Nationalism in Tsarist Empire

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The Russian Empire penetrated Europe as Europe's age of nationalism began. The retreat of Napoleon Bonaparte after his failed invasion brought Russia into the heart of Europe. The Congress of Vienna (1815), which reestablished a European order after Napoleon's defeat, brought Russia's border's farther west than ever before. The ancient Polish capital, Warsaw, was added to the Polish lands taken by Russia in the partitions of the late eighteenth century. The diplomatic settlement established Russia as a great European power, if not as a great European nation. Although Tsar Alexander I was then something of a liberal autocrat, national legitimation would never have entered his mind. The modern idea of the nation as a people inhabiting a territory and deserving of a state ruling in their name was alien at the time, and would long remain so. Between 1815 and 1917, national ideas reached Russia from its western and southern frontiers, providing some with the hope of change, and others with a tool of reaction.

tentative constitutionalism, 18151830

Nationalism can be a method of rule by those who already hold power. Yet during the early nineteenth century, even the suggestion of popular sovereignty was inimical to the tsars' prerogative of absolute personal power. Any emphasis on the Russian peasantry as a political class would have challenged the right to rule of the Romanov dynasty, as well as the prerogatives of the largely foreign elite that administered the growing imperial state. In any event, as seen from St. Petersburg, nationalism was a force associated with revolution, a challenge to traditional rule rather than a way to bolster it. This was the lesson of the French Revolution and the Napoleonic wars.

As an ideology of change, nationalism was a challenge to the monarchies and empires of ancien régime Europe, yet it found few adherents in Russia during the first half of the nineteenth century. The uneducated peasantry was tied to the communal system of land ownership, an isolated world of limited horizons. Few were able to see the peasants as people, let alone as a political nation, before the emancipation decree of 1861. The church, an agent of national revival elsewhere in imperial Europe, was subordinate to the Russian state and aligned with the principles of dynastic and autocratic rule. The nobility, elsewhere in eastern Europe the bearer of historical national consciousness, was in Russia associated with the state, for the Russian state created by Peter I and Catherine I had transformed it into a new cosmopolitan service class.

After 1815, the Russian Empire held the absolute majority of the world's Poles, and about 10 percent of the Polish population was noble. Napoleon, exploiting Polish hopes for statehood, had established a duchy of Warsaw. This quasistate was revived and enlarged at the Congress of Vienna as the Kingdom of Poland. Although Poland's former eastern lands were absorbed by the Russian Empire, Polish nobles even there held social and economic power. Institutions of the old Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth, such as the university at Wilno, the Lithuanian Statutes, and the Uniate Church, functioned with little interruption. Alexander ruled these eastern lands as tsar, but the Kingdom of Poland as constitutional monarch.

The Polish gentry, the leading class in the departed PolishLithuanian Commonwealth, considered itself a historical nation. Before the commonwealth was dismembered by the partitions, much of the middle gentry had been resolutely conservative, perceiving central power as the greatest threat to their traditional rights. In Russia, the same inclination turned the middle gentry into radicals, attentive to the constitution as the source of the tsar's right to rule Poland as king. The 1830 uprising was premised on socialcontract thinking: Since the tsar (NicholasI) was not fulfilling his obligations as king of Poland, his subjects had the right and duty to rebel. The uprising was national in some sense, since the gentry saw itself as the nation; it was certainly democratic, in that the Polish Diet saw itself as representing a European republic struggling against despotism; but it was not modern nationalism, for its participants neither legitimated their claims on a popular basis nor aroused passions against an enemy nation.

romantic and official nations, 18311855

The defeat of the 1830 uprising created the conditions for a sophisticated discussion of the nation by Russian subjects. Poland's ten thousand political emigrés were highly literate, politically engaged, and determined to explain their military and political defeat. Many of the emigrés, and most of the leading figures, were of historical Lithuanian origin. Back in Russia, the 1830s and 1840s saw the end of traditional Lithuanian institutions, such as the university and the Statutes. The Uniate Church was merged with the Russian Orthodox Church in 1839. For the Polish emigration as a whole, the old commonwealth remained the touchstone of political thought. But in time a new generation arose that had no actual memory of the old order and reimagined it in ways that reflected various ideas of nationality.

The nationalist politics of Poles in the Parisian emigration can be divided into two main currents: republican and monarchist. Joachim Lelewel, once a professor at Wilno, propounded a democratic republicanism that drew its optimism from a belief in the pacifism of Slavic peoples. Unlike Russians with similar ideas, Lelewel believed that this pacifism could be destroyed by autocratic rule. The Polish Democratic Society, founded in 1832 on French models, soon fell under Lelewel's influence. The leader of the monarchists was Adam Czartoryski, a great Lithuanian magnate and onetime minister to Alexander I. Czartoryski was a liberal constitutionalist who advocated monarchy on pragmatic grounds. One of his disciples, Józef Bem, led the Hungarian insurrection in Transylvania in 1848. Other Poles justified monarchy in terms of national development. Karel Hoffman argued that a monarch was needed to create cities and middle classes. Janusz Woronicz theorized that a true monarchy mediated between a selfaware nation and the exercise of power. In his view, the partitioning powers were not true monarchies, because they did not represent nations. By the end of the 1830s, the monarchical Party of May 3 had fifteen-hundred members.

The 1830s and 1840s also witnessed intense philosophical discussion of the nation by Russian subjects. The Polish nationalist philosophers of the day generally came from the Polish Kingdom and wrote dissertations at German universities. German philosophy was fashionable in Russia, but the Poles actually completed philosophy doctorates in Germany. Their work was more systematic than that of their Russian contemporaries, and influenced philosophical discussion (especially within Left Hegelianism) rather than simply refracting it through local conditions. Polish philosophy was more open to French ideas than German philosophy, and more open to German ideas than French philosophy. Polish philosophers tended to replace the state with the nation in Hegelian dialectic and supported philosophies in which action was constitutive of the nation. Most of them combined academic philosophy with practical work. The best-known were August Cieszkowski and Karol Libelt.

Polish Romantic poets of the epoch were also concerned with the nation. It should be stressed, however, that many of their preoccupations were unintelligible to later generations of modern nationalists. Adam Mickiewicz's interest in mysticism or Juliusz Sl-owacki's fascination with spirit are difficult to reconcile with secular ideologies of any kind, even if a simplified form of Mickiewicz's messianism did become a common trope. Pan Tadeusz, the most beautiful and most prosaic of Mickiewicz's major works, became a national poem two generations or so after its completion in 1834. Mickiewicz and Sl-owacki were regarded as national figures of the first rank during their lives, but their career as national bards was mainly posthumous. As nationalism came to be associated with the language of the folk, poetry came to matter less for its content than for its form. At the time, the poets (like the philosophers and the politicians) saw the national mission as part of a European or universal regeneration. Polish emigrés were the only group in Europe to remember the Russian Decembrists and recall the predicament of other peoples under imperial rule.

The Decembrists, of course, had opposed the ascendance of Nicholas I in 1825. Nicholas was a man of imposing prejudices against Poles and Jews, and was capable of great hatred against whole nations from time to time, but he was no modern nationalist. His reign (18251855) is generally seen in the early twenty-first century as reactionary, as it was by Polish rebels in 1830. Insofar as there was a philosophy of rule during Nicholas's reign, it might be sought in the Official Nationality of his education minister, Sergei Uvarov. Nationality was the third term in Uvarov's famous trio: Autocracy, Orthodoxy, Nationality. Uvarov meant nationality to be subordinate to the first two principles of rule. The Russian nation was the group meant to submit to the tsar according to the teachings of the church. Uvarov's educational program was thus a kind of reverse Enlightenment. Education was not meant to create individuals capable of independent judgment, but rather a collective understanding that the ruled are to be judged by the ruler.

The printing press allowed an emerging group of literate Russians to interpret national ideas according to their own lights. The generation of the 1830s and 1840s, like those that followed, read Nikolai Karamzin's History of the Russian State (published 18161826). Two renegade Poles led the way in these years in spreading simple national ideas through the press: Faddei Bulgarin, editor of the Northern Bee, and Osip Senkovsky, editor of the Reader's Library. The mere existence of such periodicals guaranteed that discussions of the nation, even if not at all revolutionary, were unacceptable in Uvarov's limited vision. The press mediated between the dynastic interpretation of official nationality prevalent in St. Petersburg and the rival Romantic conceptions emerging around Moscow University. Slavophiles interpreted Uvarov's trio in their own way: Autocracy left room for the autonomous commune, Orthodoxy was a shield against Catholicism and Protestantism, and Nationality mandated attention to the peasant. This Romantic patriotism, although not meant to undermine Official Nationality, differed on one essential point. Whereas Official Nationality gave priority to the state and sought to consolidate Peter's achievement, the Slavophiles began to emphasize the people and to critique Peter's cosmopolitan project. Nonetheless, they had little in common with the Polish Romantics of the same generation. Both made reference to the past in the hope of overcoming a crisis of the present. But where the Slavophiles spoke of the unspoiled commune, the Poles imagined a restored commonwealth. The Polish dilemma was statelessness; the Russian dilemma was backwardness.

state and nation, 18551881

This fact was brought home by the humiliation of the Crimean War. The new tsar, Alexander II, accepted that military defeat justified state reform, and that state reform required the emancipation of the serfs. The twenty years after the emancipation proclamation of 1861 saw the emergence of a new group of prosperous peasants in many parts of the empire, and this group recast the national question, especially on the borderlands. Yet the immediate reaction to reform was rebellion. Reforms initiated in Warsaw led to a revolution of rising expectations, the failure of which accelerated the development of modern ideas of nationality in Poland, Russia, and the lands between. Although there were a few lonely exceptions, such as Alexander Herzen and Mikhail Bakunin, literate Russian society as a whole reacted to the Polish Uprising of 1863 with disgust and antipathy. In this atmosphere, Mikhail Katkov became quite influential. His new journal, Moscow News, publicized the idea that the rebellion was a war of nations and compromise would be deadly for Russia. Katkov endorsed the policies of Mikhail N. Muraviev in Lithuania, because Muraviev also cast the struggle in nationalist terms: Russians against Poles and their Jewish allies. Katkov's exposition of the 1863 uprising marked a transition from the Romanticism of his youth to the pessimism of his later years. His writings expressed to his twelve thousand readers the painful disappointment of the Slavophile on learning that others might reject Russia, and the emerging conviction that state power might yet put matters right.

Similar views found a scholarly articulation in the pan-Slavism of Nikolai Danilevsky. He resolved certain apparent tensions in the earlier Slavophile scheme by arguing that the state embodied the ideals of Christianity and the peasant tradition, and peace-loving Slavs needed to use force to unite them. A new civilization founded on these principles would emerge, Danilevsky contended in Russia and Europe (1869), when Constantinople fell to Russia. Danilevsky also applied his argument about force to the problem of Slavs who rejected Russian rule. Poland, which he compared to a hideous tarantula, could perhaps be coerced into seeing reason. Pan-Slavism was put to the test by international politics during the second half of the 1870s, when Russia made war against the Ottoman Empire in the name of the Serbs and Bulgarians. The disappointing terms of the Treaty of Berlin brought home the objective limits of Pan-Slavism as an international mission.

Populism was another initiative that failed to pass the test of political reality. Fired by a faith in the essential goodness of the peasant, the narodniki went "to the people" in the early 1870s. Had their message been heeded, Russian populism might have followed the path of similar movements toward the ethnic nationalism that many enlighteners embraced farther west. In the event, most of the young people who remained in politics after this failure moved to the hard left, imagining (as in Vera Zasulich's famous correspondence with Karl Marx) that the peasant commune was itself protocommunist. Populist ideas took a different turn where the commune was less established, as in Ukraine, for example. Ukraine had played a crucial role in Russian national history, providing Muscovy's ideologues in the seventeenth century and many of its civil servants in the eighteenth. As Karamzin initiated the new trend toward a Moscow-centric history of the empire during the 1810s and the 1820s, as Romantic ideas reached St. Petersburg during the 1830s and the 1840s, and as the Crimean War brought a sharper Russian nationalism during the 1850s, Ukrainian intellectuals in Kharkiv and Kyiv began to see the Ukrainians and the Russians as separate peoples. The poetry of Taras Shevchenko confirmed not only the distinctive Ukrainian language but the definable place of Ukraine between Russia and Poland. The partitions of Poland had brought right-bank Ukraine into the Russian Empire, and during the 1860s and the 1870s not a few members of the Polish gentry (e.g., the historian Volodymyr Antonovych) chose Ukrainian populism and indeed Ukrainian identity. This Polish influence was cited in the Valuev Decree of 1863, which restricted the use of the Ukrainian language. The 1876 Ems Decree, which prohibited the publication of Ukrainian books, induced many Ukrainian intellectuals to emigrate to Austrian Galicia. The most important example was perhaps Mykhailo Hrushevs'kyi, Antonovych's student, and the greatest historian of Ukraine. Politicized Ukrainians in Kyiv generally stayed on the left, and anticipated that national questions would be resolved within a reformed Russian state.

Similar patterns soon emerged in other Christian national revivals, such as the Georgian and the Armenian. Georgia boasted an ancient civilization, a solid state tradition, and a mature national literature. Its position as a weak Christian country in the Caucasus had moved its nobles to accept Russian overlordship in 1783. Although some of them had conspired against Russia in 1832, a generation later the Georgian nobility was a model service class. Its traditional position was eroding because there were now many wealthy peasant farmers, Armenian merchants were extending their hold on the better districts of cities, and Russian bureaucrats were arriving in large numbers. A new Georgian intelligentsia, educated in St. Petersburg, tried to protect the endangered Georgian language during the 1870s. Insofar as this tendency was political, it involved no more than vaguely socialist leanings mixed with the hope for national autonomy in the empire. The Armenians were also Christian but had their own church; they too had a historically prominent class, but it was the merchants; and they were even more dispersed among Muslims than the Georgians. The Armenians had good reasons for being loyal to the empire, because they stood to lose much in any conflict with the Georgians or the Muslims. For the Armenians, as for many other established national groups in the borderlands, the use of national questions by the center after 1881 was an unwelcome sign of future trouble.

national optimism and pessimism, 18811905

Alexander III, who ascended to the throne after his father's assassination in 1881, was more amenable to Russian nationalist ideas than his predecessors. During his reign, national ideas were no longer associated with revolution (as during the early nineteenth century) or with reform (as during the middle of the nineteenth century), but rather with reaction. The 1878 trial of Vera Zasulich for attempting to kill the police chief of St. Petersburg had discredited reform even before another socialist murdered the tsar three years later. During the 1880s, Russian nationalism was an updated and secularized version of the old claim that the Russian nation existed by virtue of its Orthodoxy and its submission to the tsar. Under Alexander III and his successor, Nicholas II, a secular conception of the superiority of the Russians supplemented the traditional divine right to rule. Rule was by now an end in itself, since both external crusades and internal reforms were no longer seriously considered. Cultural Russification was advanced as policy on the grounds that Russians would be better subjects than others, but the tsars ruled in the meantime by turning one group against another. There was a shadow of liberalism here, because the beneficiaries were often peasant nations oppressed for centuries by a traditional gentry elite. In this situation, the peasant nations had, at least for a time, some grounds for optimism: the non-Russian gentry and the Russians themselves had very little.

The most important exponent of this improvisational pessimism was Konstantin Pobedonostsev. As over-procurator of the Holy Synod from 1880 to 1905, Pobedonostsev discriminated against Old Believers, religious minorities, and Jews. He was most influential, however, as tutor to the last two tsars, Alexander III and Nicholas II. He came closest to direct power in the aftermath of Alexander II's assassination, when he drafted the manifesto that delayed reform in the name of the people. For Pobedonostsev, this was no contradiction, since absolutism was Russian and therefore represented the Russian people. Pobedonostsev claimed that Russia was the greatest of nations, and the others were the froth of foreign intrigues. In practice, however, he knew that non-Russians did not share this view and would not wish to become Russian. His policies were grounded in historical temporizing, in the hope that suppressing rival nations now would allow a Russian victory later. Pessimism of this kind was common by the 1880s. One could still find exceptional figures, such as Fyodor Dostoyevsky, who still believed in universal missions. Yet officers and bureaucrats were steeped in a nationalism more like Pobedonostsev's, facing as they did in practice the problems he perceived from on high. Especially in the borderlands, Russian officials had to reconcile their positive view of Russian culture with the essentially negative task of Russification.

At the periphery, Russification involved a triangle consisting of Russia, the traditional local power, and a rising peasant nation. In one pattern, visible in the Baltic region, Russia supported (to a very limited extent) the peasants against the gentry. In Finland, for example, the local hegemony of Swedes was challenged by the introduction of Finnish schools in 1873 and the equal status granted to the Finnish language in 1886. Within a generation, however, the Finnish movement had oriented itself against the Russian state, Finns proving to be as zealous as Swedes in resisting the full incorporation of their kingdom into the Russian Empire. In the lands now known as Estonia and Latvia, Baltic Germans lost much of their traditional authority, some of it to new national movements. During the 1870s, the 1880s, and the 1890s, Estonian and Latvian patriots tended to expect Russian support against local Germans. In both cases, the quick emergence of a propertied farmer class and the rapid creation of a cultural canon signified a new historical self-consciousness. An Estonian daily newspaper began publishing in 1891, and a Latvian in 1877. In Lithuania the gentry had been Polish, and the Lithuanian movement emerged after the defeat of the 1863 uprising. Lithuanians were seen as a passive and loyal element, but some of the children of prosperous peasants (and some Polish nobles) took Russification and university education in St. Petersburg as a prompting to return to the Lithuanian folk. The first modern Lithuanian periodical appeared in 1883.

The failure of the 1863 uprising in Poland inclined many patriots to reject traditional paths such as emigration, speculative philosophy, and Romantic poetry in favor of a sober appreciation of the national predicament. The hope for rescue from abroad, touchingly portrayed by the novelist Boleslaw Prus in The Doll (18871889), had now faded as well. In the former Kingdom of Poland, now officially the Vistula Land and nothing more, positivists such as Prus and Alexander S´wieČtochowski urged greater attention to the physical sciences, economics, and pedagogy. They wrote of the possibility of social renewal (a code, under censorship, for national rebirth) through work at society's foundations. Theirs was a national idea designed to create a national society in the absence of a state. Both its limitations in practice and its emphasis on science made it an effective springboard to the Marxism of the next generation. Some of these Marxists, such as Kazimierz Kelles-Krauz, joined the Polish Socialist Party of Józef Pilsudski, founded in 1892. This party treated national independence as a prerequisite of social revolution, and Kelles-Krauz supported its program with the first serious sociological study of nationalism. The positivists' attention to the non-gentry classes of society was a model for the National Democrats, whose movement (founded in 1893) added conspiracy and explicit national content to the earlier program of informal mass education. By 1899 the National Democrats had organized some three thousand educational circles. In 1903 their leader, Roman Dmowski, published a polemical tract entitled Thoughts of a Modern Pole, which criticized the traditional leaders of Polish society, the gentry and the post-gentry intelligentsia, and proclaimed a fierce competition between ethnic nations as the wave of the future. Dmowski excluded Jews from the future national community; with time (and later electoral disappointments) anti-Semitism became a central message of National Democracy. Dmowski said little about independence, since he thought the Russian Empire a useful shelter from the powerful German culture; despite this tack he must be considered one of the early modern nationalists of the Russian Empire. Like all Polish activists, Dmowski had to account for the division of Poland lands and people among the three partitioning powers, Germany and Austria as well as Russia.

The problem of division was far deeper in the case of other groups, such as Muslims. There were probably more Muslims in the Russian Empire than in the Ottoman, but the latter was a more logical starting point for any national politics. Beginning in the early 1880s, Muslims in Russia had to respond to the more active program of cultural Russification. An interesting reaction was that of Ismail Bey Gaspirali, who believed that Muslims had to learn Russian to resist Russification and secure their proper place in the empire. In his 1881 work, Muslims of Russia, he promoted a national press and a national intelligentsia. Like his Georgian and Armenian contemporaries, Gaspirali was a cosmopolitan who concluded from travel and education that merely cultures were endangered. Himself a Crimean Tatar, he wished to reach Muslims throughout the empire, and his books and newspapers were indeed widely read in Baku and Kazan. The Volga Tatars began a movement of religious and social reform with some limited national content. Shihabeddin Merjani wrote the first history in the Volga Tatar dialect, and, in fact, was the first to call the Muslims of the region Tatars. Like the Muslims, the Armenians found themselves on both sides of the Russian-Ottoman border. Armenian national politics in Russia were initially directed to support for Armenians repressed on the Ottoman side. Penetration by Armenian revolutionaries served as a pretext for massacres of Armenians in the Ottoman Empire in 18941896. All of this left Armenians loyal to St. Petersburg. Their immediate Caucasian neighbors, the Georgians, faced internal challenges, and responded with nationally aware socialism.

The Jews were so dispersed that any sort of territorial politics seemed utopian. Since the Congress of Vienna, about half of the world's Jews had been Russian subjects. During the 1880s, at a time when Russian nationalism still left considerable room for certain groups to hope for reform, Jews were immediately touched by its pessimism. Earlier discussions among journalists and liberals about equal status for Jews and Russians were halted by the 1863 uprising, in which Jews were seen (by Ivan Aksakov, for example) as allies of the Poles. The pogroms that followed Alexander II's assassination in 1881 (in Yelizavetgrad, Kiev, Odessa, Warsaw, and elsewhere) convinced many Jews that emigration from Russia was their best hope. The official association of Jews with revolution (by Pobedonostsev, for example) and the expulsion of Jews from Kiev (1886) and Moscow (1891) convinced others. The leaders of the emigrationist movement organized themselves at Katowice in 1884. Yet flight to Palestine was initially an apolitical aspiration, since the emphasis was placed on the practical task of leaving Russia. The emergence of Theodor Herzl's brand of Zionism transformed the personal and the practical into the idealistic and the political, and is usually marked as the beginning of modern Jewish nationalism. Its First Basel Congress (August 1897) called for "a home for the Jewish people in Palestine," a Jewish state. This ideal was influential, but was an imperfect fit with the immediate needs of the world's largest Jewish community. The failure of Herzl's high diplomacy, and then his death in 1904, left room for alternative Zionist ideas: socialist Zionism (Ber Borochov and Po'alei Zion), the revival of Hebrew in Russia (associated with Ahad Ha-'Am), and Zionism aware of neighboring national revivals (exemplified by Yitzhak Gruenbaum and Vladimir Jabotinsky, among many others). That said, the internationalist socialism of the Bund (founded in 1897) was far more attractive to young Jews with Haskalah, or secular, education, and played a more important role in Russian politics. From 1901 the Bund advocated national cultural autonomy within a postrevolutionary Russian state. During the Revolution of 1905, it was one of several socialist and leftist parties working in this direction.

mass movements and russian retrenchment, 19051917

The Revolution of 1905 was the baptism of a new Russian nationalism, not entirely dependent upon the state, and modern enough to pay attention to the Russian people. Before 1905 there was nothing like a Russian national movement, and the people were excluded from political discussions on the right. The revolution prompted monarchists to appeal to the people to support the tsar, and modern nationalists who spoke of a "Russia for the Russians," to cite Alexei Kuropatkin's pamphlet about tasks for the Russian army. Russian liberals believed that reform would create a nation that would strengthen the state within its present borders; national liberals such as Peter Struve spoke of a Russian nation in the making. As a social force Russian nationalism was most important in the west, especially in Ukraine, where Jews, Poles, and Ukrainians were blamed for the instability. Polish socialists did indeed work with the Bund to exploit the revolution: but it had begun, awkwardly, in St. Petersburg, as a result of the war against Japan. Non-socialist Polish parties appealed for the Polonization of schools and for a national assembly. A few Ukrainian parties also requested an assembly, and the Ukrainian Bohdan Kistiakovs'kyi was an interesting proponent of federalism.

National autonomy within existing borders was the typical national demand of minorities in 1905. Lithuanians, Latvians, and Estonians all held national congresses and pressed for reform on these lines. Muslims petitioned for legal nondiscrimination at a congress of 1905. Many Turkish nationalists, such as Yusuf Akchura, soon emigrated to the Ottoman Empire to support the Young Turks project in Istanbul. Muslims in Russia sought a reconciliation of the religious and the secular, but did not yet see the secular as necessarily national. Education in the Arab world or in St. Petersburg still appeared to be a complementary and necessary part of this project. Musa Jarulla Bigi, who was secretary of the Muslim congresses between 1905 and 1917, studied in both places. Armenians had seen their church's lands confiscated by the state in 1903, but internecine violence with Azerbaijani Turks in 1905 left most of them loyal subjects of Russia. The Dashnak movement, founded to support the Armenians in the Ottoman Empire, won temporary popularity in Russia by defending the Armenians in Baku and elsewhere in 1905. Georgian socialists initiated some strike actions in 1905 and mediated between the Armenians and the Azerbaijani Turks, but nothing like a Georgian separatist nationalism emerged at this time. Armenian and Georgian socialists alike generally supported some form of cultural autonomy.

The new parliament (or State Duma), established by Nicholas II in 1905, was the only institution that might have channeled these various national sentiments into a reform of the state. Polish nationalists led by Roman Dmowski made the most concerted effort to profit from this institution; the Polish Circle they organized was national in composition and goals. Yet their only legislative victory was the return of the Polish language to Polish schools, and this was quickly reversed. Only the First and Second Dumas were vaguely representative; from 1907 the goal of the electoral laws was to ensure the election of a Duma "Russian in spirit." Prime Minister Peter Stolypin embodied the great irony of Russian nationalism: on the one hand, he changed the electoral law because he believed that Poles would win wherever they ran; on the other, he claimed that Russian nationality was itself a powerful attractive force. Stolypin famously urged Dmowski to admit that being a Russian subject was the greatest of blessings. The only nationalism represented in the Third and Fourth Dumas was Russian. In 1912 the Duma created a new Chelm district, intending to encourage Uniate converts to Roman Catholicism in the region to convert to Orthodoxy. Here was the use of autocracy to identify nationality with Orthodoxy, or at least the deployment of state power to remove attractive national alternatives. Dmitry Sipiagin had earlier considered Polish-Russian population exchanges as a possible solution to the Chelm problem. Forced population movements became policy during World War I, as Russia removed Germans and Jews from its western territories.

Even in 1914, one would have been hard pressed to find much organized national opposition to the Russian Empire. Opposition to the war was not usually articulated in national terms. Nation-states were created in the aftermath of the Bolshevik Revolution, once imperial power had been discredited and broken. Russian nationalism was the ideology of Anton Denikin and other White officers, but they were defeated by the Bolsheviks. Living in Cracow (in Austria) in 1912, Vladimir Lenin had come to appreciate European national movements and contemplated their exploitation by a socialist revolution. In 1913 he defined "selfdetermination" to mean either national independence or nothing at all, forcing a choice on nationally aware socialists while making a show of flexibility. Once in power, Lenin collapsed the two alternatives, promoting Soviet republics with national names. In 1913, Lenin had asked Josef Stalin to critique the proposed nationality policy of the Austrian socialists. Stalin's response was important in political if not intellectual terms: He defined nations as stable communities and spoke of national psychologies. These views seemed to gain importance in his mind as he gained personal power, and can be linked to his national policy during the 1930s. Lenin and Stalin were unusual Russian subjects, but their assimilation of nationalism was determinative of the fate of many of the peoples of the former Russian Empire.

See also: armenia and armenians; georgia and georgians; jews; karamzen, nikolai mikhailovich; language laws; nationalities policy, tsarist; nation and nationality; official nationality; panslavism; poles; populism; russification; slavophiles; ukraine and the ukrainians


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Timothy Snyder

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Nationalism in Tsarist Empire

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Nationalism in Tsarist Empire