Social Identities in Revolutionary Russia

Social Identities in Revolutionary Russia

Social Identities in Revolutionary Russia

Social Identities in Revolutionary Russia

Synopsis

This volume explores the crisis of identity that faced Russia during and after the Revolution. Topics include the Stolypin agrarian reform, the fracturing of the Intelligentsia and Church reform. Also included in this volume is Khlebinkov's manifesto An Indo-Russian Union published here in Russian with a new English translation.

Excerpt

Madhavan K. Palat

The petition considered here was the collective representation by peasants and workers during the second third of the nineteenth century. It was a form of action that atrophied with the Great Reform. the petition was addressed to autocracy, it invoked its might and mercy, it affirmed its law and it denoted craven submission. It accused a mendacious bureaucracy of disfiguring the sublime majesty of autocracy, and it proposed instead another autocracy, in direct relation with the peasantry. It legitimized autocracy rather than challenged it; as such it was one of the latter's instruments of social regulation. the petition was composed, not by the peasants themselves, but by others who knew or claimed to know the mind of autocracy and the manner of pleasing it. It reveals an ideal relation as seen by the autocracy, a negotiating instrument used by the peasantry, and a reciprocal mobilization by either. It was not the peasant's voice, it did not describe his condition, and it does not suggest naive faith in the tsar. It was a routine re-statement of a relation, routinely stated in order to ensure that the relation held, and therewith pointing to a possible mutation.

The structure of the typical petition may be summed up as follows. in formal terms it consisted of a salutation, a narrative of grievances, the claim and a concluding prostration. Being addressed to high authority, whether tsar, senators, ministers or governor, the salutation and conclusion were suitably humble and self-abasing. the narrative of grievances had its own design. It was intended to rouse the tsar to anger by demonstrating that his law had been infringed upon; and it was meant to move him to pity through heart-rending accounts of privation. Its legitimation was restorative, through the contrast between an ideal past when the law was upheld and social relations were just, and the present when both had degenerated. the structure of the claim

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