Smuta as a Factor of the Russian History


The author devises a theory of the “smuta” and examines the topic at the theoretic-historiographical level. The term “smuta”, its origin, meaning and the time of its emergence are examined in the article. The term in its most common sense came into being quite late enough — at the beginning of the 17th century. The causes, development and the events of the first Russian period of “smuta” (Time of Troubles) could be perceived as some sort of a model, or a matrix, which can be applied to two more watersheds in the Russian history: to “the Great Russian revolution” and to “Perestroika” which, in the author’s opinion, should be considered as the “smuta”. The word “revolution” borrowed from the West only obscures the essence of the historical process. There is no reason to classify the events of the 20th century as the “revolution”. This thesis does not require fundamental justification given the fact that there is close affinity between current situation and ‘prerevolutionary’ Russia. A substantial part of the article is dedicated to proving that there was no “revolution” at the beginning of the 20th century either. Instead, there was another “smuta”, while the Soviet period was a continuation of the pre-Soviet one. Before the 17th century there had been no such phenomenon as the “smuta” in Russia. On the one hand, the first “smuta” (Time of Troubles) heralded the emergence of the unique Russian state-serfdom order and eventual shaping of the autocratic state. On the other hand, the “Time of Troubles”, rather than the reign of Peter I, represents the dawn of the Russian “Modern time”. Since then the Russian history has manifested itself as the series of “smuta” which do not lead to a new social order. After each period of “smuta” the state-serfdom regime revives itself, getting stronger as a result of the “revolution” from above, somehow adapting to further existence… and thus survives until the next “smuta”. This the “cyclicity” of the Russian history. Obviously, all the topical concepts raised in the article (such as “smuta”, “revolution from the above”, “pre-smuta situation” and etc.) are in need of further examination

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This paper was published in Saint Petersburg State University.

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