Black & Grey

The Slavophiles and Westernizers were both “reformist” intellectuals who, on different ideological avenues, envisioned changes for the future of Russia that would progress the state to new plateaus. The Slavophiles were upperclassmen who expressed a fundamental vision of integration, peace, and harmony among men (Riasanovsky 362). They were strict followers of the Russian Orthodox Church and believed it was their mission to help the church reclaim power it had lost. A notable Slav – Constantine Aksakov – described the Slavophiles as a “moral choir” (363). The Slavs were Russian romantics who attempted to tie in their romantic ideals with reason. Slavophiles could be considered peacekeeping anarchists because they stressed free will and free thought, and although they didn’t like the presence of the government they recognized the importance of having a governmental institution in place to keep the peace.

The Westernizers, although also reformists in nature were antithetical to the Slavs in many other aspects. While the Slavophiles were fairly organized and concentrated in their mission of peace and harmony throughout Russian society the Westernizers had diverse and often unclear goals for their reformations. Unlike the Slavophiles, the Westernizers didn’t lean on religion and quite frankly didn’t support religious ideologies to nearly the same degree as the Slavs. It is important to note that the roots of the Westernizers’ differing views probably comes from the fact that the Westernizers came from a variety of different social classes, while the Slavophiles were basically all upper-class citizens. The Westernizers also seemingly had varying degrees of their beliefs in comparison to the Slavophiles, what I mean by this is, some Westernizers simply wanted to promote their ideas of free-will and anti religion while extremist Westernizers wanted to do away with the church and government entirely, a complete redo of the system. Westernizers’ views and goals also changed because they spanned a great period of time in Russian history. For example, Alexander Herzen and Michael Bakunin, two Westernizer authors lived past the reign of Nicholas I (Riasanovsky 365). In other words, these two authors lived through a shifting dynamic of Russian politics, so their goals (in their writing) had to have changed over this time period. Ironically, both of these writers apparently left Russia during their later years, leaving their final marks on Russian society.