Europe in the Russian Mirror: Four Lectures in Economic by Alexander Gershenkron

By Alexander Gershenkron

First released in 1970, Professor Gerschenkron's topic is the contribution which the research of Russian monetary background could make to the issues that have preoccupied Western historians. He first considers the way the case of the outdated Believers in Russia, who refused to aid the authentic church yet performed an enormous entrepreneurial position in nineteenth-century monetary improvement, bears upon Max Weber's celebrated thesis at the family members among the Protestant ethic and the spirit of capitalism. during his dialogue, Professor Gerschenkron presents vital info at the doctrinal ideals of this staff, their social prestige and the level to which they have been persecuted and discriminated opposed to by way of the kingdom. His end is that the persecution definitely afforded adequate impulse to have interaction in ecocnomic actions and to enhance the features Weber regarded as particular gains of the 'capitalist' spirit.

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There is no doubt that his economic activities appeared to him as guided, however loosely, by an ethically colored maxim. But the fount and origin of this value system cannot be found in his religious tenets. It stems with great clarity from the specific social position of the group of which he was a member. In fact, the religious teachings were contrary to the motivations which kept transforming Old Believing serf peasants into successful entrepreneurs. 23 This was rightly interpreted as signifying the indifference of the Old Believers' creed to advancement on the social ladder.

The distinction between piushchie and nepiushchie, between drinking and nondrinking men, was paramount in the minds of those who hired workers and foremen. Still, the story of the Old Believers does shed some, at least indirect, light on the plausibility of Max Weber's hypothesis. 41 But here was a group of people who not only took over with greatest scrupulousness the extensive ritual of the Greek Orthodox Church, but whose divergence and deviation from that Church exhausted itself in minutiae which altogether pertained to the sphere of rituals.

A German, Ludwig Knoop (1821-94), was the little Bremen apprentice to commerce, who after a year in Manchester came to Russia (in 1839) in his English 19 re-incarnation as the representative (or rather the assistant to a representative) of Lancashire. The talented youngster, one of the great entrepreneurial figures of the century, began as an importer of yarn and cloth, but very soon undertook to supply complete equipment to Russian cotton spinneries and later to weaving sheds. In addition, he brought from Lancashire skilled labor, foremen, and engineers.

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