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The concept “people” in the modern European political thought: Hobbes, Spinoza, Pufendorf

Abstract

The author considers the evolution of the concept “people” in the political philosophy of Thomas Hobbes, Samuel Pufendorf and Benedict Spinoza. The political thought of Europe in the 17th century demonstrates a conscious turn from the medieval scholastic tradition of thinking about people and power. Politics begins to be thought of as a complex of human ac­tions aimed at achieving certain human goals. This, in turn, leads to the rationalisation of politics and, as a consequence, to the rejection of one of the most powerful mystical and theo­logical abstractions of the late Middle Ages — the concept “people” as a kind of mystical body. Protestant science makes a clear choice in favour of interpreting the concept as an “arti­ficial person”. The author emphasizes that the introduction of the concept “natural state” led to changes in the ontological status of people in political theory. The concept “people” becomes “a flickering subject” that appears during the transition from a natural state to a civil one and disappears when the transition goes in the opposite direction. In a civil state, people become an active subject when they perform the function of the legislator. In other cases, people as a political subject transform into a certain multitude, consisting of separate individuals.

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The concept “people” in A. S. Shishkov’s manifestoes in the discourse of the Patriotic War of 1812

Abstract

The Patriotic War of 1812 is an event that influenced the formation of the Russian na­tional consciousness. At that time, imperial and class identities coexisted. With the de fac­to ban on discussing the idea of a civil nation, Russian intellectuals focused on the cultural and linguistic components of nationalism. The aim of this study was to identify the content of the concept of ‘people’ in the manifestoes by Shishkov. These texts expressed the official posi­tion of the supreme authority on national unity. The method of discourse analysis employed by the author, made it possible to place Shishkov’s texts in a broader historical context, trac­ing their origins in the discussions on the language of the beginning of the 19th century and determining their impact on the subsequent process of nation-building. Being a supporter of the creation of the Russian literary language on the basis of the folk and Church-Slavonic Russian, Shishkov embodied these views in the texts of manifestoes during the War of 1812. Although there is a certain contradiction between the ideas of class society and national unity, the style and images used made it possible for representatives of all classes to perceive the texts. Later on, “people” as a synonym of “nation” was widely used in the formation of the myth of war as a national affair, forming the foundation for the formation of the Russian na­tional consciousness.

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“The point of departure of peoples determines their fate”: Peter Chaadaev and Alexis de Tocqueville

Abstract

In 1836, Peter Chaadaev in his private letter to Alexander Turgenev mentioned that the French thinker Alexis de Tocqueville had stolen from him a “deep thought” that the point of departure of peoples determined their fate. Russian and foreign scholars interpreted these words differently, trying to assess the seriousness of Chaadaev’s reproach. The article explores the history of the expression ‘le point de départ’ and the use of it in the works by Tocqueville (“Democracy in America”) and Chaadaev (“Philosophical Letters”, “Apology of a Mad­man”). The author argues that the concept of the ‘point of departure’, which had special sig­nificance for Tocqueville, was also important for Chaadaev, who used this phrase in different contexts. Having compared Russian translations of the texts by Tocqueville and Chaadaev, the author concludes that although the translators used different strategies to convey the meaning of the phrase in Russian, in all cases, to a greater or lesser extent, there was a threat of violation of the intentions of both authors. Based on the analysis of the word usage in the texts of both thinkers, the author suggests a number of recommendations aimed to clarify the translations of Chaadaev and Tocqueville works into Russian. The article also notes possible sources of the image “the point of departure of peoples” in the text by Tocqueville (from François Guizot to American interlocutors).

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“Russian people” in the literature and documents of the 19th century: an experience of linguistic portraiture

Abstract

The article describes the ideologeme “Russian people” and its use in the texts of fiction and documentary literature of the 19th century. The authors explored both the socio-political concept “'Russian people” and its verbalization in Russian. The research material included examples from the Russian National Corpus, which were analysed using corpus, content-analytical and cognitive methods. This research aims to identify and to characterise the con­cept “Russian people”. The authors argue that it was in the 19th century that the concept “Russian people” evolved into a term and the image of Russian people was mythologized. The authors concluded that the concept “Russian people” is composed of two parts — ‘ordinary people’ and ‘society’. The latter behaves in a fatherly way, taking upon itself the mission of enlightenment of ordinary people and their liberation. In the semantic field “Russian people” there are numerous semantic components directly related to the concept analysed: faith, faith­fulness, patience, tolerance, understanding, receptivity, openness, simple-mindedness, juve­nility, etc. The authors consider the moral and intellectual qualities of Russian people, which are dialectical and ambivalent. The authors explore these characteristics of Russian people from the standpoint of the dichotomy own vs. alien. The analysis shows that after the abolition of serfdom in 1861, the image of Russian people undergoes significant changes under the in­fluence of social processes.

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Sootechestvenniki (compatriots) in the 19th century: semantic profile based on the data of the National Corpus of the Russian language

Abstract

The concept “sootechestvenniki” is one of the key tools for self-description of society; it is an instrument for drawing borderlines between “we” and “they”. The article describes the development of the meaning of this word since its coinage. The word appeared in the 18th cen­tury as a merger of the Old Slavic and Old Russian ‘otechestvo’ (fatherland, understood as one’s place of origin) and the French ‘compatriot’. This merger resulted in the formation of two new prototypical meanings: one is civic, collective and elevated, and the other gravitates to ethnicity since it is used to refer to Russians. With the strengthening of state institutions in Russia, the first meaning was bound to dominate and it did at the beginning of the 19th century. However, one should speak not about the synthesis, but rather about the discordance of the two meanings. In the 19th century, another meaning developed in the semantic struc­ture of the word: ethnic Russians living abroad. Gradually, the word acquired new evaluative meanings, while negative connotations still prevailed. The basic oppositions (we — they, here — there, ours — alien) interacted in an ambiguous way, substituting each other. A variety of hy­brid “compatriots” arose: we are there, they are here, etc. The heterogeneity of the seman­tics of the word reflects collisions within society, which faced a tragic internal split in the 20th century.

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The concept “people” in the Cadet Party rhetoric

Abstract

The article considers the interpretation of the concept “people” by the Constitutional Democratic Party supporters. This concept is of fundamental importance for the analysis of Cadet ideology. The concept “people” was of great political value for the Cadet party. The author correlates this concept with such notions relevant for the Party as society, nation, and nationality. The author examines the relations of “people” with the authorities, the state, the Cadet Party, the Parliament, and humanity. Special attention is paid to the evolution of ca­dets’ understanding of the concept “people” in connection with social processes, the develop­ment of the political crisis and revolutions of 1905—1907 and 1917. The author holds that already at the beginning of the revolutionary period, the Cadets substituted the triad “author­ity — society — people”, which was conservative in origin by the dichotomy “power — peo­ple”, which was democratic in nature. The “people” included the educated public and was opposed to the “authorities”. In its new meaning, “people” was seen as the “third class”, the future civil nation, called to construct a political system based on the idea of popular sover­eignty. In this sense, the Cadet ideology was revolutionary and implied a break from the An­cien régime. The “people” were not considered as some unique whole but rather as an integral part of humanity, developing together with it according to universal laws. The Cadet Party was considered by its supporters as a force representing the interests of the entire “people.” Cadet faction in the State Duma turned it into a popular representation. Although only the Constituent Assembly convened on the basis of universal suffrage can be considered to be a truly democratic representation. Broad democratization during the February Revolution cor­responded to the Cadet concept of people sovereignty. Moreover, the Cadets had no ideological grounds to oppose the further radicalization of the revolution.

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The journal “1812”and the 100th anniversary of the Patriotic War of 1812

Abstract

The author explores the perception of the characteristic traits of Russian people that was widespread among military intellectuals and their associates — publishers, authors and sub­scribers of the journal “1812” at the end of the 19th — the beginning of the 20th centuries. The same group of military historians, academics and popularizers initiated the foundation of the Museum of 1812 and the Borodino panorama, painted by F. A. Roubaud for the 100th anni­versary of the Patriotic War of 1812. On the one hand, publications in the journal reflected the prevailing worldview and the lexis used at that time. On the other hand, articles of the journal disseminated a set of values amongst the readership, having an equal or lower educa­tional, cultural and social status. The knowledge of the language of the journal and the speci­ficity of its semantics allows translating the meanings encoded in the articles and the Pano­rama into the language of the contemporary visitor. This article provides a textual analysis of twenty four issues of the journal. Comparative analysis of literary, popular science and in­formation texts and the biographies and activities of the authors, makes it possible to under­stand the intended meaning these “unobtrusive participants in discourse” ascribed to the words “character trait” or “character” of Russian people.

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The concepts of citizenship and estate in Russian history — conti­nuity and / or intermittence

Abstract

The author studied the development of the concept “people” in contemporary history tak­ing into account its possible interpretation as a bearer of sovereignty. This concept goes back to the time of early bourgeois revolutions. The author holds that there are certain parallels between the ideology of citizenship, the development of the concept “people / nation” and the interpretation of the concept “citizenship”. Contemporary theoretical debates about citizen­ship are fully applicable to the history of the interpretation of citizenship in Russia. The Unit­ed States or Great Britain have a century-long tradition of citizenship. Unlike them, Russia has gone through several stages of radical changes associated with deep political and social transformations, hence a variety of understanding of the concept analysed. A paradoxical interpretation of the concept "citizen" in Russia became evident in the 18th century. Then a citizen and a subject tended to be used either as synonyms or “citizens” were understood as a social group related to nobility. Thus, the concept analysed was used in a variety of meanings and contexts. The same duality in the interpretation of citizenship within the class society manifested itself on the eve of the 1917 Revolution. The class-based duality of citizenship was also noticeable during the Soviet period. After the radical break with the past proclaimed by the Bolsheviks, the old class stratification system had to be changed. In the first month after the Revolution, the Bolsheviks officially abolished estates, titles and ranks. Under the 1918 Constitution of the RSFSR, the concept “class” became a legal term in Soviet Russia. Only “workers” received political rights and thus full citizenship. The official civil status or citi­zenship was an integral part of the ideology of workers and “exploited” classes as opposed to “non-working, bourgeois elements”. The idea of citizenship ceased to depend on territory and nationality. As a result, a group of people was legally deprived of citizenship while perma­nently residing in the state. Paradoxically, in Soviet Russia citizenship was defined through its absence, through what it was not. The concepts of citizenship and classhood during the Imperial and So­viet periods often coexisted, complementing each other and forming a bizarre synthesis of traditional and modern approaches to the interpretation of the concept of citizen­ship.

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