The Costs of Radical Utopianism: From Vladimir Lenin to Vladimir Putin

The event will take place on June 6, 2017 at the Council Room of the Faculty of Sociology and Social Work (Schitu Măgureanu No. 9), starting with 5 PM.

The recording of this event is available here.

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The discussion on the communist “Ketman” as a form of mental schizophrenia is not just specific to the totalitarian cosmos but has an everlasting relevance. A hundred years after the Bolshevik experiment had become reality in October 1917 —which also meant getting total control of the human spirit—, it is important to revisit the main tenets of the Bolshevik Weltanschauung and to comment upon the aftertaste of Lenin’s demoniac political practice. There is, therefore, this huge role of ideological conditioning and, as Czesław Miłosz pointed out in The Captive Mind, “man must be made to understand in order to accept. Who are the enemies of the new system? Those who do not understand.” Professors Vladimir Tismăneanu and Cătălin Avramescu will try to evaluate the intricacies of such a mental conditioning-cum-anthropological revolution (The New Man, Ketman, Murti-Bing, etc.) by comparing the two major ideologies that envelop an entire century of regimented thought: Leninism (with its subspecies Stalinism) and Putinism. What elements in Vladimir Putin’s political practice are reminiscent of the original Bolshevik ethos? How much Leninism does the current baroque political ideology of the Russian state still contain? What are the main elements of control and regimentation in Lenin’s and Putin’s Russia? How do we define the Russian state terrorism before and after the collapse of the Soviet Union, and how do we assess the odds of a local participatory political culture in the context of quasi-generalized amnesia? Who are the victims and the beneficiaries of a political system based on clouding of consciousness and memory, political crime, and the suppression of any given form of critical thinking? How do we still relate to the October Revolution in the light of numerous post-Soviet political failures in Russia? Vladimir Tismăneanu (University of Maryland) and Cătălin Avramescu (FSPUB) will try to offer some relevant answers to these questions and mark the centennial of the Bolshevik Revolution in company with ICUB academic community.


*The event is co-organized by Marius Stan, Winner of ICUB Fellowships for Young Researchers 2016 Competition – with the project The Canvas of Apostasy: Romanian-British Political Sociologist Zevedei Barbu and the Critique of Totalitarianism and will be moderated  by Prof. Univ. Marian Zulean, Director of SSS-ICUB.


Vladimir Tismăneanu is professor of politics at the University of Maryland (College Park) and is the author of numerous books and articles on the revolutions of 1989, history of world communism, and political ideologies. In 2006, he chaired the Presidential Commission for the Analysis of the Communist Dictatorship in Romania. Between 1998—2004, he was the editor of the journal “East European Politics and Societies.” Together with Marius Stan, he is the author of A Stalin Dossier: The Genialissimo Generalissimo (Curtea Veche Publishing, 2014) and A Lenin Dossier: The Magic of Nihilism (Curtea Veche Publishing, 2016).

Cătălin Avramescu  is a Romanian philosopher and specialist in moral and political philosophy, former Romanian ambassador to Finland He published the first edition of An Intellectual History of Cannibalism at Princeton University Press and was a researcher at Collegium Budapest/Institute for Advanced Study, Department of Social Philosophy (Helsinki University), Institute of Philosophy (Oslo University, Institute for Advanced Study in Humanities (University of Edinburgh), Clark Library/Center for 17th and 18th Century Studies (University of California, Los Angeles), Sigurdur Nordal Institute (Reykjavik), Netherlands Institute for Advanced Study in the Humanities and Social Science (Royal Netherlands Academy of Arts and Sciences, Wassenaar) (2000) – Visiting Scholar and more.

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