World History as Revolution: Boris Porshnev and the Experience of Dialectical Defeat

  • Vladimir Ryzhkovskyi Georgetown University
Keywords: Porshnev, Russian revolution, world history, philosophy of history, historical materialism


This article provides a comprehensive presentation of the most remarkable engagement with the intellectual genre of world history in the Soviet era — the hitherto unknown project Critique of Human History by the famous Soviet Marxist thinker Boris Porshnev. Porshnev’s synthesis of negative dialectics and historical materialism transposed the negativity of revolutionary defeat in Stalinist Russia into a radical teleological perspective, which conceived of world history as a single, cognitive and political, revolution. The article presents multiple institutional, cultural, and ideological contexts from the Soviet period that pertained to Porshnev’s experience of revolutionary defeat, argues for the crucial importance of the historical approach in appropriating the intellectual legacy of the Revolution, all the while highlighting the relevance of Porshnev’s thought for present-day discussions in philosophy, anthropology, and history.

Author Biography

Vladimir Ryzhkovskyi, Georgetown University

PhD Candidate in History
Georgetown University
ICC 600 37th and O Streets, N.W., Washington D.C., USA 20057


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How to Cite
Ryzhkovskyi, V. (2018). World History as Revolution: Boris Porshnev and the Experience of Dialectical Defeat. Stasis, 6(2).
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