Aksakov, Ivan Sergeyevich

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(18231886), Slavophile and Panslav ideologue and journalist.

Son of the famous theater critic Sergei Timofeyevich Aksakov, Ivan Aksakov received his early education at home in the religious, patriotic, and literary atmosphere of the Aksakov family in Moscow. He attended the Imperial School of Jurisprudence risprudence in St. Petersburg, graduating in 1842. After a nine-year career in government service, Aksakov resigned to devote himself to the study of Russian popular life and the propagation of his Slavophile view of it. Troubles with the censorship plagued his early journalistic ventures: Moskovsky sbornik (Moscow Miscellany ) (1852, 1856) and Russkaya beseda (Russian Conversation ); his newspaper, Parus (Sail ), was shut down in 1859 because of Aksakov's outspoken defense of free speech.

In his newspapers Den (Day ) and Moskva (Moscow ), Aksakov largely supported the reforms of the 1860s and 1870s, but his nationalism became increasingly strident, as the historical and critical publicism of the early Slavophiles gave way, in the freer atmosphere of the time, to simpler and more chauvinistic forms of nationalism, often directed at Poles, Germans, and Jews. In 1875 Aksakov became president of the Moscow Slavic Benevolent Committee, in which capacity he pressed passionately for a more aggressive Russian policy in the Balkans and promoted the creation of Russian volunteer forces to fight with the Serbs. He was devastated when the European powers forced Russia to moderate its Balkan gains in 1878. "Today," Aksakov told the Slavic Benevolent Committee, " we are burying Russian glory, Russian honor, and Russian conscience."

In the 1880s Aksakov's chauvinism became more virulent. In his final journal, Rus (Old Russia ), he alleged that he had discovered a worldwide Jewish conspiracy with headquarters in Paris. Aksakov's increasing xenophobia has embarrassed Russians (and foreigners) attracted to the more courageous and generous aspects of his work, but the enormous crowds at his funeral suggest that his name was still a potent force among significant segments of the Russian public at the time of his death.

See also: aksakov, konstantin sergeyevich; journalism; nationalism in tsarist empire; panslavism; slavophiles


Lukashevich, Stephen. (1965). Ivan Aksakov (18231886): A Study in Russian Thought and Politics. Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press.

Riasanovsky, Nicholas. (1952). Russia and the West in the Teaching of the Slavophiles: A Study of Romantic Ideology. Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press.

Walicki, Andrzej. (1975). The Slavophile Controversy: History of a Conservative Utopia in Nineteenth-Century Russian Thought. Oxford: Clarendon.

Abbott Gleason