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Pochvennichestvo (Russian: Почвенничество, roughly Return to the Soil from почва, pochva, the Russian word for soil) was a late 19th-century Russian Ultra-Nationalist movement tied in closely with its contemporary ideology, the Slavophile movement. Both were for the complete emancipation of serfdom, and both campaigns stressed a strong desire to return to the idealized past of Russia's history, and both were driven towards anti-Europeanization. In addition, they also chose a complete rejection of the Nihilist, classical liberal, and Marxist movements of the time. The primary focus was instead to change Russian society through the humbling of the self, and social reform through the Russian Orthodox Church, rather than the radical implementations of the intelligentsia.

The major differences between the Slavophiles and the Pochvennichestvo were that the prior detested the Westernization policies of Peter the Great while the latter praised what were seen as the benefits of the notorious ruler, while still maintaining a strong patriotic mentality for the Russian People, Church, and Autocracy. Another major difference was that many of the movement's leaders and supporters adopted a militantly Anti-Protestant, Anti-Catholic, and anti-semitic stance.

The concept had its roots in the works of the German philosopher Johann Gottfried Herder which focused primarily on emphasizing the differences amongst people and regional cultures.[1][2] In addition it rejected the universalism of the Enlightenment period. The most prominent Russian intellectuals who founded this ideology were Nikolay Strakhov, Nikolay Danilevsky and Konstantin Leontyev.

Fyodor Dostoyevsky also adhered to it, and expresses these views in his novel Demons. The ideology was later adopted by Alexander III and Nicholas II.[citation needed]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ The Dostoevsky Encyclopaedia
  2. ^ Dostoevsky the Thinker