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  • Print publication year: 2006
  • Online publication date: March 2008

6 - Russian political thought, 1700–1917

from Part II - Culture, Ideas, Identities
Muscovites almost universally regarded the grand prince as anointed by God and thus as deserving obedience. The most consequential thinker of the Russian Enlightenment was Catherine the Great, whose Nakaz treated liberty as a crucial ingredient of just rule. Between 1789 and the early 1830s a distinctively Russian variant of conservatism began to emerge. After the turn of the century but especially between 1826 and 1855 Russian intellectuals focused on the historical, religious and philosophical problem of Russian national identity. The Slavophiles' chief adversaries were the so-called Westernisers, a loose knit network of intellectuals usually thought to include the literary critic Vissarion Grigor'evich Belinsky. The Great Reforms so altered Russian social and civil life as to radically affect subsequent political debates. Dostoevsky's conservatism was predicated on opposition to Western liberalism and socialism, on hostility to individualism and capitalism, on rejection of Catholicism and religious authoritarianism.
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The Cambridge History of Russia
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