Change and continuity essay russia

As further example, conquest of Amur in confirmed the hopes of greatness among the Russian society Bassin, , but these were to be questioned in the aftermath of the Soviet Union. And indeed, current Russian borders are pre-imperial, similar to the boundaries of the tsardom of Muscovy around , just before the conquest of Ukraine and the Baltic region.

Additionally, Vasily Kliuchevsky considers colonisation as the basic fact of Russian history. Through colonisation, society had the opportunity to solve its problems by migration, periodically changing where it lived in a historically developed way of life that linked together with a mobile form of agriculture b: The colonization of and migration to Siberia went ahead in a severe, wild country that was almost desert.


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Siberia was mainly infertile, with rare and poorly populated settlements imposing a new burden on the country and evidencing that colonization was not based on economic foundations. The migrants were not the poorest peasants, or short of land, so poverty and the shortage of land could not explain this process Akhiezer, In the early middle ages, the population density of Russia was around 25 percent of that in the West.

In the sixteenth century, population density in European Russia was one tenth that of Germany, and one twentieth that of France Treivish, 9. In that context, colonization cannot be explained solely by land shortage, adverse conditions for agriculture and the enormous amounts of territory unsuited to agriculture; we must also pay attention to a social pattern of resolving all problems by extensive decisions Akhiezer, In the opinion of the main character of the novel, once the Bolshevik Revolution has been accomplished, Russia cannot be in Asia.

Space is generally considered to be a major Russian asset, but isn't it also a major pain in the neck? But it is the same space that has prevented Russia from developing civil institutions, civic society and the rule of law Rechtsstaat — in fact from developing the entire concept of civility, from civitas as a specific Western way of development by urbanization. In Russia, there has been little need to settle down and work on a plot of land Medvedev, Russian singularity seemed to be instantaneously legitimised by looking at a map and by the representation of the space that was both mystical and messianic.

Indeed, the posterior regional growth of the Russian lands generated dynastic problems and the emergence of competing principates. Beginning with the European-inspired reforms of the Petrine period, this situation changed dramatically and the Russian ruling establishment acquired a spatial view of government that was rational and modern. Moreover, they developed a diverse range of tools and practices that allowed the rulers to deepen their conceptual and physical grip on the territory of the state. Hence, the historian Vasily Tatishchev intended to construct a new geographical image of the Russian state.

However, the posterior reclamation of the Russian place within Asian geography was in sharp contrast to the geopolitical vision of Peter I. In effect, eighteenth-century philosophers dissolved the nation into the empire and the empire into the nation. Panegyrics to the tsars also started to mention the vastness of the Russian land as the country's most distinctive feature — always in comparison with the West. In addition, Russia has been dependent on natural resources throughout its history, and its geography has always been closely connected to the economic state policy.

All of these factors have helped the Russians to widen the area of their settlement but at the same time have prevented them from mastering it. In fact, this is the basic dilemma faced by any expanding civilization: the more you expand, the less you control. A heterogeneous, diversified space has been, and remains, a major challenge for the authorities. It is not just centre against periphery; it is order against anarchy, cosmos against chaos, liberty against control, structure against entropy… Medvedev, We can observe through Russian history an urge to symbolically subdue land, an identification of modernity with horizontality and domination of the space.

These are visible from the establishment of communal housing to the spatial programme undertaken by the Soviet state to conquer Outer Space. It is not a coincidence that the Soviets invested such vast resources into the exploration of the Cosmos, as well as serving up Yuri Gagarin and the other cosmonauts as the ultimate symbols of the superiority of the communist system, inspiring admiration and unity from the soviet population. Moscow is the planet that has taken off and left Russia behind.


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  • Moscow has entered the 21st century, while beyond it, the vast country cannot keep up and is perhaps falling back into the 19th century. The notion of empire presupposes vastness and diversity, but also inequality and relations of dependency. Beyond Moscow there are just borderlands, ruled as buffer areas that provide natural resources and occupied by aliens. The liminal charge of borderlands depends always upon a core, which is an extremely reduced one in Russia particularly if compared with the extension of the borderlands.

    Supposedly, the buffer area functions as safety zone to the core, yet the infinite character of this borderland produces a continuous feeling of failure and need of repair. Petersburg seemingly appears as just a point on the immensity, but it is a point that adds a fourth dimension to the map — mythical, irrational and nonetheless symbolically effective as a source of power Bely, The practical consequence, observed by Kaganskii, was that vertical, hierarchical and administrative relations subordinated horizontal, territorial and everyday practices, even to the point of creating them i.

    Petersburg in a rough land facing the Gulf of Finland. Thereupon, the Petrine establishment explicitly regarded territorial space as 1 a resource to be studied, managed, and exploited; 2 a terrain to be shaped and moulded as the physical expression of state power; and 3 a symbol of national pride and a basis for national identity. More than a city, St. The capital of Peter I had to play a major instrumental function in his reforms:.

    As a window by which Russia could notice what took place at the neighbouring countries;.

    Change over time essay russia | continuity in russia

    As an ark of entrance in Russia by which the tsar intended to penetrate in modernity;. As a named ideal, to show to the rest of Europe that Russia was part of European civilisation. The choice was very much in line with the overall endeavour of breaking the isolation caused by Russia's somewhat peripheral location in view of the rest of Europe. Leningrad, the name assumed in five days after Lenin's death, strengthened the political enclosure even further.

    Abandoning in September the Soviet-time name of Leningrad implied a repositioning of the city in both temporal and spatial terms. St Petersburg is, as such, a reminder of that it was once possible to adopt a posture that contained an identity sufficiently unique and yet open for the more general.

    It constituted a site where it was possible to be simultaneously Russian and European. Joenniemi, The ambiguity and openness of St. Hence — the constant desire to find themselves through the close observation of others. Petersburg shows both confidence and constraint towards Europe. Petersburg and finally back again to Moscow , each of these changes entailing strong social connotations as well as geopolitical choices and civilizational affiliations Sorokin, Russia is a gas station masquerading as a country.

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    John McCain apud Sherfinski, Mykola Riabchuk regrets:. Local elites in post-Soviet republics inherited dysfunctional pieces of a dysfunctional empire. They had two options: to build new state institutions based on the rule of law, democratic procedures, and civic mobilization; or to re-animate the dysfunctional quasi-institutions of the Leninist state by other informal methods and semi-legal bodies.

    Only the Baltic republics opted clearly for the first way.

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    All the other post-Soviet states took the second option. In the early twenty-first century, as in the previous ones, Russia is both a rising global power and a weak state with repressive, corrupt and inefficient institutions.


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    • This has been here presented as an example of peripheral development, determined by historical contingences and geographic circumstances and manifested in the maintenance of imperial logics of power and conception of space in spite of political changes and historical ruptures. Cases such as Crimea, South Ossetia or Transdnistria share many similarities, as well as differences; but common to all of these cases is the spatial logic deployed by the Kremlin towards these regions nowadays based on Eurasian theories that add even more liminality to the spatial formation.

      Tens of thousands of educated people as well as millions of Dollars are currently leaving Russia.

      Continuity and change in Stalin`s Russia - tpc

      Likewise, the theory of Russia constituting a distinct civilisation is being increasingly channelled by state media. The Kremlin is recovering the Eurasian discourse in order affirm the role of Moscow in a multi-polar world. The consequence, however, is quite the opposite: Russia has reached a level of international isolation unseen since the cold war and can rely on very few partners not allies in the world.

      All this accentuates the peripheral condition of Moscow, seen for instance in capital outflow and brain drain. In this sense, Russian borderlands remain threatened from within the system rather than from the neighbours or other big powers. The risks of further implosions still appear more plausible than foreign interventions due to inner fractures.

      Arendt, Hannah , The Origins of Totalitarianism. New York: Meridian Books. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. New York: Zone Books. Bely, Andrei , Petersburgo. Madrid: Alfaguara [orig. Blok, Aleksandr , Sobranie sochinenii.

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