The Revolutionary Russian Economy, 1890-1940: Ideas, Debates, and Alternatives

The Revolutionary Russian Economy, 1890-1940: Ideas, Debates, and Alternatives

The Revolutionary Russian Economy, 1890-1940: Ideas, Debates, and Alternatives

The Revolutionary Russian Economy, 1890-1940: Ideas, Debates, and Alternatives

Synopsis

The pre-revolutionary Russian economy wasbackward and stagnant. Whatever the criticisms of the economy post-revolution, the turnaround in terms of growth and output was staggering. This book looks at the alternatives to Stalin's reform program that had such tragic outcomes.

Excerpt

The belle époque was a period in which revolutionary discoveries and ideas were being developed in many different fields of human activity and an air of optimism was generally prevalent across Europe and America, at least amongst ruling elites. It witnessed the manufacture of some of the most beautiful decorative jewellery so far created - that of Carl Faberge in St Petersburg - aimed at a privileged super-rich clientele. New movements in painting, music and design - such as impressionism and art nouveau - sprung forth majestically from the Victorian surround. The first Tyrannosaurus rex fossil was discovered in the USA in 1902, while in 1905 the then-patent clerk Albert Einstein's remarkable paper 'On the Thermodynamics of Moving Bodies' quickly ushered in the (special) relativity revolution. This placed subjective human perception, rather than an all-powerful God or impersonal natural forces, at the centre of the knowable universe.

Furthermore, discontinuity physics emerged in the work of Einstein and Max Plank, and Niels Bohr developed what today is known as the 'old' quantum theory and a new model of structure of the atom. Epistemology was replaced as the central component of modern philosophy by logic through the pioneering work of Gottlob Frege and Bertrand Russell. G.E. Moore's Principia Ethica of 1903 argued that 'good' was a simple, non-definable concept that could not be expressed in other terms, the meaning of which was innately given. Marie Curie discovered radioactivity in 1898, Markov chains were conceived and mouldable plastics such as bakelite were first manufactured. And the development of new forms of mass media such as photography and moving pictures began to shape popular culture and usurp the power of the printed press. Many of these new developments had profound significance for the century that followed, even if this significance was not always that which was initially foreseen by those who were involved in making the new discoveries.

In relation to economic development the belle époque was a period of great industrial transformation. Various important technological innovations in transport and communications that were occurring in Europe and

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