Decabrism as a new social-political movement emerged among Russian aristocracy at the beginning of the 19th century. This first generation of Russian intelligentsia was under the influence of western liberal ideas. They made an effort to transform Russian political system according to those ideas. The split between the enlightened layer of the gentry and the tsar occurred as inevitable result and, at the same time, the insurrection of 12th December 1825 provided evidence that western ideas had been assimilated. The phenomenon of decabrism can be investigated in two aspects: its relation to the villeins and to the authority. Convinced of dignity, decabrists recognised the autocratic system as the main factor hampering the progress understood as liberty and respect for a human. They represented person-centred type, as opposed to the system-centred one. One of characteristics in the portrait of intelligentsia is their ambivalence: compassion for the villeins and reluctance, which is vivid in political thought of the next generation of enlightened Russians. Decabrists defined themselves by ethical categories first, then by political ones. Regarding themselves debtors of the lower layers, decabrists felt moral obligation to repay the debt: they inculcated this idea into next generations of Russian intelligentsia. In the mind of the intelligentsia there coexist the strong desire to make the villeins free and push the country towards progress, mediating function between lower layers and the authority, radicalism of attitudes, and a sense of mission. The very movement of decabrism, the insurrection and its repercussions caused significant changes in the field of culture. The existing culture, based on traditional values, was radically questioned.
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