Khoros Vladimir
The Historical Optimism of Boris Mironov = [Text] / V.G. Khoros // Bylye Gody = . 2016. Vol. 41-1. 3-1. P. 848 856.
Publication Type:

ISSN 2073-9745

The article attempts to assess the contribution of B.N. Mironov's monograph “The Russian Empire: From Tradition to Modernity” to historiography. The author has reviewed other books by Mironov. While the reviewer's assessment is positive overall, a number of points defended by the author call for a rejoinder. The reviewer agrees with the main idea of the book: there was no permanent crisis and impoverishment of the working population in the history of imperial Russia in the 18th to the beginning of 20th centuries. On the contrary, there was some progress and achievements in terms of modernization. The revolutions in the beginning of the 20th century must be explained through other reasons. Credit undoubtedly belongs to Mironov for proof of this thesis. In such an approach, the Russian past appears more complicated and realistic than in many of the preceding investigations by Russian as well as by foreign scholars. An interesting feature of Mironov's approach is historical optimism, that is, an interpretation of Russian historical evolution as successful. However, sometimes this optimism seems excessive. Key observations are the following. First, overcoming one extreme (the permanent crisis in Russia), Mironov, to some extent, ends up at another extreme - an underestimation of those social and cultural problems in Russian society that stimulated the revolutionary climate. Second, there is an overestimation of the role of the intelligentsia as an agent of revolution, its characteristics are excessively negative, and there is an underestimation of the impulse to protest from below and the popular character of the Russian revolution of 1917. Third, despite a number of interesting ideas concerning the process of modernization in Russia, Mironov identifies this modernization with Westernization (“Europeanization”). But the author himself rightly demonstrates the difference between Russian and European civilizational values. This discrepancy become one of the reasons for the Russian Revolution. However, even these disagreements with Mironov's point of view attest to the creative character of his book and its great significance for our historical scholarship. 

Keywords: russian empire | modernization | russian revolution | europeanization | tradition and modernity | historical optimism | intelligentsia | european trajectory | construction of social reality | color revolutions |

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