Nikolai Berdyaev on the “Spirits of the Russian Revolution”

Russian Studies in Philosophy 55 (3-4):210-226 (2017)
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Abstract

This article analyzes Nikolai Berdyaev’s ideas concerning the spiritual origins of the 1917 Russian revolution. The philosopher believed that its sources were “demons” living in the Russian national spirit, discovered and awakened in the works of the Russian classics, such as Nikolai Gogol, Fyodor Dostoyevsky, and Leo Tolstoy. The main reason these demons were able to take hold of the Russian national consciousness was the collapse of everyday life, and the false orientation of this consciousness toward a violent establishment of a new social order. This order attempted to create a moral of equality and fair distribution of property, while lacking a religious-metaphysical foundation. Berdyaev’s views are compared with the contemporary realities in Russia at the time and the search for a resolution to the deep sociopolitical and moral contradictions inherent in these realities.

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