The Human Sciences and the Fate of Liberal Modernity, 1880–1930
Publication Year: 2008
Renovating Russia is a richly comparative investigation of late Imperial and early Soviet medico-scientific theories of moral and social disorder. Daniel Beer argues that in the late Imperial years liberal psychiatrists, psychologists, and criminologists grappled with an intractable dilemma. They sought to renovate Russia, to forge a modern enlightened society governed by the rule of law, but they feared the backwardness, irrationality, and violent potential of the Russian masses. Situating their studies of degeneration, crime, mental illness, and crowd psychology in a pan-European context, Beer shows how liberals' fears of societal catastrophe were only heightened by the effects of industrial modernization and the rise of mass politics.
In the wake of the orgy of violence that swept the Empire in the 1905 Revolution, these intellectual elites increasingly put their faith in coercive programs of scientific social engineering. Their theories survived liberalism's political defeat in 1917 and meshed with the Bolsheviks' radical project for social transformation. They came to sanction the application of violent transformative measures against entire classes, culminating in the waves of state repression that accompanied forced industrialization and collectivization. Renovating Russia thus offers a powerful revisionist challenge to established views of the fate of liberalism in the Russian Revolution.
Published by: Cornell University Press
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Title Page, Copyright
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Research and writing were generously funded by the arts and Humanities Research Council, and King’s College, Cambridge, but above all by a three-year research fellowship from Downing College, Cambridge, which enabled me to undertake substantial new research. i am very grateful to the fellows susan Morrissey, alexandra oberländer, David L. Hoffmann, and steve ...
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In their rejection of the inevitability and permanence of the status quo, revo-lutionaries seek to identify, understand, and overcome their own inheritance. The Bolshevik Revolution was no exception. The Bolsheviks were obsessed with the legacy of both the tsarist social order and the economic and cultural forces of capital that had been gestating in the womb of the ailing autocracy ...
1 “Morel’s Children”
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We see the birth of a multitude of Morel’s children with defective and extremely weak constitutions, representatives with perverted gastric and sexual urges, a breed of people distinguished by their diseased cruelty, bloodthirstiness, and the absence of any trace of It might seem paradoxical that the degenerative model came to exert such ...
2 The Etiology of Degeneration
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By the end of the nineteenth century, a consensus of sorts had emerged within the human sciences in Russia that degenerates did not constitute a separate species of humanity. Rather, they were the fallen, or the children of the fallen, firmly embedded in the matrix of sociohistorical forces that had shaped both their milieu and their heredity.1 The absence of obvious envi-...
3 “The Flesh and Blood of Society”
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Young and adult criminals are born and live in the midst of soci-ety; they are its reflection; they are “the flesh of its flesh, and the In 1913, the psychiatrist Samuel L'vovich Tsetlin (1878–?) reported in the influential Sovremennaia psikhiatriia on the case of a young man who had killed his father. Sergei Martionov had entered his father’s room very early ...
4 “Microbes of the Mind”
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In the secrets of the human soul, beyond the sphere of conscious-ness, there are hidden mental foundations, capable, in the pres-ence of the necessary conditions, of manifesting themselves in life.Lev Tolstoi’s War and Peace, published in 1869, contains an arresting scene depicting the lynching of a young man. Vereshchagin stands accused of dis-...
5 Social Isolation and CoerciveTreatment after the Revolution
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If ancient Themis only listened to the description of an offense person of the criminal, we biologists should not only regard him In 1927, the criminologist G. N. Udal'tsov published a study entitled “Criminal Offenses in the Armed Forces from the Perspective of Patho-logical Physiology” in the authoritative Obozrenie psikhiatrii, nevrologii ...
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In 1929, Ivan Vvedenskii argued that psychiatry was the branch of medicine in which coercion was “the rule rather than the exception.” He explained the principle of coercion is deployed specifically and systematically in psychia-try. . . . The premise for the deployment of psychiatric coercion is the thought that mental illness distorts the individual’s capacity to understand his situation ...
Bibliography of Primary Sources
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Page Count: 248
Publication Year: 2008