Whittaker- The Dual Autocratic Identity

Whittaker’s thesis and stance on the reforming of Russia encompasses┬áthe two mentalities of Russia: the conservative history under autocracies and the desire for progress. She mentions that because Russians had only ever truly been governed under a strong, authoritarian leadership that there was an expectation of that way of societal structure (as nothing else had ever been implemented) where the state always came before the individual. However, she importantly notes the contrast that was brought about by reforming tsars. Once reforms were initiated into society, people began to demand more and more of their government and continuously wanted more and more reforms for a better way of life (as seen, and referenced in this article, to Mikhail Gorbachev with glasnost and perestroika). Thus, as western ideas flooded into Russia, the Russians constantly asked for more- but still under the mixed ideology of being under an authoritarian government. This left the tsars in a place where they had to continue to modernize Russia culturally yet maintain much of the control that had been taught to them as the way to govern Russian society.