Slavophilia was an intellectual movement originating from 19th century that wanted the Russian Empire
Russian Empire
The Russian Empire was a state that existed from 1721 until the Russian Revolution of 1917. It was the successor to the Tsardom of Russia and the predecessor of the Soviet Union...

 to be developed upon values and institutions derived from its early history. Slavophiles were especially opposed to the influences of Western Europe in Russia. There were also similar movements in Poland, Hungary and Greece. Its opposite is Slavophobia.


Slavophilism, as an intellectual movement, was developed in the 19th-century Russia
Russia or , officially known as both Russia and the Russian Federation , is a country in northern Eurasia. It is a federal semi-presidential republic, comprising 83 federal subjects...

. In a sense there was not one but many Slavophile movements, or many branches of the same movement. Some were to the left of the political spectrum, noting that progressive ideas such as democracy
Democracy is generally defined as a form of government in which all adult citizens have an equal say in the decisions that affect their lives. Ideally, this includes equal participation in the proposal, development and passage of legislation into law...

 were intrinsic to the Russian experience, as proved by what they considered to be the rough democracy of medieval Novgorod. Some were to the right of the spectrum and pointed to the centuries old tradition of the autocratic Tsar
Tsar is a title used to designate certain European Slavic monarchs or supreme rulers. As a system of government in the Tsardom of Russia and Russian Empire, it is known as Tsarist autocracy, or Tsarism...

 as being the essence of the Russian nature. The Slavophiles were determined to protect what they believed were unique Russian traditions and culture. In doing, so they rejected individualism
Individualism is the moral stance, political philosophy, ideology, or social outlook that stresses "the moral worth of the individual". Individualists promote the exercise of one's goals and desires and so value independence and self-reliance while opposing most external interference upon one's own...

. The role of the Orthodox Church was seen by them as more significant than the role of the state. Socialism
Socialism is an economic system characterized by social ownership of the means of production and cooperative management of the economy; or a political philosophy advocating such a system. "Social ownership" may refer to any one of, or a combination of, the following: cooperative enterprises,...

 was opposed by Slavophiles as an alien thought, and Russian mysticism
Mysticism is the knowledge of, and especially the personal experience of, states of consciousness, i.e. levels of being, beyond normal human perception, including experience and even communion with a supreme being.-Classical origins:...

 was preferred over "Western
Western Europe
Western Europe is a loose term for the collection of countries in the western most region of the European continents, though this definition is context-dependent and carries cultural and political connotations. One definition describes Western Europe as a geographic entity—the region lying in the...

In epistemology and in its modern sense, rationalism is "any view appealing to reason as a source of knowledge or justification" . In more technical terms, it is a method or a theory "in which the criterion of the truth is not sensory but intellectual and deductive"...

". Rural life was praised by the movement, opposing industrialization as well as urban development, while protection of the "mir
Obshchina or Mir ) or Selskoye obshestvo were peasant communities, as opposed to individual farmsteads, or khutors, in Imperial Russia. The term derives from the word о́бщий, obshchiy ....

" was seen as an important measure to prevent growth of the working class.

The movement originated in Moscow
Moscow is the capital, the most populous city, and the most populous federal subject of Russia. The city is a major political, economic, cultural, scientific, religious, financial, educational, and transportation centre of Russia and the continent...

 in the 1830s. Drawing on the works of Greek patristics
Church Fathers
The Church Fathers, Early Church Fathers, Christian Fathers, or Fathers of the Church were early and influential theologians, eminent Christian teachers and great bishops. Their scholarly works were used as a precedent for centuries to come...

, the poet Aleksey Khomyakov
Aleksey Khomyakov
Aleksey Stepanovich Khomyakov was a Russian religious poet who co-founded the Slavophile movement along with Ivan Kireyevsky, and became one of its most distinguished theoreticians....

 (1804–60) and his devoutly Orthodox colleagues elaborated a traditionalistic doctrine that claimed Russia has its own distinct way, which doesn't have to imitate and mimic "Western" institutions. The Russian Slavophiles denounced modernization by Peter the Great
Peter I of Russia
Peter the Great, Peter I or Pyotr Alexeyevich Romanov Dates indicated by the letters "O.S." are Old Style. All other dates in this article are New Style. ruled the Tsardom of Russia and later the Russian Empire from until his death, jointly ruling before 1696 with his half-brother, Ivan V...

 and Catherine the Great
Catherine II of Russia
Catherine II, also known as Catherine the Great , Empress of Russia, was born in Stettin, Pomerania, Prussia on as Sophie Friederike Auguste von Anhalt-Zerbst-Dornburg...

, and some of them even adopted traditional pre-Petrine dress.

Andrei Okara argues that the 19th century classification of social thought into three groups, the Westernizers, the Slavophiles and the Conservatives also fits well into the realities of the political and social situation in modern Russia. According him, examples of modern-day slavophiles include the Communist Party of the Russian Federation
Communist Party of the Russian Federation
The Communist Party of the Russian Federation is a Russian political party. It is the second major political party in the Russian Federation.-History:...

, Dmitry Rogozin
Dmitry Rogozin
Dmitry Olegovich Rogozin is a well-known Russian diplomat and popular politician, Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary of Russia. In January, 2008, he became Russia's ambassador to NATO. He was a leader of the Rodina party until it merged with other similar Russian parties to form the...

 and Sergei Glazyev.


The doctrines of Aleksey Khomyakov
Aleksey Khomyakov
Aleksey Stepanovich Khomyakov was a Russian religious poet who co-founded the Slavophile movement along with Ivan Kireyevsky, and became one of its most distinguished theoreticians....

, Ivan Kireevsky
Ivan Kireevsky
Ivan Vasilyevich Kireyevsky was a Russian literary critic and philosopher who, together with Aleksey Khomyakov, co-founded the Slavophile movement.-Early life and career:...

 (1806–56), Konstantin Aksakov
Konstantin Aksakov
Konstantin Sergeyevich Aksakov was a Russian critic and writer, one of the earliest and most notable Slavophiles. He wrote plays, social criticism, and histories of the ancient Russian social order...

 (1817–60) and other Slavophiles had a deep impact on Russian culture, including the Russian Revival
Russian Revival
The Russian Revival style is the generic term for a number of different movements within Russian architecture that arose in second quarter of the 19th century and was an eclectic melding of pre-Peterine Russian architecture and elements of Byzantine architecture.The Russian Revival style arose...

 school of architecture, The Five
The Five
The Five, also known as The Mighty Handful or The Mighty Coterie , refers to a circle of composers who met in Saint Petersburg, Russia, in the years 1856–1870: Mily Balakirev , César Cui, Modest Mussorgsky, Nikolai Rimsky-Korsakov and Alexander Borodin...

 of Russian composers, the novelist Nikolai Gogol
Nikolai Gogol
Nikolai Vasilievich Gogol was a Ukrainian-born Russian dramatist and novelist.Considered by his contemporaries one of the preeminent figures of the natural school of Russian literary realism, later critics have found in Gogol's work a fundamentally romantic sensibility, with strains of Surrealism...

, the poet Fyodor Tyutchev
Fyodor Tyutchev
Fyodor Ivanovich Tyutchev is generally considered the last of three great Romantic poets of Russia, following Alexander Pushkin and Mikhail Lermontov.- Life :...

, the lexicographer Vladimir Dahl, and others. Their struggle for purity of the Russian language
Russian language
Russian is a Slavic language used primarily in Russia, Belarus, Uzbekistan, Kazakhstan, Tajikistan and Kyrgyzstan. It is an unofficial but widely spoken language in Ukraine, Moldova, Latvia, Turkmenistan and Estonia and, to a lesser extent, the other countries that were once constituent republics...

 had something in common with ascetic views of Leo Tolstoy
Leo Tolstoy
Lev Nikolayevich Tolstoy was a Russian writer who primarily wrote novels and short stories. Later in life, he also wrote plays and essays. His two most famous works, the novels War and Peace and Anna Karenina, are acknowledged as two of the greatest novels of all time and a pinnacle of realist...

. The doctrine of Sobornost
Sobornost is a term coined by the early Slavophiles, Ivan Kireevsky and Aleksey Khomyakov, to underline the need for cooperation between people at the expense of individualism on the basis that the opposing groups focus on what is common between them. Khomyakov believed the West was progressively...

, the term for organic unity, intregration, was coined by Ivan Kireevsky and Aleksey Khomyakov. This was to underline the need for cooperation between people, at the expense of individualism on the basis that the opposing groups focus on what is common between them.

In the sphere of practical politics, the Slavophilism manifested itself as a pan-Slavic movement
Pan-Slavism was a movement in the mid-19th century aimed at unity of all the Slavic peoples. The main focus was in the Balkans where the South Slavs had been ruled for centuries by other empires, Byzantine Empire, Austria-Hungary, the Ottoman Empire, and Venice...

 for the unification of all Slavic people under leadership of the Russian tsar
Tsar is a title used to designate certain European Slavic monarchs or supreme rulers. As a system of government in the Tsardom of Russia and Russian Empire, it is known as Tsarist autocracy, or Tsarism...

 and for the liberation of the Balkan Slavs from the Ottoman yoke. The Russo-Turkish War, 1877-78 is usually considered a high point of this militant Slavophilism, as expounded by the charismatic commander Mikhail Skobelev
Mikhail Skobelev
Mikhail Dmitrievich Skobelev was a Russian general famous for his conquest of Central Asia and heroism during the Russo-Turkish War of 1877-78. Dressed in white uniform and mounted on a white horse, and always in the thickest of the fray, he was known and adored by his soldiers as the "White...

. The attitude towards other nations with Slavic origins varied, depending on the group involved. Classical Slavophiles believed that "Slavdom", that is the alleged by Slavophile movement common identity to all people of Slavic origin, was based on Orthodox
Eastern Orthodox Church
The Orthodox Church, officially called the Orthodox Catholic Church and commonly referred to as the Eastern Orthodox Church, is the second largest Christian denomination in the world, with an estimated 300 million adherents mainly in the countries of Belarus, Bulgaria, Cyprus, Georgia, Greece,...


The Russian Empire, besides containing Russians, ruled over millions of Ukrainians, Poles and Belarussians, who had their own national identities, traditions and religions. Towards Ukrainians and Belarussians, the Slavophiles developed the view that they were part of the same "Great Russian" nation, Belarussians being the "White Russians" and Ukrainians "Little Russians". Slavophile thinkers such as Mikhail Katkov
Mikhail Katkov
Mikhail Nikiforovich Katkov was a conservative Russian journalist influential during the reign of Alexander III.Katkov was born of a Russian government official and a Georgian noblewoman...

 believed that both nations should be ruled under Russian leadership and were an essential part of the Russian state. At the same time they denied the separate cultural identity of Ukrainian and Belarussian people, believing their national as well as language and literary aspirations were a result of "Polish intrigue" that aimed at separating them from Russians. Other Slavophiles like Ivan Aksakov recognized the right of Ukrainians to use the Ukrainian language
Ukrainian language
Ukrainian is a language of the East Slavic subgroup of the Slavic languages. It is the official state language of Ukraine. Written Ukrainian uses a variant of the Cyrillic alphabet....

, however seeing it as completely unnecessary and harmful.
Aksakov, however, did see some practical use for the "Malorussian" language: it would be beneficial in the struggle against the "Polish civilizational element in the western provinces".

Besides Ukrainians and Belarussians, the Russian Empire also included Poles, whose country had disappeared after being partitioned
Partitions of Poland
The Partitions of Poland or Partitions of the Polish–Lithuanian Commonwealth took place in the second half of the 18th century and ended the existence of the Polish–Lithuanian Commonwealth, resulting in the elimination of sovereign Poland for 123 years...

 by three neighboring states, including Russia, which after decisions of the Congress of Vienna
Congress of Vienna
The Congress of Vienna was a conference of ambassadors of European states chaired by Klemens Wenzel von Metternich, and held in Vienna from September, 1814 to June, 1815. The objective of the Congress was to settle the many issues arising from the French Revolutionary Wars, the Napoleonic Wars,...

 expanded into more Polish-inhabited territories. Poles proved to be a problem for the ideology of Slavophilism. The very name Slavophiles indicated that the characteristics of the Slavs were based on their ethnicity, but at the same time Slavophiles believed that Orthodoxy
The word orthodox, from Greek orthos + doxa , is generally used to mean the adherence to accepted norms, more specifically to creeds, especially in religion...

 equaled Slavdom. This belief was belied by very existence of Poles within the Russian Empire, who - while having Slavic origins - were also deeply Roman Catholic, the Catholic faith forming one of the core values of Polish national identity. Also, while Slavophiles praised the leadership of Russia over other nations of Slavic origin, the Poles' very identity was based on Western European culture and values, and resistance to Russia was seen by them as resistance to something representing an alien way of life. As a result Slavophiles were particularly hostile to the Polish nation, often emotionally attacking it in their writings

When the Polish uprising of 1863
January Uprising
The January Uprising was an uprising in the former Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth against the Russian Empire...

 started, Slavophiles used anti-Polish sentiment to create feelings of national unity in the Russian people, and the idea of cultural union of all Slavs was abandoned. With that Poland became firmly established to Slavophiles as symbol of Catholicism and Western Europe, that they detested, and as Poles were never assimilated within the Russian Empire, constantly resisting Russian occupation of their country, in the end Slavophiles came to believe that annexation of Poland was a mistake due to the fact that the Polish nation could not be Russified
Russification is an adoption of the Russian language or some other Russian attributes by non-Russian communities...

"After the struggle with Poles, Slavophiles expressed their belief, that notwithstanding the goal of conquering Constantinople, the future conflict would be between the "Teutonic race" (Germans), and "Slavs", and the movement turned into Germanophobia.

It should be noted that most Slavophiles were liberals
Liberalism is the belief in the importance of liberty and equal rights. Liberals espouse a wide array of views depending on their understanding of these principles, but generally, liberals support ideas such as constitutionalism, liberal democracy, free and fair elections, human rights,...

 and ardently supported the emancipation of serfs, which was finally realized in the emancipation reform of 1861
Emancipation reform of 1861
The Emancipation Reform of 1861 in Russia was the first and most important of liberal reforms effected during the reign of Alexander II of Russia. The reform, together with a related reform in 1861, amounted to the liquidation of serf dependence previously suffered by peasants of the Russian Empire...

. Press censorship
thumb|[[Book burning]] following the [[1973 Chilean coup d'état|1973 coup]] that installed the [[Military government of Chile |Pinochet regime]] in Chile...

, serfdom
Serfdom is the status of peasants under feudalism, specifically relating to Manorialism. It was a condition of bondage or modified slavery which developed primarily during the High Middle Ages in Europe and lasted to the mid-19th century...

, and capital punishment
Capital punishment
Capital punishment, the death penalty, or execution is the sentence of death upon a person by the state as a punishment for an offence. Crimes that can result in a death penalty are known as capital crimes or capital offences. The term capital originates from the Latin capitalis, literally...

 were viewed as baneful influences of Western Europe. Their political ideal was a parliamentary monarchy, as represented by the medieval Zemsky Sobor
Zemsky Sobor
The zemsky sobor was the first Russian parliament of the feudal Estates type, in the 16th and 17th centuries. The term roughly means assembly of the land. It could be summoned either by tsar, or patriarch, or the Boyar Duma...


Post serfdom

After serfdom was abolished in Russia and the end of the uprising in Poland, Slavophilism began to degenerate and turned into narrow-minded Russian aggressive nationalism. New Slavophile thinkers appeared in the 1870s and 1880s, represented by scholars such as N. Danilevsky and K. Leontiev
Konstantin Leontiev
Konstantin Nikolayevich Leontyev was a conservative, monarchist reactionary Russian philosopher who advocated closer cultural ties between Russia and the East in order to oppose the catastrophic egalitarian, utilitarian and revolutionary influences from the West...

. Danilevsky promoted autocracy and imperialistic expansion as part of Russian national interest. Leontiev believed in a police state ideology aimed at preventing European influences from reaching Russia.


Later writers Fyodor Dostoyevsky, Konstantin Leontyev, and Nikolay Danilevsky developed a peculiar conservative version of Slavophilism called pochvennichestvo
Pochvennichestvo was a late 19th century Russian nativist movement tied in closely with its contemporary ideology, the Slavophile movement...

(from the Russian word for soil). This teaching, as articulated by Konstantin Pobedonostsev
Konstantin Pobedonostsev
Konstantin Petrovich Pobyedonostsyev was a Russian jurist, statesman, and adviser to three Tsars...

 (Ober-Procurator of the Russian Orthodox Church
Russian Orthodox Church
The Russian Orthodox Church or, alternatively, the Moscow Patriarchate The ROC is often said to be the largest of the Eastern Orthodox churches in the world; including all the autocephalous churches under its umbrella, its adherents number over 150 million worldwide—about half of the 300 million...

), was adopted as the official Tsarist ideology
An ideology is a set of ideas that constitutes one's goals, expectations, and actions. An ideology can be thought of as a comprehensive vision, as a way of looking at things , as in common sense and several philosophical tendencies , or a set of ideas proposed by the dominant class of a society to...

 during the reigns of Alexander III
Alexander III of Russia
Alexander Alexandrovich Romanov , historically remembered as Alexander III or Alexander the Peacemaker reigned as Emperor of Russia from until his death on .-Disposition:...

 and Nicholas II
Nicholas II of Russia
Nicholas II was the last Emperor of Russia, Grand Prince of Finland, and titular King of Poland. His official short title was Nicholas II, Emperor and Autocrat of All the Russias and he is known as Saint Nicholas the Passion-Bearer by the Russian Orthodox Church.Nicholas II ruled from 1894 until...

. Even after the Russian Revolution of 1917
Russian Revolution of 1917
The Russian Revolution is the collective term for a series of revolutions in Russia in 1917, which destroyed the Tsarist autocracy and led to the creation of the Soviet Union. The Tsar was deposed and replaced by a provisional government in the first revolution of February 1917...

, it was further developed by the émigré
Émigré is a French term that literally refers to a person who has "migrated out", but often carries a connotation of politico-social self-exile....

 religious philosophers like Ivan Ilyin
Ivan Ilyin
Ivan Alexandrovich Ilyin was a Russian religious and political philosopher, White emigre publicist and an ideologue of the Russian All-Military Union.-Young years:...


Many of the Slavophiles influenced prominent Cold War
Cold War
The Cold War was the continuing state from roughly 1946 to 1991 of political conflict, military tension, proxy wars, and economic competition between the Communist World—primarily the Soviet Union and its satellite states and allies—and the powers of the Western world, primarily the United States...

 thinkers such as George F. Kennan
George F. Kennan
George Frost Kennan was an American adviser, diplomat, political scientist and historian, best known as "the father of containment" and as a key figure in the emergence of the Cold War...

, instilling in them a love for the Russian Empire
Russian Empire
The Russian Empire was a state that existed from 1721 until the Russian Revolution of 1917. It was the successor to the Tsardom of Russia and the predecessor of the Soviet Union...

 as opposed to the Soviet Union
Soviet Union
The Soviet Union , officially the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics , was a constitutionally socialist state that existed in Eurasia between 1922 and 1991....

. This in turn influenced their foreign policy ideas, such as Kennan's belief that the revival of the Russian Orthodox Patriarchate in 1943 would lead to the reform or overthrow of Joseph Stalin
Joseph Stalin
Joseph Vissarionovich Stalin was the Premier of the Soviet Union from 6 May 1941 to 5 March 1953. He was among the Bolshevik revolutionaries who brought about the October Revolution and had held the position of first General Secretary of the Communist Party of the Soviet Union's Central Committee...

's dictatorship
A dictatorship is defined as an autocratic form of government in which the government is ruled by an individual, the dictator. It has three possible meanings:...


See also

  • Pan-Slavism
    Pan-Slavism was a movement in the mid-19th century aimed at unity of all the Slavic peoples. The main focus was in the Balkans where the South Slavs had been ruled for centuries by other empires, Byzantine Empire, Austria-Hungary, the Ottoman Empire, and Venice...

  • List of 19th-century Russian Slavophiles
  • Slavophobia
    Anti-Slavism, also known as Slavophobia, a form of racism or xenophobia, refers to various negative attitudes towards Slavic peoples, most common manifestation being claims of inferiority of Slavic nations with respect to other ethnic groups...

  • Russian philosophy
    Russian philosophy
    Russian philosophy includes a variety of philosophical movements. Authors who developed them are listed below sorted by movement.While most authors listed below are primarily philosophers, also included here are some Russian fiction writers, like Tolstoy and Dostoyevsky, who are also known as...

  • Russification
    Russification is an adoption of the Russian language or some other Russian attributes by non-Russian communities...

  • Romantic Nationalism
    Romantic nationalism
    Romantic nationalism is the form of nationalism in which the state derives its political legitimacy as an organic consequence of the unity of those it governs...

External links

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