What : Russian Revolution Centenary Lecture, Utopia and Dystopia in Revolutionary Russia
Where : Kamla Devi Complex, India International Centre
When : 7th Nov, 2017, at 05:30 pm
On behalf of the Oxford and Cambridge Society of India, The President, Oxford and Cambridge Society of India (OCSI) is delighted to invite you to the lecture by one of our member Madhavan K. Palat.
On behalf of the Ambedkar University Delhi OCSI cordially invites you to the Russian Revolution Centenary Lecture, Utopia and Dystopia in Revolutionary Russia at Kamla Devi Complex, India International Centre, Max Mueller Marg, New Delhi on 7 NOVEMBER 2017, 6.30 PM.
Please join us for High Tea at 5:30 pm.
UTOPIA AND DYSTOPIA IN REVOLUTIONARY RUSSIA
— MADHAVAN K. PALAT
The Russian Revolution was set in the midst of maximal utopian creativity and dystopian despair during that exalted and hideous phase of human history from the 1870s to the 1940s. Utopias before the 18th century were edenic dreamlands and good times impossible to achieve; thereafter they became realistic possibilities, “premature truths” as Lamartine remarked, or coinciding with Progress, as Oscar Wilde wittily observed. But dystopias were produced by utopians who dreaded the prospect of success, with Zamyatin, Huxley, and Orwell supplying us their imperishable accounts. Above these dreams and nightmares hovered the confrontation between the Grand Inquisitor and the Silent Christ, their unresolved conflict, and the awareness that dystopia stalks utopia.
The Revolution was driven by two utopias competing and collaborating with each other, the Bolshevik one for building the state, and the avant-garde one for creating the new human being. The main ideological source for state building was Marxism; the equivalent for nurturing the human resource was Nietzsche, and the model for the new person was the creative artist. The utopian new state was composed of the Dictatorship of the Proletariat (yes, conceived as a utopia) and the somewhat anarchistic soviet democracy, both together mutating into the One Party dictatorship of the Soviet Union; the utopian moulding of the New Person likewise evolved into the New Soviet Person; but dystopias emerged both before and after such transitions.
Madhavan K. Palat is at present the Editor of the Selected Works of Jawaharlal Nehru. He has been Visiting Professor at Ambedkar University Delhi and was earlier Professor of Russian and European History at the Jawaharlal Nehru University. Additional details and publications may be accessed at: