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15 Ab Imperio, 2/2011 From the EDITORS FROM THE “ISOLATED ISLAND-STATE” TO THE “CONTINENT-OCEAN”: THE SECOND WORLD BEYOND GEOPOLITICS In the fall of 1920, the organ of the Council for Labor and Defense of the RSFSR (the newspaper Economic Life personally controlled by V. Lenin) published several articles by Alexander Chaianov focused on the theory of socialist economy. Arguing against the leading Marxist economist, Stanislav Strumilin, Chaianov took part in formulating the basics of a theory of nonmarket economy. Judged by these publications, his contribution to the model of socialist economy remains underappreciated. Curiously, while formulating the principles that a decade later would be fully realized during Stalin’s industrialization, Chaianov was far from sharing in Bolshevik ideological doctrine or Marxist political economy. His theoretical constructions, although they were pregnant with practical consequences, were motivated by purely abstract and analytical interests: In this article, we do not enter into discussions of the possibility of fully realizing the socialist economy and maintaining it in the long run. We take it as given, or, more precisely, as intellectually constructed, and pose the following question: What are the tasks of this economy and what are the possible criteria of its success?1 1 A. Chaianov. Problema khoziaistvennogo ucheta v sotsialisticheskom gosudarstve // Ekonomicheskaia zhizn’. 1920. No. 225. October 9. P. 1. 16 From the Editors At approximately the same time, Chaianov published a long theoretical article, “Studies of the Isolated State,” in which he analyzed different economic regimes in his model of a simplified “state-island:” a geometrically correct and limited space, with one city-market in the center and an agricultural periphery.2 It is obvious that Chaianov borrowed the classical mathematical model of the “isolated state” from the German economist Johann Heinrich von Thünen (1783–1850), who had elaborated it in 1826. Von Thünen’s model acquired new popularity among Russian economists in the 1910s. Chaianov himself turned to the model back in 1915, during the increasing economic blockade of Russia, and insisted on comparing the abstract isolated state with an island.3 Chaianov utilized this model of the imagined “state-island,” which simplified economic modeling, among other things to analyze the as yet hypothetical system of a socialist economy. To think of the abstract world and to analyze the possible universe of alternative economic reality, it is not necessary to believe in their reality or to desire their materialization. Yet, these analytical operations create very real foundations for delimiting one “isolated island-state” from the external world. Simultaneously with the “red professor” Chaianov,VonThünen’s abstraction of the “isolated state” was recalled by the émigré and one of the founders of Eurasianism, Petr Savitskii. In his famous pamphlet “Continent-Ocean,” he used Von Thünen’s model directly and extended it to Russia’s scale.4 One can discuss the extent to which Savitskii was a more ideologically engaged thinker than Chaianov, but the logic of Savitskii’s text is remarkably similar to that of Chaianov. Optimization of the internal costs of resource distribution along with the commonality of situation of the peoples of Eurasia and the politics of comparison with other empires (especially with the oceanic empire of England) requires homogenization of the economic space of the continent. Savitskii’s major ideological assumption in this text was the very readiness (as in the case of Chaianov) to view Russia (or “Eurasia”) as the embodiment of the abstract isolated state, as a thing in itself. As in the case of Chaianov and his Bolshevik patrons, the expounded ideology of Eurasian2 A. Chaianov. Opyty izucheniia izolirovannogo gosudarstva // Trudy Vysshego seminariia sel’skokhoziaistvennoi ekonomiki i politiki. Vyp. 1. Moscow, 1921. Pp. 5-36. 3 A. Chaianov. Problema naseleniia v izolirovannom gosudarstve-ostrove // Agronomicheskii zhurnal. 1915. No. 2. Pp. 42-56. Chaianov included this article as a whole into his article published in 1921, and added the second part: “Labor and capitalist economy in the isolated state-island” (A. Chaianov. Opyty izucheniia izolirovannogo gosudarstva. Pp. 15-36). 4 P. N. Savitskii. Kontinent-Okean (Rossiia i mirovoi rynok) // Iskhod k Vostoku. Sofia, 1921. Pp. 104-125. 17 Ab Imperio, 2/2011 ism argued that Russia’s difference was a...

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Additional Information

ISSN
2164-9731
Print ISSN
2166-4072
Pages
pp. 15-19
Launched on MUSE
2015-10-07
Open Access
No
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