The Russian revolution: then and now

The many people who write about the Russian revolution, which this year celebrates 100 years, typically forced from the beginning to interrupt his narrative to explain why the February revolution was in March, and October — November. The reason is simple: in Russia at that time used a different calendar. But it’s haunting discrepancy demonstrates the extraordinary power with which point of view affects the facts, myths and political narratives about the uprising that continues to define history and today.

In the environment of the white Russian emigration, in which I was born, the Russian revolution was considered a terrible catastrophe that destroyed our Holy Russia and led to the establishment of diabolical, murderous regime. In many families, a house on the wall next to the icons and faded photograph of an old mansion hung a portrait of Tsar Nicholas II, often brush Valentin Serov. The elderly, many of whom were veterans of that bloody massacre, which was the First world war were often made to wonder and speculate: what if the king abdicated, what if the security arrived on time, and if… Other immigrants — like the old socialists, who were in exile in new York were endless disputes about what the Duma, the Provisional government or the Mensheviks should have done differently.

In the Soviet Union where I was a journalist came in 1980, the debate was officially closed, and for those who re-started them, it threatened to call in the KGB. The February revolution in which the monarchy was replaced by a provisional government, was considered a “bourgeois democratic” interlude, inconsequential event in the course of the great October socialist revolution which opened the way for a “new era in the history of mankind.” The day of the October Socialist Revolution on November 7 (October 25 according to the Julian calendar), when was overthrown the provisional government, was a public holiday that is celebrated by military parades, like on the red square under the huge portraits of Marx, Engels and Lenin.

Now that a new era in the history of mankind ended, the masters of the Kremlin there is a problem. As he wrote from Moscow the correspondent of the New York Times Neil MacFarquhar (Neil MacFarquhar), neither the February nor the October revolution does not fit into views of the President of Russia Vladimir Putin about himself or about Russian history. Due to the popular uprisings in Ukraine and Georgia, he is afraid of any revolution, or the overthrow of the Orthodox Tsar in February, nor the victory of Lenin in October do not fit into the favorite’s rhetoric about the enduring greatness and importance of Russia. Rewriting history, it is not easy to create a new Russian identity based on conflicting ideological concepts of tsarism, Bolshevism, and the post-Communist trials.

But then no one country emerging from a revolution, can never cease to reflect on its causes, myths and lessons. Even America. I was called into the army in the late 1960-ies, in the midst of the antiwar and social movements. In the program of the basic training course were propaganda films, and one of them told about the American revolution. In addition to the usual stories about the militias, about freedom and democracy, the authors emphasized that the loyalists were also good people, and that the revolution (in the form of what was happening in America at the time) is not always good. Most of my fellow recruits full movie slept, but it was proof that the national story requires the manipulation of — even in countries with Mature democracy.

However, great historic events are not amenable to ideological manipulation. The Soviet version of the revolutionary history was on the same dustbin of history that the Soviets sent their opponents. And how would Putin want to downplay the significance of the revolution, he will not be able to hold the Russians and prevent them to continue to study the event, whose consequences are still felt worldwide. For example, the former chief editor of the Russian independent TV channel “Rain” Mikhail Zygar recreates the events of 1917, day after day, constantly posting (about how to do it in Facebook) new snippets from diaries and archival material that they found staff. For many Russians, who follow his project, this topic is still not closed.