Aleksandr Posnikov

Posnikov, Aleksandr Sergeevich


Born Dec. 14 (26), 1846, in Viaz’ma, in what is now Smolensk Oblast; died in 1921. Russian economist.

Posnikov graduated from the law faculty of Moscow University in 1869. From 1876 to 1882 he was a professor of political economy at both Novorossiia University in Odessa and at the Petrograd Polytechnic Institute. In his Principles of Land Credit, he defended the liberal Narodnik (Populist) demand that peasant farms be offered cheap credit. While on a trip abroad from 1873 to 1876, he attended a congress of liberal economists organized by N. I. Ziber, A. I. Chuprov, and others; the economists called for the democratization of Russia’s state structure and sympathized with the economic theories of Marxism. The first part of Posnikov’s principal work, Communal Landownership, was published in 1875; the second part, published in 1878, was his doctoral dissertation. From 1886 to 1896, Posnikov edited Russkie vedomosti. In 1912 he was elected a member of the State Duma, where he sided with the Progressives. In 1917 he was chairman of the Chief Land Committee of the Provisional Government. After the October Revolution of 1917, he taught at the Petrograd Polytechnic Institute.

Posnikov was close to liberal Narodnichestvo and defended the communal form of landownership, maintaining that it did not hinder progress in agricultural production. By comparing the commune with the family-owned farm, he demonstrated the superiority of communal farming. He saw in communal farming the means of saving the peasant masses from proletarianization. In defending the theory of “stability” of small-scale peasant farming, he failed to notice the process of concentration and centralization in agriculture. He believed that by organizing various types of cooperatives and societies on the basis of communal land ownership it was possible to give peasant farming all the advantages of large-scale production. Posnikov actively opposed the Stolypin Agrarian Reform.