While the “Russian religious renaissance” at the beginning of the 20th century and the political fervour, which culminated in the October Revolution of 1917, took place at the same period, these two developments are rarely studied alongside each other. In their joint book presentations, the two speakers are going to consider a tradition of religious philosophy, on the one hand and the political history of the early years of the Bolshevik Party, on the other as two responses to the crisis of modernity. Interestingly, with all their differences, the religious and the Marxist-Leninist projects – both of which displayed utopian and illiberal features – shared common concerns and themes. It is, thus, not surprising that some of the most prominent religious thinkers had started as Marxists. It is exactly these common themes that can be relevant to contemporary debates on the critical issues of the early 21st century.
Gayle Lonergan is a tutor in Politics at Ruskin College, Oxford. Most of her work has focused on the politics and history of Russia, with a particular focus on the early development of the Bolshevik Party and the formation of the One Party State in the Soviet Union. Her book The Communist Party of the Soviet Union in the Russian Civil War: A Political History will be published at the end of 2020.
Clemena Antonova, Research Director of IWM’s Eurasia in Global Dialogue program, is an art historian (M.A., Edinburgh and D.Phil., Oxford) with interests in Russian religious philosophy and, more generally, problems relating to the role of religion in modernity. Her book Visual Thought in Russian Religious Philosophy: Pavel Florensky’s Theory of the Icon was published in 2019.