TWO THEMES HAVE DOMINATED Russian historiography in the West during the last two decades: the origins of the Revolutions of 1917 and the alternatives to them. First in chronology and first in importance were the search for the roots of the revolutions and tracing the sources of Bolshevik ideology. Concern with origins raised the question "what alternatives were there to the revolutionary solution?," for only through an understanding of the nature of the alternatives could the triumph of Bolshevism become fully intelligible. There was, of course, another reason as well: rehabilitate the "vanquished," because the picture of Russia before 1917 would not be complete if the "losers" (ideologically and socially) were omitted. After all, before they became the "losers" they were at times more prominent and significant than their then unknown Bolshevik conquerors. Thus during the last decade, largely under the stimulation and guidance of Professor M. Karpovich at Harvard, much attention and effort has been devoted to the study of Russian liberalism. 1 Yet, in spite of these efforts in clarifying, illustrating, and explaining specific events, personalities, and problems, no satisfactory overall picture or history of Russian liberalism has emerged thus far. The student of Russia's past has not received a satisfactory (or even partial) answer to the questions: was liberalism a really viable alternative to revolution, and if so, why did it display so little resistance to both reactionary and radical pressures? In the following pages I wish to clarify somewhat the state of our knowledge of Russian liberalism and suggest some reasons for the subordinate role it played in the intellectual, political, and social history of Imperial Russia during the nineteenth and early twentieth centuries. 2