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Pan-Slavism

Pan-Slavism — an ideology that promotes cultural and/or political cooperation and unity among the Slavic peoples. The supporters of pan-Slavism understood the concept and its goals in different ways. Some hoped to achieve political unity for Slavic lands in the form of a federation, or through accepting the leadership of one of the largest Slavic peoples, such as the Poles or the Russians. Others considered pan-Slavism primarily as a movement to promote cultural ties and cooperation, whether among the South Slavs (Illyrianism) or the Slavic inhabitants of Austria-Hungary (*Austro-Slavism).

Conceptions of Slavic unity can be traced back to the seventeenth-century Croatian Jesuit writer Jurij Krizanic, who proposed the political unity of all Slavs under tsarist Russian rule. The term pan-Slavism itself dates probably from the 1820s, when it appears in the writings of the Slovak, Jan Herkel, but the idea was popularized through the work of another Slovak, Jan Kollar, in particular by his influential book, Uber die literarische Wechselseitigkeit zwischen den verschiedenen Stammen und Mundarten der slavisichen Nation (1837). Kollar argued for close cultural cooperation among Slavs but opposed decisively any ideas of political unity. The practical aspect of cultural unity was addressed by the Carpatho-Rusyns Ivan *Fogarashii and Mykhail *Luchkai, who argued in grammars published during the 1830s that the *Church Slavonic language should serve as a common literary language for all Slavic peoples. Emphasis on the cultural aspect of pan-Slavism was continued by the Czech national activists Karel Havlicek and Frantisek Palacky at the first Slavic Congress held in Prague during the Revolution of 1848.

The mid-nineteenth century also saw the rise of pan-Germanism, and with the subsequent ideological conflict between German and Russian nationalist writers pan-Slavism entered a new phase. For some of its proponents it came to mean the political union of all Slavic peoples under the patronage or direct rule of imperial Russia’s Romanov dynasty. In response, German, Austrian, and Hungarian nationalist writers—however incorrectly— associated the cultural revivals among the Habsburg Slavs with the efforts to create a “worldwide Russian Empire.” In fact, the idea of Slavic unity was viewed in two different ways: for the national awakeners among the Slavs of central Europe and the Balkans pan-Slavism was defensive in nature, that is, it was a means to help them survive as distinct cultural groups; for the Russian ideologists known as Slavophiles, pan-Slavism took on a nationalist character associated with the Russian Empire’s policy of expansion into central Europe and the Balkans.

On the eve of and during the Revolution of 1848 virtually all Slavic leaders in Austria and Hungary, including the Rusyn politician Adol’f *Dobrians’kyi, stressed Slavic cultural and political cooperation but within the framework of the Habsburg Empire. Their views came to be described as Austro-Slavism. For the Russian variant of pan-Slavism a turning point came in the 1870s, during the struggle of the Balkan Slavs (Bulgarians, Serbs, Montenegrins) against the Ottoman Empire, which culminated in the Russo-Turkish War of 1877-1878. Although the tsarist government did not openly support the Russian Slavophile view of pan-Slavism, the failure of the empire’s plans in the Balkans following the Congress of Berlin (1878) ended efforts to establish Russian “patronage” over Bulgaria or Serbia. An ideological crisis among the supporters of political pan-Slavism then led to a change in their views and the subsequent development of *neo-Slavism.

Among Carpatho-Rusyn activists, in particular the *Russophiles, there was in the course of the twentieth century strong sympathy for pan-Slavism as a means to assure the survival of Rusyns within the various state structures in which they have lived. At the outset of the twenty-first century the Rusyn religious and cultural activist Dymytrii *Sydor has advocated pan-Slavic views. Sydor has participated in the Slavic Congress based in Moscow, which has met in 1999 and 2001 and that claims descendence from the first gathering in Prague in 1848.

Bibliography: Aleksandr N. Pypin, Panslavizm v proshlom i nastoiashchem (St. Petersburg, 1913); Andreas Brodi, “Der Panslawismus und die Russinen des Karpatenlandes,” Sudostdentsche Rundschau, II, 6 (Budapest, 1943), pp. 443-451; Michael Boro Petrovich, The Emergence of Russian Panslavism, 1856-1870 (New York and London, 1956); Hans Kohn, Pan-Slavism: Its History and Ideology (New York, 1960); John Erickson, Panslavism (London, 1964); Ivan M. Hranchak, ed., Idei slov”ians’koi iednosti ta suspil’na dumka na Zakarpatti v XIX-XX st. (Uzhhorord, 1999).

Paul Robert Magocsi

Ivan Pop

Entry courtesy of Encyclopedia of Rusyn History and Culture.
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