Russian Intelligentsia of Mid-1800s and Its Political Impacts

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Why and how was a Russian Intelligentsia cultivated in the mid-1800’s and what were their political impacts?

BRANGLIDOR Raphaël Gabvin

IBS of Provence
Candidate Number: 001386-041

Word count: 3900

Topic: Emergence and Impact of the Russian Intelligentsia

Category: History

Table of Contents
Sub-heading| Page Number|
Table of Contents| Page 1|
Abstract| Page 2|
Introduction| Page 3|
Definition and background| Page 4|
Philosophy of the Russian Intelligentsia| Page 5|
Outlets for opinion and reforms on academics| Page 7|
Impacts of the Intelligentsia| Page 9|
Conclusion| Page 11|
Bibliography| Page 12|


The objective of this essay is to elucidate why and how a Russian intelligentsia cultivated in the mid-18th hundreds and what were their impacts. Emphasis will be placed on charting their background, emergence and their outcomes. This period in time often is referred to as “the great age of literature,” particularly interesting as some of the important literature were produced then. This extended essay is predominantly concerned with understanding the influence of literature and the philosophies in a nation where reforms in political, economic and social policies were dogmatic. The thesis starts by presenting the circumstances of the Russian intelligentsia in order to explain why they emerged at this time. The presentation of their background will explain the diverse philosophical and political dialogues that moulded their works. The essay goes on to discuss Russia’s outlets for opinion and the easing of censorship on education following the rise of Alexander II. The essay will conclude by evaluating the impact the intelligentsia had on oppositional activities. It must be made clear that they (the intelligentsia) never actually attained any substantial political authority and thus found it very difficult to share their notions to people and other social groups outside their own domain. Despite this, this thesis will provide evidence to lead to the conclusion that the literature of the intelligentsia was the principal source of autonomous political discussion in 1860 Russia resulting in the wakening of literary/political consciousness among the general populace.

In only a few decades, Russian novelists flourished in creating some of the most imperative literature in modern times. What makes their literature remarkable is not the content of the literary works but rather the circumstances under which they were produced. Unlike Western Europe, Russia was far from developing into a constitutional democracy in the mid-eighteen hundreds. Tsardom rule meant that both education and censorship were heavily regulated in order to optimize survival conditions. The majority of the populace constituted of lower class civilians whom a large percentage of were illiterate. Neither did these individuals possess the engagement or power to question their state; however individuals belonging to the nobility could attend school and gain a critical understanding of their society. Nevertheless, even education had its restrictions: by questioning the regime, one risked losing their social status resulting in minimal opposition against the Tsar. According to Polish-American historian Richard Pipes, resistance was unlikely to form on the basis of personal interest but more likely from “reason more informed, farsighted and substantial, such a gist of nationalism, social fairness and personal self-respect.” As a result of the repressive policies excised by Nicholas I from 1848 to 1855, the intelligentsia failed to flourish until Alexander II rose to power. This era is commonly mentioned as “The Great Age of Literature.” The term intelligentsia has numerous definitions which some will be explained further on in this thesis. Pipes describe the intelligentsia as “individuals with a concerned awareness of their society in which...
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