Did The Russian State Form in a Different Manner than Its Occidental Neighbours? - Part I by Nils Johann
Can Russia be seen as following the same formative patterns as the new bureaucratic (proto-) states rising in Western Europe? A discussion in historiography, world history and the problems of long chains of causality, exemplified by a comparison of Russian and English political history during the reigns of Ivan IV and Henry VIII. (Late medieval/Northern Renaissance period, 16th century.)
I will make an account of this larger discussion further on because it will provide the proper context for discussing what 'Western Traits' actually are, and how far back we actually are honestly able to superimpose this term back in time. Goldstone's suggestion: To see Europe as the (*'barbaric') rim-lands of “Civilization”. Civilization at first spreading from Mesopotamia, in the direction of Europe, is a good perspective for helping us understand this.
With the narrative, that: Every time non-European state-formations have stability, their government can inherently, within this discussion, be described as despotic or tyrannical, we might be led astray: As long as there was order in China, and India, up until about 1800, these areas also maintained a technical lead on poor, war-torn Western-Europe: Stability equals innovation, because relative risk is reduced, and more persons are allowed to specialize. Risk becomes acceptable when it is affordable to take a loss.
In several works by, amongst others, Crummy and Yanov, the reign of Ivan IV is held up as an example of 'non-European' political behavior. When we with that approach compare Ivan's reign to that of Henry VIII, interesting choices for conclusion open up. Neither Henry, nor Ivan, are behaving like the Europeans of Ferguson or Wittfogel. The alleged “democratic”, free Occident, stands like an elegant myth, with its cradle in a later age. In short, the privilege of a few noblemen in Britain after 1688, does not make out as credible freedom, and in the 1540's, English political conditions do not stray remarkably from conditions in Russia. In the comparison of chapter 4, a pattern will emerge, that highlights the similarities in behavior of the two Monarchs and their Crown. Both castigate and subjugate the other competing nobles. In order to accumulate capital they reform their management and communication systems, laying the groundwork for a bureaucratic state. They do this in order to exploit the realm, and to aggregate power in their own hands. This enables their wars of conquest. Standing gunpowder-armies enable them to project their power further than their predecessors. It should be acknowledged that differences between England and Russia, but when looking at the grand motions, an impression of similar development for the period forms.
Comments.... Questions? :)