EVENT CANCELLED! - Empire between ideology and critique

  • Date: –17:00
  • Location: IRES Library, Gamla torget 3, 3rd floor
  • Organiser: Institute for Russian and Eurasian Studies (IRES)
  • Contact person: Mattias Vesterlund
  • Föreläsning


During the post-Soviet period, much of philosophical and «historiosophical» thought has turned around the idea of «Empire». This is not an accidental phenomenon, since the philosophical tradition in Russia has arguably been «obsessed» by this idea. The popularity of a «white» author like Ivan Il’in, a sophisticated as well as militant monarchist, just like that of Vladimir Solov’ëv whom one might quality as benevolent and peaceful imperialist, can be situated in a field of positions and battle where, at one extreme, one can find authors / thinkers such as Aleksandr Dugin or Konstantin Malofeev. If one adds the hypothesis that both the USSR and the Russian Federation of today can also be regarded as «empires» that find themselves, at the same time, in a world dominated by another empire, that of Antonio Negri or Emmanuel Todd, one gets to the point of identifying an «imperial question [имперский вопрос]» that organizes the debate and invites us to pose two questions: first, what in fact is an empire, and, second, how to escape from what one might label “imperial logics”? Finally, one should distinguish (while admitting that a strict separation is impossible) between an ideological function (motivating and justifying) and a critical function of the same idea. The “imperial question”, by the end of the day, is not simply a notion in political theory, but most of all a concept that organizes some important political-theological and political-philosophical positions of the present-day, particularly, but not exclusively, in Russia. Paying attention to the long history of the imperial idea (and: reality!) in Russia, we can situate the burning issue of Russia’s neo-imperalism in a much broader context.

Evert van der Zweerde is, since 2010, professor of Social and Political Philosophy at the Faculty of Philosophy, Theology and Religious Studies at Radboud University, Nijmegen, Netherlands. Among his research interests are philosophical theory of democracy, civil society, ideology, Soviet philosophy, Orthodox Christianity, and Russian philosophy.