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16 2018

This NZ issue continues the theme of the previous one, reflecting on the Russian Revolution, its social, political and cultural mechanisms, as well as the ways in which it influenced the history of the 20th and 21st century. In fact, it would be fair to talk of a double issue, titled “Dialectics of Revolution and of Reaction”. While issue 115 focused predominantly on the first part of this expression, we now revisit it turning to various forms of reaction to the revolutionary moment.

“Dialectics of Revolution” is the first thematic section of issue 116. Here the Revolution is seen as existing in two modes: revolutionary “chaos” and post-revolutionary (reactionary) “order”, alternating, combined or juxtaposed with each other. The section opens with Artemy Magun's piece on the spontaneous nature of revolution, followed by the article by Ilya Budraitskis who analyses gradual changes taking place after a revolutionary period ends. Dmitry Gorin discusses two trends: the rise of conservatism in the run-up to WWI and the traditionalism of the Russian authorities, which resulted in their opposite, the revolution, whose characteristics included mystical and religious aspects. Boris Kagarlitsky's “Revolution as a Challenge to History” offers a general overview of the phenomenon.

Two regular NZ contributors continue the conversation about the state and revolution. In his column Old World Chronicles, one of our editors, Kirill Kobrin, attempts to reinterpret Lenin's famous work, “The State and Revolution”. Alexander Kustarev's Political Imaginary dissects the politico-ideological phenomenon of deliberative democracy, which becomes more relevant with every year, while its origins can be traced back to the views of some of the oppositional groups that existed within the Bolshevik Party in the 1920s -- early 1930s.

The second thematic section of this issue treats of various forms the memory of the Revolution assumes. It features “«Misfortune Came Whence Least Expected»: How the War Dwarfed the Revolution”, Ekaterina Boltunova's study of the process which saw the Great Patriotic War gradually displace the revolution, first in official Soviet memory and then in mass historical memory. The image of the February revolution's actors in the historical memory of present-day Russia is the subject of a piece by Alexey Makarkin. Unique aspects of the revolution in the memory of its victims forced to flee abroad are examined in Lyudmila Klimovich's article “Russian Emigration, Historical Memory and the 1917 Revolution: The Past Evaluating the Past”. “1917 in the Legitimacy Structure of the Russian Government” by Lev Gudkov analyses the ambiguous position afforded to the overthrow of the monarchy and the socialist revolution in today's official ideology. Anna Shor-Chudnovskaya discusses the results of several recent sociological studies, including one she herself conducted, which sought to define the Soviet past as perceived by people under thirty in Russia. The section concludes with a piece by the British historian and sociologist Matthew Blackburn based on a number of interviews and surveying some of the historical myths related to the revolution that have already been established in Russia's collective memory. The memory-themed section is echoed by “Red or White for You?”, an essay Alexey Levinson wrote for his column Sociological Lyrics.

Along with the sections focused on 1917, this issue includes a number of short studies, each examining some particular aspect of Russia's revolutionary or post-revolutionary history. In Politics of Culture, Boris Kolonitsky follows one of the most important lines in the story of the revolution, demonstrating that it was the leadership of the socialist parties and movements in the sphere of political culture, propaganda and dissemination of political knowledge that, to a great extent, ensured their ultimate victory in the autumn of 1917. Nadezhda Plungyan develops the theme of revolutionary political culture and propaganda, turning to the role of women in her article “Images of Women in Russian Propaganda during the Revolution and the Civil War: From Symbol to Mask”. Let us also mention a fascinating story Igor Petrov tells in a piece about the life of Karl Loew-Albrecht. Those familiar with numerous adventurous lives of the 1920s--1950s will nevertheless be surprised to read about this prominent Soviet forestry specialist and friend of senior Comintern figures turned a critic of Communism and Stalinism, an anti-Semite and a Nazi propagandist. Finally, Morals and Mores offers “«We Have a Different Life Now, Everything Has Been Shaken to Its Foundations»: Archive Materials and a Georgian View of the Russian Revolutions”, Esma Mania's survey of testimonies dating back to the revolution and the Civil War, found in Georgian archives.

Issue 116 concludes with “Geopolitics of Yesterday”, in which Igor Smirnov exposes anachronistic interpretations of the contemporary geopolitical thought, and “How the State Won Away Against the Opposition, or Why «Two Russias» Is Less Than «United Russia»”, a piece by NZ editor-in-chief Ilya Kalinin explaining the reasons for the recent decline of Russia's protest movement. The issue also traditionally features the Russian Intellectual Journals’ Review (by Alexander Pisarev) and New Books section.