chapter  2
30 Pages

From war communism to NEP, 1917–26

The First World War and then the Bolshevik revolution in October 1917 had a profound and lasting impact on the social and political landscape of early twentiethcentury Russia. Similar significant changes were also wrought on the intellectual landscape of the immediate post-revolutionary period, although these changes were perhaps not quite as large as those that occurred within Russian society as a whole. The more significant turning point in the Russian intellectual environment occurred (arguably) in 1929, with the turn to comprehensive economic planning and the beginnings of the Stalinist terror, in which many more intellectuals perished than had done immediately after the Bolshevik assumption of power in 1917. The impact of October 1917 on Slutsky’s research programme was significant. He had two years previously, with the publication of his 1915 article on consumer budgets, made a significant step towards becoming an economist, or at least to making his economics work a big part of his professional life. He subsequently wrote in his autobiography about his changing attitude to economics just after the 1917 revolution:

When capitalism collapsed in Russia and I came to describe the contours of a planned socialist economic order, the basis for this from the economicmathematical point of view disappeared. Studying the economic process under socialism and the transitional epoch demanded a different type of knowledge, methodology, and skills than that which I had armed myself.