Lecture Twelve 26th of May – Abstracts

Our second round of lectures for May are from Jonathan McCoy and Dr Tamara Prosic.

As usual, Sunday 4pm, there will be English Ale and delicious soup.

Please also note that given our busy month of May lecture-wise, the garage will be resting in June, to return in July with the Jo and Justin.

Abstracts below.

Cultural Hegemony, Religion and Russian revolution or Did religion have anything to do with the success of the Russian revolution?

by Dr Tamara Prosic

In many Marxist circles, for one or another reason, 1917 Russian revolution is regarded as some kind of an anomalous phenomenon. It came too early, Russia was not ready for socialist revolution, the Bolsheviks high-jacked and perverted the ideals of revolution, etc. etc. the accusations are numerous and various. But, whichever way we view it, the Russian revolution was the only successful revolution in the tumultuous period towards the end and immediately after WWI. People tend to forget that there were also very strong revolutionary movements in Finland, Germany, Hungary and Italy, but none of them succeeded.

Thinking about these failed revolutions during the long years in prison and in particularly trying to understand why these revolutions, which according to Marxist historical materialism were bound to happen, did not materialise, Antonio Gramsci attributed their failures to the cultural hegemony of the ruling class which through multiple formal and informal civil society institutions promoted its own values as the values of the whole society. For Gramsci as well, Russian revolution was in a certain sense anomalous. In comparison to their Western counterparts the Bolsheviks had an easier job. In his view they only had to topple the state in order to introduce dictatorship of the proletariat because in Russia with its underdeveloped capitalist mode of production the bourgeois cultural hegemony was also almost non-existent. But it could be said that there is something anomalous about Gramsci’s conclusion because it assumes that Russia was void of any cultural values and that Bolsheviks did not encounter any cultural hegemony. But that was not true; Russia had a culture and certainly had a cultural hegemony, although of a different kind to the one of the West. If we follow Marxist periodisation of history then that culture was on the junction between feudalism and capitalism, if we follow the intellectual history then we might call it pre-modern since it was still deeply marked by religion, more precisely by Orthodox Christianity. Revolutions, on the other hand, are not won unless the ideals promoted by the avant-garde correspond with the ideals of the majority of the population, so, in the case of Russian revolution the question is not really whether the Bolsheviks had only the state to topple, but whether the Orthodox values which coloured the worldview of the majority of the people and in particular of those who carried the revolution on their shoulders, the workers and peasants, in some way supported socialist ideals.

The lecture will look at some aspects of Orthodox Christianity and discuss the ways they supported the revolution.

Common Knowledge: Democracy in the Garage

by Jonathan McCoy

Guest lecturers at gbbl have spoken positively about the series’ ‘democratisation of knowledge’.  What might this mean?  Drawing on the work of Jacques Rancière and Alain Badiou, this lecture will consider a number of articulations between the figures of knowledge and democracy in contemporary ‘academic’ discourse:  the axiom of the equality of intelligences, of freedom of thought, of opinion, the concept of the ‘knowledge economy’, and so on.  Discussion of the possible implications of these ideas for gbbl will follow.

1 Comment

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One response to “Lecture Twelve 26th of May – Abstracts

  1. pet

    But she’s Roland Boer pet.

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