Scholarly Comments on Academic Economics

To Russia with Love: Boris Chicherin’s 1857 “Contemporary Tasks of Russian Life”

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In this essay published in 1857, Chicherin surveys the structural and historical circumstances that have made for the contemporary situation of Russian society, Russian law, and Russian institutions and culture generally. He assesses the situation to address the tasks before the Russians. In interpreting the situation and the tasks ahead, he develops a conservative liberalism suitable to Russia at the time. The essay gives expression to what Chicherin in other works listed as the “seven principles” of civil liberty: freedom on conscience, of speech, and of the press; openness of court proceedings and government business; academic freedom and freedom from the servile status of serfdom. He writes: “Our entire discussion suggests that freedom of speech is essential in Russia. Therefore, one should bring it to the forefront as the cornerstone of liberal politics.”