Lecture in Leipzig about works of the Research Institute of Urban History

Igor Lyman

 November 21, 2017 in GWZO in frames of the DAAD Scholarship Prof. Igor Lyman delivered the lecture “Anarchic social utopia in the Southern Ukraine as a component of European utopias of the 20thcentury: studying by the Research Institute of Urban History”.

Igor Lyman noted that if understand utopias as projects, aimed at a radical redesign of life and society, it can be argued that the 20th century was globally a time of attempts to implement large-scale social utopian projects and experiments.

This topic is quite actual now. In particular, in connection with century anniversary of events, which is called “the revolution in Russia”.

Taking into account such actuality it is clear why studying utopias of the 20th century was not ignored by scientists. Among authors, who wrote about utopias – Karl Mannheim, Georges Sorel, Ernst Bloch, Herbert Marcuse. In the context of studying anarchic social utopias books Anarchy, State, and Utopia” by Robert Nozick and “Utopia as Anarchy: The Intersection of Anarchism, Feminism, and Utopianism in the Gilded Age” by Donna Marie Kohut deserve special attention.

It is significant that studying of utopias is interdisciplinary, combining efforts not only historians but also philosophers, sociologists, political scientists and others.

In the same context of studying of utopias from the interdisciplinary perspective we should pay the special attention to the scientific achievements of the international group of researchers in the fields of History, Art History, Architectural History and Literature, who rallied around the project of GWZO “Utopian Communities. Idea – Attempts of realization – Aftermath (19th and 20th centuries)”.

Anarchic utopia was an important component of social utopias of the 20th century, and attempts of its implementation were among the alternatives to building of a communist utopia.

The Southern Ukraine became a region in which the anarchic social experiment had perhaps the best chance of success. It is about the implementation of anarchist ideas in the context of the movement led by Nestor Makhno.

“Free Anarchic Area” (“Makhnovia”, “Ukrainian Free Anarchist Republic”) existed exactly on the lands of the Southern Ukraine. The territory of "free anarchic area" had access to the sea (Azov), population 2.5 million people, and size exceeded such European countries as Denmark, the Netherlands or Belgium.

Analysis of historiography gives grounds to assert that the subject of the history of the anarchist movement in the Southern Ukraine remains very problematic and causes wars of memory.

Quite different points of view about Mahno Igor Lyman found during the last month in periodical press of 1919-1922.

It is significant that one of the main flaws of historiography of Makhno movement is precisely its consideration as a "phenomenon in itself", in a certain isolation from the context of European utopias of the 20th century.

The reason for this should be sought in the fact that the whole history of the Southern Ukraine till today remains largely isolated from the general context of European history.

Igor Lyman believes that the program of DAAD, studying the topic “Anarchic Social Utopia in the Southern Ukraine in the Context of European Utopias of the 20th Century” and the lecture can help to overcome this isolation.