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Lecture 7

The Rise of “Muslim Democracy” by Vali Nasr (Lecture 7: Religion and Politics - July 25)

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Alison Smith

HIS250Y1 Y Conceptions of Power in the Muscovite State Alison Smith Neka 10/25/2010 Treason was seen as an evil deed that truly threatened the Muscovite state. The Muscovite Law Code represented the ideologies in relation to the state of Muscovy and their conception of power. The Law Code gives a general idea of what constituted treason in Muscovy; the attempts to fracture or falter the well-being of the sovereign and to destroy, seize or question the control of the Muscovite state. This reflects conceptions of power in the Muscovite state; expressing the ruler’s right to rule unconditionally, and the people’s duty to follow and respect the ruler and the laws unconditionally, by presenting the ruler as not open to outside criticism or opinions and one who must have constant dominance over the people. A part of what constituted treason in Muscovy are the attempts to destroy, seize control or question the Muscovite state. Being punished with death is a reflection of the Tsar ruling unconditionally. This concept of ruling unconditionally is shown through many of the codes in the Muscovite Law Code. The law regarding the effort to seize control of the Muscovite state is an example of this. …if in the realm of his tsarist majesty, someone, desiring to seize possessions of the Muscovite state and to become sovereign, begins to assemble an armed force to effect his evil intention; or, if someone proceeds to make friends with enemies of [his] tsarist majesty, and to establish secret relationships by [exchanging] advisory letters, and to render them aid in various ways so that those enemies of the sovereign, 2 using his secret relationship with the enemy, may take possession of the Muscovite state, or commit any other bad deed; and someone denounces his activity; and after that denunciation his treason is established conclusively: punish such a traitor with death accordingly (Ulozhenie 2:2). This code makes clear that any attempts at attacking or disrespecting the tsarist majesty will not be tolerated by any means. Even the reference to an attack on the tsar’s sovereignty as an “evil intention” shows how this reflects this conception of power. Anyone who steps up against the Muscovite state is considered evil and their intentions are evil as if the state is good and is ruling unconditionally for the good of the people which further enforces the dominance of the ruler. Another code also shows the idea of outside ideas or thoughts that go against the sovereign are considered evil. If someone by any intent proceeds to think up an evil deed against the sovereign’s well-being, and someone denounces his evil intent, and after that denunciation that evil intent of his is established conclusively, that he conceived all evil deed against his tsarist majesty, and he intended to carry it out: after investigation, punish such a person with death (Ulozhenie 2:1). In this case as well, “evil” thoughts against the tsarist majesty are seen as a serious 3 threat against the Muscovite state and are punishable by death. It should be noted that this code is not at all specific about what can be considered “evil” which would allow for the Muscovite state to use this to control and manage the people very easily. Questioning or attempting to destroy the state with evil intentions reflects the people’s duty to follow and respect the ruler and the laws unconditionally by showing that the Muscovite state is not open to outside opinions or criticisms. This also ties to the well-being of the state. If that is threatened, there are consequences as well. An individual does not even necessarily have to carry out an act of evil against the sovereign; they merely have to th
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