No kind of liberal: Alexander II and the Sakhalin penal colony

Gentes, Andrew A. (2006) No kind of liberal: Alexander II and the Sakhalin penal colony. Jahrbucher fur Geschichte Osteuropas, 54 1: 321-343.

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Author Gentes, Andrew A.
Title No kind of liberal: Alexander II and the Sakhalin penal colony
Journal name Jahrbucher fur Geschichte Osteuropas   Check publisher's open access policy
ISSN 0021-4019
Publication date 2006
Sub-type Critical review of research, literature review, critical commentary
Volume 54
Issue 1
Start page 321
End page 343
Total pages 23
Editor E. Hoesch
K. Boeckh
Place of publication Stuttgart, Germany
Publisher Franz Steiner
Collection year 2006
Language eng
Subject C1
430108 History - European
780199 Other
2103 Historical Studies
Formatted abstract
Russia's was not alone among modern governments in failing to address adequately the problem of what to do with criminal offenders. Western penology with its rehabilitative prisons proved no more effective than exile to Siberia, and in many ways was more pernicious. This article has however avoided what would be a rather pointless qualitative comparison to demonstrate instead how a government that has traditionally been characterized as embarking upon liberal reform managed to establish a major police institution betokening the excesses of more recent times. Historians readily admit that a period of reaction set in no later than 1878, but they have portrayed the various reform era policies as reflecting a kind of bi-polarity within the Alexandrine government, with the tsar moving uncertainly between liberal and conservative agendas. This article has argued that the top leadership's intentions behind the reforms have been misunderstood. Presuming a priori that reform is meant to engender the kind of liberal contract characterizing state/society relations in Western democracies, historians have read a false intentionality into the late imperial government's policies. The result is that historians have characterized as reforms those policies which conform to Western liberal notions of governance, while ignoring or portraying as reactionary or traditional what I have characterized as coeval and compensatory police policies. Although legalists and liberal reformers influenced government during the late imperial period, their influence was slight. The paradigm embraced by top policy-makers was that of a Reglamentstaat rather than a Rechtsstaat, which means law was considered a bureaucratic device rather than a philosophic idyl. Thanks to this, Polizeistaat supporters found common cause with Reglamentstaat supporters via the bridge of bureaucratization. The top leadership never had any goal other than to strengthen autocracy. The case of the Sakhalin penal colony makes this clear, wherein a police (rather than a legalist) strategy was consistently pursued. The result was a bureaucratic police apparatus that countermanded rather than enhanced legal rights
Q-Index Code C1

Document type: Journal Article
Sub-type: Critical review of research, literature review, critical commentary
Collections: Excellence in Research Australia (ERA) - Collection
2007 Higher Education Research Data Collection
School of Historical and Philosophical Inquiry
 
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Created: Wed, 15 Aug 2007, 11:06:57 EST