A. Minakov, The Russian conservatism from the first quarter of the XIXth century. Voronezh, 2012, 560 pp.printer

A. Minakov, The Russian conservatism from the first quarter of the XIXth century. Voronezh, 2012, 560 pp.

 Dr. Svetoslav Manoilov

The new study of A. Minakov “Russian conservatism from the first quarter of the XIXth” century is one of the most serious modern researches on the topic. In his newest book the historian examines the processes which lead to the rise and establishment of the Russian conservatism. A. Minakov also shows what is the influence of this political philosophy in the Russian society in the beginning of XIXth century. The author introduces a great number of unknown sources which allows him to study the ideological, political, cultural and social preconditions which lead to the birth of the Russian conservatism. A. Minakov examines the importance and role which the Napoleonic wars have for the formation of the Russian conservatism. This political philosophy rises as an ideological and political reaction to the ideas of the Enlightenment and the French revolution but in the same time it has it has its original features.

According to A. Minakov the Russian conservatism is a result not only as an answer to the external treat but its caused also by internal factors such as the reforms of Peter the Great, the liberal politics of emperor Alexander I, the strengthening of the positions of the liberal aristocracy and administration lead by Michail Speransky, the worship of the foreign culture. These liberal tendencies are accepted as a treat to the foundations and principles of the traditional Russian society and state – autocracy, orthodoxy, the Russian language, the patriarchal lifestyle, the traditional estate diversification of the society. A. Minakov acknowledges the influence of the European thinkers on the Russian conservatives but he thinks that it is not definitive and the emergence of Russian conservatism happens in parallel with western inspired by similar factors. The author of “The Russian conservatism from the first quarter of the XIXth century” do not idealize the early Russian conservatives and criticizes their ideas when he does not accept them such as the idea of the preservation of the serfdom. 

In hid monograph A. Minakov examines a problem which is insufficiently studied -  connservative project in science and education. Its main goal is to turn science into an ally of Orthodoxy, which would allow the government to direct the moral upbringing in the educated society in the Russian Orthodox monarchical spirit. This is the biggest challenge not only to Russian conservatives, but also to European - to create a philosophy that respond to the ideas of enlightenment and to prove that the old order is better than new.

The book of A. Minakov “The Russian conservatism from the first quarter of the XIXth century” has the typical weaknesses for the post-communist historical science in Russia.  Such are the attempts to diminish the influence of external factors - the French Revolution and the Napoleonic Wars, as the main cause of Russian conservatism, but also the contribution of European conservatives and their influence - directly and indirectly on the Russian. Despite these their weaknesses, the study certainly deserves its place in the modern Russian historiography and is useful for anyone interested in similar issues.