Russian revolutionary terrorism, British liberals, and the problem of empire (1884-1914)

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Britain in the fin de siècle was home to many significant communities of political émigrés. Among Russian revolutionaries who made London their home were Sergei Stepniak and Feliks Volkhovskii, forced to flee Russia as a result of their revolutionary activities in the 1870s. Britain became a symbol of liberty in their writings as a source of comparison with tsarist rule. These comparisons also supported their justifications of the use of terrorism by Russian revolutionaries when writing for audiences with concerns about the use of terrorism in Britain. The emphasis on Russian otherness in these comparisons also helped to justify their opposition to Russian imperialism, while at the same time praising a benevolent imperialism rooted in social and cultural activism. Their thought represents a blending of liberal and socialist ideas employed to place the Russian experience beyond the scope of modernity and liberal political understanding.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)633-648
Number of pages16
JournalHistory of European Ideas
Issue number5
Publication statusPublished - 7 Apr 2020

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