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A Well-Ordered Thing$
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Michael D. Gordin

Print publication date: 2018

Print ISBN-13: 9780691172385

Published to Princeton Scholarship Online: May 2019

DOI: 10.23943/princeton/9780691172385.001.0001

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Autocracy and Mr. Mendeleev

(p.1) Chapter 1 Introduction
A Well-Ordered Thing
Michael D. Gordin
Princeton University Press

This introductory chapter discusses Dmitrii Mendeleev's autocracy. Mendeleev was one of many Russians who borrowed very heavily from liberal rhetoric while pursuing ends such as autocracy or Russian chauvinism that mesh poorly with nineteenth-century conceptions of liberalism. A liberal working in the name of autocracy, Mendeleev supported the rule of law only insofar as it was the best way, in his view, to preserve traditions essential to Russian stability—traditions embodied in the institution of autocracy. By contrast, his Russian contemporaries who identified themselves with liberalism were liberals in the name of Russia. For them, liberalism linked Russia to the legal and political traditions of European progress. For Mendeleev, these liberals were deluded or misinformed—or simply dangerous—and he had no patience for them.

Keywords:   Dmitrii Mendeleev, autocracy, Russian chauvinism, liberalism, rule of law, Russian stability, Russia

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