Manual Boundaries of Utopia: Imagining Communism from Plato to Stalin

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  1. Samenvatting
  2. Boundaries of Utopia: Imagining Communism from Plato to Stalin
  3. Dr. E. van Ree (
  4. Introduction: Open Utopia

Posner, Dassia N. The Director's Prism: E. Hoffmann and the Russian Theatrical Avant-Garde. Evanston: Northwestern University Press, Caplan, Debra. Ann Arbor: University of Michigan Press, Arts du spectacle — Images et sons.


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S ocial S cience , C ontemporary R ussia , and O ther. For this later author, harmony in the peasant way of life is more important than technological progress. Elements of capitalism are to be retained in industry, to maintain efficiency. In this way the ideal becomes a complex model with multiple criteria for assessment of values, from the purely market-linked determination of value to moral determination in terms of natural order.

The Perfect Country

Fantasy and science go hand-in-hand. In this anthology, Chayanov appears as a serious scholar diligently extrapolating current trends. The basis for these predictions is the development of science, and technological progress. Factories, chemistry, economies of scale and rational calculation become the essential elements of modern agriculture. To some extent, Chayanov did indeed anticipate the main vector of agrarian development. Fertilizers, selective breeding, land reclamation, the use of artificial additives, and the industrial production of nutritious substances have become a day-to-day reality.

However, Chayanov was wrong to think that these changes could be achievable only within the framework of a planned economy Chayanov, , as well as he was wrong to think that the peasant family was the future of socialism. Nevertheless, these questions remain to be relevant. In a way Chayanov seems to believe that the science and the technological progress may help to find the equilibrium between plan production and the demand satisfaction, and to mitigate the issue of incentives less drudgery work.

Furthermore, the spread of technical progress is not covering all the production activities.

Red Theology: On the Christian Communist Tradition

The production of certain fruits and wines, the fine aromas and taste qualities of which mass-produced items will for a long time yet remain unable to substitute. Chayanov, , Nevertheless, Chayanov himself sees no way in coming back to the peasant Eden described in To write down the formula for protein and declare that it is protoplasm is no different to writing out the formula for calcium dioxide, of which marble consists, and saying that it is the Venus de Milo.

In the technological progress is aimed to solve all the difficult problems. As we mentioned before, the peasant economy was based on the preindustrial technology. In a way the technological progress is able to handle the problem of productivity which is strictly connected to the incentives. The new world is to be built not by labour but by the iron machine which has no problem with incentives. The central issue of any socialist utopia—the socio-economics organization of society—is solved differently in the two texts. The Journey of is primarily focused on the family while The Future deals only with the large-scale efficient enterprises.

The discussion of the development of taste and culture among the peasantry helps to find the ways of the new incentives even if the corruption of the elite remains the most difficult problem for The Journey. Finally, The Future gives more optimistic perspectives on the potential of technical progress that could overcome the problem related to labour incentives.

At the centre of the peasant utopia, there is an approach based on values, promoting the preservation of the family household. It is within the framework of this social order that Chayanov envisaged a resolution of the core problems of socialism. The peasant utopia develops the socialist utopia, and challenges it at the same time. In addition, one can see in these utopias certain elements of conservatism and anarchism. Conservatism influences culture, religion, art and, primarily, the family.

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The striving to reduce to a minimum the functions of the state and diminish as much as possible the factor of coercion also coincides with the hopes of the anarchists. It precisely identifies the main development vector of agriculture—towards factory-based, large-scale technologies.

Boundaries of Utopia: Imagining Communism from Plato to Stalin

It has to be admitted that in some other, courageous alternatives were still being entertained, while by the planned economy, non-economic coercion and technological progress were no longer subject to discussion. The political agenda had changed dramatically between and Like many other professionals Chayanov decided to put himself at the service of new purposes of collectivization and large farms creation by calculating their optimum size. He refused to emigrate and did hope to be useful in Russia. Unfortunately, his destiny was tragic. The scientific forecast favours large collective units and it is closer to social engineering than it is to utopia.

The problems of the new elite and the deprivation of the original high ideals were also discussed. In scientific utopia of Chayanov seemed to believe that the science and the technological progress might help to solve and mitigate these issues. Conversely, Chayanov feared the prospect of repressions for his attacks against Marxism and state collectivism, and for his obvious blueprint of an anti-Soviet revolution in The Journey.

Dr. E. van Ree (

Under questioning by Agranov, Chayanov himself tended to classify the Journey , which was a work of fiction, as one of his economic works ibid, In such non-Euclidean economics, that draws closer Chayanov and Polanyi, the crucial element is not even the universal principles, but subtle aspects of the combination of the traditional and the rational, the human and the efficient, the goals and methods that could be used to bring to life the visions of the time.

I also acknowledge the useful comments of three anonymous referees. The usual caveats apply. Adamovsky, Ezequiel.

Bagchi, Amiya. Eatwell, M. Milgale and P. Newman eds. A Dictionary of Economics.

Introduction: Open Utopia

I, Balyazin, Voldemar. Professor Aleksandr Chayanov. Barnett, Vincent. The Revolutionary Russian Economy, Ideas, Debates, and Alternatives.