In the moral and spiritual vacuum left in Russia by the fall of the Soviet Union in 1989-91 some of the thinkers who first opposed the Leninist revolution of 1917 have come to a new prominence. Important among them is the religious philosopher Nikolai Berdyaev (1874-1948) who is now frequently cited as a source of inspiration in the attempt to overcome the disastrous legacy of the Soviet experiment and in the search for a new national identity.
This book focuses particularly on his early post-revolutionary works, which express a passionate protest against the revolution. His was clearly the most comprehensive contemporary critique of the revolutionary project from a Christian perspective. Essential themes of Christian theology and social thought are brought out in a radical way suitable to a radical situation. From his consistently religious perspective he foresaw with precision much of the inhuman and tyrannical potential of the revolutionary project - later to be abundantly confirmed by the development of the Soviet regime. The dilemmas discerned in his response particularly relate to his call for spiritual resistance and to his expectation of a Christian alternative - an illustrative instance of the confrontation of Christianity with the modern world.
The theological and philosophical investigation conducted in this book provides a new interpretation of Berdyaev’s response in the light of its historical setting and with a view to its contemporary significance in the post-Soviet situation.
Christian Gottlieb (b. 1961) is deputy librarian of HM the Queen’s Reference Library, Copenhagen. He graduated in theology and church history from the universities of Copenhagen and Cambridge. Dilemmas of Reaction in Leninist Russia is his doctoral dissertation, accepted by the University of Copenhagen in 2002.