2 influences, stemming from the surrounding peoples.'

In document The question of the Asiatic mode of production : towards a new Marxist historiography (Page 173-176)

Solov'ev saw Russian development as having been retarded by the natural environment specific to the East European plain. Western Europe enjoyed the advantage of being diversified by mountain ranges etc., which gave rise to diversified development. This in its turn accelerated the

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pace of economic growth. Western Europe had the added advantage of long sea borders, which both sharply demarcated the territorial limits of

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states and provided ease of communication between its diverse regions. The East European plain, on the other hand, suffered both from a lack of internal diversity and from a lack of natural barriers to hostile incursions. The undiversified nature of the plain led to an absence of diversity in occupation and hence to a lack of diversity in customs, morals and beliefs. This in turn meant an absence of strongly developed

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regional loyalties. As well as their homogenous nature and the absence

Sir Donald Mackenzie Wallace bore witness to the vast success in Russia of Buckle's History of Civilization, with its crude theories of geographical determinism. He wrote: 'In the course of a few years no less than four

independent translations were published and sold. Everyone read or at least professed to have read, the wonderful book, and many believed that its author was the greatest genius of his time. During my first year of residence in Russia (1870) I rarely had a serious conversation without hearing Buckle's name mentioned. In books, periodicals, newspapers, and professional lectures, the name of Buckle was constantly cited ... and the cheap translations of his work were sold in enormous quantities.' See Sir Donald MacKenzie Wallace, Prussia (first published in 1877), 2 vols., London, Cassell, 1905, Vol. I, pp. 140-141.

2

S.M. Solov'ev, Nachalo russkoi zemli, Sb. gos. znanii, Tom IV, St. Petersburg, 1877, p. 1. (Cf. Marx, Grundrisse, pp. 472; 486.)

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S.M. Solov'ev, Istoriia Rossii s drevneishikh vremen, Kniga VII (Toma 13-14), op.cit., p. 7. (Cf. Marx, Capital, Vol. I, pp. 351-352.)

Ibid.

S.M. Solov'ev, Istoriia Rossia s drevneishikh vremen, Kniga I (Toma 1-2), Moscow, Izd. sots.-ekon. lit., 1959, p. 60.

of regionalism, there was a strong common bond between all the agricultural peoples inhabiting this plain vis a vis the nomadic plunderers from Asia who desired to live at their expense. This widely spread common bond was the basis for the development of a Russian state of corresponding proportions.^ Moreover, the state organisation was not only territorially extensive, but necessarily took on an exaggerated form as a substitute for the defence provided elsewhere by natural barriers.

As seen in Chapter Two, the idea that in the East extensive geo­

graphical units gave rise naturally to co-extensive political units or land empires was given currency by Montesquieu in the eighteenth century. It has always been an idea very popular with Russian historians in connection with the East European or Eurasian plain. A modern, typically unself­

conscious example of this reads as follows:

...With the annexation of the Amur Region and of Central Asia an important phase in Russian history came to an end. The possession of the entire Eurasian plain and of its geographical extensions had been secured, and the natural limits of greater Russia in every direction had been achieved.*2

Solov'ev extended his account of the influence of geographical factors even further, into the sphere of class relationships. According to his rather facile argument, the mountain ranges of Western Europe not only provided the basis for diversified development and firm territorial demarcation, but they also provided material for the consolidation of

feudalism. The mountains provided the stone necessary for the construction of castles, the bulwark of the power of the feudal lord over his serfs and vis a vis the king. In the East European plain, by contrast, the absence of stone meant that the nobility did not live separately and independently

^ Ibid., pp. 60-61. 2

A. Lobanov-Rostovsky, Russia and Asia, (first published 1933), Michigan, Wahr, 1965, p. 193.

i n t h e i r c a s t l e s , b u t r a t h e r f o r m e d a company (d r u z h i n a) a r o u n d t h e p r i n c e , a n d f o l l o w e d h im t h r o u g h t h e w i d e u n l i m i t e d s p a c e s . The f a c t t h a t t h e p e a s a n t b u i l t i n wood a l s o e n c o u r a g e d t h e i r w a n d e r i n g h a b i t s , a n d i n h i b i t e d t h e s p o n t a n e o u s g r o w t h o f s e r f d o m f ro m t h e l o c a l l e v e l u p w a r d s . S h o u l d a c a r e l e s s s p a r k s e t f i r e t o t h e c o l l e c t i o n o f w ooden h u t s ( i z b a s ) t h e v i l l a g e s i m p l y moved e l s e w h e r e . The s e r v i c e - s t a t e t h e o r y o f h i s t o r y w h i c h was f o r e s h a d o w e d i n

S o l o v ' e v ' s w ork was more f u l l y d e v e l o p e d by t h e g r e a t e s t o f t h e n i n e t e e t h - c e n t u r y R u s s i a n h i s t o r i a n s , V.O . K l i u c h e v s k y . K l i u c h e v s k y e m p l o y e d t h e c o n c e p t e x t e n s i v e l y f o r t h e f i r s t t i m e i n h i s l e c t u r e s on 'T h e H i s t o r y o f E s t a t e s i n R u s s i a ' , w h i c h w e r e d e l i v e r e d a t Moscow U n i v e r s i t y i n 1 8 8 6 . I n h i s h a n d s t h e b a s i c e l e m e n t o f t h e t h e o r y was t h e a c k n o w l e d g e m e n t o f t h e p r i m a c y o f t h e s t a t e i n t h e e c o n o m i c a n d s o c i a l f o r m a t i o n o f R u s s i a . Owing t o g e o g r a p h i c a l c o n d i t i o n s - t h e n a t u r e o f t h e E a s t E u r o p e a n p l a i n , i t s v u l n e r a b i l i t y t o n o m a d i c r a i d e r s e t c . - t h e s t a t e s t r u c t u r e came t o p l a y a p r e p o n d e r a n t r o l e i n t h e l i f e o f t h e n a t i o n , u n l i k e i t s more s e c o n d a r y r o l e among t h e c o u n t r i e s o f W e s t e r n E u rope.'*' F o r d e f e n c e p u r p o s e s , t h e s t a t e c a l l e d i n t o b e i n g a m i l i t a r y / g e n t r y c l a s s who w e r e g r a n t e d l a n d f o r t h e i r s u p p o r t , i n r e t u r n f o r t h e i r s e r v i c e t o t h e s t a t e . The r e s t o f t h e p o p u l a t i o n w e r e o b l i g e d t o p r o v i d e a g r i ­ c u l t u r a l l a b o u r on t h e e s t a t e s o f t h e g e n t r y o r on s t a t e l a n d , a n d a l m o s t a l l c a t e g o r i e s o f d i r e c t p r o d u c e r s , - w h e t h e r a g r i c u l t u r a l o r a r t i s a n , From a B o l s h e v i k p e r s p e c t i v e P o k r o v s k y was l a t e r t o d e s c r i b e t h e s i g n i f i ­ c a n c e o f t h e s e r v i c e - s t a t e t h e o r y a s r e s t i n g i n i t s a c k n o w l e d g e m e n t t h a t t h e e v o l u t i o n o f t h e ' S t a t e p r i n c i p l e ' was d e t e r m i n e d by o b j e c t i v e c a u s e s . 'T h e a c c e p t a n c e o f t h e schem e was t h u s a c o n s i d e r a b l e , t h o u g h q u i t e u n c o n ­ s c i o u s , c o n c e s s i o n t o h i s t o r i c a l m a t e r i a l i s m . The l a t e J . [ s i c ] V. P l e k h a n o v was s o f a s c i n a t e d by t h i s s t e p i n t h e d i r e c t i o n o f M a rxism t h a t i n t h e i n t r o d u c t i o n t o h i s H i s t o r y o f R u s s i a n P o l i t i c a l [ s i c ] T h o u g h t h e a l m o s t e n t i r e l y e n d o r s e d t h e C h i c h e r i n - G r a d o v s k y - K l y u c h e v s k y s c h e m e . ' (M.N. P o k r o v s k y , A B r i e f H i s t o r y o f R u s s i a , 1 0 t h e d . , 2 v o l s . , t r . D .S . M i r s k y , L o n d o n , M a r t i n L a w r e n c e , 1 9 3 3 , V o l . I , p . 2 4 3 . ) P o k r o v s k y i s o f c o u r s e s c o r n f u l o f t h e o b j e c t i v e c a u s e s s e l e c t e d b y t h e s e r v i c e - s t a t e h i s t o r i a n s - t h e s t r u g g l e w i t h t h e s t e p p e , r a t h e r t h a n d o m e s t i c c l a s s s t r u g g l e .

contributed in taxes and services to offset the needs of the state. In Kliuchevsky1 23s view, the genesis of Muscovite social classes in the needs of the state differentiated them from the social corporations or estates of Western Europe. The Muscovite classes remained ’service divisions or grades, which were known, in the official jargon of Moscow

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as tchini....' Kliuchevsky summed up the social constitution of Muscovite Russia as follows:

...In general, Muscovite legislation was devoted, more or less, to the defining and apportioning of State obligations, and formulating or securing of rights,

whether personal or corporate. In practice, the position in the State of the individual or class was defined by

r>

his or its duties to the State...^

According to Kliuchevsky’s theoretical abstract, the Muscovite state had created an elaborate administrative and fiscal structure in order to ensure the service of all categories of the population, and to prevent any land, the chief economic resource of the state, from 'going out of service' - i.e. ceasing to contribute to the exchequer. From the end of the sixteenth century, owing to a number of circumstances, this gradually entailed the legal enserfment of the direct producers.

One of the major and most frequent criticisms made of Kliuchevsky is that although on the conceptual level he attributed the formation of the Russian class system to the initiative of the state, in his concrete historical description he showed feudal relationships and enserfment as

arising out of the day-to-day struggle between landowners and peasants, and out of the indebtedness of the peasantry - i.e., he described this class relationship as developing in the same way in Russia as in Western

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In document The question of the Asiatic mode of production : towards a new Marxist historiography (Page 173-176)