Development and Underdevelopment in the History of Economic Thought

West-Russia- West: some patterns of interrelatonship and the case Haxthausen-Tchernyshevsky-Marx

Avtonomov Vladimir, NRU Higher School of Economics

Several stories of interrelations between Russian and European economists which point to a certain general scheme. In this scheme economic ideas usually come to Russia from the West. Then they are modified (often very significantly) according to specific Russian circumstances . After that sometimes a certain feedback occurs – the modified ideas in their turn influence some Western European economists of next generations. We must however underline that this type of interrelations was not predominant: the last stage (feedback) occurred rather seldom. The Russan modifications of Western ideas arise because of different factors. Among them must be included such elements of Russian (orthodox)partistic legacy (Zweynert J. 2002: 31-35) as 1. Essentialist- organic holism (unity of faith and thinking, unity of individual and society, unity of the state and the church 2. Antropocentrism – emphasis on social questions and moral norms 3. Mistical realism which means the emphasys on spiritual, non material world (this attitude looks completely non-economical but paradoxically this element happens to be one of the most important in our case) But there are other factors including the special importance of peasants’ question and slavery, achievements of Russia in the fields of mathematics (especially probability theory and statistics) and certainly the unique experience of building a planned economy. The scheme “West-Russia-West” became particularly visible after 1890-ies when the Russian economic science reached the stage of maturity. Russian economists of this period and their relations with Western thought will be presented in other papers of our section. My contribution will predominantly concentrate on the case Haxthausen – Tchernyshevsky – Marx. Paradoxically the problem of Russian commons (obshina) was introduced into the Russian context by a German scholar August von Haxthausen who undertook the first extensive empirical survey of Russian agricultural settlements


Keywords: Russian economic thought, interelations between Western and Russian economic thought, Karl Marx, Nikolay Tchernyshevsky, August von Haxthausen