Wed, 22nd Nov 18:30 - 19:30

Enemies Within: The Paranoid Style in Revolutionary Russia

The Canons' Gait, 232 Canongate, Edinburgh EH8 8DQ, UK

Dr Iain Lauchlan of the University of Edinburgh looks at the revolutionary events of 1917, which provoked three distinctive Russian manifestations of what Richard Hofstadter called ‘the paranoid style’. The Russian revolution was both the result and the catalyst of epidemics of ‘spy mania’ in wartime Europe around 1917. Hofstadter’s analysis has been much criticised in recent decades as a pejorative ‘diagnosis' of isolated individuals on the fringes of political life. Yet Hofstadter’s core assertions do seem credible when considering the political divisions of 1917 in Russia. They can also be expanded upon: where Hofstadter only looked at the changing content of conspiracy theories, the Russian Revolution provides a case study on variations in the paranoid style as ideological rather than psychological phenomena, which influenced not just fringe elements, but directed the actions of the three mainstream political tendencies in Russia in 1917,
reactionary, liberal and revolutionary.

This talk explores the role beliefs about ‘enemies within’ played in the rise of Bolshevism and Stalinism, with an eye on the contemporary parallels with Putin, Trump and Brexit.

Tickets: £3

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