“Reflections of a Russian Statesman” by Konstantin Pobedonostsev

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Reflections of a Russian Statesman

Konstantin Petrovich Pobyedonostsyev (1827-1907) was a Russian jurist, statesman and adviser to three Tsars. A law lecturer, he became a senator, then Ober-Procurator of the Holy Synod, the lay head of the Orthodox Church — a position established to bring the Church more under the control of the Tsar. As such, Pobedonostsev was a member of Alexander III’s cabinet.

In his “Reflections of a Russian Statesman” (1896), he promoted autocracy, and condemned elections, representation and democracy, the jury system, the press, free education and charities. Of representative government, he wrote, “It is terrible to think of our condition if destiny had sent us the fatal gift — an all-Russian Parliament.”

This edition of “Reflections of a Russian Statesman” also contains “The Manifesto on Unshakable Autocracy”. This was issued by Tsar Alexander III on April 29, 1881 (old style), about two months after the assassination of his father, Alexander II. Influenced by, if not written by, Pobedonostsev, the manifesto rejected the more liberal reforms of Alexander’s father (and some of his father’s ministers) in favour of the “unshakable autocracy” which had been given to the tsars as a sacred duty from God. The document summed up Alexander’s counter-reform policies.

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“Popular Government” by Sir Henry Sumner Maine

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Sir Henry Sumner Maine was an English comparative jurist and historian of law. He worked in the Government of India, where Sir James Fitzjames Stephen was one of his successors.

In “Popular Government”, Maine argues that democracy is neither stable nor desirable.

“Popular Government” is part of the Froude Society canon, and is required reading for membership.

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“Liberty, Equality, Fraternity” by Sir James Fitzjames Stephen

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Sir James Fitzjames Stephen, 1st Baronet QC (1829-1894) was a Victorian judge and writer. He was a friend of Sir Henry Sumner Maine, who introduced him to the Cambridge Apostles.

As a lawyer he was counsel to the Jamaica Committee of 1866. This was organised by John Stuart Mill and called for the prosecution of Edward Eyre, Governor of Jamaica, for his actions in suppressing the Morant Bay rebellion of 1865. However, while Stephen held that the defendants were guilty of legal murder, he extended considerable sympathy to them and thought that they were probably morally justified. From then on, Mill was cool to him.

“Liberty, Equality, Fraternity” is Stephen’s refutation of John Stuart Mill’s “On Liberty”.

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“Anti-Machiavel”, by Frederick the Great

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Anti-Machiavel was written by Frederick the Great, Frederick II of Prussia, in 1739, in response to Machiavelli’s The Prince. It was extensively revised by Voltaire, of whom Frederick was patron. It was published in September 1740, and its authorship, which was a very open secret, made the book an instant success.
Frederick’s argument is moral. He argues that the King is charged with maintaining the health and prosperity of his subjects, and must lead by example. If the King is evil, his evil actions will be taken up by his subjects. Frederick points out the bad ends met by some of those praised by Machiavelli.

Mencius Moldbug wrote of Anti-Machiavel, “It’s an obvious basis for the corporate culture of government for profit”, describing “cameralism, the governing philosophy of Frederick the Great, whose Anti-Machiavel is good reading for anyone wondering what went wrong in the 19th and 20th centuries.”

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“The Ego and His Own” by Max Stirner

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Max Stirner exhorts us to rid our minds of “spooks” — abstract ideas with no concrete basis — in this remarkable little book. It was praised by American anarchists in the early 20th century, who produced this translation, but it is also useful for neoreactionaries.

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