The Time of Troubles as a Cultural Mechanism: Toward a Typology of Russian Cultural History

  • Juri Lotman


Discussing the unique features of the Russian revolution, Vladimir Lenin wrote that all bourgeois revolutions go through a stage of preliminary, spontaneous preparation, when their economic structure experiences a “gestation” period within the economy of the previous order. Unlike those revolutions, the socialist economic structure, according to Lenin, did not experience a period of gestation. As a result, the transition from capitalism to socialism was understood, according to this model, as a unique phenomenon, an explosion, destroying the foundations of the previous social structure and creating a new, until then impossible, order atop the rubble. The goal of this article is to show that this was not a unique phenomenon, the particularities of which were determined by a situation “unprecedented in the history of humankind”—namely, the shift from a class-based society to a classless one—but rather this transition exhibited one of the defining features of all binary systems, in particular, that of the Moscow-Petersburg period. Therefore, we should speak not of the specificity of this transition from one economic order (capitalism) to another (communism), but rather of a certain constant in the development of binary social structures.


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© The Author(s) 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  • Juri Lotman
    • 1
  1. 1.University of TartuTartuEstonia

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