The House of Government

The House of Government is one of the most important recent studies of the Russian Revolution and the early Soviet Union. It traces the rise and fall of the first generation of Bolshevik leaders and offers a new answer to one of the key questions that continues to occupy historians, namely whether Stalinism was a necessary outcome of the Russian Revolution, or, to put it more pointedly, whether the purges of the 1930s that eliminated a significant portion of the Old Bolsheviks resulted from the very logic of their ideology. Slezkine answers this question in the affirmative, essentially equating ideology to faith and locating Bolshevism within a transhistorical continuum of millenarian sects.

Since its publication last year, The House of Government has been the subject of numerous reviews by historians of the Soviet Union who have praised the masterful bridging of domestic and political history while questioning the focus on elites. However, it has not received sustained attention from scholars of religion, which is surprising given that Yuri Slezkine reads Bolshevik deeds and misdeeds as functional expressions of millenarianism. In order to expand the discussion of Slezkine’s study, we asked scholars of religion familiar with the Soviet and other communist regimes to join us in this book forum. The author has responded to the commentaries in an interview.”

Continue reading the introduction to this new series here.

Many thanks to Sonja Luehrmann and Todd Weir for helping to co-curate this forum with managing editor Mona Oraby.