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Space to Think, a new book celebrating ten years of the Dublin Review of Books More Information 

    The Russian Troika

    Pádraig Murphy
    The Russian Troika
    The history that played out for Lenin and his commissars, who assumed dictatorial powers, was built on tactical opportunism coupled with simple good luck. One of the first acts was the setting up of the Cheka political police, with the slogan “Death to the bourgeoisie” written on its walls.
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    The Backward Look

    Pádraig Murphy
    The Backward Look
    The Russians, according to Svetlana Alexievich, are a people of misfortune and suffering whose best moments have come with war. Following the failed experiment to drive an entire nation ‘with an iron hand to happiness’, the people no longer have the culture of happiness or the taste for a joyful life.
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    The Wicked Uncle

    Pádraig Murphy
    The Wicked Uncle
    Stalin learned from Lenin that ruthlessness in pursuit of what might appear an impossible goal could pay off. In addition, the Marxist inheritance deified the State, the bearer of the highest truth of historical progress, while within the state the party was assigned an absolute status.
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    Spiritual Security

    Pádraig Murphy
    To the extent that Russia’s project of joining the Western developed world has failed, and it has failed, its search for a distinctive world stance appears urgent; the paradigm of a united state and church, defined against a decadent, liberal and atheist West, is much favoured.
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    A Catastrophe Not Foreseen

    Pádraig Murphy
    Russia’s handling of its client Serbia in the run-up to the First World War was an object lesson in how not to do it. While it is a mistake to assign exclusive culpability for the outbreak of the war to any single state actor, equally none can be absolved of responsibility.
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    End of an Era

    Pádraig Murphy
    The Ukraine crisis has demonstrated, if further demonstration was required, that Russia will pursue its interests aggressively in what it regards as its legitimate sphere of interests around its borders ‑ and that Europe and the West have no agreed policy on how to react to this.
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    Epiphanies and Voids

    Pádraig Murphy
    Attention to the apparently insignificant is a particular feature of Japanese art. It is an aspect of Zen’s emphasis on giving attention not to theory or to abstract truth, but to concrete, existing reality, the here and now.
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    The Errand-Boys of Europe

    Pádraig Murphy
    The Errand-Boys of Europe
    There is a strong current of thought in Russia which wishes to see the country assert its complete independence from the West and ‘Western values’ and follow its own path as a great Eurasian power. Yet others believe engagement is still possible. What has not been helpful is a US disregard for Russian interests and susceptibilities which has been seen as amounting to an ‘empathy deficit disorder’.
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    Neighbours

    Pádraig Murphy
    Neighbours
    Germany and Russia have had a relationship over the centuries that has more often been businesslike than hostile. The business being conducted, however, and the deals that have been struck, have seldom much benefited the countries in between.
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    A Tearless People

    Pádraig Murphy
    The year is 1937 and the place Moscow, one of the key settings in European history and a fault line in the history of civilisation.
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