The concept “people” in the Cadet Party rhetoric
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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