Liberty, Equality, and the Market

Liberty, Equality, and the Market: Essays by B.N. Chicherin

Essays by B. N. Chicherin
Edited and Translated by G. M. Hamburg
Foreword by Gary Saul Morson
Copyright Date: 1998
Published by: Yale University Press
Pages: 496
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  • Book Info
    Liberty, Equality, and the Market
    Book Description:

    This volume brings the remarkable writings of Russian liberal thinker Boris Nikolaevich Chicherin (1828-1904) to English-language readers for the first time. The collection includes key essays in which Chicherin addresses the central political and social problems that confronted Russia from 1855 to the opening years of the twentieth century. Chicherin's ideological alternatives to the Bolshevik plan for revolutionary transformation of Russia not only provide valuable historical insights, but also are highly relevant to current political discussion of liberalism in Russia and in the West.In a comprehensive introduction to the book, G. M. Hamburg discusses the development of Chicherin's thought and places it in historical context. Chicherin, Hamburg says, was a powerful and sophisticated but often misunderstood defender of civil and political rights. Like his fellow liberals in Russia, Chicherin was heavily influenced by German idealism and particularly by Hegel. He departed from many, however, in favoring a market economy and advocating that reform efforts be tailored to local conditions and traditions. In this collection Chicherin explores such contemporary issues as the abolition of serfdom, Russian education, and the need for a constitution. He also tackles broad philosophical problems-the nature of liberty and equality, styles of political discourse-and comments on such philosophers as Plato, Aristotle, More, Machiavelli, Montesquieu, Hegel, and Marx.

    eISBN: 978-0-300-14416-1
    Subjects: Philosophy

Table of Contents

  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-vi)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. vii-viii)
  3. Foreword: Why Read Chicherin?
    (pp. ix-xxx)
    Gary Saul Morson

    It may seem odd that the writings of Boris Chicherin, who was probably the most accomplished nineteenth-century Russian liberal thinker, should never before have been translated into English. Apparently, he was dispensable. An American graduate student who read Russian intellectual history before 1991 would have to have been very dedicated indeed to have much of an idea of Chicherin’s beliefs. Even in Russia, Chicherin was until recently almost unknown.

    That date, 1991, explains a great deal. The Russian liberal tradition was largely ignored during the Soviet period. Official historical mythology presented the tsarist period as a struggle between the regime...

  4. Translator’s Preface
    (pp. xxxi-xxxiii)
  5. List of Abbreviations
    (pp. xxxiv-xxxvi)
  6. Introduction An Eccentric Vision: The Political Philosophy of B. N. Chicherin
    (pp. 1-66)

    The most sophisticated, consistent, and passionate defender of individual liberty in late imperial Russia was Boris Nikolaevich Chicherin. A tireless advocate of civil rights, he sought for a half-century to persuade his countrymen to recognize legally those guarantees of private freedom that English, French, and German citizens took for granted. He helped end serfdom in Russia. He called for freedoms of conscience, of association, of speech, and of the press. He demanded public access to Russian courtrooms and favored an independent judiciary and jury trials. He vigorously condemned administrative infringements upon academic freedom. Almost alone among intellectuals of his generation...

  7. Part One Early Political Writings
    • On Serfdom (1856)
      (pp. 69-109)

      The crucial questions that preoccupy statesmen and affect the vital interests of contemporary societies are of two kinds—political and social.¹ Political questions perhaps arouse more controversy and enmity, for they visibly split a people into parties each of which stubbornly pursues its own objective. Defenders of the old order and adherents of the new enter into competition, and if the government by wise concessions fails to introduce peace between the parties, then not infrequently internal strife will result and reforms will eventually have to be inaugurated by force of arms. Nevertheless, it is relatively easy to resolve most political...

    • Contemporary Tasks of Russian Life (1857)
      (pp. 110-140)

      In the lives of individuals and of peoples there are moments when, shaken by unexpected events, they seem to awaken from a long slumber, look around themselves and arrive at a clear understanding of their situation.¹ Such a moment has arrived for Russia. For a long time we assured ourselves that our fatherland is great and powerful, and we carelessly followed the course which the government set for us. A few thoughtful individuals realized with sorrow where we were headed. They saw how, under the influence of a faulty system of administration, the state itself was becoming corrupt; how all...

    • “Indictment.” An Open Letter to Alexander Herzen (1858)
      (pp. 141-148)

      Gracious Sir,

      In the last issue ofThe Bellyou answered, with your usual energy, the reproach of vacillation, of flippancy which you hear from various quarters.¹

      This reproach, along with several others, is repeated, I dare say, by asignificant portionof the thinking people of Russia. I confess that I am also guilty of repeating it, and I do not retract my opinion after your answer; it even seems to me that you have not quite understood with what you have been reproached or, perhaps, the reproach came to you in a distorted form. Permit me to explain...

  8. Part Two Excerpts from On Popular Representation (1866)
    • Representation and Sovereignty
      (pp. 151-156)

      When the ancient peoples were working to establish political freedom in their homelands, they called each citizen to participate directly in political affairs.¹

      The people gathered in the town square, a debate occurred in the presence of everyone, a vote was taken and a common decision was reached. Modern peoples rarely resort to this type of assembly. It is encountered in the earliest recorded meetings of German military retinues, in medieval cities, and most recently in those small states which have retained their former, more or less patriarchal character—for example, the Swiss cantons. Village meetings do occur and do...

    • Political Liberty and Its Development
      (pp. 157-165)

      The duality of principles at the heart of popular representation is also to be found in its very source—in political liberty. Freedom beckons citizens to take part in political affairs. In a representative form of government this participation mainly takes the form of the electoral right. What exactly is the electoral right upon which representation is based? What is its essence? On this question the opinions of publicists are divided.

      The democratic school usually views the electoral principle as the right of each free person to participate in public affairs. Interpreting society as the product of the free will...

    • The Doctrine of Popular Sovereignty
      (pp. 166-179)

      In the preceding chapter we tried to demonstrate that popular representation constitutes the highest stage of liberty’s evolution, that its indispensable precondition is political competence. Yet not infrequently the people’s participation in sovereign authority is treated as an absolute imperative of a just social order, and this opinion is buttressed by arguments that at first glance may seem quite convincing. National affairs affect everyone; they are the collective business of all citizens, of every member of the realm. “The national interest of England is the private concern of every Englishman,” says an English dictum. Evidently, nothing can be more just...

    • Properties of Popular Representation
      (pp. 180-206)

      If representation is not the eternal, inalienable right of every people, if it is established or disestablished in the name of the public good, then the question arises: What advantage does it carry? To the attainment of what political objectives can it contribute and with what objectives can it interfere? What are its benefits and shortcomings? In a word, what are its properties?

      The benefits of political liberty and of representative institutions are so obvious, the liberal ideas based upon them are so well known in the literature and in society, that it is almost strange to discuss them. One...

  9. Part Three Studies in European Thought
    • Plato and Aristotle (1869)
      (pp. 209-237)

      Plato placed reason at the foundation of his system, but his ideas are not the static, abstract, and otherworldly postulates we find in the thought of the Megarian philosophers; rather Plato’s ideas bear directly on the external world.¹ All material things are connected through them; the entire physical world is constructed on their model. They live in individual objects, as the universal in the particular, as unity in difference. Their relation to the external world is implicit in their very definition, for reason itself can be understood as a synthesis of dialectical opposites: unity existing in the midst of plurality,...

    • More and Machiavelli (1869)
      (pp. 238-255)

      At the threshold of the sixteenth century stand two thinkers of contrasting character, although both were educated through the study of antiquity and drew the essence of their worldviews from it: Thomas More and Machiavelli. ¹ One is a dreamy Idealist on the model of Plato, who served him as an exemplar; the other adheres to the practical wisdom of Aristotle, but unlike Aristotle he makes no pretense of being a philosopher and he sacrifices morality to the good of the state. Therefore, the contrast between More and Machiavelli is much sharper than that between Plato and Aristotle.

      In 1513...

    • Montesquieu (1872)
      (pp. 256-290)

      Locke wrote about government, Montesquieu about laws.¹ His famous workThe Spirit of the Laws (De l’esprit des loix), published in 1742, was intended to analyze the laws governing human societies, especially those laws which safeguard liberty. This book served as the basis for the constitutional doctrine in Europe. The English constitution, which developed from practice, required a theorist who could identify the general principles contained in it, thereby making it into a model for other peoples. Locke could not be such a theorist: devoting his attention elusively to the revolution that transformed his fatherland before his very eyes, he...

    • Hegel (1877)
      (pp. 291-320)

      The development of German Idealism culminates with Hegel.¹ [Friedrich Wilhelm] Schelling had attempted to link opposites by identifying their source or productive cause. After Schelling, ethical and individualistic Idealism again adopted a one-sided perspective: [Johann Gottlieb] Fichte tried to derive dialectically opposed categories of being from a single foundation, from pure reason—that is, from formal cause; on the other hand, [Johann Friedrich] Herbart asserted that at the basis of all existence is particular being, or material cause. Finally, Hegel synthesized dialectical opposites by understanding their unity in terms of an ultimate cause. Indeed, this is Idealism’s present perspective. Arising...

    • Marx (1878)
      (pp. 321-350)

      Sharing common ground with [Friedrich] Lassalle is Karl Marx, the well-known chairman of the International Working Men’s Association, and also, like Lassalle, of Jewish origin.¹ In intellectual power, in talent, in erudition, in philosophical sense, he cannot be compared with Lassalle; yet he did that which Lassalle had only dreamed of doing: he provided a theoretical formulation of a social utopia. His book,Das Kapital,² is the culmination of German scientific socialism. Although heretofore only the first part has been published, it fully expresses the bases of Marx’s theory. Judging by this book, we can determine what scientific socialism is...

  10. Part Four Excerpts from Property and State (1882)
    • Liberty
      (pp. 353-379)

      We are social beings: this is the first, incontestable and universally recognized premise from which any investigation of social relationships must proceed.¹ In the animal kingdom many species live in isolation; but human beings live only in society, for only in society can specifically human capacities manifest themselves and develop.

      Yet in the animal kingdom we also encounter societies, even ones with very complex structures, that have reached the point of dividing tasks among members. That is why comparison is necessary, for only by comparison can one make clear the peculiarities of human community.

      The most obvious essential difference between...

    • Equality
      (pp. 380-405)

      Since ancient times equality has been considered a distinguishing characteristic of justice. Aristotle, whose teaching on this point can be regarded as the classic exposition of the question, says that justice in the proper sense is equality—that is, the mean between superfluity and the insufficiency; the latter two principles correspond to injustice.¹ But because equality may be of two types, numerical and proportional, the one being an arithmetic principle and the other a principle of geometrical proportion, so justice is divided into two forms, which Aristotle calls commutative and distributive. The first type applies to obligations imposed by commercial...

    • Capitalism and Socialism
      (pp. 406-424)

      We have examined the nature and characteristics of various factors of production.¹ Now let us investigate the impact upon them exerted by the fundamental economic principle, liberty.

      The effect of liberty upon natural resources is to subordinate them to human will, to permit their acquisition by an individual. This is the primary economic imperative, an imperative which, when sanctioned by law, gives rise to [the existence of] property. The elements of entrepreneurship and labor are both involved [in this process]. Both these elements arise from the economic activity of the individual and acquire their content from that activity.

      We have...

  11. Notes
    (pp. 425-448)
  12. Index
    (pp. 449-458)
  13. Back Matter
    (pp. 459-459)