Personal life[ edit ] Chayanov was born in Moscow , the son of a merchant, Vasily Ivanovich Chayanov, and an agronomist, Elena Konstantinovna born Klepikova. He attended a Realschule — and the Moscow Agricultural Institute — , becoming an agronomist; he taught and published works on agriculture until , when he began working for various government institutions. In he married Elena Vasilevna Grigorieva, a marriage that lasted until He believed that the Soviet government would find it difficult to force these households to cooperate and produce a surplus.

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One of the first methods young Russian idealists tried for dealing with these problems was direct action. The police smoked them out and rounded them up, sometimes tipped off by the peasants themselves, suspicious of outsiders from other orders of society. In sheer bulk, they add up to more than 4, volumes. More significant than the quantity is the quality of these data. From the outset, the field investigators included some of the ablest men of the day.

Sympathetic to the peasantry and anxious to gain insight into their problems, they were determined to carry out their inquiries with utmost thoroughness. In presenting their results, they took great pains to choose suitable categories and to design statistical tables so as to bring out clearly the basic relations among the various economic and social groups in the villages.

Some of their reports were so striking that in the government passed a law forbidding any further inquiries into landlord-peasant relations, but, nonetheless, the work went on. Among the Russian scholars who participated in the debate over the zemstvo statistics, N.

Kablukov, V. Kosinskii, A. Chelintsev, N. Makarov, and G. Studen-skii stand out for their attempts to formulate a theory of peasant economy. Translations into English of two studies by Chayanov form the core of the present volume. To him, the essential characteristic of business firms or capitalistic enterprises was that they operated with hired workers in order to earn profits. His family farms were pure in the sense that they depended solely on the work of their own family members.

In fact, Chayanov considered his category a real one drawn from life. He contended that 90 percent or more of the farms in Russia in the first quarter of the twentieth century had no hired laborers, that they were family farms in the full sense of his definition. In so far as his contention was correct, his model was far from being "ideal"; quite the contrary, it stood for the most typical farm in what was then the largest peasant country in the world.

From this starting point, Chayanov proceeded to challenge head on the validity of standard economics for the task of analyzing the economic behavior of peasant farms that relied on family labor only. The prevailing concepts and doctrines of classical and neoclassical economics, he wrote, had been developed to explain the behavior of capitalistic entrepreneurs and business undertakings in which hired hands worked for wages. The economic theory of the behavior of such firms turned on the quantitative interrelationship of wages of labor , interest on capital , rent for land , and profits of enterprise.

To find out whether a given business firm was making a profit, it was necessary to set down the value of gross annual output, deduct outlays 2 C. XII , p. These four factors—wages, interest, rent, and profits—operated in close functional interdependence and were reciprocally determined. Since peasant family farms had no hired labor, they paid no wages. Accordingly, the economic category "wages" was devoid of content and the economic theory of wages irrelevant to family activity.

His answer was a flat no. In the absence of wages, these calculations could not be made. Hence, the behavior of these farms could not be accounted for in terms of standard theories of the four main factors of production.

He insisted on taking the entire family household as a single economic unit and treating their annual product minus their outlays as a single return to family activity. By its very nature, this return was unique and indivisible. It could not be meaningfully broken down into wages and the other factor payments of standard economic theory. Professional economists, Chayanov conceded, would balk at this, for they would somehow prefer, as Alfred Weber had told him in Heidelberg about ,4 to encompass these family units together with the more tractable business enterprises within a single system, a universal economics, the standard economics on which they had been brought up.

Parey, In his day, Lobachev-skii gave up the assumption of parallel lines; we would have to drop wages. He was concerned with the total income of the peasant family from agriculture and also from crafts and trades. Thus, he saw his exposition of peasant economy as a particular form of a larger doctrine—the theory of family economy.

Once grasped, this concept furnishes the key to his entire position and mode of presentation. It was one of the chief weapons he wielded in his severe critiques both of Marxian economics in Russia and of orthodox classical and neoclassical economics in the West. Once these expenses had been deducted, the family was left with a net product or net income that constituted the return for its labor during that agricultural year.

Put more simply, what should the family eat, what fresh capital should it invest in the farm, what should it put by? A capitalistic enterprise, Chayanov pointed out, can get objective, quantitative evidence about how to proceed. By deducting from its gross product the outlays on materials and wages, a business concern can ascertain its net profits. For a peasant family farm, however, there are neither wages nor net profits. The family members know roughly how many days they have worked, but Chayanov insisted there is no valid way of estimating in money the value of their work.

All they can see before them is the net product of their work, and there is no way of dividing days of labor into bushels of wheat. According to Chayanov, the peasant family proceeds by subjective evaluation based on the long experience in agriculture of the living generation and its predecessors.

Most peasant families, Chayanov showed, are in a position either to work more hours or to work more intensively, sometimes even both. The mechanism Chayanov devised for explaining how the family acted is his labor-consumer balance. In itself, Chayanov hastened to add, there was nothing novel or remarkable about this concept.

He showed how for different families the balance between consumer satisfaction and degree of drudgery is affected by the size of the family and the ratio of working members to nonworking members.

But his analysis is far from being primarily demographic. He took account of size of holdings, qualities of soil, crops grown, livestock, manure, location, market prices, land prices, interest rates on capital loans, feasibility of particular crafts and trades, availability of alternative work, and relative density of population.

Chayanov was not so much concerned with the individual effects of each of these factors as with their mutual effects as they changed through time. He countered that his work should be judged not by the genealogy of his techniques but, rather, by the results he had been able to obtain through the application of those techniques to the Russian data in the light of economic postulates firmly anchored in peasant behavior. For an earlier discussion of a balance between "need" and "labor," see W.

The precise way the gross income was divided up in each family was a question of subjective judgment by the head of the family and, hence, could not be expressed in objective, quantitative terms. In conditions where capitalist farms would go bankrupt, peasant families could work longer hours, sell at lower prices, obtain no net surplus, and yet manage to carry on with their farming, year after year.

Viability of Peasant Family Farms In proclaiming the viability of peasant family farming, Chayanov set himself against the mainstreams of Marxist thought in Russia and western Europe. This is the tendency in the form of society in which the capitalist mode of production predominates. Some of the original documents are conveniently assembled and translated into English by R.

Ensor in his useful collection, Modern Socialism 2d ed. Convenient discussions of the controversy in central and western Europe are given in the works by A. Thus, he cites both in Chap. He followed these closely and, as was his habit, took extensive notes. Three volumes of these notes have been translated into Russian and published, and a fourth has been announced.

It is out of the question for us to discuss these works here. At the outset of his book on Peasant Farm Organization, Chayanov assailed the characterization of the peasant as having a twofold nature, combining in himself the attributes of both a capitalist and a wage worker. Chayanov termed this bifurcation an unhelpful fiction—what is worse, a purely "capitalist" kind of fiction in the sense that it was made up entirely of capitalist categories and was conceivable only within a capitalist system.

For understandable reasons, Chayanov did not explicitly state that he was criticizing Marx. Luxemburg had been born in Poland under tsarist rule and was thoroughly familiar with Russian literature on the peasantry. It is an empty abstraction [she wrote] to apply simultaneously all the categories of capitalistic production to the peasantry, to conceive of the peasant as his own entrepreneur, wage labourer and landlord all in one person.

The economic peculiarity of the peasantry, if we want to put them. In his view, the decisive step toward capitalism came when laborers had to be hired, when " I have followed the English translation of , The Accumulation of Capital London: Routledge, , but have made it more literal. There were other kinds of peasant farms in Russia, and there were capitalist farms as well.

Once we step out of Russia we find peasant family farms elsewhere in Europe and in Asia, Africa, and the Americas. Does his micro theory apply to peasant family farms in other countries? Chayanov himself conceded that his theory worked better for thinly populated countries than for densely populated ones. Where the peasants could not readily buy or take in more land, his theory would have to be seriously modified. Nonetheless, he indicated that he thought one single universal theory of the peasant family farm at the micro level could be devised.

One wonders whether he may not have been overoptimistic about the possibility of a universal micro theory of peasant family farming. Extending the theory outside Russia would at the very least involve preparation of alternative models for "impure" peasant households employing hired labor.

There were marked sectoral and regional differences in rates of growth. Chayanov often referred to the existence of these differentials, but pitched his theory at a level of abstraction well above them.

With regard to the broader institutional framework, Chayanov was fond of saying that capitalism was only one particular economic system.

There had been others known to history, and perhaps more were to come in the future. In his article, the title of which we have translated as "On the Theory of Non-Capitalist Economic Systems," Chayanov cites six major kinds of economies.

Three of these are familiar—capitalism, slavery, and communism. The fourth, "family economy," Chayanov divided into two subtypes—"natural" economy and "commodity" economy. These two names may be taken as roughly equivalent to "self-subsistent" and "market-oriented. The chief difference between the two systems, according to his schema, was that in Russia the peasants worked on their own fields but had to make payments in kind to the lord, whereas in the West the peasants had to put in certain days of work directly on the home farm of the lord.

Will one universal economics, Chayanov asked, suffice for all these systems? That would scarcely be worth the trouble. Hence, we do not have from him any systematic exposition of his theory of family economy at the national level, nor any case study of the economic functioning of a predominantly peasant country taken as a whole. When Chayanov was arrested in , together with a number of his colleagues, his research teams were dispersed.

The most fertile and sophisticated group of scholars then working in any country on peasant economy was shattered.


Alexander Chayanov

The agricultural results were dramatic, moving the country rapidly to the top of the European league where increase in agricultural production and incomes are concerned, not only resolving the problems of supplies but establishing Hungary as an exporter of food. Alexander Chayanov — Wikipedia Then the Hungarian leadership demonstrated the courage of retreat, made a clean sweep, and began in a totally new manner. Please help improve this article if you can. He attended a Realschule — and the Moscow Agricultural Institute —becoming an agronomist; he taught and published works on agriculture untilwhen he began working for various government institutions. Shcherbina, as well as from the bone fide SR populist P. His objective is not, in modern terms, macroeconomics. Understanding their innate dynamics as well as their interrelationships is of much use.



Although the planned show trial never took place, he was sentenced to five years in prison in and exiled to Kazakhstan. Peasant economy reproduces itself through the family. Has no one read your books? Giulio Sapelli added it Jun 22, Becca chwyanov it really liked it May 24, This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. A bought tractor is written off in four years against the alexamder value while the farmer often buys a second hand tractor and carries along with it for another 15 years. He believed that the Soviet government would find it difficult to force these households to cooperate and produce a surplus. Interesting look at peasant livelihoods in rural Russia before the period of collectivization.

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