torsdag 9 november 2017

Nothing to celebrate

The 1989 Brighton Festival celebrated the bicentenary of the French Revolution, under the theme "A Taste of Freedom". I thought at the time that it was not the sort of thing that anyone should celebrate - mass murder and two decades of war were the consequence.

2017 marks 500 years of the Reformation and 100 years since the Russian Revolution, which took place on 8 November 1917. The first was a catastrophe for Europe, the second for the world. The death tolls in each amounted to millions. The Reformation has been the occasion of "ecumenical" services, consisting mostly of the singing of some Protestant hymns and sermons by representatives of different denominations, such as this one last Sunday at Uppsala; a dreary affair apart from an excellent sermon, by Cardinal Arborelius.

BBC Radio has filled up the week with commemorative programmes of the Russian Revolution, so that is best avoided. The Russians themselves have had more sense, having been on the receiving end of it, the event is being marked, if at all, by memorial services for the victims of Communism. President Putin, who once lamented the dissolution of the Soviet Union as “the greatest geopolitical catastrophe of the century” deems the October Revolution itself, the USSR’s foundational event, no cause for celebration.

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