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From Darkness To Light

From Darkness To Light: Class, Consciousness, & Salvation In Revolutionary

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    From Darkness To Light
    Book Description:

    In this interdisciplinary and controversial work, Igal Halfin takes an original and provocative stance on Marxist theory, and attempts to break down the divisions between history, philosophy, and literary theory.

    eISBN: 978-0-8229-7204-4
    Subjects: History

Table of Contents

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  1. Introduction: Marxism and Russia
    (pp. 1-38)

    THAT TWENTIETH-CENTURY Russia embraced Marxism is perhaps the most striking feature of Russian modern history. Brainchild of Marx, the Soviet Union grew up under the shadow of his vision.¹ Marxist visionaries dreamed of a completely transformed society. Nothing of the corrupt and exploitative past was to be retained in the just, pure future. The victims of the old order were destined to become the rulers of the new. The paragon of Revolution—called a proletarian, a Bolshevik, or a Communist, depending on the speaker and the period—was to become transformed into the “New Man”(novyi chelovek)

    Russian Marxists attempted...

  2. 1 Marxism as Eschatology
    (pp. 39-84)

    IN THE FOLLOWING PAGES, I would like to outline the basic features of Marxist historical mythology, linking it with the Western religious and philosophical concern with human salvation. My core argument is that the attempt to provide scientific principles of historical analysis and to break away from the messianic interpretation of history sponsored by the Church was in fact in many ways unsuccessful: underneath the seemingly new Marxist methodology were concealed older concerns with historical time and redemption. Marxists would doubtless have renounced notions such as good, evil, messiah, and salvation as baseless religious superstitions that had nothing to do...

  3. 2 The Janus-Faced Messiah
    (pp. 85-148)

    IT IS TIME to move from the discussion of Marxist eschatology as such to an examination of the ways in which Russian revolutionary discourse activated this eschatological potential. The messianic characteristics of Marxism came into sharp relief in Russia, not in Western Europe where Marx did most of his preaching. Was Marxism adapted to Russian conditions, that is, was it “Russified”? Or did the new ideology actually function as a means to modernize Russia and instill post-Reformation values? There might be elements in the religious tradition in Russia (Orthodoxy and sectarianism) and in Bolshevism’s roots in nineteenth-century Russian intellectual tradition...

  4. 3 The “Intelligentsia”: Vicissitudes of the Notion
    (pp. 149-204)

    THE MEANING of the term “intelligentsia” was far from immutable between the 1890s and the 1920s. Tracing developments in the revolutionary discourse over a span of three decades, I would like, in the present chapter, to sketch a brief history of “the intelligentsia” in Russian Marxism. Such a history, however, is not susceptible to straightforward chronological presentation. Notions do not develop in the same way biographies do. The main events in the history of notions cannot be precisely defined, let alone dated. Thus, new definitions of the intelligentsia did not simply coincide with the familiar milestones in the history of...

  5. 4 The Making of the “New Intelligentsia”
    (pp. 205-282)

    THE 1920S BOLSHEVIKS sought to turn the universities into “construction sites” for the fabrication of the New Man. The young state was determined to have the institutions of higher education function as the meeting place of the working class and its consciousness. Inevitably, the old intelligentsia proved an obstacle, insisting on civic liberties, occupying the universities, and refusing to turn them over to the proletariat. Lenin set the tone for the Bolshevik enterprise when he summarily rejected the idea that education could be indifferent to class. “The very term ‘apolitical,’” he said in November 1920, “is a piece of bourgeois...

  6. 5 Classes Made and Unmade
    (pp. 283-336)

    THE MECHANICS of the student purges suggest that classes were ultimately made up of individuals whose class labels changed over time for a variety of reasons. My emphasis in this section will be on the fate of those individuals who were caught in the system and obliged both to think of themselves and to present themselves to others in class terms. If the relegation of a student to a particular class category was not a function of his immutable social essence but the result of a struggle, a class trial, one may begin to speak of the elaboration of Bolshevik...

  7. 6 Proletarianization Contested
    (pp. 337-400)

    WHAT DID the non-Bolshevik observers think of the university proletarianization policy? Was it contested? If so, by whom, to what extent, and in the name of what alternatives? In this chapter, we shall examine responses to the Bolshevik proletarianization policy from individuals whose allegiance lay with political parties ranging from the ultra-left to the moderate Kadets. In a nutshell, my thesis here is that rival platforms were not inclined to criticize proletarianization as such, and that the basic Bolshevik goal—the realization of the New Man in a new society—was shared by all who called themselves revolutionaries. Regardless of...