In October 2017 we commemorate the 100th anniversary of the Bolshevik coup in Russia. What at the time looked like a hopeless putsch by a small group of ideological extremists soon acquired remarkable historical significance which, for some, represented a culmination of human advancement. For others, the event represented a dark spectre that descended on humankind.
The Bolshevik ideology developed to reflect the imposition of revolutionary Marxism on the imperial autocratic tradition of Russia. It changed from a concept of proletarian internationalism, to that of "socialism in one country", and then to the justification of a new Russian empire. Over decades, the Soviet reign of terror imposed by a bureaucratic dictatorship developed into a global power willing and capable of cleaving the world system into two antagonistic camps and influencing the politics of five continents.
Most importantly, however, many believed that the Soviet regime had a tremendous impact on human nature by creating the so-called Homo Sovieticus - a term used for the distinct approach to real life's situations of people in the former communist countries.
This represents an important context which is often forgotten or downplayed in understanding the course of transition many post-communist countries underwent despite its significant impact on the process. In daily politics as much as in daily social practices, Homo Sovieticus continues to hover over ongoing attempts at transforming socio-political life.
The main goal of this Conference is to better understand today’s world against the backdrop of this lasting legacy. To this end, the following questions - among others - could structure the debate:
- What is the continuous legacy of Homo Sovieticus?
- Is there a link between the Cold War era, post 89’ failures and the ongoing challenges faced by the European Union?
- Is neo-imperial Russia the most perilous legacy of Soviet Communism?
- Is it possible to link today’s Communist states with the Soviet past?