by Davit Gasparyan
On November 29, IES was honored to welcome Yuri Slezkine (Jane K. Sather Professor of History and Director of the Institute for Slavic, Eastern European and Eurasian Studies at UC Berkeley), for the annual Gerald D. and Norma Feldman Lecture, entitled “The Life and Death of the Russian Revolution.” To the audience of over 120 that gathered at Berkeley’s Bancroft Hotel, Slezkine introduced his book, The House of Government: A Saga of the Russian Revolution, giving an insightful summary of its narrative and providing historical and biographical context for the book and its characters.
To begin the lecture, Slezkine mentioned his memories of the late Gerald D. Feldman and described the time he visited Moscow. He then began his summary of the book by discussing his inspirations and his writing process. He spoke about the House of Government, a large residential complex in Moscow where top Communist officials lived along with their families, and touched on the Bolsheviks, their ideologies, and their demise caused by their very children. Slezkine mentioned the mythical nature of Bolshevik ideology and compared it to a religion. In conclusion, Slezkine addressed the fall of the Soviet Union and how “Bolshevism and Marxism had very flat perceptions of human nature.”
During the Q&A, Dr. Slezkine discussed the children of the Bolsheviks and their reaction to the imprisonment of their parents. He then went on to answer questions pertaining to the Bolsheviks’ attitude towards religion and their view of themselves, and concluded by discussing the role of Soviet Nationalism, which he claimed did not come until after the fall of the USSR. The lecture ended with much applause and a festive reception in honor of Professor Gerald D. Feldman.