Brest-Litovsk as a Site of Historical Disorientation

  • Dina Gusejnova


This chapter identifies historical disorientation as an aspect of liberal political thought in the decades following the Second World War. Using Isaiah Berlin’s intellectual biography as a basis, Gusejnova examines his disenchantment with the ideas of Immanuel Kant alongside his alienation from the more recent historical experience of the Eastern European Jews. Berlin argued that modern liberalism needed a ‘negative’ conceptualisation, which he compared to a citadel into which the subject could retreat. Pointing to a more geographically specific knowledge of citadels in Eastern Europe, Gusejnova suggests dating the emergence of this way of thinking to the Peace of Brest-Litovsk and the citadel of Brest. While continental intellectual historians like Hans Saner and Reinhart Koselleck had addressed the subject of unjust peace treaties, it was Berlin’s and later John Rawls’s estranged attitude towards recent history that prevailed as the more dominant view in Cold War political thought.


Isaiah Berlin Reinhart Koselleck Realism Cold War liberalism Negative liberty Liberalism Jewish history Zionism Brest-Litovsk First World War Transnational history of war Subaltern Pale of Settlement Recognition Non-recognition Citadel Negative citizenship Citizenship and exclusion 


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Copyright information

© The Author(s) 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.University of SheffieldSheffieldUK

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