Development and Underdevelopment in the History of Economic Thought

Alexander Radishchev as a Cameralist

Raskov Danila, Associate Professor

Cameralist texts were extensively translated into Russian in the eighteenth century and used in official rhetoric. A new question to be asked: Did Russia had a genuine Cameralism in the 18th century? Raeff (1983) tended to agree in terms of the ordinances system modernized by Peter I and Catherine II, the voluminous translations of Justi, Bielefeld and Sonnenfels gave “books” evidence of Cameralism. Nevertheless, the necessary reservations speak on “the elements” of Cameralism, or on the striking similarities caused by the same challenges. The most important aim of the paper is to reconstruct the ideas and the practical actions of the famous Russian Enlightener – Alexander Radishchev (1749-1802). He came from a nobleman family, after the Corps de Pages at St. Petersburg among twelve outstanding youths studied at the University of Leipzig (1766-1771) as a potential elite of Catherine II. After coming back served in different Departments and became the Director of Customs Office in St. Petersburg but after the publication of “Journey from St. Petersburg to Moscow” was condemned to death and exiled to Siberia (1790-1797), returned by Paul I and took part in the Commission of revising the Code. Radishchev is the author of treaties on the law, reforms of custom, philosophical reflections. In the same time he had a vast practical experience, he served as a titular councilor of the Senate dealing with trade, customs, the sale of salt, the issue of money and even questions of foreign policy and later as an inspector and director of St. Petersburg customs office. So, Radishchev was both a man of books and a man of bureau. In tracing the cameralism of Radishchev we are going to reconstruct his education in Leipzig University, to follow his arguments in his treaties on law and customs, to evaluate his bureaucratic work in the Senate and custom, and, finally, to study his library where the books of Gundling, Schroeder, Sonnenfels, Justi and Pfieffer could be found.


Keywords: Cameralism, Russian Economic thought, Radishchev, Eighteenth-century