After October: Russian Liberalism as a 'Work in Progress,' 1919-1945
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This thesis is an examination of Russian liberal thought, its durability, and its tensions in exile in interwar France. Through analysis of archival documents and contemporary pamphlets, memoranda, and print media, this thesis adds new dimensions to the scholarship on Russia Abroad, Russian liberalism, and exile politics. Russian liberal groups and actors held and established particular myths about their ideal homeland and harnessed critical occasions to elaborate their evolving ideology regarding the health, strength, and ‘greatness’ of the Russian state while addressing threats they perceived for their realization parallel to the existence of Soviet regime at home. After October: Russian Liberalism as a ‘Work in Progress,’ 1919-1945 unpacks the lively political history of this stateless exile community as it sought ways to connect to the homeland and work for the improvement of the state and its people in spite of their spatial and political alienation. Throughout, this thesis emphasizes key concerns for Russian liberals including the territorial unity and security of the state, its level of modernity and civilization vis-à-vis the West, the need to build a liberal democratic federal republic after Bolshevism, and the creation of a free, educated, loyal, and active citizenry capable of contributing to the socio-political commonweal. Numerous tensions emerged in liberal thought and approach, indicating that their liberal visions of the state were very much still a work in progress. Their continued efforts to elaborate on their values in response to developing circumstances at home and abroad show how Russian liberals created and maintained for themselves a sense of purpose and identity throughout the interwar period.