Russian geopolitical utopias in comparative perspective, 1880-1914
Title: Russian geopolitical utopias in comparative perspective, 1880-1914
Author: SUSLOV, Mikhail
Citation: Florence, European University Institute, 2009
Series/Number: EUI PhD theses; Department of History and Civilization
The subject of the thesis is Russian geopolitical utopias in a comparative perspective. Geopolitical utopias are understood as utopias, representing comprehensive projects of the improvement of a country’s geopolitical position by means of war, colonialism, annexationist policy, concluding military blocs, spreading spheres of interest, establishing military bases, and so forth. The chronological framework of this research embraces roughly the three last decades before the Great War. For Russia the most relevant chronological frame is from 1881 to 1914, that is, from the assassination of Alexander II and the beginning of Counter-Reform period, marked with political conservatism and policy of geopolitical imperialism in the Far East, Middle Asia and in Eastern Europe. The goals of the study include the following: 1) To discuss the phenomenon and characteristics of imperialist utopianism, its interrelationships with international and domestic ideologies such as nationalism, pan-nationalism, traditionalism, conservatism, religious fundamentalism and so forth; 2) To examine the historical and ideological context for geopolitical (imperialist) utopias and to prove its relevance for interpreting utopias; 3) To investigate national traditions of geopolitical thinking as the reference point for interpreting utopias with the particular focus on Russian pan- Slavism and its variations, German pan-Germanism, American Messianism of the ‘Manifest Destiny’ stamp, French revanchism, and Italian irredentism, and to test the so called ‘democratic peace theory’ by the example of geopolitical utopias and to infer whether aggressiveness of the utopian fantasy correlates with anti-democratic character of the political regime; 4) To describe and interpret differences in national traditions of geopolitical utopianism with the focus on the Russian case; 5) To analyze Russian imperialist utopias as a case in point, filling thus a gap in Western historiography of Russian intellectual history; to put Russian imperialist utopias into their proper intellectual context and to investigate the ideological sources of Russian imperialist utopianism; this requires analysis of Panslavism, proto-Eurasianism and other relevant imperialist ideologies; 6) To deliberate in more details on the most graphic example of imperialist utopianism, that is utopias of Sergei Sharapov, whose ideas are largely unknown to students of Russian history both in Russia and abroad; 7) To study the ‘therapeutic’ effect of utopianism in a sense of addressing the most pressing needs of modernity: the making of industrial and civil society and a responsible rational individual.
LC Subject Heading: Russia -- History -- 1801-1917; Russia -- Politics and government -- 1881-1894; Russia -- Politics and government -- 1894-1917
Defense Date: 25/11/2009; Examining Board: Prof. Edward Arfon Rees (EUI / University of Birmingham) - supervisor Prof. Steve Smith (EUI) - liaison supervisor Prof. Mark D. Steinberg (University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign) Prof. Uwe Backes (Hannah-Arendt-Institut für Totalitarismusforschung at Technische Universität Dresden)
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