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Establishment of Absolutism


The Petrine Transformation of the first quarter of the eighteenth century was connected, first of all, with the establishment of a new socio-political system in Russia known as absolutism. Absolutism means a reorganization of a traditional political system on rational foundations. 

Peter the Great

It is a regime that seeks to establish a sound logical base for its absolute and unchecked authority, rather than justify it by outdated references to tradition or the divine right of kings. The rationalization of the system of government effects all aspects of the life of society including politics, economy, social relations and culture. A start to the process of rationalization is usually provided by an overhaul of the administrative apparatus of  state and its bureaucracy. Administrative reform thus represents a chief element and a driving force of an overall modernization, with bureaucracy playing an increasingly important role in its implementation.

The nature and composition of the ruling elite itself undergoes change. The traditional right to ruling status based on the noble origin gradually gives way to an elite promoted to high positions on the principle of meritocracy.  Thus the rationalization of government leads to the bureaucratization of the elite, its transformation from a privileged class into a professional group of officials and administrators. The conflict of the two principles - high birth against merit - is only an external manifestation of a more fundamental transition from traditional feudal principles of civil service to its reorganization along more rational lines. This historical tendency was characteristic of  European development in general and signified a certain break in continuity of the forms and principles of civil service.

Peter introduced one of the most radical reforms of government in the history of  Russia. It followed two main directions. The first was the transformation of the entire system of governmental institutions which resulted in the replacement of an outdated, patriarchal administrative system of the Muscovite Russia by a more modern and streamlined governmental system. The second was the reorganization of the structure and composition of the administrative apparatus, which led to the emergence of the new bureaucracy and its subsequent consolidation as Russias new ruling class.

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Peter the Great


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