Oktoberrevolutionen i Ryssland 1917. En sannskyldig re-volution

  • Kristian Gerner


The article is an essay. It starts with telling about the present author’s futile attempts to encounter in Russia in the year 2017 any grand commemorations of the events in 1917. The explanation of the absence is to be found in the abhorrence of the word “revolution” and its historical connotations in contemporary Russian public life. It is noted that the muted historical memory of the revolution in 1917 is inscribed into a Russian Orthodox narration, as manifested in an exhibition and in a religious ceremony in Moscow. The author reports on the intellectual and emotional struggle among Russian historians to come to terms with the assumed fatal political heritage of the October revolution and its product, the terrorist political culture in today’s Russia. Russian historians’ analyses of the revolution are juxtaposed with two comparative analyses of it by scholars in the Anglo-Saxon positivist tradition. The Russian and the Anglo-Saxon interpretations of the Russian revolution in 1917 both trace the intellectual origins back to the French revolution in 1789. The relation between Russian Orthodoxy and Soviet culture when it comes to comprehend the meaning of the revolution is discussed in analyses of some early Soviet works of art. The conclusion is that the Orthodox icon painting tradition was preserved and developed by some Soviet artists as they tried to reach and communicate their comprehension. The article ends with an observation on the tercentennial Russian agony in face of the challenge of modernization and adaptation to the globalized society of today.