Money, Banks and Finance in Economic Thought

The specifics of the economic modelling of Vladimir Bazarov - Russian thermoeconomist

Burina Elizaveta, Paris 1 Pantheon-Sorbonne
Cot Annie Lou, CES, University Paris 1 Pantheon-Sorbonne

This paper investigates the methodological peculiarities of the economic modelling conducted by Vladimir Bazarov, “one of the intellectual lights of the Bolshevik movement” and “the leading economist of Gosplan”, according to Alexander Erlich1. Bazarov was one of those outstanding personalities of Russian history whose memory was swept away by a ruthless Soviet Union machine. He advocated wide implementation of mathematical methods in economics, which was considered as “machism and manifestation of bourgeois methodology” by some Soviet writers, whose gaze was clouded by the ideological aspects. Bazarov’s main theoretical task was to find the equation, describing the restauration process of the Soviet economy in 1920-1930, in order to provide the lacking theoretical foundations for the social planning. The result of Bazarov’s great theoretical work was his book “Capitalist cycles and the restoration process of the USSR economy”. The preface to this book stated that it was an attempt “to apply to the study of the social dynamic laws constructive models constructed in the image of the models in natural sciences”. It is exactly Bazarov specific methodology that is the focus of this paper. Bazarov was using this analogical approach to describe the market saturation mechanisms as the reactions caused by adding a significant amount of hydrochloric acid to the solution of sodium bicarbonate. Also, he viewed money emission process as a perfect gas motion. His equation of the laws of money emission is identical to that of ideal gases, the money supply corresponding to the pressure of the gas, the price of the ruble (or any other currency) to the volume of the gas, and the market capacity to the energy level of the system. However, the most exciting was Bazarov’s attempt to build the model of social production process, based mainly on the analogy with the second law of thermodynamics and Marxist ideas of labor. This could help with achieving the “highest goal of the cognitive work of mankind”, and according to Bazarov, this goal was the “monistic universal science”. That Bazarov’s attempt of building the complete socio-economic theory in the image of thermodynamics failed due to a measurement issue. In his theoretical framework social labor and its products were measured in energy units, ergs. However, the intellectual and physical labor, bringing the same exhaustion to workers, the same results in terms of production burn different amount of energy, therefore, erg as a measurement unit does not reflect all the specifics of social labor. However, he did not abandon the idea of borrowing modelling logic from physics. He claimed: “Since we are dealing with massive and anarchic market process there is no reason to believe that statistical patterns will work less precisely in market process modelling than in kinetic theory of gases or theory of solutions”.

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Keywords: Bazarov, Soviet planning, analogies, modelling

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