In 1903 Bogdan Kistiakovsky railed against Lenin's concept of a vanguard party to lead the revolution, remarking that he did not want to see the Romanov autocracy replaced with the despotism of Lenin in the name of the dictatorship of the proletariat. His charge was wholly consistent with a life (1868–1920) devoted to the development of rule of law in the Russian Empire—a new government based on respect for national minorities, human rights, and constitutional federalism. Susan Heuman's study shows the fresh urgency of Kistiakovsky's ideas as Russia, Ukraine, and the other countries of the former Soviet Union seek to establish precisely those values that Kistiakovsky put forth ninety years ago. Heuman's analysis and portrait of Kistiakovsky will provoke scholars of Russian and Ukrainian intellectual history to reassess early twentieth-century politics and society in the Russian Empire.
[Heuman's] lucid scholarly account places [Kistiakovsky] firmly in his social and intellectual context, and provides a fascinating picture of the complex intermingling of diverse currents of thought in the early twentieth-century Russian Empire.
Susan Heuman is Associate Professor of History at Manhattanville College.