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Public Opinion on the 1863 Polish Uprising in Russia
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Permanent Link: http://ufdc.ufl.edu/UF00091523/00635
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Title: Public Opinion on the 1863 Polish Uprising in Russia
Series Title: Journal of Undergraduate Research
Physical Description: Serial
Language: English
Creator: Sautin, Yevgen
Publisher: University of Florida
Place of Publication: Gainesville, Fla.
Publication Date: Fall 2012
Subjects / Keywords: Mikhail Katkov
Ivan Aksakov
polish uprising of 1863
Alexander II
Genre: serial   ( sobekcm )
Abstract: Ivan Aksakov and Mikhail Katkov, used their newspapers and journals to advance a highly nationalistic reading of the events that influenced the opinions of not only the Russian populace but also the Tsarist officials. Their polemics show the broader trend of public opinion playing an increasingly important role in European external political affairs in the latter half of the 19th century.
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Source Institution: University of Florida
Holding Location: University of Florida
Rights Management: All rights reserved by the source institution and holding location.
Resource Identifier: sobekcm - UF00091523_00602
System ID: UF00091523:00643


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University of Florida | Journal of Undergraduate Research | Volume 14, Issue 1 | Fall 2012 1 Public Opinion on the 1863 Polish Uprising in Russia Yevgen Sautin College of Liberal Arts and Sciences University of Florida The Polish Uprising of 1863 took many in Russia by surprise, sharply dividing the literate public. Two prominent nationalist writers, Ivan Aksakov and Mikhail Katkov, used their newspapers and journals to advance a highly nationalistic reading of the event s that influenced the opinions of not only the Russian populace but also the Tsarist officials. Their polemics show the broader trend of public opinion playing an increasing ly important role in European external political affairs in the lat ter half of the 19 th century. The rise of nationalism in 19 th century Europe transformed the international political arena; for the first time in history, mass participation in foreign policy issues became a reality. Hitherto, diplomacy was practiced solely by the rulers and the elites of the European states. From the mid 19 th century onwards, the rise of print journalism and literacy enabled the citizens or subjects of their respective states to have a suddenly relevant voice on foreign affa irs. This article examines how two prominent Russian publicists, Ivan Aksakov and Mikhail Katkov, portrayed the Polish uprising of 1863 in their publications and influenced the rise of Pan Slavist ideology among their readers. The rise of Polish nationalism writ large and the January uprising of 1863 writ small were the main catalysts for the evolution of early Slavophilism with its rather ambivalent Pan Slavism. This tren d is evident in the transformations of uprising. 1 Before the revolt, the younger Aksakov saw Pan Slavism as an un realistic project due to religious differences between the Catholic Poland and Bohemia, and the remaining Orthodox Slavs. Going beyond religious schisms Aksakov doubted whether the Slavic peoples living under Austro Hungarian rule were capable of or even desired self determination. 2 Regarding his views on Poland, Aksakov showed signs of earl y sympathy for the protestors and was even initially supportive of Alexander Bell which had come out staunchly in favor of granting Poland greater autonomy. All of this changed over the span of the sixteen month revolt. Aksakov and other leading conservative nationalists began formed an unholy alliance with Russian revolutionary nihilists and foreign powers to weaken and cripple Russia 3 The Russian revolutionaries di d indeed overwhelmingly support the Polish uprising, which furthered the wedge between the Pan Slavists and their Westernizer counterparts. In the previous decades, the Slavophiles had maintained close and often friendly relationships with the more numerou s liberal intelligentsia; their championing for a communal obschina endeared them to considerable praise from Alexander Herzen and Nikolay Chernyshevsky. 4 Once the Polish revolt broke out, the newspaper editor Mikhail Katkov and others came to believe that the Poles were using the nihilists and socialist radicals for their separatist goals. 5 In the case of Katkov and Aksakov, it Bell due to 6 The links between the nihilists a nd the Poles would become a point of obsession for Katkov, who was convinced that the Russian revolutionary movement was noth ing more than a clever Jesuit r use to weaken Russia sufficiently for Poland to be able to secede. 7 The involvement of Polish revolu tionaries in only reinforced these views. Without a shred of physical evidence, Katkov believed that the bomb used in 1881 to kill Tsar Alexander II was designed by a Pole; the fact that one of the assassins, Ignacy Hryniewiecki was Polish was enough for Katkov 8 It is outside the scope of this work to cover in detail the contributions of Nikolai Danilevsky and his opus, Russia and Europe to the broader Russian nationalist thinking. Regarding the Polish question Danilevksy was adama nt: Poland is a tarantula that is attempting to devour its Eastern neighbor all the while it is being eaten by its Western neighbors. 9 While Danilevsky was one of the chief architects of the philosophical shift in Russian nationalism from the largely benev olent Slavophile discourse to Pan Slavist apologetics for territorial aggrandizement, 10 it should be noted that his theories surrounding historical cultural types were not initially popular. First published in 1869 in the journal Zarya Russia and Europe failed to sell copies and would not become widely known until a posthumous reissue of the work. 11 Mikhail Katkov regarding Poland underwent an evolution that mirrored the transformation of Ivan cle on took up a defensive tone. He chastised the Poles for of enlightenment is generally higher among the Poles than the Ru 12 Katkov was furious that the Poles were so ungrateful to the people that shielded them (and Europe) from the Mongol yoke and


YEVGEN SAUTIN University of Florida | Journal of Undergraduate Research | Volume 14 Issue 1 | Fall 2012 2 the wrath of Tamerlane. 13 Historical slights aside, Katkov believed that the key to ending the rebellion quickly was to rally the Polish peasants to the Russian cause. The plan was not wholly without merit, since pitched tensions did exis t among the rebels betw Poli sh gentry militant populists who supported land redistribution. In reality, Polish people of all classes had come to resent the heavy handed policies of the Russian government, and animosity towards Russia served a s one of the few points of agreement among the insurrectionists. The Pan Slavists took great pains to compare the situation in Poland in 1863 64 to that of Ireland, India, and Algeria within the British and French empires respectively. 14 In doing so, they wished to dissuade foreign interference on the behalf of the Poles, but by their actions they trampled on sacrosanct Slavophile principals. The analogy to Western colonial powers openly implied that Russia was keeping Poland within its borders by force. Th is contravened the entire premise of brotherly ties between Slavic peoples and a commitment to non violence on internal affairs. As the revolt intensified, Mikhail Katkov appears to have realized that his earlier belief that the Polish peasantry was a nat ural ally for Russia in its fight against the rebellious Polish aristocracy amounted to little more than W e to do About 15 No longer spending time deplori ng the loss of life in an internecine conflict and drawing distinctions between the Polish peasants and the ungrateful and perfidious szlachta, Katkov dismisses the idea of universal suffrage as a Napoleonic concept and stresses that an independent Poland is diplomatically impossible and purposes of this work, Katkov appeals to the Russian romantic sense of volksgeist, but stresses in the same vein that the narod and the Russian state are indistinguishabl e The Russian state would be crippled if Poland broke away, and he ends the article by declaring between Russia and Poland is a state question: whether or not one between two tribes for their language, customs, and faith; the struggle has its own subject the very existence of 16 This was a significant departure from early Slavophile beliefs; the Slavophiles were never comfortable with the pervasive nature of the Russian state and firmly believed that the Russian volksgeist stemmed from the obschina and from the Orthodox faith, not from the governmental edifice that was prone to abuse. 17 According to Katkov and the Pan Slavists on the other hand, true nationalism meant defending the interests of the state; borrowing from Slavophile terminology, there was an organic union between state and society. 18 Over the course of the Polish uprising the original utopian idea promulgated by the Slavophiles, that the obschin a and the narod formed an organic bond that was the bedrock of the Russian way of life was coopted into a Pan Slav rallying cry that was used to brutally crush the Polish rebellion. Not all Pan Slavists and neo Slavophiles perceived 19 of the Slavic people. Alexander Kireev prevaricated on the matter; he supported the notion of Pol ish self determination independent of Russia as long as it 20 and yet in the very same paragraph he assails Poland for her alleged unyielding desire to rule over non P oles. Kireev compares in other countries such as the Protestant French and the Catholic Germans, and implores them to have a to the motherland. 21 Perplexingly, while Kireev blames foreigners for creating a row between brotherly peoples, he also accuses the West of trying to encircle Russia with a 22 llated on the issue and that, while confident that Poland would inevitably be an independent member of a Slavic federation, he was unsure whether suppression or liberation was the best course of action in the short term. The Polish revolt involved another Slavic nationality whose intellectuals split on the merits of Pan Slavism, the Ukrainians. The Ukrainophile movement was in its infancy during the 1863 revolt, and it would not be until the Ems Ukaz (1876) that resentment at Russian rule would register in any significant numbers. 23 Nevertheless, Katkov was greatly suspicious of the Ukrainophile mov ement and Polish against Russian autocracy. 24 The Polish uprising ultimately failed to temper the rhetoric or the enthusiasm among the Pan Slavs for the need of Slavic unity under Russian guidance. The support given to the Russian troops late in the insurrection by Ukrainian and Belorussian peasants due to their fears of the Polish pans comforted many Pan Slavs by reinforcing their now deeply held prejudice that the tergiversations of Poland were an accident of history or the work of Germany and was n Their views of minority subjects had c hanged irrevocably: a deeply held suspicion of plots and conspiracies would now define Pan Slav perceptions of non Russians living within the Empire. For a group that espoused unit y of all of the Slavs in a single state the Pan Slavs emerged from the Poli sh Uprising with a startling degree of xenophobia


PUBLIC OPINION ON TH E 1863 POLISH UPRISING IN A RUSSIA University of Florida | Journal of Undergraduate Research | Volume 14 Issue 1 | Fall 2012 3 BIBLIOGRAPHY Moskva: T vo Tipo lit. I.M. Mashistova, 1910. [microform]. Aksakov, S. T. Moskva: Izd. A.A. Kartseva, 1859. of the Century Slavophile and the Russian Orthodox Church, 1890 Cahiers Du Monde Russe Et Sovitique 32, no.3 (1991): 337 47. Frankfurt a.M.: Posev, 1967. Berlin, Isaiah. Russian Thought and the Slavophile Controversy (Review). The Slavnoic and East European Review, 59, 1981. Chernukha, V. G., and I. A. Murav eva. dnevniki, pis ma Sankt Danilevsky, Nikolay. Rossiya i Evropa St. Peterburg: 1889. Duncan, Peter J. S. Russian M essianism: T hird Rome, H oly R evolution, C ommunism and A fter London: Routledge, 2000. Engelstein, Laura. Slavophile E mpire: Imperial Russia's I lliberal P ath Ithaca: Cornell University Press, 2009. Katz, Martin. Mikhail N. Katkov: A P olitical B iography, 1818 1887 The Hague: Mouton, 1966. Russkiy Vestnik no.1, 1863. Katkov Russkiy Vestnik no.3, 1863. The American Historical Review, 89, 1980. Kennan, George F. The D ecline of Bismarck's European order: Franco Russian R elations, 1875 1890 Princeton: Princeton University Press, 1979. Kireev, Aleksandr Alekseevich. nofil S. Peterburg : Izd. tip. A.A. Porokhovshchikova, 1896. Lamansky, Vladimir. Geopolitika Panslavisma Moskva: Institut Russkoi Tsevilizatsii, 2010. Slavism and European P Political Science Quarterly 29, 4 (1914): 664 686. A. Lugovogo S. Peterburg: Izd A.F. Marksa, 1900. The Journal of Modern History 36, no. 3 (1964): 279 297. Mikhailova, Yuliia Leonidovna. (40 60 Otechestvennaia Istoriia 5 (2007): 49 61. Neumann, Iver B. Russia and the I dea of Europe: A S tudy in I dentity and I nternational R elations London: Routledge, 1995. Rabow Edling, Susanna. The I ntellectuals and the I dea of the N ation in Slavophile T hought Doctoral Thesis, Stockholm University, Dept. of Political Science, 2001. Polish E ncounters, Russian I dentity Bloomington: Indiana University Press, 2005. Riasanovsky, Nicholas V. Russia and the West in the T eaching of the Slavophiles; A S tudy of R omantic I deology Cambridge: Harvard University Press, 1952. Rollins, Patrick Russian Review 27, no.4 (1968): 432 451. Suslov, Mikhail. "'Slavophilism is True Liberalism: The Political Utopia of S. F. Sharapov (1855 1911)." Russian History 38, no. 2 (April 2011): 281 314. tchev, F. I., Valery Yakovlevich Bryusov, and P. V. Bykov. S. Peterburg: Izd. T va A.F. Marks, 1913. V. A., and B.S. Itenberg. Moskva: Nauka, 1978. Walicki, Andrzej. The Slavophile C ontroversy: H istory of a C onservative U topia in N ineteenth C entury Russian T hought Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1975. Lukashevich, Stephen. Ivan Aksakov, 1823 1886; A S tudy in Russian T hought and P olitics Cambridge: Harvard University Press, 1965. ENDNOTES 1 Walicki, Slavophile Controversy : H istory of a C onservative U topia in N ineteenth Century Russian T hought (Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1975), 495. 2 Ibid., 500. 3 Ibid 4 Even Plekhanov offered some guarded praise to the Panslavs for their overriding faith in the obschina. 5 Martin Katz, Mikhail N. Katkov: A Political Biography, 1818 1887 (The Hague: Mouton, 1966), 122. 6 Katz, Katkov: A Political Biography, 118. 7 Ibid., 119. 8 Ibid., 119. 9 Nikolay Danilevsky, Rossiya i Evropa ( St. Petersburg: 1889), 31 33. 10 Danilevsky was an ardent supporter of Russian territorial expansionism. 11 Ibid, vii. 12 Russkiy Vestnik no.1 (1863): 26. 13 Katz, Katkov: A Political Biography 120. 14 Ibid., 121. 15 Chto Nam Delat s P Russkiy Vestnik no. 3 (1863): 469. 16 Ibid., 471 76. 17 The S lavophile writers unequivocally condemned Biron and Arakcheev. 18 Katz, Katkov: A Political Biography 123. 19 A famous remark by the Russian poet Feodor Tiutchev. 20 Kireev, Kratkoe izlozhenie S nofil skago U 76. 21 Ibid.,78 79. 22 Ibid., 72. 23 The Ems Ukaz banned the publication of any new manuscript in the Ukrainian language. 24 Katz, Katkov: A Political Biography 119.