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The Soviet Revolution of 1905–1945 in the Long View of Social Evolution

Monday, February 19, 2018, 5:30 pm – 7:00 pm

Last year marked two politically awkward anniversaries: 100 years since the 1917 Petrograd ‘days that shook the world’ and 500 years since Martin Luther’s launching the Protestant Reformation. In the long perspective of the social evolution of human societies both events marked dramatic reversals in the structures of domination. To appreciate their significance, we briefly retrace human evolution since the Paleolithic origins of egalitarianism in our species to the great inequities brought by the Neolithic adoption of agriculture and the spectacular rebirth of egalitarianism during Modernity. In the main, we shall discuss why 1917 was a revolution whose proper name should be Soviet rather than merely Russian; how did it begin in 1905 with the liberating revolts of classes and nationalities and why did this result by 1945 in a Georgian Generalissimo. Human evolution taken in the very long run allows us to discuss where did Marx and Engels go wrong, where they proved right, and what social patterns might yet emerge in the future.

 Georgi Derluguian, originally an Africanist at Moscow State University, saw his first civil war in Mozambique in the 1980s. In August 1990 he moved to America to work with Immanuel Wallerstein at Fernand Braudel Center in Binghamton. He taught sociology at Northwestern University in 1996-2011 and next at New York University Abu Dhabi. Alongside his theoretical interests in the historical patterns of social power Georgi Derluguian regularly practiced expeditionary fieldwork mainly in the ex-USSR. He is the author of Bourdieu's Secret Admirer in the Caucasus (2005), the Way This World Works: Essays in Macrohistorical Analysis (Moscow, 2012), “The Origins of Good and Bad Governance in Mozambique” (2010). He also contributed chapter on «What Communism Was» to the volume Does Capitalism Have a Future? (2013) co-written with Immanuel Wallerstein, Randall Collins, Michael Mann, and Craig Calhoun which was translated into 14 world languages.