Nineteenth Century Russia: Opposition to Autocracy by Derek Offord

By Derek Offord

This new Seminar examine presents scholars with a profitable advent to nineteenth-century Russia. this era of Russian heritage is, after all, characterized by means of the flowering of an drastically wealthy highbrow and cultural lifestyles, the origins of which lie within the intelligentsia¿s competition to autocratic rule. the following, Professor Offord introduces the reader to the interval whereas focusing quite at the upward thrust of radicalism.

The e-book opens with scene-setting chapters: one the political and social constitution ordinary to Russia, and the second one taking a look at the cultural and highbrow history. Then, inside a chronological framework, the writer examines all of the nice 'events' within the historical past of Russian radicalism - from the Decembrist rebellion in 1825, to the 'going to the folk' in 1874, and the assassination of Alexander II in 1881. even if, during the textual content sustained consciousness is given to the highbrow measurement of nineteenth-century Russian heritage. Professor Offord examines all of the significant colleges of idea and appears intimately in any respect the nice thinkers of the day, together with Chaadaev, Belinsky, Herzen, Chernyshevsky, Bakunin and Tolstoy.

This new booklet will offer crucial studying for somebody learning nineteenth-century Russia. Lucid, available and immensely readable, it's a bold achievement.

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Arguments that assert that the failure of the Russian state over the last century is explicable by reference to culture are not much better. The Russian state does not fail because it is Russian; past and present crises of political authority and state failure have not been caused by something intrinsic to ‘Russianness’ or the Russians. Certain common Russian traditions and attitudes have not helped state building in Russia. However, these traditions and attitudes are often themselves the result of state failure and can be amended by fresh state building projects, or serve as their basis or inspiration.

Many Russians prefer private life to the vicissitudes of public life and are loyal to family and networks of friends and kin rather than to the state. 1 This is not as surprising as it might seem at first glance. The brutality of Russia’s rulers has destroyed public institutions and eroded faith in public life to the point where the only body left that might act for the collective good is the state, or some part of it. Moreover, Russians are right to want action from the state since only a reconstructed state in Russia can provide the public goods (goods that all citizens share equally, that no one in a society can be excluded from enjoying) necessary for a decent, peaceful and prosperous life.

State autonomy and organizational integrity facilitate state capacity because the orders that emanate from the state are viewed as generally being legitimate and are implemented. Capacity is also constantly under review in a constitutional-bureaucratic state formation and what the state ‘does’ and what society ‘does’ is negotiated between them and by such things as elections changing what society asks the state to do through its elected politicians. The need for coercion is therefore low since the state does not generally demand more of its citizens than they are prepared to do.

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