Elite conflicts in the three-century history of Russian modernization

Elite conflicts in the three-century history of Russian modernization

Article received: 2022.09.09. Accepted: 2022.10.28

DOI: 10.17976/jpps/2023.01.13

Rubric: DIXI!

For citation:

Sergeev V.M., Koktysh K.E. Elite conflicts in the three-century history of Russian modernization. – Polis. Political Studies. 2023. No. 1. P. 173-182. (In Russ.). https://doi.org/10.17976/jpps/2023.01.13. EDN: ECLGII


The article draws attention to the fundamental role of intra-elite conflicts during the modernization of Russia over the past three hundred years. In the process of modernization, two elite groups are distinguished: “innovators” and “guardians”. The fundamental role of conflicts in determining the political course of the country is shown based on three examples separated by significant time intervals: the fall of the “verkhovniki” at the end of the first third of the 18th century, the “Decembrists” movement and its fate after 1825, the conflict of the scientific and technical elite with the party leadership in the 1960-80’s. In Russia, in all three cases, the victory was won by the “guardians” – the opponents of political and socio-economic innovations, which led to the country’s significant lag behind from the trends of world development. It is shown that the outcomes of these “protective” policies were actions that delegitimized the political regime through repression against “innovators”. At the same time, the fundamental cause of the conflict was that neither the “innovators” nor the “guardians” were capable of cognitive deconstruction, and could not separate in the borrowed innovations, the scientific and technological component from the socio-political forms they had acquired in the West. The result was the destruction in Russian public opinion of the image of the government as a force leading to political success in the international arena. A country’s political leadership cannot be isolated from its leadership in scientific, technological and social progress. And awareness of the loss of prospects and development always inevitably leads to political and economic stagnation, and ultimately to the collapse of the regime, which is confirmed by the three studied examples from the history of Russian modernization.

intra-elite conflict in Russia, legitimization of power, scientific and technological progress, modernization process, scientific and technical elite.


Biryukov, N., & Sergeyev, V. (1997). Russian politics in transition. London: Routledge. 340 p.

Sergeyev, V., & Biryukov, N. (1993). Russia’s road to democracy. Parliament, communism and traditional culture. London: Edward Elgar Publishing. 240 p.

Weber, M. (1978). Economy and society: an outline of interpretive sociology. Berkeley, CA: University of California Press. Vol. 1, 752 p. Vol. 2, 829 p.

Huntington, S.P. (1996). The clash of civilizations and the remaking of the world order. New York: Simon & Schuster. 368 p.


Biryukov, N.I., & Sergeyev, V.M. (2004). Stanovlenie institutov predstavitel’noi vlasti v sovremennoi Rossii [Formation of institutions of representative power in modern Russia]. Moscow: Publishing Service Agency. 543 p. (In Russ.)

Dahrendorf, R. (2021). Versuchungen der Unfreiheit (Die Intellektuellen in Zeiten der Prufung). (Russ. ed.: Dahrendorf, R. Soblazny nesvobody. Intellektualy vo vremena ispytaniy. Moscow: New Literary Review. 360 p.).

Ehidel’man, N.Ya. (2017). Tvoi vosemnadtsatyi vek [Your eighteenth century]. St. Petersburg: AST. 384 p. (In Russ.)

Gordin, Ya.A. (2005). Mezhdu rabstvom i svobodoi [Between slavery and freedom]. St. Petersburg: Izdatel’stvo “Pushkinskogo fonda”. 280 p. (In Russ.)

Kamenskii, A.B. (2019). Ot Petra i do Pavla I: reformy v Rossii XVIII veka [From Peter I to Paul I: reforms in Russia in the 18th century]. St. Petersburg: Nauka. 671 p. (In Russ.)

Klyuchevskii, V.O. (1989). Kurs russkoi istorii [Course of Russian history]. Part 4. In V.O. Klyuchevskii. Sochineniya [Works]. In 9 vol. Vol. 4. Moscow: Mysl’. 398 p. (In Russ.)

Koktysh, K.E. (2021). Diskurs ratsionalizma, svobody i demokratii [The discourse of rationalism, freedom and democracy]. Moscow: MGIMO University publishing. 320 p. (In Russ.)

Kurukin, I.V., & Plotnikov, A.B. (2010). 19 yanvarya – 25 fevralya 1730: sobytiya, lyudi, dokumenty [January 19 – February 25, 1730: events, people, documents]. Moscow: Kvadriga; Ob’edinennaya redaktsiya MVD Rossii. 280 p. (In Russ.)

Nechkina, M.V. (1955). Dvizhenie dekabristov [Decembrist movement]. Vol. 1-2. Moscow: Publishing House of the Academy of Sciences of the USSR. Vol. I. 480 p. Vol. 2. 504 p. (In Russ.)

Sergeyev, V.M. (2013). Narodovlastie na sluzhbe ehlit [Democracy in the service of elites]. Moscow: MGIMO University. 265 p. (In Russ.)

Content No. 1, 2023

See also:

Etkin V.S.,
Scientific and Technological Progress and Security in a Multipolar World. – Polis. Political Studies. 1995. No5

Lapayeva V.V.,
Why the Intellectual Class of Russia Needs a Party of Its Own. – Polis. Political Studies. 2003. No3

Selezneva A.V., Rogozar-Kolpakova I.I., Filistovich Ye.S., Trofimova V.V., Dobrynina Ye.P., Streletz I.E.,
Russian political elite: analysis from the perspective of the human capital concept. – Polis. Political Studies. 2010. No4

Round Table Of The Political Science Faculty, Moscow State University,
Russian society and power on the eve of the elections. – Polis. Political Studies. 2012. No1

Ibragimova K.A., Barabanov O.N.,
The Right for Development: Innovations as the Global Common. – Polis. Political Studies. 2020. No2



   2024      2023      2022      2021   
   2020      2019      2018      2017      2016   
   2015      2014      2013      2012      2011   
   2010      2009      2008      2007      2006   
   2005      2004      2003      2002      2001   
   2000      1999      1998      1997      1996   
   1995      1994      1993      1992      1991