A Wolfhound Age

25 december 2017

Fyodor Lukyanov is Editor-in-Chief of Russia in Global Affairs, Chairman of the Presidium of the Council on Foreign and Defense Policy, and Research Director of the Valdai International Discussion Club.

Resume: As the centenary of the Russian Revolution of 1917 was drawing nearer, many remembered the magic of numbers and looked forward to hearing a metaphysical echo of those events. Fortunately, no cataclysms occurred, but the important occasion sparked discussions not only on history but also on modernity. In fact, many compare current sociopolitical transformations to those that precipitated the dramatic changes in the early 20th century.

“A wolfhound age leaps up on my shoulders...”
Osip  Mandelshtam

As the centenary of the Russian Revolution of 1917 was drawing nearer, many remembered the magic of numbers and looked forward to hearing a metaphysical echo of those events. Fortunately, no cataclysms occurred, but the important occasion sparked discussions not only on history but also on modernity. In fact, many compare current sociopolitical transformations to those that precipitated the dramatic changes in the early 20th century.

Our authors could simply not miss the chance. Sergei Dubinin views the Russian Revolution as a logical stage in international and national development covering several centuries, as a link between the past and the future. Despite its specifically Russian character, this tectonic sociopolitical shift fitted into the global context. The author believes that under any dramatic scenario of 1917-1922, the country would still have followed pretty much the same path it actually did. Dominic Lieven agrees with him where it concerns the essence of the political system in Russia. But he makes an important observation: Had Russia stayed in the Entente and ended World War One as a victor along with other nations, it could have avoided many of the disasters that followed afterwards.  Yuri Slezkine, on the contrary, thinks that nothing is inevitable and history could have developed differently under other circumstances.   

Those who look for something more exciting will certainly savor an interview with neo-Marxism classic Johan Galtung. For him the revolution is still going on, because it has not done away with capitalism. But the 87-year-old Norwegian communist is optimistic. Victor Sumsky recalls such a term as ‘the world revolutionary process,’ which he believes will never stop despite the advance of counterrevolution.

The topic of revolution runs through the entire issue. Dmitry Trenin explores the results of the most shocking revolution of recent times—the Euromaidan—which was driven by the need for changes, even though the actual results are a far cry from the cherished aspirations. Alexander Voronovich and Dmitry Yefremenko take a look at the changes in Ukraine’s historical narrative after 2014. Alexei Miller explains what the Ukrainian upheavals, which many find similar to the events of the early 20the century, meant for the Russian World. 

The world is trying to assess the fundamental changes which have become obvious due to Donald Trump, but began much earlier. Dmitry Shlapentokh studies remote effects of the turmoil in the first decades of the 20th century, the era of post-modernism in politics and the changes it has brought about. Alexander Solovyov notes bitterly that the notion of dialogue as a means of communication is falling into decay globally. Alexander Baunov tries to figure out whether modern Russia and its leader are rebellious revolutionaries or this is some irony of history. Pavel Salin describes a future world order modeled on the trendy blockchain technology, which is quite revolutionary all by itself.

A special section is devoted to the rivalry between major powers and the danger it poses to international security. Fortunately, there are still mechanisms of deterrence working, the main of which is nuclear weapons that help keep peace. Konstantin Asmolov cautions that more countries are obtaining nuclear weapons and the standoff with North Korea may provoke a conflict between major powers. Konstantin Khudoley writes about a deep crisis between Russia and the United States, trying to see at least some light ahead. Prokhor Tebin reviews the military balance between Russia and the U.S-led North Atlantic Alliance and argues that the difference in their understanding of threats affects the global balance or rather imbalance. Pavel Zolotarev points out that strategic stability becomes increasingly endangered.

Our next issue will be a special edition marking the 15th anniversary of the journal. We will look back at the work done and recall the most interesting milestones. Don’t miss it!

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