Researchers commonly observe that Russian intellectuals in the nineteenth century were obsessed with the relation between Russia and the West. In the preface to his anthology Russian Intellectual History, for example, Mark Raeff writes: "the central preoccupations of the Russian intelligentsia" were "their self-image and Russia's cultural relationship to the Western world" (v). We will show that the concept of the West was in fact first produced out of these preoccupations; from them, the notion of a single, unifIed cultural entity called the West was first formulated.
The emergence of the West in Russia through theorizing and polemics, and as an object of contestation, demonstrates the West's nature as fundamentally a political rather than a geographical concept; it was never merely a descriptive tenn with stable content. Moreover, the range of claims now made about the West, both in "Western" and "non Western" discourses, received first articulation in Russian thought. That is, in sustained and complex debates over Westernization, Russian thinkers anticipated many twentiethcentury fonnulatlons. This suggests that debates over cultural identity follow a common pattern of possibilities, and respond to immediate political conditions. It is no accident that in Russia, as well, the intellectual first was defined as a type, and that a sustained debate among intellectuals about their social role in articulating national consciousness first occurred (Malia "Intelligentsia"). Just as the West as a concept was first produced within Russian discourse, so was the problem of the intellectual's ambiguous relation to the people for whom he or she claimed to speak.25
There may have been parallel inventions of the West, in which the similar situation of a group vis-a-vis European power, or the similar engagement of an educated class with European thought, led to similar fonnulations independently (as claimed by Alastair Bonnett). But the priority in time of Russian discourse, and its reach beyond Russian borders through radical thought and in literature, argue for its priority in influencing others. I here elaborate Christopher GoGwilt's argument, in his The Invention of the West: Joseph Conrad and the Double Mapping of Europe and Empire. GoGwilt thinks that the West's very conception of itself as Western is the result, in large part, of Russian discourse. The tenns of the Russian debate entered Europe as a "back fonnation": the Cold War division of East and West merely "consolidated a process whereby an evolving Russian debate about Europe helped redefine European culture and history" ("Invention" 227). Russian ideas about the West entered not only European countries, but also China, Japan, India and Turkey, through the dissemination of political writings by Russian socialists and anarchists, usually in exile, and through the growing popularity of the Russian novel by the end of the nineteenth century. I thus disagree with Gillespie's contention that "at its inception the idea of the West is thus not a conservative principle but a dynamic and revolutionary impulse for world conquest and world transformation" (9), because he assumes that the West originates within the West, and that this original idea was triumphalist.
At the same time, the self-identification of Europe as essentially western - in which the nations of eastern Europe are not included (although the boundary between western and eastern was ever shifting) - was encouraged by Russia's very success in turning itself into a European Great Power. As Russia came to participate in European politics through the Napoleonic Wars, it went to war against other European nations in the Crimea over the "Eastern question," and then competed with them in the "race for empire." In the latter part of the nineteenth century, by holding on to its autocratic style of government and remaining (to European eyes at least) impervious to modernization, the Russian Empire became a hated rival. Russians were aware, and often resentful, of the negative view many in Europe had of them. They were considered backwards and "Asiatic" barbarians ready to overrun European borders, despite the fact that Russia's had "saved" Europe from Napoleon. At the same time, these views were often promoted by Russians themselves who were exiled in Europe and working to topple the hated Russian regime.
In separate, although related, historical developments, then, both Russia and the West came to be defmed as each others' ideal-type Other. But it was the Russian conceptualization of the West that preceded and contributed to the European conceptualization.
If the Russians first debated about their nation's relation to European modernity by developing a"conception of the West, then the West is not a concept indigenous to the "West." But neither were the terms of the debates within Russia simply indigenous to it.
It is common to observe that the ideas which Russian nationalists, be they Slavophiles or Pan-Slavists, used to define their nation as essentially non-Western were themselves Western in origin. In his Russia Imagined, for example, Robert C. Williams writes that "paradoxically, Western thought provided the Russians with the intellectual categories of natipna1ism which enabled them to imagine themselves different from, hostile to, and superior over the West" (3). The first volume of Donald W. Treadgold's The West in Russia and China: Religious and Secular Thought in Modern Times details how Western ideas were taken up by Russians in their quest to defme a cultural identity of their own.
The West itself is often concluded to be the creator of anti-Western ideas since anti Western ideas derived from Western philosophy. Aileen Kelly, in her introduction to Isaiah Berlin's Russian Thinkers, complains that the Russian intelligentsia "are all too often treated by English and American historians with a mixture of condescension and moral revulsion; because the theories to which they were so passionately attached were not their own, but borrowed from the west and usually imperfectly understood" (xiii). To avoid this danger, Bonnett insists on the creativity and originality of non- Western representations of the West.
Yet, when we evaluate cultural development through terms such as originality and derivativeness, or when we understand culture to belong to a particular group - be it a nation, race, or ethnicity - and to be "borrowed" by others, we employ a conception of culture that assumes culture results from the intrinsic organic development of a particular entity. The accusation that Russian thought is derivative, and the defense that it is original, repeat the very conceptual framework through which Russian thinkers attempted to identify what was authentically Russian and what was particularly Western. The holistic conception of culture, as formulated especially in German Hellenism and Romanticism, is one that remains influential despite numerous critiques, because it remains part of the conceptual apparatus of modem thought. 26
The concept of the West or of Western civilization assumes this distinction, and thus it has been closely linked to questions of national identity. It has been concerned repeatedly with issues of cultural protection, be they the protection of authentic national traditions from Westernization or the protection of the Western tradition from its competitors and enemies. In the case of Russian discourse, commentators often describe the terms of Russian debates as "borrowed," as if they belonged to "the West," or "imported," as if they are objects that can arrive intact. But the characterization of philosophical positions as the unique expression of a particular civilization needs to be critiqued as inadequate for understanding the meaning of culture and the methods cultural transmission.
First of all, the assumption that there is an autonomous whole called Western thought,sharply distinct from others including the Russian, fails to account for the specificity of competing philosophies within "the West"; important differences become submerged within the claim of a common Western essence. For the Russian discourse that conceptualized the West did not draw upon "the Western tradition" in its entirety, but favored a few specific traditions, most notabiy the German critiques of the French Enlightenment. Secondly, the apparently "Western" Philosophy, that Russians had found so attractive at the beginning of the nineteenth century, often itself developed in relation to non-European thought. J. J. Clarke describes, in his 1997 Oriental Enlightenment: The Encounter Between Asian and Western Thought, the extent to which Enlightenment and Romantic Europeans were attracted to Chinese philosophy, Indian religions, Turkish government, Egyptian mythology, etc. Many of the philosophers taken up by the Russians had themselves incorporated aspects of "Eastern" thought into their own thought. For example, as Clarke writes, Herder was "attracted by the Indian ideas of pantheism and of the world soul" (62), and "what the Vedas demonstrated to Schelling was that the human race shared a primitive unity, and his effort in this regard must be counted as one of the great constructive attempts to see the universal spiritual history of mankind as a single whole" (64). As well, scholars have noted the remarkable influence on Russian thought of Freemasonry, which in part claimed to preserve the esoteric knowledge of the East. According to James H. Billington, in his 1966 The Icon and the Axe: An Interpretive History of Russian Culture, "the influence of higher order Masonry on the development of Russian intellectual life can hardly be exaggerated" (258). Occult Masonry, which held that "one must look to the ancient East for surviving reflections of the 'lost light of Adam,'" fed into a new emphasis on Russia's "Oriental heritage" as a defense against the spread of the destabilizing views of European Enlightenment (304-5).
Sergius Uvarov, an adherent, who was responsible for articulating the principles of Russian Official Nationality in the 1830s, was also instrumental in establishing the field of Oriental studies in Russia.
Thirdly, the assumption of cultural. holism cannot acknowledge how Russian thinkers gave European philosophic ideas novel forms of significance and emphasis not belonging to the original thought, a point made by both Treadgold and Billington. Non-Russian thought was translated, both linguistically and conceptually, so that it became Russian thought. Fourthly, this assumption ignores the effect of translation in the other direction.
A number of the European thinkers who were most influential in Russia were themselves most influenced by Russia. Examples include: Joseph de Maistre, who fled the French revolution to Moscow; Schelling, who kept up a correspondence with Russian enthusiasts; and Marx, who was repeatedly asked to revise his theories in light of Russian conditions. Finally, what we think of as modem or Western culture as a whole was shaped profoundly by Russian thinkers and artists, beginning especially at the turn of the twentieth century.
Steven Marks, in his 2003 How Russia Shaped the Modern World, describes in exhaustive detail the profound influence that Russians - nihilists, terrorists, anarchists, anti-Semites and communists, visual and performance artists, and novelists such Dostoyevsky and Tolstoy - had in the articulation of the "anti-Western, antimodem trends in recent history" (5). Marks's account shows how Russian critiques of the West inspired various forms of European self-critique, and how these were disseminated globally, fuelling anti-colonial ideologies. Marks's study implies that the influence of Russian thought caused critiques of modernity - including critiques of liberalism, capitalism, industrialism, and imperialism - to be cast as critiques of the West both within European thought and without.. That is, it caused the features of modernity to be ascribed to a specific culture or civilization rather than to the general structures of modernity per se. It is understandable that intellectuals, living in those parts of the world that experienced the advent of modernity as the effect of foreign domination, would identify modernization with Western culture. But without the intervention of Russian thought and art, which uniquely both belonged to but was alien from European culture, it would be difficult to explain why the internal culture critique of Western intellectuals took this form. That so many Westerners have been critical of Western culture for over a century, as if their own thought was somehow external to it, would seem contradictory if we were not so habituated to it.
Thus, what we call "Western" thought cannot be assumed be the product of a merely internal development, and it has not belonged to a singular cultural totality distinct from all others. But such assumptions underlie much of the contemporary content of the concept of the West. For negative Occidentalists, Western culture, as a whole, is geared towards domination, and Western ideas are a kind of contagion to other cultures, the carriers of a spiritual sickness. For positive Occidentalists, Western culture is geared towards the realization of freedom, justice, and reason, and Western ideas are a kind of promise, they are the unique bearers of universal human values to others. But the reality of intellectual life, at least in the last two centuries, is comprised of a global complexity of ideas in which certain philosophies produced within one c.ontext have been taken up and altered in another; they have been regenerated and returned.
Therefore, when Russian thinkers characterized the West as a civilization informed by entirely separate principles from that of Russian or Slavonic civilization, this claim should not be accepted uncritically. For one thing, it involved implicitly disavowing their continued adherence to a conceptual framework that owed much to the rejected West, given that, to make this claim, they employed such concepts belonging to European discourse as the nation, culture, civilization, and ethnicity. These themselves were historically conditioned, emerging out of certain trends in the late eighteenth century, through which cultural identity became an object of inquiry and debate, as something problematic or as something to be sought. As well, the Russian debates about national identity in relation to the West were intertwined with debates concerning the social role of the intellectual, who was caught between the critique of existing structures and the formation of a national people. Russian intellectuals came to pose fundamental questions about their own society by developing a counter-ideal that was newly called the West. Why did they not find "Europe" sufficient to describe the entity against which they could construct the true nature of Russia? The simple answer is that Europe did not express either a self-evident or clear-cut geographical or a cultural distinction from Russia. The West provided a solution to its ambiguity.
Russia was (and is) both outside and inside Europe. Geographically, it spans two continents, Europe and Asia, despite the fact that these belong to one Eurasian landmass. Although Russia was part of Christendom, it never seemed completely European to the Europeans, and although most of its territory was in Asia, it was never completely Asian to Asians.27 Although a Christian power, Russia contained a number of minorities belonging to different faiths, and as an Orthodox power, it considered the Roman Catholic Church schismatic. According to most nineteenth-century scholarship, the Russian language was Indo-European, and Russians were racially Aryan or white. Yet Russians were somehow not fully Aryan; on the racial scale, Slavs were lower than Germans. Culturally, Russia's educated elite were Europeanized, and French was the language of the nobility. Politically, it became a European power under the guidance of Peter the Great's successors, notably Catherine. Like later anti-colonial theorists, Russian nationalists believed that European culture was alien and imposed. Yet unlike them, they had to acknowledge that the source of this imposition was their own monarch rather than a foreign power. In the nineteenth century, Russia was becoming technologically and commercially modern, as was the rest of Europe. But it continued to be economically and politically backward, having a massive agrarian population which consisted of bonded labor until the 1860s.
Even if one accepts the imaginary geography of the Eurasian landmass which divides it into two continents, Russia was both European and not quite European. Given the constant disputes over the boundary between Europe and Asia, and that, wherever located, Russia belonged to them both, Europe was not a term that could merely exclude Russia, although it often was used as a distinguishing term nonetheless. The West, in contrast, proposes an essential difference in the western part of Europe, thereby making western Europe the real Europe, and Eastern Europe less real. According to Oskar Halecki, "those who call European civilization Western are inclined to decide in advance one of the most difficult and controversial questions in European history. They accept the idea of a fundamental dualism in Europe and consider only its western part really European" (11).
Yet Russian national identity could never rest in the simple dichotomies between the European West and itself as East. European Russophobes might well believe that Russia was, despite everything, Asiatic; they feared that Russia was a land of seething barbarian hordes ready to flow in from the steppes (Lewis 57-8). But Russians identified with Europe because European knowledge had allowed them finally to contain the "barbarians" still threatening Russia's borders (Riasanovsky "Asia" 6-8). Traditionally, Russians distinguished between themselves, the settled Slavs of the north, and the nomadic steppe peoples of the south. According to Nicholas V. Riasanovsky, the invasion of the Mongols was "the most traumatic historical experience of the Russian people" (5). Even after the end of Mongol rule, Russia had to defend itself against Tartar incursions until the eighteenth century. Russia felt secure enough to start expanding eastwards only after the implementing the westernizing reforms initiated by Peter. The older terror of peoples from the south and east was replaced the newly adopted European view of superiority over backward tribes (7). So, while Europeans might have thought of Russians as Asiatic hordes, Russian identity was first based on countering Asiatic hordes, and later, on dominating them, in the Russians' new role as good European imperialists and members of the white race. Manuel Sarkisyanz argues in his 1972 "Russian Conquest in Central Asia" that "it was Russia's claim to forming a part of Europe and to being Europe's shield against the onslaughts of Asia that constituted, in a manner of speaking, her credentials for admission into the Concert of European Powers" (248). From this point of view, Russia deeply identified with Europe.
This sense of commonality with civilized Europe to the west, and opposition to Asiatic barbarians to the east and south, was complicated by a number of countervailing tendencies: the Russian religious heritage in the Byzantine East rather than the Catholic West; the scholarly interest in Asia promoted by the Russian tsars in order to justify the expansion of their sphere of influence eastward and to foster a patriotism that would be resistant to European revolutionary tendencies; and the Romantic admiration expressed by certain educated Russians in the nineteenth century for the free life of the wild men of the Caucasus, which played a role, as Russia's frontier, analogous to America's West (Frye 44). Russia's imaginary geography on the EastlWest axis was thus quite complex.
Its relationship with Western Europe was one thing, and its relation with Poland and with other "Slavic" peoples another; its relation with the Asiatic Tartars within Russia was one thing, and its relation to Turkey, China and Japan something else again. In their Introduction to Russia's Orient, Daniel Brower and Edward Lazzerini write: "Acknowledgement of a border separating the Russian 'West' from its 'Orient' emerged repeatedly throughout the long period of Russian imperial rule, yet it fluctuated from place to place, and from one period to the next... [some Russians] even used oriental imagery to express their distaste for the political or cultural aspects of their own people and state, placed outside the civilized West" (xviii).
At the same time, Russia's relation to Europe in the eyes of Europeans was also complex. While Russia's self-distinction from Europe by inventing the West helped create a sense of Russian identity, Europe's self-distinction from Russia helped create a European identity. Europe came to define itself as a distinct civilization, with Russia as one of its "others." Russia was sometimes even an emblem of "Oriental despotism," against which Europe was essentially "Occidental." Scholars disagree about when Russia, and other nations in the eastern part of Europe, first came to play this role. For Larry Wolff, in his Inventing Eastern Europe: The Map of Civilization on the Mind of the Enlightenment, the East-West axis of Europe supplanted the older North-South division in the eighteenth century, encouraged by. emerging Hellenism and Orientalism. Eastern Europe was first constructed during the Enlightenment "as a paradox of simultaneous inclusion and exclusion, Europe but not Europe. Eastern Europe defined Western Europe by contrast, as the Orient defined the Occident, but was also made to mediate between Europe and the Orient" (7). Others emphasize the extent to which Russia had been incorporated into the European state system during the Enlightenment. According to Martin Malia, in his Russia Under Western Eyes, for example, by the mid-eighteenth century Russia had became an equal partner in the "European family of states" (23). Russia had made an "easy entry into Europe" because it was deemed to have attained "civilization" (27). This is confirmed by Gibbon, discussed previously, who thought that Russia had joined the "polished nations" and had suppressed its barbarians. So, because Russia was ruled from its European part, and because its ruler and ruling class had become European in education and manners, many thought that Russia was a European power. Russia confirmed this by playing an essential role in the war against Napoleon and in the settlement of Europe after his defeat, leading the reactionary Holy Alliance. In any case, as we have seen in the cases of Hegel and Nietzsche, the North/South division of Europe was important throughout the nineteenth century. It was not supplanted as thoroughly as Wolff claims.
Nevertheless, from the point of view of many Europeans, Russia was in Europe, but not of it. As mentioned above, the few times Nietzsche named the "West" were in order to distinguish between Europe and Russia. An even earlier reference to "western civilization" occurred in Louis de Juvigny's 1846 De l'Unite Europeene, where he argues that all the peoples of Europe are alike in their civilization: "But this resemblance stops at Russia; there is an abyss between Russian civilization and western civilization which rivers of blood would scarcely fill" (qtd. in Perkins 288). Europeans increasingly came to describe themselves as Western during the rapid modernization in nineteenth century due, in part, to their perception of essential differences between Western Europe and whatever was deemed Eastern, including the Russian Empire, the Balkans, and the Ottoman Empire generally, probably encouraged by labeling the conflicts in these regions "the Eastern Question" (perkins 287). In each case, images were constructed that were allied with the Orient, thought they may not have been identical to it. "Byzantinism" is the term Dimiter G. Angelov uses "to designate a representation of Byzantine civilization as an antipode and an imperfect reflection of Western historical experiences and values." "Balkanism" has a similar meaning, according to Maria Todorova's Imaging the Balkans. Russia, too, was similarly pictured, though it was seen also as a powerful rival, while the Balkans and Byzantium were typed as an exotic Orient or as an incomplete part of the Occident.
So-called Russophobia is evident already in Oliver Goldsmith, writing in 1762, who sees '''the Russian Empire as the natural enemy of the more western parts of Europe; as an enemy already possessed of great strength, and, from the nature of the government, every day threatening to become more powerful'" (qtd. in KohnMind 103). He goes on to say that Russia luckily had not yet succeeded in establishing any forts in "'some of the western parts of Europe,'" because "'a fort in the power of this people would be like the possession of a floodgate; and whenever ambition, interest, or necessity prompted, they might then be able to deluge the whole western world with barbarous inundations'" (qtd.104). Many after Goldsmith feared that beneath the European farrade of the Russian aristocracy's polished manners lay a horde of Asiatic barbarians only kept in check by the advanced nature of European society. Russia was essentially alien, massive, despotic, ruthless and passionate. "Scratch a Russian and find a Tartar" was a common saying, sometimes attributed to Napoleon. Russians deeply resented this attitude, holding that they had sacrificed themselves to liberate Europe from a tyrant.
Thus, the idea of Russia as Eastern contributed to the idea of Europe as Western. As we shall see, Spengler makes this explicit, arguing that Europe is a meaningless term because it brings together the West and a completely alien Russia. Later, German anti-Soviet rhetoric would type Russia and the Slavs as "Asiatic," thus implying that the rules of civilized warfare need not apply to them.
Russia Discovers Itself
The concept of the West emerged in Russia and was elaborated principally in Russian debates over national identity between intellectuals characterized as "Slavophiles" and the "Westernizers" beginning around the 1830s. As Andrzej Walicki observes in his 1975 Slavophile Controversy, the terms "Westernizer" (zapadnild) and "Slavophile" were originally coined as insults by their respective opponents (11-12). The Slavophiles call those who wanted Russia to learn from Europe "Westernizers" because they regarded the latter as Russians who had alienated themselves from their national roots by adopting foreign values. The Westernizers called those who wanted to recover the distinctive culture of ancient Russia "Slavophiles" because they regarded the latter as Russians who privileged ethnic roots over progress, sometimes accusing them of wanting to turn Russians into Asians. The Slavophile/Westernizer controversy of the mid-nineteenth century was the culmination of a longer debate which revolved around the reign of Peter the Great. Walicki argues that the background for the ideology or world-view of Slavophilism included -three dichotomies that eventually coalesced: between ancient and modem Russia, between Russia and Europe, and between traditional and modem Europe.
The dichotomy between ancient and modem Russia was in effect the contrast between Russia before Peter the Great, and Russia afterwards. To simplify, the Slavophiles believed that the essential Russia could be re-discovered through the recovery of Russian culture before Peter's reforms; the Westernizers believed that Russian's potential could only be realized because of them.
The Slavophile Ivan Vasil'evich Kireevski quotes the following speech, made in 1714 by Peter at the launch of a ship, to support his view that the emperor was the ultimate Westernizer because he believed that all culture came from Europe: Who would have thought, lads, who would have thought thirty years ago that you, Russians, would be building ships with me here in the Baltic Sea and feasting in German dress? . . . . Historians assume that Greece was the ancient seat of learning: from Greece learning passed to Italy and spread through all European lands. But the uncouthness of our forefathers stopped it from penetrating beyond Poland, although before that the Poles, and all other foreigners as well, had been plunged into the darkness in which we still live, and it was only owing to the unremitting efforts of their rulers that they were finally able to open their eyes and assimilate European knowledge, art, and style of life. I would liken this movement of learning upon the earth to the circulation of blood in the human body; and it seems to me that one day learning will leave its present seat in England, France, and Germany and pass to us for a few centuries, in order then to return to its birthplace, Greece. (qtd. in Kireevski 175)
This passage does not completely support Kireevski's characterization. Peter evidently regards civilization and knowledge as universal, rather than as distinct expressions of a separate cultural whole, such as European civilization. Instead of Hegel's picture of the movement of history westward, Peter's sense of historical motion is circular, beginning in, and then returning to, Greece through Russia (and with no mention of the Orient). But Peter truly has no interest in the "darkness" of tradition, be it Russian or any other, but only in Enlightenment, which he believes now resides in Europe and reaches only as far as Poland. Peter, in true Enlightenment fashion, sees a fundamental distinction between "uncouthness," on one side, and an advanced "style oflife," on the other. Finally, the agents of culture, by which he means essentially cultivation ("knowledge, art, and style of life,") are the "rulers," not the people.
The setting of this speech is significant. Peter built his new city of St. Petersburg on the Neva River which, flowing into the Baltic, was commonly said to open "a window to Europe." In his speech, he rejoices in the Russian acquisition of previously unknown technical expertise. The adoption of "German dress" was one of the ways in which he symbolized the break from Moscow and the xenophobic Russian past; another was requiring including men to cut off their beards. As Billington writes in The Icon and the Axe, "Peter sought not just to make use of Western personnel and ideas but to be made over by them. . . earlier [Russian] victories were won in the name of a religious civilization; Peter's victories were won in the name of a sovereign secular state" (183).28
Peter's project of turning Russia into a European power was not uncontested, but the grounds for complaint did not yet involve the later dichotomy between Russia and the West. Given the radical nature of Peter's reforms, it was not surprising that many defended the old ways. Mikhail M. Shcherbatov (1733-1790), for example, lamented the loss of the rights and role of the old Russian nobility, undermined by Peter's program of bureaucratic centralization and the transfer of capital from Moscow to St. Petersburg. Yet he came to admire Peter's accomplishments in advancing Russia's education, military strength, technology, and science after being assigned by Catherine to arrange the emperor's papers for publication. One of his most interesting comments, in his essay "Appropriate Evaluation of the Length of Time Russia Would Have Required, in the Most Favorable Circumstance, to Attain by Her Own Efforts, without the Autocratic Rule of Peter the Great, Her Present State of Enlightenment and Glory," is that it was one of Peter's great accomplishments to open Russian minds to new ideas, especially those of the aristocracy, through the experts he brought to Russia from Europe. Traditionally, Russians were hostile to all foreigners, even other Christians, treating them all as infidels.
Shcherbatov concludes that it would have taken at least one hundred years more for Russians to reach the same stage of advancement without Peter's intervention. And even Shcherbatov's complaints about the modernizing Russian state, contained in his Discourse on the Corruption of Morals, were indebted to Montesquieu's political theory, as Walicki observes in his Slavophile Controversy. Montesquieu had warned against the imposition of the changes in tradition from above, and against monarchy untempered by aristocracy, both of which led to a loss of civic virtue and personal morality (22-24).
Evident in Shcherbatov, then, is a conflict between his pride in Russian power and tradition and an intellectual framework which expresses this through the categories of a major European Enlightenment thinker. Not yet evident is a contrast between two distinct civilizations, nor concern that the culture of one is infecting the other. Civilization still has a universal meaning, even if Europeans can have more of it, and it does not refer to a distinct set of cultural values. In the end, Shcherbatov's complaint about Peter is really that his rule was not truly enlightened.
Nicolai Mikhailvich Karamzin's History of the Russian State, published from 1818 to 1826, played a key role in the shift from the Enlightenment universalism still evident in Shcherbatov to a new kind of patriotism, engendered especially by Russia's success in the Napoleonic Wars. Its publication fostered a new outlook: "For people brought up on the literature and history of West em Europe [The History] became a true school of national pride" (Walicki, Slavophile 42). The influence of Herder and the German historical school can be seen in Karamzin's discovery of a distinctively national history to admire, and his interest in the Russian common people. He is critical of Peter for undermining Russian customs, even if the good of the nation required European education as well. Under Peter, Russia lost the former sense of superiority which had strengthened its patriotism: '''We became citizens of the world, but ceased in certain respects to be citizens of Russia'" (qtd. in Walicki 37). In the foreword to his History, he writes: "Universal history with its great memories adds beauty to the world for the intellect, but Russian history adds beauty to the native land where we live and feel" (118). But Karamzin cannot yet be called a Slavophile - his work does not construct Europe as Russia's Other, but only intends to raise Russia's history to equal interest: "Making an exhaustive study of the materials on the remotest history of Russia, I wascheered by the thought that there is some inexplicable fascination for our imagination in a narrative about distant times - there are the sources ofpoetryt" (122). Unlike later thinkers, he does not idealize the peasants and the self-government of the mfr, the village community, as an alternative to European capitalism. That is, although he is critical of Peter as undermining a distinctively Russian tradition of rule, Karamzin does not demonstrate the later Slavophilic world-view which involves necessarily a critical stance towards the West. Yet there are seeds of this later outlook in some of his expressions of patriotism: One need not be a Russian, one need only be a thinking individual in order to read with interest tales from the history of a nation which by dint of its courage and fortitude won domination over one-ninth of the world, opened up countries till then unknown to anyone, brought them into the universal system of geography and history, and enlightened them in the Divine Faith, merely by setting them a better example, without recourse to the violence and villainy to which other devotees of Christianity resorted in Europe and in America. 29 (118)
While her rulers strove to establish Russia as one European nation among many, the Napoleonic wars promoted the increased national consciousness and patriotism that found expression in Karamzin's desire to learn about Russia's distinctive earlier glories in order to develop national pride. However, the very success of Russia's involvement in Europe would encourage not only an increase of Russian pride, but also the consciousness of a sharp distinction between Russia and Europe as a whole, whose opposed character would then be defined by calling it ''the West." Tsar Alexander's decisive role in defeating Napoleon made him the arbiter of post-Napoleonic Europe, and he persuaded Austria and Prussia to join Russia in a Holy Alliance, to defend the legitimate authorities of monarchy and church against revolution. For the Russian state, Europe after the French Revolution was associated with danger, and Russia could only protect itself by reinforcing its distinctive sources of order in what Official Nationality would identify as autocracy, nationality and religion. This orientation was immeasurably strengthened by Tsar Nicholas in response to the Decembrist uprising. The Decembrists, officer veterans of the Napoleonic wars, were suffused with republican ideology which informed their patriotism, and were appalled by Russia's regression since Alexander's initial triumphs (Billington). Their endeavor marked the end of an period in which Russia's intellectuals were aristocratic and had views, infonned by the Enlightenment, that were both universalist and patriotic. One result of the Decembrist failure was the emergence of radicals, such as Herzen and Belinsky, who would be called Westernizers.
The other was the emergence of the Slavophiles - conservative romantics who drew upon other strands of European thought. At the same time that the Decembrists were trying to reform the state, a different secret society, called the Lovers of Wisdom, took up German romanticism, especially that of Schelling, and its anti-Enlightenment values. The Lovers of Wisdom emphasized the organic unity of spirit and matter, subject and object, and saw nature as an evolving spiritual whole, with the artist as an inspired creator (Walicki, Billington). They privileged irrational elements over French rationalism, national authenticity over individualism, spontaneity over mechanism, development over revolution. At the same time, also following the German Romantics, all this existed in the context of universal history, the unfolding of the World Soul. While laying the groundwork for a Romantic nationalism, which saw each nation as a whole in which all parts were united, and which developed in time according to its own distinctive principles, their own interest was not primarily political but concerned national self-expression through the arts. If Russia had not yet produced authentic art out of spontaneous originality, they argued, it was because she had an artificial literature instead of one that had developed organically out of her own traditions. Russia must be isolated to discover her distinctive voice and destiny (Walicki, Slavophile 69). Prince V. Odoevsky, for example, under the influence of Schelling, founded a new journal to create '''a truly Russian poetry'" in.1824 (qtd. In Billington 330). Later, in his novel Russian Nights, written in the 1830s and published in 1844, he "was perhaps the first to develop the theme that Europe, like Faust, had sold its soul through the industrial revolution" (Williams 7). Odoevsky proclaimed that "'the West is perishing!'" (qtd. in Williams). The latter statement reflects an evolution from the Romanticism of the 1820s, to the form of Russian nationalism called Slavophilism in the 1840s, which made a distinction between the authentic Slavic character of Russia and imported and artificial Western forms. In retrospect, the Romantic critique of the Enlightenment's one-sidedness in favor of many-sided organic development was transferred evidently into the Slavophile critique of the one-sidedness of Europe in favor of organic Russian culture. While the distinction between Russia and Europe was not new, the delineation of the spirit of Russia through a contrast with the West turned the West into an object of conceptualization.
An article by Peter Chaadaev written in 1829 preceded even Russian Nights in treating Europe as the West, and acted as the spur for the emergence of Slavophilism, which would use the West as the opponent of Russia. This article, ostensibly a letter to an unnamed lady, was the first of a series on the philosophy of history but the only one published, although it had circulated widely by hand earlier. Published in 1836, when it was translated out of its original French into Russian, it is commonly referred to as the "First Philosophical Letter." The letter famously attacked Russian civilization for its deficiencies in comparison with the European civilization, which Chaadaev termed Western. According to Riasanovsky, the author "shocked his contemporaries" by asserting ''that Russia did not belong to Europe" (Asia 9). In the course of making his argument, Chaadaev employed what was possibly the earliest, and almost certainly the first most consequential, use of ' 'the West" to identify a distinct and whole culture unified in its historical development, and thus arguably instantiated the West as a concept of social and political thought.
Billington, like other commentators, observes that "Chaadaev's letter provoked a storm of controversy previously unparalleled in Russian history" (315) Alexander Herzen wrote in his autobiography that: "It was a challenge, a sign of wakening. It broke the ice which had covered everything after the fourteenth of December . Finally a man appeared who found terrible words with which to express all the bitterness accumulated during ten years in the heart of a civilized Russian" (161). The Tsar felt that Chaadaev's ideas were an insult, and had him declared insane and placed under house arrest. While confined, Peter Yakovlevich Chaadayev wrote the unapologetic "Apology of a Madman" (1837), which nevertheless showed some alteration of his original thesis. His treatment by the authorities made him something of a hero to other Russian intellectuals, yet none agreed with what he wrote (Treadgold I: 164-5). Through the extreme statement in his letter of pro-Occidentalism, Chaadayev would provoke the formulation of the Slavophiles' anti-Occidentalism.
According to Walicki's Slavophile Controversy, the letter was "catalyst in the crystallization of Slavophile ideology," for the Slavophile position came to be articulated in order to defend Russia against its charges (10). This letter is therefore commonly acknowledged to be the spark for the famous SlavophilelW esternizer debates of the 1840s. In these debates, the dichotomy between Russia and the West first became a central mode of analysis.
The topic of the "First Philosophical Letter" is precisely the difference between Western Europe and Russia. Chaadayev argues that only European history is universal in its spirit and significance. Originating in the Catholic Church, and developed through a series of struggles with other powers, European history as a whole aimed for the gradual realization of the truth of Christianity, which was the unity of all mankind. The movement of European history therefore always has been world-historical. Russian history, in contrast, had no significance for human progress. Originating in the particularist Byzantine Church, and punctuated by invasion and suppression, Russian history has produced no thought of its own to contribute to the sum of human accomplishment.
How and why does Chaadayev use the West? He first wrote his letter in French, and thus uses the term "the Occident." But when it was published, it was translated into Russian, and uses the Russian word for west, zapad So the West and the Occident are inter-changeable in Chaadaev's writing. In contrast, the West and Europe are doubles, but not complete synonyms. Chaadaev makes this explicit in a notorious passage from his "Apology": "Peter the Great found only a blank page when he came to power, and with a strong hand he wrote on it the words Europe and Occident: from that time on we were part of Europe and of the Occident" (53). He goes on to elaborate the significance of the distinction between East/Orient and West/Occident: "The world has always been divided into two parts, the Orient and the Occident. This is not merely a geographical division, it is another order of things derived from the very riature of the intelligent being – Orient and Occident are two principles which correspond to two dynamic forces of nature; they are two ideas which embrace the whole human organism" (54). The Orient came first, and spread the light of knowledge, and then the Occident followed and spread activity.
After fulfilling its role as origin, the Orient has become immobile, submissive, and passive; it is the Occident that is dynamic, always advancing, subjecting all to its universal reason (55).
Chaadayev uses the West, then, to indicate what Europe is as, variously, an "order of things," a "principle," a "force of nature," and an "idea." The West, in other words, is the spirit of Europe manifest in its history as an organic whole, and considered in relation to universal history, that is, to human destiny as such. While Chaadaev acknowledges that each European nation has its own traditions, all are bound together by common identity as "Christendom," and all have inherited ideas "of duty, justice, right, and order."
Chaadayev's idea of Europe as West emphasizes its essential unity, which knits together European peoples and European history: "This is the atmosphere of the West; it is more than history, more than psychology - is it the very physiology of European man" (165). In a letter of 1835 to A. I. Turgenev, the father of the novelist, Chaadayev writes: "Take any epoch you like in the history of the Occidental peoples. . . You will find that those nations have always lived an animated, intelligent, and fruitful life; that they were handed an idea at the very beginning, and that it is the pursuit of that idea and its development which make up their history; and finally that they have always created, invented, and discovered" (49). In the West, the spirit of Christianity has been working itself out so as to bring heaven to earth through the universal. With all its faults, Europe "contains the principles of continuous unlimited progress." Chaadayev uses the West as well as Europe, then, because he wants to indicate that Europe is informed by a single spirit which unites all its peoples and all its history - that is, he want to demonstrate its synchronic and diachronic unity. The West, which is Europe considered in its essence, is analyzed in order to understand the essential being of Russia in contrast. The West indicates what is Europe, to distinguish it from Russia, not spatially but spiritually.
Certain motivations for the turn to the terminology of the West are absent in Chaadayev's writings. Perhaps surprisingly, he does not describe Europe as the West out of a desire to encompass a cultural unity extending beyond the borders of the Old World to its former colonies in the New. The West does not include the United States, and Chaadaev in fact criticizes its civilization for its materialism and violence; he praises the Amerindians rather than the settlers from Europe: "Look at those peoples of North America whom the materialistic civilization of the United States is so busily destroying; there are men of admirable profundity among them" ("Letter" 166). (Russians in the nineteenth century tended to treat America as a new and therefore separate civilization. Religious thinkers criticized it for its crass pursuit of money and socialists praised it for its freedom and individualism.) Neither does Chaadaev use the West because he considers Russia to be the East. While the binary opposites of the West, the Occident, and Europe are usually the East, the Orient, and Asia, Chaadayev's Russia seems to belong to none of these. As he writes in the "Apology": "We are situated to the east of Europe; that is a positive fact, but it does not mean that we have ever been a part of the East The history of the Orient has nothing in common with the history of our cOuiltry" (56). But, as he complains in the letter, neither has Russia succeeded in mediating between East and West, even though, "placed between the two great divisions of the world, between the East and the West, resting one elbow on China and the other on Germany, we ought to combine in ourselves the two great principles of human intelligence, imagination and reason, and fuse in our civilization the history of all parts of the globe" (166). Russia's identity is one of lack: "We do not belong to any of the great families of the human race; we are neither of the West nor of the East, and we have not the traditions of either. Placed, as it were, outside of time, we have not been touched by the universal education of the human race" (162).
Chaadayev therefore calls Europe the West because its spiritual essence is derived from is origin in Western Christianity. Russia is distinguished sharply from the West because of its different origin and character. It thus comes to be distinguished sharply from Europe as well, even though from a geographical and historical point of view it is a European power. Not being Western, however, does not make Russia Eastern.
If the West is truly a political and social concept rather than merely a geographical designation, it functions as an explanation, as an answer to a political question. What is the question to which the West is an answer? The analysis of Russia presented in the letter answers the implied question: "Why are we in Russia stifled and miserable during an age of progress?" Or, perhaps more exactly, "why have Russians failed to free themselves from this condition?" Chaadayev positions himself as a thinker, one whose outlook and aspirations are universal but who is confined by the narrowness of actual existence in Russia. Moscow is "Necropolis" in which "qualms, anguish, almost remorse" are caused by the "ill effects of the air" that he and his addressee must breath in "our present lamentable state of affairs" (160). The context for his writing of the letter appears to be the recent failures of the reforming spirit to take hold in the early years of the reign of Alexander I and in the Decembrist Revolt: Another great prince, associating us with his glorious mission, led us victorious from one end of Europe to the other; returning home from that triumphant march across the most civilized countries of the world, we brought back only ideas and aspirations which resulted in an immense calamity, setting us back half a century.
There is something in our blood that resists all real progress. (167) As Herzen observes, Chaadayev expresses "all the bitterness accumulated during ten years in the heart of a civilized Russian." But because the letter was actually written in 1829 that is, seven years before it was published - one might more aptly describe it as expressing an immediate sense of disappointment. His answer to the question of why Russia had not fulfilled its earlier promise is a despairing one: "there is something in our blood." Russia has failed to progress, because in its essence is not like the West. The differences between the two can be explained through their histories.
By turning to history, Chaadayev does not mean to narrate a succession of events but rather to discern world-historical meaning. His sense of the world-historical seems Hegelian in provenance. Yet the content is not the same, for Catholicism rather than Protestantism best fulfills history's purpose, which is the achievement of unity and order rather than Hegelian freedom. The telos of history is ''the establishment of a perfect order upon earth" (168), where hearts and minds become one: "The true spirit of religion" is founded "on the supreme principle of unity," namely ''the idea of the fusion of all the moral forces in the world into a single thought, a single emotion, and in the progressive establishment of a social system, or Church, which is to make the truth reign among men" (161). While the development towards this goal takes place specifically in Europe, it takes place for everyone, because world-historical civilizations progress for the sake of all humanity. Eventually, all people will be unified and will participate in ''the same way of being." The West makes an unique contribution to the progress of universal history because of its origin in Roman Catholicism. This is the vehicle of true Christianity, expressing "the social concept of Christianity" which acts to bring heaven to earth. This goal is the motor of European history, ''that powerful need to evolve a universal idea which is the genius of modern times" (168). "Everything in Europe was achieved by
Christianity" (170), says Chaadayev, but he could add as well that "everything in Christianity is being achieved by Europe."
Treadgold observes that Chaadaev has a view "of the whole tradition of the West" (I:165), because of his emphasis on the importance of the Catholic foundation of Europe.This view was more comprehensive than that which developed out of Protestantism.
Here, Chaadayev can be distinguished from Hegel, whose division between the spirits of Protestantism and Catholicism prevented him from seeing Europe as a unified whole, as we argued before. If Chaadayev was indeed the first to articulate a concept of the West, then an important aspect of the possibility of that articulation was his Catholic viewpoint, which allowed for a vision of European history as a totality. By this, however, Chaadayev offended the progressive intellectuals, the liberals and socialists, who drew from various traditions, be they Gennan Protestantism or the French and Scottish Enlightenments, that thought of Roman Catholicism as the enemy of progress.
Chaadaev's adherence to Catholicism was not absolute, however, for he greatly admired the English ''whose institutions are the most representative of the modem spirit" ("Letter" 171). His valorization of the progressive development of living traditions and strong institutions - his Burkean respect for tradition rather than the revolutionary break with the past - perhaps explains his admiration for the Protestant English.
Chaadaev's positive Occidentalism aids his critique of his homeland. He describes Russia's civilization as one based on completely different principles that Europe's.
Rather than developing out of the universalizing Roman Church, Russia has been formed by Byzantium, and "what we received was an idea distorted by human passions" (167).
Thus "our peculiar civilization" has not participated in the historical unfolding of human ideas and human spirit through which truth is realized on earth (161). Russia has not been world-historical, because its past did not feature true historical activity. Unlike other peoples, Russians cannot look back on an earlier epoch of passionate, creative and vivid energy out of which their institutions and traditions were created. Rather, they went from an initial "brutal barbarism" to a period of "gross superstition" to "a ferocious and humiliating foreign domination" by the Tartars, whose character has informed the Russian state. Russians, as a result, have no "cherished memory" nor "venerable monuments." Their lack of history means that Russia as a nation lacks a definite character: "You would say we are all travelers on the move. No one has a fixed sphere of existence; there are no good habits, no rules that govern anything"; "we live in a narrow present, without a past as without a future, in the midst of a dead calm"; Russians are like "illegitimate children, without a heritage, without anything binding us to the men who came before us on this earth" (163). In Russia, all ideas are all imported, "ready-made" by others rather than generated through internal development because Russians do not possess logic and method. They lack ''the syllogism of the West," and so they cannot think coherently or theoretically: ideas "are sterile and congeal in our brains"; "we are scatterbrained" (165); "There are absolutely no general notions in our heads; everything is particular" (166). Russians seem "alone in the world" and have contributed nothing ''to the sum total of human ideas" or ''the progress of the human spirit" or "for the common benefit of all mankind": ''not one great truth has emerged from our midst." (167).
Russia's history has no universal significance: "If the barbarian hordes which turned the world topsy-turvy had not crossed the land we inhabit before invading the West, we would barely have furnished one chapter to world history" (167). Providence "seems to have given no thought to our destiny" (167).
Chaadayev does not name his opponents in the "Philosophical Letter," but his criticism that Russia lacks significant traditions amounts to a criticism of what Official Nationality in the early 1830s codified as Russia's highest principles: Orthodoxy, Autocracy and Nationality (Uvarov 90-91). Though his argument against the doctrines of the Russian state was indirect, it still provoked official reprisal. By the extremity of his despair about all things Russian, he also provoked the emergence of Russian nationalist intellectuals who were horrified at Chaadayev's scathing assessment of Russian culture, called. The Slavophiles. In answer to their critiques of his position, Chaadayev wrote his "Apology of a Madman," offering slightly different arguments than those he made before, for he now had acknowledged opponents. Nationalism in all its forms is his target, because he understands it to negate the universalizing movement of history towards the unification of humanity. On this basis, Chaadayev inaccurately represents nationalism as losing its hold in Europe. In Russia, however, it is gaining strength and threatening Russian progress.
This new nationalism turns away from the advances towards modernity and enlightenment instituted by Peter and seeks to discover cultural authenticity in the past. The turn of the Slavophiles towards the insignificant Russian past ana away from history is a mistake. In the European Middle Ages, all events were part of the working out of problems of universal significance, all were ''necessary'' because informed by an idea.
But Russian history, in the same period, was empty of thought and thus meaningless. The Slavophiles, in their attempts to redeem Russian history before the time of Peter the Great, will never discover in it any ideas "which can fill the void in our soul."
Because the Slavophiles hate Peter, Chaadayev explicitly affIrms him in his "Apology." He argues that Peter should not be blamed for noticing that Russia has no real history, no past consisting of "a series of connected ideas" (54), nor for introducing European thought as a response. If Peter had found strong traditions in Russia, he would not have jettisoned them for something foreign in order to build a strong state. But "Peter the Great found only a blank page when he came to power" (53). Peter "disavowed the old Russia in the face of the whole world"; "he dug an abyss between our past and our present, and into it he threw pell-mell all our traditions"; "he prostrated himself before the Occident, and he arose as our master and our ruler" (51): "And finally, we were happy to resemble the Occident, and proud when it consented to count us as one of its own" (50). It is only because of Peter, then, that Russia has participated in the European advance.
Now the problem is the rejection of Peter's work by the Slavophiles. The fervency of the critical response to his letter shows that there is "a real revolution" in "national thought" which "is a passionate reaction against the Enlightenment and the ideas of the Occident" (56). This new conservatism has not been taken up by the Russian noble elite, who still worship Peter, but rather by those who belong to "the country." It is the "first result of the emancipated reason of the nation," a betrayal of the very source of Russia's present glory and its own philosophic activity. Chaadayev here distinguishes the new intelligentsia which was emerging in Russia from the previous generations. Previous Russian thought had been almost exclusively the province of the gentry, and Chaadaev among them. After the defeat of the Decembrists, most of the nobility withdrew from public life and "new men" were encouraged by the state to take their place. Chaadayev believes that the Slavophiles are newly educated former peasants who, out of their hatred for the old order, intend to repudiate everything Peter accomplished, throw off European ways, and return to the soil.
He also believes the Slavophiles claim, out of their misguided patriotism, "that we are the cherished children of the Orient," and that since former Oriental powers are now weakened, Russia should recover "all these great and mysterious truths" from the East in order to rule over it (55). In this, Chaadayev misunderstands the Slavophiles. Those who believed that Russia should rule Asia thought that Russia had a civilizing mission or inherent talent for rule, not that Russians were themselves Asians. Regardless, for Chaadayev, any turn to the Orient as the front of wisdom would be a mistake, because the East could no longer produce anything new. Turning to the East would oppose the movement of world history. If Russia has a destiny, it will be found westwards, in Europe. In his letter to Turgenev, Chaadaev observes that there are always Europeans who want to tell Russians "that we are destined to civilize Asia" (50), but there is no evidence for such a destiny for Russia outside the conquest of remote Siberia. European motives are not to be trusted: "Some Europeans persist in handing us to the Orient"; "with the instinct of a kind of European nationalism they drive us back to the Orient so as not to meet us any longer in the Occident." Rather, it is the seafaring English who will master and civilize the East.
As Isaiah Berlin argues in Russian Thinkers, nineteenth-century Russians combined a passion for ideas with plans for their immediate application (126). The great question was "What is to be done?", the title of Chemyshevksy's famous novel and echoed in Lenin's even more famous political tract. What is Chaadaev's answer. to the question? In the letter, Chaadayev seems to despair of a better future in the short run. He writes that it is "absurd" to think that Russia simply can appropriate European knowledge, for its meaning depends upon a certain spirit aimed at realizing God's order on earth, and a certain attitude towards man. Since Peter had no effect during his few decades of rule, Russia will have to experience a whole course of human education to participate in the universalizing thought of Europe. This possibility is hedged with doubts. If Russia may have a positive role in world history, this role is mysterious: Russians do not seem to be "an integral part of the human race, but exist only in order to teach some great lesson to the world." Nevertheless, his Christian beliefs give him hope: "It is in the sweet belief in man's future happiness that I take refuge when, obsessed by the wretched reality that surrounds men, I feel the need of a breath of purer air, of a look at a more serene sky"(172).
But the "Apology" and the letter to Turgenev, both written in the 1830s, have a different emphasis. More strongly than in his first letter, Chaadaev comes in these texts to a positive view of Russia's unique role in world history, one that would justify her arrival to philosophy so late. Not implicated in any strong history or tradition, and by the very fact that it has been essentially a blank slate, Russia can see and judge what went before, and avoid others' errors and faults. If Russians are honest about what they lack, they can advance rapidly on European foundations, and eventually the student will teach the master. Rather than civilizing Asia, "On the contrary, it is Europe to whom we shall teach an infinity of things which she could not conceive without us" ("Turgenev"8o). Someday, Russia will take her place in the world of European thought and will dominate it.
The world's great social problems, the great questions of humanity, and the great problems of philosophy, will be Russia's to judge ("Apology" 57): "That is the logical result of our long solitude; great things have always come from the desert" (50). 30
In conclusion, Chaadayev conceived of the West as a distinct totality. It was characterized by specific origins in Roman Christianity, and it had a universally significant history because the principles of this kind of Christianity created a "powerful thrust of human nature toward possible perfection" (170). In the West, the purpose of history was worked out through the development of ideas, and in the struggles between the Church and the "Northern" or German tribes. These resulted in a dynamic modernity grounded in a heritage of traditions. Chaadaev's West, by which he means Europe informed by its relation to world history, is a particular civilization, but the agent of the progress of humanity as a whole. Russia, which has had an isolated and particular history, can be judged against this standard and found wanting. Chaadaev's interpretation of the West, with all its individual features, bears the hallmarks of a political and social concept. The modern West must be understood through its history, a history meaningful within the context of universal history, and moving towards a universal end. The West is a cultural totality with an origin that has informed all later developments, and it is informed by a principle of activity which connects all its aspects, a telos which gives unity to time and place. The concept of the West is formulated as the basis for his critique of Russian society from the inside. As a critical intellectual, Chaadaev's subject position is a double one, for he belongs to one civilization and adheres to the principles of another. While Chaadayev believes that Russia should belong to Europe, and that even leading Europe might well be Russia's destiny, her present situation makes the distinction between Russia and the West a meaningful one.
Chaadaev was what the Slavophiles called a "Westernizer," for he thought that Russia's good depended upon its inclusion in Europe, and that at least some aspects of what came to be called "Westernization" should be accepted. He both inspired, and then fought against, the nationalist valorization of Slavic Russia as '''a world apart,'" one that "'had a special mission of absorbing all the Slav peoples in her bosom, and bringing about the regeneration of mankind'" (qtd. in Kohn Mind 37). Near the end of his life, he wrote against the Crimean War, which Russian nationalists framed as a world-historical conflict between two world civilizations and "the beginning of the final victorious struggle between Russia and the Occident" (qtd. in Kohn 37-8). Chaadaev believed such a view to be completely delusional, based on utopian dreams stemming from a false "new ethics of the soil," and he advised Russia to seek peace. His analysis of the war turned out to be correct. The Russians were defeated, and took their defeat as a sign of the failure of their system and of the impossibility of following a path completely different from that of the West. Shortly after the end of the war, the serfs were freed and the Russian state embarked on a new period of openness to Western ideas and practices for the sake of economic and military, although not political, advance. Romantic Slavophilism gave way to Pan-Slavism, which promoted Russia's imperialist expansion and self-assertion as a European Great Power.