did much to determine the subsequent development of humanity. Thanks to the influence of October, national liberation movements arose, and reforms began in the capitalist system itself. Under the impact of the Russian Revolution the colonial empires disintegrated, while long-outdated monarchical regimes suffered total collapse.
The October Revolution set in motion a supra-national and supra-confessional unifying idea, the idea of social liberation and justice. On the basis of this idea, there arose for the first time in history a voluntary union of peoples with equal rights, the USSR. The ideas and initiatives of October were in accord with the goals and vital purpose of many titans of science and the arts — of Timiryazev and Vernadsky, Platonov and Mayakovsky, Sholokhov and Eisenstein. The progress toward the socialist future that was instigated by the October Revolution was actively supported by such outstanding twentieth-century figures as George Bernard Shaw, Picasso, Einstein and Tsiolkovsky.
Soviet History Was Diverse
The October Revolution marked the beginning of Soviet history, which did not take the form of advancing along a smooth Nevsky Prospekt. Soviet history included both great achievements and appalling tragedies. We know very well that after the peaceful transfer of power to the workers in most of the provinces of Russia, a bloody civil war began, accompanied by foreign intervention and by White and Red terror.
Lacking the relevant historical experience, the Soviet authorities naturally made many mistakes. One particular error was the policy of “war communism”, a product of the general national crisis. To their credit, the Bolsheviks decisively rejected it, and made a deliberate shift to the New Economic Policy — the first historical model in which the principles of socialism and capitalism were successfully combined. Many features of NEP were later reproduced in the context of the development of several European countries and of modern China. NEP also allowed the wounds of war to be rapidly healed, and production in the Russian economy to be raised to its pre-war level.
Relying on the experience of the New Economic Policy, Lenin worked out a plan for the further development of the Soviet state, a plan which included radical economic and political changes. These transformations were aimed above all at achieving breakthroughs in the development of energy generation, culture and education — areas which were decisive in the twentieth century and which remain so in the twenty-first. These changes presupposed democratising the political system through drawing workers into running the state, and through the renovation of the party. Here, one of the moves which Lenin projected was removing Josef Stalin from the post of general secretary. Even then, Stalin was manifesting his traits of disloyalty, boorishness and the abuse of power.
These plans, however, were fated to go unrealised. While declaring socialism to be its goal, the authoritarian regime which consolidated itself after Lenin’s death did a great deal that was incompatible with socialism. The political liberties of citizens that had been proclaimed by the revolution were comprehensively violated. The price paid for industrialisation and forced collectivisation was exorbitant. In sum, the popular power of the initial years of the revolution degenerated into rule by the bureaucracy and its leader Stalin. We consider the massive Stalinist repressions, along with the violation of the rights of the individual and of whole nationalities in the USSR, to have been a crime. All this discredited the ideals of the revolution and of socialism.
While acknowledging these facts, we do not accept scholarly-sounding lies and stupefyingly one-sided propaganda with regard to the whole of Soviet history. This history was diverse; within it, democratic and bureaucratic tendencies engaged in conflict with and replaced one another. Hence, the freedoms of the NEP years were replaced by Stalinist totalitarianism, which in turn gave way to the Khrushchev “thaw”. Later, the Brezhnev authoritarianism was replaced by perestroika, which proclaimed as its goal the creation of a humane, democratic socialism.
The history of every country is subject to argument and debate. The cruelties of the British and French colonial wars, and of slavery in the US, were scarcely better than the Soviet gulag. However, this did not negate the social and cultural achievements of these countries. Why then should such achievements be denied in the case of the Soviet people, who achieved a great victory over fascism, created an inimitable culture and literature, set up a broadly accessible system of social welfare for the population, and were the pioneers of space travel? It must not be forgotten that October unleashed an unprecedented creative energy. It set in train the founding by masses of people of a new society; it brought to realisation many of the ideas of internationalism; and it acquainted the formerly most oppressed layers of Russian society with the heights of national and world culture. Nor should one strike out from Soviet history the enthusiasm of the masses that was demonstrated in the mastering of the newest achievements of science and technology. The revolutionary romanticism and heroism of millions of Soviet citizens was clearly manifested here.
Why the Soviet Model Collapsed
It should be noted that we have a range of views on the nature of the social system that existed in the USSR. We are agreed, however, that neglect or rejection of the principles of popular power, internationalism, justice and humanism that were born out of the October Revolution will sooner or later result in catastrophe for a society that is building socialism. This is what happened in the Soviet Union.
The fetters placed on the creative initiative of the population under the totalitarian regime dramatically restricted the opportunities for the growth of the Soviet economy. A shortage of consumer goods was one of its characteristic features. As a result, we did not manage to raise the level of well-being of the working people to that found in the world’s developed countries, and this served as one of the causes of the downfall of the Soviet system. Another vital cause was the lack of real economic and political democracy, which became especially intolerable when technological and information revolution was unfolding in the world. One of the consequences of this was the complete alienation of the bureaucratic authorities and the ruling party from the workers. The attempt to overcome this alienation during perestroika did not yield the required result. In sum, the collapse of the USSR and of the Soviet government became a reality. This was seized upon by the political forces which dissolved the USSR and directed Russia along the road of installing a savage oligarchic capitalism, marked by mass joblessness, falling living standards for the population, profound social stratification, rampant nationalism and growing crime.
The failure of the Soviet model of society does not signify that the ideals of October were false. Just as the ideas of Christianity were not to blame for the practices of the Inquisition, Stalinist totalitarianism could not destroy the ideals of the revolution. Socialism as a historic cause cannot be brought to realisation all at once. A new generation of young people is now appearing, people who do not accept capitalism as a system. There is every reason to hope that this generation will be able to breathe new life into the ideals of the October Revolution.
What the Greatness of Modern Russia Depends on
The ideas of the October Revolution united not only proletarian internationalists, but also supporters of strengthening and developing the Russian state. These ideas opened the way for people who wanted to bring the national culture of Russia to the country’s borderlands and to other countries — for people who shared in patriotic sentiments and who were prepared to defend the Soviet homeland from potential aggressors. The strength of this feeling was shown clearly during the Great Patriotic War, when the sovereignty of the USSR and the conquests of October were defended.
The October Revolution showed the greatness of spirit of the Russian people, who proposed an alternative, non-capitalist road to national development. To view the revolution as a conspiracy by extremist forces is also dangerous because it provides grist to the mill of the anti-Russian interpretation of history according to which Russia, because of its unpredictability, is said to pose a constant threat to the world. From Russia, adherents of this view maintain, only unfavourable developments are to be expected; hence, the country has to be kept under tight rein, and its natural wealth, its energy potential and intellectual resources, have to be controlled and exploited.
Modern-day Russia needs to soberly assess such provocative statements, and to hold firmly to its own course. Russia’s greatness does not lie in the blind copying of foreign examples, still less in national conceit with regard to other peoples, but in relying on the talents and creative strengths of its own population, as well as in the thorough assimilation of the knowledge and experience developed by world civilisation and culture.
Russia is capable of once again becoming a great power, whose adversaries will be forced to take it into account. But this will only happen if the country overcomes the poverty and deep social stratification of its population, qualitatively improves the lives of its citizens, broadens their social and democratic rights, and retains everything that is best from its historic past.
* * *
The historic importance of the October Revolution is difficult to overestimate. Its positive consequences are obvious. A third of humanity travelled part of the way along the road which the revolution opened up. Many countries are continuing this progress today, drawing lessons from the defeats and tragedies of the past. October proved that another, more just world is possible. A range of social and political forces, countries and peoples, are now striving for this new world. This is shown by a new wave of revolutionary transformations, manifesting itself with particular force in a number of countries of Latin America and Asia.
The October Revolution was and remains our fate, and we cannot reject this crucially important part of Russian history. Always and everywhere there have been mistakes, and the great revolutions of the past did not avoid them either. Nevertheless, the anniversaries of these revolutions are celebrated in all countries, including at the state level. Only in Russia is this not the case. In Russia, the denigration of the country’s revolutionary past continues.
On the eve of the ninetieth anniversary of the October Revolution, we raise our voices against this practice. The people must have their revolutionary holiday and the truth about October returned to them. It must not be forgotten that we belong to a country whose history includes its own great revolution. We can and should be proud of it.
- Arslanov V., Dr. of art, professor, Russian Academy of Education
- Bagaturiya G. Dr. of philosophy, professor, Lomonosov Moscow State University
- Buzgalin A., Dr. of economics, professor, Lomonosov Moscow State University
- Dzarasov S., Dr. of economics, Russian Academy of Science
- Galkin A., Dr. of history, professor, Russian Academy of Science Istyagin L., Dr. of history, Russian Academy of Science
- Kelle V. Dr. of philosophy, Russian Academy of Science
- Kolganov A., Dr. of economics, Lomonosov Moscow State University
- Loginov V., Dr. of history, professor, Russian Academy of Education
- Medvedev R., Dr. of history
- Rudyk E., Dr. of economics, Russian Academy of Labor
- Serebrykova Z., Dr. of history
- Shatrov M., writer
- Slavin B., Dr. of philosophy, professor, Moscow State Pedagogical University
- Smolin O., Dr. of philosophy, professor, MP
- Voeikov M., Dr. of economics, Russian Academy of Science
- Vorobiev A., academician, Russian Academy of Science
By Sean — 4 years ago
Elizabeth Wood, professor of history at MIT. She is the author of Performing Justice: Agitation Trials in Early Soviet Russia and The Baba and the Comrade: Gender and Politics in Revolutionary Russia. Her current work centers on the performance of power under Vladimir Putin in Russia today.