The Cultural Populism of Iosif I. Kablits (Yuzov) and its Foundations

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Abstract


This article reconstructs the cultural doctrine of the famous publicist of populism (narodnichestvo), I.I. Kablits (Yuzov). To just equate Kablits’ views with the slogan of “yuzovshchina” would be a narrow interpretation of his kul'turnichestvo; the slogan is characteristic for extreme right-wing populism during the upsurge of the revolutionary populist movement (narodovol'cheskoe dvizhenie). In 1880, Kablits was the first of the legal populists to pose the question, “What is populism?” According to the publicist, “true” narodnichestvo should be based on the principle that the forms of public life of the people must be in conformity with the development level of their consciousness. The author explains Kablits’ evolution from Bakunism to a peasant-centered narodnichestvo by his interpretation of the reasons for the split between the intelligentsia and the people. Kablits considered them antagonists, and defined the ultimate goal of the narodniki as the liberation of the people from the power of the “intellectualbureaucratic minority,” the latter supposedly trying to subjugate the life of the masses to its will. The article analyzes the main provisions of Kablits’ sociocultural concept of social transformations: apolitism, populism, and the initiative of the masses. The article identifies the differences between his program of developing the “cultural identity” of the people, on the one hand, and other populists' understanding of the tasks of “cultural work,” on the other. Particular attention is paid to Kablits-Yuzov's attitude towards the problem of educating the masses. Kablits was one of the few Russian populists who opposed the idea that the foundations of the worldview of the people must be changed, arguing that this would eliminate the traditional moral values of the village, including the sense of collectivism. The author assesses how Kablits, the leading publicist of the newspaper Nedelya, contributed to the establishment of a cultural direction in narodnichestvo at the turn of the 1870s and 1880s. According to the author, Kablits played a leading role in shaping the ideology of the right flank of the cultural direction in narodnichestvo. However, the “pure” populism of Kablits turned out to be too pseudo-scientific, dogmatic and irrational to attract the democratic intelligentsia for a long time; the latter had already become disillusioned with the idea of the people as the creator of new forms of social life.


About the authors

Gennadiy N. Mokshin

Voronezh State University

Author for correspondence.
Email: mok410@mail.ru
394068, Russia, Voronezh, Moskovsky pr., 88

Doktor Istoricheskikh Nauk [Dr. habil. hist.], Professor of the Department of Russian History

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