Slavophiles and Westernizers

Slavophiles and Westernizers,

designation for two groups of intellectuals in mid-19th-century Russia that represented opposing schools of thought concerning the nature of Russian civilization. The differences between them, however, were not always clear cut. The Slavophiles held that Russian civilization was unique and superior to Western culture because it was based on such institutions as the Orthodox Eastern Church, the village community, or mirmir
, former Russian peasant community. The mir, which antedated serfdom (16th cent.) in Russia, persisted in its primitive form until after the Russian Revolution of 1917.
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, and the ancient popular assembly, the zemsky sobor. The Slavophiles supported autocracy and opposed political participation; however, they also favored emancipation of serfs and freedom of speech and press. The Slavophiles became increasingly nationalistic; many ardently supported Pan-SlavismPan-Slavism,
theory and movement intended to promote the political or cultural unity of all Slavs. Advocated by various individuals from the 17th cent., it developed as an intellectual and cultural movement in the 19th cent.
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 after Russia's defeat in the Crimean War (1854–56). Prominent among them were Ivan Kireyevsky, Aleksey Khomiakov, and Konstantin and Ivan Aksakov. The Westernizers believed that Russia's development depended on the adoption of Western technology and liberal government. In their approach they were rationalistic and often agnostic rather than emotional and mystical. Some remained moderate liberals, while others became socialists and political radicals. The leading Westernizers included Piotr Y. ChaadayevChaadayev, Piotr Yakovlevich
, 1794–1856, Russian philosopher. An aristocrat by birth, he was converted to Roman Catholicism. In 1836 the first of his Philosophical Letters appeared in a Moscow journal.
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, Aleksandr I. HerzenHerzen, Aleksandr Ivanovich
, 1812–70, Russian revolutionary leader and writer. A member of the aristocracy, he was appalled at the brutality of his class, the lack of freedom at all levels of Russian society, and the terrible poverty of the serfs.
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, and Vissarion G. BelinskyBelinsky, Vissarion Grigoryevich
, 1811–48, Russian writer and critic. He was prominent in the group that believed Russia's hope to lie in following European patterns.
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See A. Walicki, The Slavophile Controversy (1975).

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References in periodicals archive ?
The intelligentsia's division into Slavophiles and Westernizers had broad repercussions for self-understanding and identity building.
In his major work, The Yawning Heights, he attacked both Slavophiles and Westernizers; and he mocked their plans with sarcastic vigor in truly Rabelaisian style, where obscenities were widely used.
Intellectual and writer whose ideas precipitated the controversy between Slavophiles and Westernizers.