Russian Revolutionary Discourse: Legitimization of the Political Violence

Saturday, 21 July 2018: 10:45
Oral Presentation
Vladimir PAPERNI, University of Haifa, Israel
The Russian Revolution was in fact the longest political and social revolution in the human history. Revolutionary processes (i.e., a series of transitions of political power from one group to another accompanied by massive violence and a series of violent transformations of the economic and social structures of a polity) had taken place in Russia for more than 30 years, from 1905 until the end of the 1930s. The revolutionary discourse played a crucial role in those processes: it provided the universal ideological legitimization for using massive and even unlimited political violence. This discourse included two major and interrelated components:

1) quasi-rational and quasi-historical component: the revolutionary violence was legitimized (in spirit of ideologies of the Enlightenment, and later also of Marxism) as a necessary mechanism of destruction of the "old" and "bad" polity and of the transition to the "new" and "good" polity which must be based on the principles of freedom, egalitarianism, social justice, etc;

2) mythological eschatological component: the revolutionary violence had been interpreted as the main, desirable and morally justifiable tool of reaching the eschatological End of the human history: the Last Judgment (i.e., punishment of the "Old World" of sinners) and the subsequent creation of The "New World" of the righteous.

In the proposed paper, two main issues will be discussed:

1) the issue of origin of the Russian revolutionary discourse from discourses of Western revolutionary ideologies and from traditional Russian religious discourses;

2 the issue of functioning of revolutionary discourse in the Soviet polity in the revolutionary and the post-revolutionary epochs as an apparatus means of falsification of social, political and economic reality and as an exceptionally effective device for preventing attempts of the Russian civil society to stop the political violence and to humanize the Soviet polity.