Within the framework of its XIV Annual meeting, the Valdai Discussion Club will hold a special session, dedicated to the 100th anniversary of the Russian Revolution. Boris Martynov, Head of Department of International Relations and Foreign Policy of Russia, MGIMO University, answered the questions of www.valdaiclub.com.
In general, how have societies changed in the 100 years after the October Revolution?
We can only speak about changing “societies” in close connection with the question of whether the nature of man – the basis of public relations – has changed over the past 100 years. The material and technical basis of human civilization has fundamentally changed, reaching incredible heights over the past years. However, its spiritual foundation has remained at the same level. Historical development does not have linear character, as previously thought. It is recurring, self-reproducing in nature. Therefore, in our days we are doomed to experience developments which are new in formal terms, but repeating in terms of content. We often forget that “everything new is, in fact, well-forgotten old.”
How has the socialist project evolved over the same period? What lies ahead?
The whole history of humanity since the time of the pharaohs is imbued with efforts to build a “Paradise on Earth” in one form or another. The socialist (communist) project is, in this sense, one of the most striking examples. People have always aspired to the best, and there is little hope that they will ever stop doing it. Here, it is important to observe the sense of proportion so that this aspiration does not end, after all, in the construction of “Hell.”
How did the October Revolution and its aftermath affect the system of international relations? Are they still relevant?
The revolution was a tragedy for Russia and the peoples inhabiting it (see Dmitry Mendeleyev's forecast for 1913). However, it contributed to the democratization of social forces throughout the world, the growth of self-awareness and achievement of independence from the colonial empires, it forced self-restraint in the camp of big capital in favour of the poorest strata (Keynesianism). Russia “sacrificed” itself on the altar of social progress. The inglorious end of the “socialist experiment” immediately caused a backlash: the return of the right of brute force in world politics and unrestricted egoism in social and economic relations. Big capital again, like in the early twentieth century, does not feel the sense of proportion.