Vanessa RamptonMar 25, 2022
Liberal Ideas in Tsarist Russia
From Catherine the Great to the Russian Revolution
Cambridge University Press 2020
In the conclusion to Vanessa Rampton's new book on Russian liberalism, the author remarks that "the prospects for liberal development in countries such as Russia...seem as remote as ever." (185). Covering the period from Catherine the Great to the early 20th century, Liberal Ideas in Tsarist Russia: From Catherine the Great to the Russian Revolution (Cambridge UP, 2020) provides the reader with plentiful evidence that this is the case. Rampton argues that at the core of liberalism is an ongoing compromise between competing claims, as with the interplay between positive and negative liberty. As liberalism currently finds itself under attack from multiple sides, Rampton's case Russian case study is valuable. Russian soil's general hostility liberalism illuminates some of the ideas' strengths and weaknesses, and the historical conditions under which it is and is not likely to flourish.
Aaron Weinacht is Professor of History at the University of Montana Western, in Dillon, MT. He teaches courses on Russian and Soviet History, World History, and Philosophy of History. His research interests include the sociological theorist Philip Rieff and the influence of Russian nihilism on American libertarianism.