«Economics and Law of Primitive Society»: An inquiry into the epistolary heritage of Nikolaj Sieber
Danila E. Raskov
TERRA ECONOMICUS, 2020, Vol. 18 (no. 3),
The article deals with the epistolary heritage of Nikolaj Ivanovich Sieber (1844–1888), who was a representative of the classical political economy and a follower of Ricardo and Marx. Since Sieberʼs personal archive has not survived, the legacy is presented in twentytwo letters, which he addressed mainly from Europe to Pyotr Lavrov, Rosalia Idelson, Pyotr Kropotkin, Pavel Axelrod, and to his closest friends and colleagues – Alexander Chuprov and Ivan Yanzhul. Collected from the archives of St. Petersburg, Moscow and Amsterdam, Sieberʼs letters shed light on the circle of his correspondents, the nature of relations with publishers and editors, and clarify a number of issues of his theoretical legacy. In the context of the debate about the nature of Sieberʼs Marxism, the letters reinforce the position that he was a consistent theoretical Marxist and adherent of classical political economy. The details connected with the publication of the book «Essays on the Primitive Economic Culture» are extremely important. For researchers, it remained not entirely clear why Sieber never introduces the concept of «economic culture» and practically did not use it in his work. Correspondence with Yanzhul made it clear that the author proposed a different title – «Economics and Law of Primitive Society». This title clearly corresponds to the logic of the book, since it focuses primarily on the comparison of two spheres of the evolution of primitive, pre-state society strictly interconnected: economic institutions and legal relations. In general, the letters of Sieber indirectly confirmed the thesis that he was a consistent Marxist before the appearance of Marxism and an economist-anthropologist before the advent of economic anthropology.
Citation: Raskov, D. E. (2020). «Economics and Law of Primitive Society»: An inquiry into the epistolary heritage of Nikolaj Sieber. Terra Economicus, 18(3), 87–107. DOI: 10.18522/2073-6606-2020-18-3-87-107
Acknowledgment: The article was written with the support of an internal grant from St. Petersburg State University, «Marxism before Marxism: the socio-economic and epistolary heritage of Nikolaj Sieber» (ID 53363115).
Keywords: Nikolaj Sieber; letters; Marxism; economic anthropology; intellectual biography
JEL codes: B12, B14, B31
- Allisson, F., D’Onofrio, F., Raskov, D. E., Shirokorad, L. D. (2020). Marxism before Marxism: Nikolaj Sieber and the Birth of Russian Social-democracy. The European Journal of the History of Economic Thought, 27(2), 298–323.
- Allisson, F. (2015). Value and Prices in Russian Economic Thought: A Journey Inside the Russian Synthesis, 1890–1920. London; New York: Routledge, Taylor & Francis Group.
- Arendt, H., Heidegger, M. (2015). Letters of 1925–1975 and other evidence. Moscow: Publishing House of the Gaidar Institute. (In Russian.)
- Correspondence of K. Marx and F. Engels with Russian political figures (1951). Moscow: State Political Literature Publishing. (In Russian.)
- Kleinbort, L. M. (1923). Nikolay Ivanovich Sieber. Petrograd: Kolos Publ. (In Russian.)
- Klyukin, P. N. (2016). The value of the theoretical legacy of D. Ricardo: P. Sraffa, the Russian analytical tradition and their synthetic perception, pp. 8–75 / Ricardo, D. On the principles of political economy and taxation. Moscow: Eksmo. (In Russian.)
- Marx, K. (1949). Capital. Criticism of Political Economy, vol. 1. Moscow: Gosudarstvennoe izdatelstvo politicheskoi literatury Publ. (In Russian.)
- Morgan, L. H. (1935). Ancient society or the study of the lines of human progress from savagery through barbarism to civilization. Leningrad: Institute of the Peoples of the North of the Central Executive Committee of the USSR. (In Russian.)
- Naumov, N. B. (1930). Sieber Nikolay Ivanovich. From the history of Marxist economic thought in Ukraine and Russia. Kharkov: Proletariy Publ. (In Russian.)
- Ovsyaniko-Kulikovsky, D. N. (1923). Memories. Petrograd: Vremya Publ. (In Russian.)
- Raskov, D. E. (2016). Sieber as an armchair economist-anthropologist. Terra Economicus, (4), 92‒106. (In Russian.)
- Raskov, D. E. (2018). Who was N.I. Sieber? The context of intellectual biography. Voprosy Ekonomiki, (4), 111‒128. (In Russian.)
- Reuel, A. L. (1956). Russian economic thought of the 60–70s of the XIX century and Marxism. Moscow: Gospolitizdat Publ. (In Russian.)
- Ricardo, D. (1882). Works of David Ricardo. Saint Petersburg: L.F. Panteleev Publ. (In Russian.)
- Romanovich-Slavatinsky, A. V. (1903). An old professorʼs voice on university issues, vol. II. Kiev. (In Russian.)
- Sieber, N. I. (1869). Consumer societies. Kiev. (In Russian.)
- Sieber, N. I. (1871). D. Ricardoʼs theory of value and capital with some of the latest additions and clarifications. Kiev: University Printing House. (In Russian.)
- Sieber, N. I. (ed.) (1873). On the principles of political economy, D. Ricardo, translation of the first part. Universitetskiye Izvestiya, (1–10). (In Russian.)
- Sieber, N. I. (1876). Materials for observation of the socio-economic life of a Russian city. Znanie, (3–4. (In Russian.)
- Sieber, N. I. (1882). Factory law in Russia. Volnoe Slovo, (42). (In Russian.)
- Sieber, N. I. (1883a). Essays on the primitive economic culture. Moscow: K.T. Soldatenkov. (In Russian.)
- Sieber, N. I. (1883b). Social economy and law. Yuridicheskiy Vestnik, (5). (In Russian.)
- Sieber, N. I. (1883c). On the impact of progress on poverty. Russkaya mysl, September, 235–293, November, 330–374, December, 107–136. (In Russian.)
- Sieber, N. I. (1900). Collected works: in 2 vols. St. Petersburg: Izdatel Publ. (In Russian.)
- Sieber, N. I. (1923). Essays on the primitive economic culture. Odessa: State Publishing House of Ukraine. (In Russian.)
- Sieber, N. I. (1937a). Essays on the primitive economic culture. Moscow: State Socio- Economic Publishing House. (In Russian.)
- Sieber, N. I. (1937b). David Ricardo and Karl Marx in their socio-economic studies. Experience in critical economic research. Moscow: Publishing House of Socio-Economic Literature. (In Russian.)
- Sieber, N. I. (1959). Selected economic works: in 2 vols. Moscow: Publishing House of Socio- Economic Literature. (In Russian.)
- Smith, D. N. (2001). The spectral reality of value: Sieber, Marx, and commodity fetishism. Research in Political Economy, (19), 47–66.
- Stedman, J. G. (2017). Karl Marx: Greatness and Illusion. London: Allen Lane.
- Taylor, E. B. (1989). Primitive culture. Moscow: Political literature. (In Russian.)
- Vorovskiy, V. V. (1919). On the history of Marxism in Russia. Moscow: State Publishing House. (In Russian.)
- Yavorsky, M. (1928). Essays on the History of Revolutionary Struggle in Ukraine: in 2 vols, vol. II, part I. Kiev: State Publishing House of Ukraine. (In Ukranian.)
- Zapolskaya, V. V. (1955). Economic views of N.I. Sieber and his place in the history of Russian economic thought. Abstract of the dissertation submitted in partial fulfillment of the requirements for the degree of Cand. Sci. (Econ.). Moscow. (In Russian.)
Publisher: Southern Federal University
Founder: Southern Federal University
Founder: Southern Federal University