N.I. Sieber as a solitary but influent scholar

TERRA ECONOMICUS, , Vol. 14 (no. 4),

Nikolay Ivanovich Sieber was without doubt an influent scholar. But at the same time he was isolated, writing a big deal of his production from Switzerland. How is it possible, for a scholar that is not a Minister, not a popular professor among his students, not an applied economist all the time on the roads, but instead a library rat, a scholar sitting at his desk, an armchair economist, to have such an influence on the course of political economy? The controversy between Sieber and Chicherin on the significance of Marx as an economist is first taken as an example of Sieber’s influence. The paper then shows that what is known today on Sieber’s network is very lacunar. Especially, Sieber lived during a decade in Switzerland, in the cities of Bern and of Zurich, and his contacts at the time are only vaguely known. There was a vast diaspora of exiled Russians in Switzerland, including many Russian revolutionaries and Ukrainian activists. Russian citizens travelling legally in Switzerland, especially for education purposes, also commonly visited the cities in which Sieber lived. Sieber presumably met these people, and this is what suggests the scarce sources that we know. It is also difficult at this stage to ascertain his network of correspondents from Russia. And we know nothing about his links with local Swiss people. As a conclusion, Sieber’s characterization as a solitary scholar is perhaps to be retained temporarily only, and his network is to be investigated further to get a fuller picture of his influence among his contemporaries.

Keywords: N.I. Sieber; armchair economist; network

  • Chicherin B.N. (1878). German socialists. 2. Karl Marx. Digest of state knowledge, vol. 6, pp. 1–39. (In Russian.)
  • Chicherin B.N. (1882–1883). Property and State (2 vols). Moscow: Martynov. (In Russian.)
  • Dmitriev V.K. (1908) Theory of value (review of the literature in the Russian language). Critical Review, no. 8, pp. 12–26. (In Russian.)
  • Karataev N.K. (1956). Economic sciences at the University of Moscow (1755–1955). Moscow: Moscow Univ. Press. (In Russian.)
  • Klejnbort L. M. (1923). Nikolay Ivanovich Sieber. Petrograd: Kolos Publ. (In Russian.)
  • Rezul Ya.G. (1931). N.I.Sieber (Bibliography). Katorga i ssylka, no. 7, Pp. 142–174. (In Russian.)
  • Sieber N.I. (1871). Theory of value and capital of D. Ricardo in relation to the latest contributions and interpretations. Kiev: University. (In Russian.)
  • Sieber N.I. (1878). Lassalle through Chicherin’s glasses. Word, no. 4, pp. 65–120. (In Russian.)
  • Sieber N.I. (1879). B. Chicherin contra Karl Marx (Critique of the Critic). Slovo, no. 2, pp. 63–103. (In Russian.)
  • Sieber N.I. (1885). David Ricardo and Karl Marx in their social-economical researches. St. Petersburg: Stasyulevich. (In Russian.)
  • Bourdieu P. (1990). Homo Academicus. Cambridge: Polity. (French original ed. 1984.)
  • Eaton H. (1980). Marx and the Russians. Journal of the History of Ideas, vol. 41, no 1, pp. 89–112.
  • Kappeler A. (1989). N.I. Ziber – Mikola Ziber – Niclaus Sieber. Ein Schweizer als Wegbereiter des Marxismus in Russland / In: Goehrke C., Kemball R. and Weiss D. (ed.) Primi sobran’e prestryh glav. Slavistische und slavenkundliche Beiträge für Peter Brang zum 65. Geburtstag. Bern: Peter Lang, pp. 671–684.
  • Marx K. ([1873] 1976). Postface to the second German edition of Capital / In: Capital, vol. 1. London: Penguin and New Left Review.
  • Smith D.N. (2001). The spectral reality of value: Sieber, Marx, and commodity fetishism. Research in Political Economy, vol. 19, pp. 47–66.
  • Struve P.B. (1934). My Contacts and Conflicts with Lenin (I). The Slavonic and East European Review, vol. 12, no. 36, pp. 573–595.
  • White J.D. (1996). Karl Marx and the Intellectual Origins of Dialectical Materialism. New York: St. Martin’s.
Publisher: Southern Federal University
Founder: Southern Federal University
ISSN: 2073-6606