November 7th marked the hundredth anniversary of the Bolshevik Revolution, the more memorable of the pair of uprisings known collectively as the Russian Revolution. Just seven months after Romanov tsar, Nicholas II, was forced to abdicate as a result of the February Revolution, Vladimir Lenin’s marginal socialist Bolshevik party overthrew the Provisional Government in a bloodless coup. The seventy-four years of Soviet rule that followed – responsible for the deaths of millions of Russian citizens – go a long way to explaining the controversy that surrounded this year’s centenary.
Whilst much of Europe reflected on the events of 1917 with apparent nostalgia, official commemorations in Russia were notably sparse. The day marking Lenin’s triumph over the Provisional Government has not been a national holiday since 2004 – when Vladimir Putin wiped it from the Russian calendar – yet this month the veracity of the President’s motives came under fire.
Given the unprecedented suffering caused under both Lenin, and later Stalin’s, communist regimes, what do Russians today believe is the most appropriate way to commemorate the Russian Revolution of 1917?
For an analysis of this topic we use the Socratic method – a form of argumentative dialogue developed in the 5th century BCE, which is a perfect example of critical thinking – to consider issues from the viewpoints of various interested parties.
What can we learn from applying the Socratic method to the debate surrounding the appropriate Russian response to this year’s centenary?