Universalism in cultural history and the meaning of the Russian Revolution: on some aspects of cultural theory in the work of Mikhail LifÅic

Mikhail LifÅic (1905-1983) is one of the most contradictory and to this date poorly understood authors of the Soviet era. He represented an independent Marxist position, but one internally characterized by the tense relationship between Marxism and the philosophy of Hegel. This relationship, concerning historical philosophical questions, is the subject of this essay. In the 1930s, as "historical materialism" was canonized in the USSR, a development that Soviet civilization understood as the "beginning of the end of (universal) history", LifÅic drafted a different, skeptical summary of the revolutionary era. However, he remained loyal to both the concept of universal history and the examination of Russian-Soviet cultural history within the framework of this concept. With the help of a text from LifÅic from the 1930s as well as his later (early 1980s) reflection and remembrance of the ideological debates of the 1930s, this essay will show that LifÅic' reconstruction of idealism in Marxism was no accident, but rather a necessary movement in thought. This, in turn, enabled him to give a new account of the historical experience of the October Revolution.