The Fate of Social Sciences in Soviet Russia: The Case of Isaak Il’Ich Rubin
29 Pages Posted: 21 Mar 2013
Date Written: March 20, 2013
Research within the history of economic thought has focused only little on the development of economics under dictatorship. This paper attempts to show how a country with a relatively large and internationally established community of social scientists in the 1920s, the Soviet Union, was subjected to repression. We tell this story through the case of Isaak Il’ich Rubin, a prominent Russian economist and historian of economic thought, who in the late 1920s was denounced by rival scholars and repressed by the political system. By focusing not only on his life and work, but also that of his opponents and institutional clashes, we show how the decline of a social science tradition in Russia and the USSR emerged as a process over time. We analyze the complex interplay of ideas, scholars and their institutional context, and conclude that subsequent repression was arbitrary, suggesting that no clear survival or career strategy existed in the Stalinist system due to a situation of fundamental uncertainty. The purpose of this paper is to illustrate how the Stalinization of Soviet social sciences occurred as a process over time.
Keywords: B24, B31, P26
JEL Classification: Marxology, Soviet economic thought, political persecution, Stalinism
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