No, this is not a blog about Bradley Cooper and Jennifer Lawrence’s chemistry in an incredible RomCom. (I wish)…. however, we can use media and the arts as a powerful way to address issues within society. Similarly to the impact of popular culture American society has seen through social media and the messaging of Hollywood, Russia challenged the hegemony of the nationalistic ideals on religion, metaphysical ideas, and philosophical findings in Russia in 1905 to spark a revolution.
A powerful (and often overlooked) element of the Revolution of 1905 existed from within the cultural movement of the people of Russia, through the use of media and popular culture, known as the “Silver Age” (Freeze, 265). According to Freeze, poetry, fiction, theater, music, and plastic arts all challenged a new age of modernism in a society struggling to stay together. These ideals were all used in order to beckon a new age of thinking, embracing the movement away from conservatism.
I discovered a fascinating piece highlighting Maxim Gorky, playwright based in Moscow; discussing his opinion on the future of Russian “peace” and the governments handling of power in relation to the peasant class. Gorky emphasizes the importance of introspection as a necessary tool for the government to heal Russia, rather than turn to expansionism.
“But inside from the effects of the peace’s upon the chances of liberty being won by the Russian people, the colonial venture should have been finished once for all.”
He also discusses the major social injustice faced by the Russian population at hand. “Besides we have nothing to give others.” This point I found very interesting. It was, in my opinion, a selfless way of acknowledging that expansionist ideals would further divide Russia both internally and damage the reputation of the “Great Power”.
“Political freedom having been obtained, there is bound to be a marvelous unfolding of the spiritual and intellectual faculties of the people. We may experience a veritable Elizabethan age of Russian literature and art. The expansion of the mental horizon to the gold generation of Shakespeare’s day, due to the discoveries of navigators, and the exploits of sailors, cannot be compared with the coming discovery of themselves by the hundred millions of Russia’s benighted workfolk.”
To add to the cultural ramifications for the “Silver Age”, I critically examined Manifesto of 17 October 1905. Using the powerful jargon: “on the improvement of order in the state”, signifying that it was very powerfully grant change, the first tenet was “Fundamental civil freedoms will be granted to the population, including real personal inviolability, freedom of conscience, speech, assembly and association”. This tenet can be confirmed through the explosion of the arts in the time period, as a way to exercise the freedoms of speech, assembly, association, and consciousness. The freedom of consciousness was so desperately needed, and the media acted as a way of connecting peasants and workers to the causes of the intelligentsia and the Marxist movement.
This post received the “Comrades Corner” distinction from the Editorial team.
GORKY’S INTERVIEW.: Complete Text of Russian Author’s Opinion of Peace. New York Times (1857-1922); Oct 2, 1905; ProQuest Historical Newspapers: The New York Times. pg. 8
Freeze, Gregory L. Russia: A History. 3rd ed. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1997.