Prince Andrei Puts His Guiding Principles To Work
Brian E. Denton

In some formal sense as an absolute monarch, everything in Russia was under the control of Tsar Alexander I.

The reforms (mentioned at the start of ch. 4) proposed by Speransky involved a political level called in Russian the “волость” (volost — in Maudes’ translation “district tribunals”) which would have their own small versions of legislature, executive and judicial power. In size, one of these Volosts ought to extend not more than 12 versts (about 8 miles) out from its centre and have not more than 2000 adult male residents. The key decision-makers would be “village elders” rather than politicians.

There’s a popular idea in Russia that is still repeated, even by quite educated people, that large and complicated countries have to be managed by a powerful central authority. In fact, the reverse argument is far more convincing — a huge and chaotic territory is far beyond the abilities of one person to make all the decisions.

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