Published online by Cambridge University Press: 05 June 2012
The five thinkers discussed in this chapter played a pivotal role in the development of Russian liberal thought after 1900. As public figures, Pavel Novgorodtsev, Pëtr Struve, Evgenii Trubetskoi, Bogdan Kistiakovskii, and Sergei Kotliarevskii campaigned for a state under the rule of law (pravovoe gosudarstvo), one based on recognition of human dignity, individual freedom, and civil or personal rights. All five were organizers of the Liberation Movement that culminated in the Revolution of 1905 and were founders of Russia's largest liberal party, the Constitutional Democratic (Kadet) Party. They played active roles in Russia's constitutional experiment until tsar and bureaucracy undermined the authority of the new parliament, the Duma, as an arena of open political debate. In the ten years between the dissolution of the Second State Duma in 1907 and the Revolution of 1917, they worked primarily as scholars committed to the ideals of prosveshchenie (“a culture of education”), through which they hoped to promote the broader cultural and social values of liberalism. Their neo-liberal worldview merits attention as a major contribution to the humanist tradition in Russian thought.
The intellectual and career paths of these men present some interesting points of intersection that allow us to regard them as a clearly defined group. All were outstanding scholars in law, history, philosophy, economics, and the social sciences. Trubetskoi (1863–1920), Novgorodtsev (1866–1924), and Kotliarevskii (1873–1941) were law professors at Moscow University.