Rusian History Essay

This essay has a total of 1181 words and 6 pages.

Rusian History



Russia has always played a major roll in global politics, economics and thought. However,
in the past two centuries, Russia has had probably the greatest influence on the
international world in modern times, surpassed only by the United States. The Russia that
we've known this century though, has its roots in last centuries Russian. At the end of
the nineteenth century, Russia experienced great changes internally, politically, socially
and spiritually. The half century leading up to the Communist revolution in 1917 was a
time filled with sweeping changes, literary triumphs and military defeat. All of these
factors played in the eventual revolution and not only affected politics and thought in
Russia, but in every nation on earth.


After the defeat of the Russian army in the Crimean War, Russian realized that it needed
to modernize its country, socially and militarily. Alexander II realized that to modernize
mean that Russia needed to westernize. So in 1861 he emancipated the serfs from bondage.
The emancipation was mean to bridge the gap between the elite and the general population,
but was not the first of such liberal western type reforms. Catherine and Peter the Great
had also made western type reforms during their respective reigns. All of their reforms,
and especially Alexander's, were influenced by western thought. These thought were
introduced into Russia by its Western European educated ruling class. Under Alexander II,
the ruling class began to see serfdom as an immoral part of society. This moral problem
was accompanied by the economics of the day, and the ethical conclusion was that serfdom
must be dismantled.

The abolition of serfdom was Alexander II greatest contribution to history. However, the
'Liberating Czar' enacted a whole series of fundamental changes including; comprehensive
reform of the judicial system that finally introduced the unheard of idea of equality,
trial by jury, public proceedings in legal matters and the impartiality of the courts.

In the end though, none of these reforms really solved any of Russia's social or economic
problems, eventually called the 'accursed questions'. These were taken up by the various
political groups and writers of the time. The writers however were the most important. To
Russians, the writer is not only looked upon as an artist of the word, but also as a guide
and teacher in a deeper sense. The writer is supposed to understand life better than
ordinary mortals, so it's his duty to impart this knowledge to others in appropriate shape
and form.

The reign of Alexander II was an age of great literary achievement, the 'Golden Age' of
the Russian novel. Almost all of the great works of Russian fiction were produced during
this time. The best minds were attracted to the novel, Turgenev, Tolstoy, Dostoevsky and
Asakov all produced some of the greatest literary works of all time during this period.

All of the writers during this time belonged to a political school of thought, and while
some of the schools worked for similar aims, they were all different and each one
possessed its own unique ideals.

The Slavophiles were probably the oldest of the political schools at the time. The
Slavophiles during the reign of Alexander II were of the second generation, and they were
the ones to turn the Slavophile myth of old into a real modern political program. This
program included the endorsement of the Orthodox religion and a patrimonial monarchy. The
Slavophiles believed in the inherent virtue and goodness of the Russian people and
culture. A main part of this culture was the ideal of 'sobornost', that is, the communal
spirit. The Slavophiles saw this in action in the peasant communes, and believed that
communalism in conjunction with Christian communal worship would become the source of
Russia's sorely needed moral and cultural regeneration. In accordance with Russia's
regeneration, Slavophiles saw the west as corrupt and immoral. They saw Russia's destiny
as one in which it would save the west from spiritual decay.

Fyodor Dostoevsky was Slavophilisms more down-to-earth and democratic member. He was also
the movements' most effective proponent. In his book "Discourse on Pushkin", Dostoevsky
describes the Slavophile position.


The major opponents of the Slavophile position were the western influenced Nihilists.
Continues for 3 more pages >>




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