Tsuyoshi Hasegawa


On his book Crime and Punishment in the Russian Revolution: Mob Justice and Police in Petrograd

Cover Interview of November 26, 2017


Russia in 1917 is far removed from contemporary America. But, as Mark Twain said, if history does not repeat itself, it does rhyme. Remote as it seems, there are certain rhymes I can hear between Russia in 1917 and contemporary America.

We now see American society becoming more and more polarized. We see the rule of law being challenged. We see the freedom press under attack and we have witnessed tacit approval of violence to achieve political goals. The norms and values that anchor American democracy are under assault.

Looking at Russia in 1917 we may be comforted by the belief that our democracy had the resilience to withstand these attacks. But we must be aware of the fragility of democracy that could be easily subverted from within. It is unlikely that contemporary America will slide into a catastrophic revolution, but what happened in Russia in 1917 will give us a chance to reflect upon the value of our democracy.