Markets, Productivity, and Happiness in a Historical Perspective

Radishchev on Happiness and Welfare: Cameralist Discourse

Raskov Danila, Helsinki Collegium for Advanced Studies

Radishchev received an education of a civil servant, with cameralism played an important role in it. Radishchev read cameralists, in particular, Justi, Sonnenfels, and such old cameralists as Schröder and others. He was concerned with administration and improvement, i.e. with a well-organized state. He devoted many years and efforts to civil service and was a true “cameralist of the bureau”, an ideal civil servant, and was seeking to create a system of proper collection of customs duties, to govern the relations between merchants and customs officers, and to streamline the principles of administration, sequencing and employee rotation. Radishchev never mentions intellectual tradition of cameralism but we see that he belongs to it in many aspects, challenges it and develops it as a practitioner and an author. In our paper we would like to focus on a “Journey from St. Petersburg to Moscow”. In a chapter “Khotilov. Project for the Future” there is a discussion on happiness: Civic welfare can appear in various forms. Blessed is the state, they say, when peace and order reign. Blessed it seems when its fields are not barren and when in its cities proud buildings soar. Blessed they call it when the power of its arms extends far and it reigns beyond itself not only through force but also through the power of the word over the opinions of others. But all these forms of welfare can be called superficial, momentary, ephemeral, partial, and theoretical”. (Journey, p. 134). Our purpose is to understand it better comparing with Justi’s “Explanation on the Science of Police” where “the science of police is in knowing which reasonable rules should be derived from the current status of the public sphere in order to support and augment the general welfare of the state in its internal arrangement, to make it, on the whole and in all its parts, more conducive to and useful for ensuring that everyone is blessed. In short, the science of police is a doctrine about how we can support and augment the general welfare of the state, set up and make successful the furtherance of everyone’s blissfulness.”


Keywords: Cameralism, Happiness, Welfare, eighteenth century, Radishchev