THE ORIGINS OF CAPITALISM IN RUSSIA by Joseph T. Fuhrmann

THE ORIGINS OF CAPITALISM IN RUSSIA

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KIRKUS REVIEW

Equating capitalism with manufactures, exclusive of mercantile or agricultural capitalism, Fuhrmann surveys the 16th and 17th-century development of the iron, glass, paper, gunpowder, rope, and textile industries, of sawmills and copper smelters. Most of his attention is devoted to iron manufacturing, the topic of his dissertation, for which he spent nine months in the Soviet Union researching original sources. The result is an extremely detailed and sometimes absorbing chronicle of iron production, focusing on the activities of the Dutch merchant-capitalist Andrei Vinius and his partner Peter Marselis. Their intrigues and subsequent falling-out are minutely described along with the technology of production, the quality and use of the product, and the deployment of serf labor. The title is far broader and probably more compelling than the subject-matter. Moreover, the book fails to discuss free labor versus serf labor, the political relations of the classes, or the reason for the inability of the Russian state or private entrepreneurs to develop and expand these industries, which in this period made a generally bailing start. Although with Peter the Great it was the 18th century which brought capitalist growth and great expansion in Russian iron manufacturing, this is left beyond the scope of Fuhrmann's work; the book can be useful only to specialists seeking details, not students and scholars looking for general hypotheses.

Pub Date: June 1st, 1971
Publisher: Quadrangle