BETWEEN BOHEMIA AND RUSSIA: ĽUDOVÍT ŠTÚR, SLOVAK IDENTITY, AND THE CONTROVERSIES OF THE SLAVIC WORLD
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This essay tries to analyse the ‘Slav idea’, the structure of ‘Slavic thought’ of Ľudovít Štúr, and to explain why it was an attractive ideological option for him. Štúr’s Das Slawenthum und die Welt der Zukunft is seen as more or less a natural continuation of his life-long ideological tendencies. But it is also argued that Štúr can be seen as a man with ‘two souls’ in his political personality. On the one hand, his activities were part of the Slav and Central European struggle for national emancipation, social reform, and democratic rights. On the other hand, many of his writings were marked by a belief in the special character and historical mission of the Slavs, and of the Slovaks and the Russians in particular. His All-Slav ideas were reinforced by the influence of Russian Slavophiles and Pan-Slavists, furthering the conviction that Slav political unity was to be implemented under Russian leadership. The Slovaks were seen as having remained linguistically closest to the original Slavs living in the Pannonian homeland and, therefore, as a special Slav group. Russia was seen as the political centre that was needed to unite the Slavs and to confer on them the leading historical role that Herder and Kollár had foreseen they would play. Meanwhile the values of democracy, equality, and other European ideals retreated to the margins. Aside from preserving the ‘old Slav village community’ as a model of social justice, the Slav idea was incapable of producing any remarkable social or political ideas. Instead it idealised Tsarist autocracy and the Orthodox Church as a conservative alternative to modern Europe.
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