Russian Studies                                                                                                         9/10/13


The Russian Dilemma


I.  Russia’s Peculiar & Persistent Dilemma: What is to be done?

The West

Western Europe’s Key to Success

a) long historical movement away from dogma and authority

            toward increasing individual autonomy

     (Renaissance, Reformation, Enlightenment, Liberalism)

b) results in a dynamic society, economic expansion & powerful states


Russian Handicaps

Tartar Yoke 12th to 16th centuries and

The problem of size and

The problem of defense and

The Great Power Syndrome

Results in a society in which dogma and authority are essential

1.      Forms: Political- autocracy, Social-feudalism, Economic-manorialism, Religion-orthodoxy

2.      The Russian “Social Contract”  tsar/nobility/peasants


 The Dilemma

Western-style change will lead to a) chaos and/or b) invasion

No Western-style change will lead to more backwardness


IIDealing with the Dilemma – Part 1

A.    Peter the Great 1689-1725

Military necessity drove Peter to adopt some Western techniques

But military necessity also required that Peter increase authority of the state

      Table of Ranks                                    Serfdom


B.     Catherine the Great 1762-1796

New “Social Contract”

Impact of the Enlightenment

But Pugachev Revolt 1773-1774 & French Revolution

Serfdom tightened


C.     Alexander I 1801-1825

Liberal tutors & advisors

But French Rev & Napoleon