Véronique Mickisch

  • Fellowship year:2023-2024
  • University: New York University
  • Dissertation Topic/Category: Modern Europe
  • Dissertation Title: Party Economists and the Emergence of Stalinist Economics, 1918-1938
  • My dissertation analyzes the emergence of Stalinist economics in the Soviet Union in the 1920s and 1930s. I define Stalinist economics as a particular form of economics that was rooted in the traditions of statism and economic autarky. Stalinist economics reduced planning to the problem of resource-allocation on a national level. As a result, I argue, marginalism with its focus on the economics of scarcity and the mathematical school of Western economics became more important for Soviet planners and party economists than Marxist political economy.

    Eschewing the “methodological nationalism” that has shaped the historiography of the Soviet Union, I place the dominance of Stalinist economics in the context of the international trend toward economic autarky after World War I and long-standing traditions of economic thought in Central Europe and Russia. Although it was the USSR that became the prime example for the autarkic program of “socialism in one country”, this program was, in fact, based on traditions of autarkic economic thought that were first articulated by Friedrich List and theoreticians of German Social Democracy at the turn of the century. At the same time, the Soviet example shows that socialist alternatives did exist. Stalinist economics was ultimately only enforced through increasingly violent suppression of Marxist economists from the Left Opposition who challenged it, culminating in the terror of the 1930s.