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sábado, outubro 22, 2016

ON PRIVATE PROPERTY

"Russia's absolutism showed particular qualities that distinguished it from that of the Bourbon's, Stuart's, or Hohenzollern's. European travellers to Muscovy in the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries, when ancien régime absolutism stood at its zenith, were impressed by the differences between what they were accustomed to at home and what they saw in Russia. The peculiar features of Russian absolutism in its early form, which lasted from the fourteenth until late eighteenth century, were marked by the virtual absence  of the institution of private property, which in the West confronted royal power with effective limits to its authority. In Russia, the very concept of property (in the Roman sense of dominion over objects) was unknown until introduced in the second half of the eighteenth century by the German-born Catherine II. Muscovite Russia had been run like a private estate, its inhabitants and territories, with everything they contained, being treated as property of the Crown. (...)
The Great Russian peasant, with centuries of serfdom in his bones, not only did not crave for civil and political rights, but... held such notions in contempt. Government had to be willful and strong - that is, able to exact unquestioned obedience. A limited government, subject to external restraints and tolerant to criticism, seemed to him a contradiction in terms. To the officials charged with administering the country and familiar with these peasant attitudes, a Western-type constitutional order spelled one thing only: anarchy. The peasants would interpret it to mean the release from al of obligations to the state which they fulfilled only because they had no choice: no more taxes, no more recruits, and, above all, no more tolerance of private property in land".

Richard Pipes, The Russian Revolution 1899-1919, Fontana Press, 1992, pp.54-56

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