Georg Friedrich Knapp

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The following article is from The Great Soviet Encyclopedia (1979). It might be outdated or ideologically biased.

Knapp, Georg Friedrich


Born Mar. 7, 1842, in Giessen; died Feb. 20, 1926, in Darmstadt. German economist and statistician, a representative of the new (young) historical school in bourgeois political economy, head of the Strasbourg school of historians.

From 1874 to 1918, Knapp was professor of political economy and statistics at the University of Strasbourg. In addition to statistics, Knapp wrote on the history of agrarian relations and the theory of monetary circulation. He formulated a monetary theory according to which the bourgeois state could allegedly regulate the economy of a country through monetary circulation.

Knapp’s most important historical economic work was The Emancipation of the Peasants and the Rise of the Class of Rural Workers in the Old Provinces of the Prussian Monarchy (1887; Russian translation, 1900). The work contains voluminous factual material on the evolution of agrarian relations in eastern Germany (mainly since the 16th century) and on the Prussian agrarian reform of the first half of the 19th century; it is also one of the first attempts to explain the reasons for the changeover in eastern Germany in the 16th and 17th centuries to a corvée economy.


Ausgewählte Werke, vols. 1–3. Munich, 1925–27.
In Russian translation:
Ocherki gosudarstvennoi teorii deneg: Den’gi, Denezhnaia sistema. Odessa, 1913.
The Great Soviet Encyclopedia, 3rd Edition (1970-1979). © 2010 The Gale Group, Inc. All rights reserved.
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Throughout the book, author Markus Cerman argues that more recent empirical studies--particularly those that give a voice to East Elbian peasants--demonstrate that the conceptualization of the rural economic history of the region as half of a European, agrarian dualism, which was characterized by a second serfdom in the east, is a myth originating in economic conceptualizations of the Verein fur Socialpolitik, particularly that of Georg Friedrich Knapp. The author makes a compelling case that, owing to a legalistic (and subsequently class-based) approach to the topic of demesne agriculture, scholars have ignored evidence demonstrating that eastern and central European agrarian economies were in many respects comparable to their western European counterparts.
The creation of money is often thought to be the domain of the state: this was the prevalent doctrine of the nineteenth century, reaching its apogee in the German economist Georg Friedrich Knapp's "The State Theory of Money." In the New Testament, Christ famously answers a question about obedience to civil authorities by examining a coin and telling the Pharisees, "Render unto Caesar what is Caesar's." Unlike most banknotes and coins, there is no picture of the state or its symbols -- no Caesar -- on the money managed by the European Central Bank.
Nevertheless, for the purpose of this review, it is helpful to note that the German scholars considered in the volume comprise Carl Dietzel, Rudolf Hilferding (an Austrian by birth, but subsequently a German citizen), Alfred Kahler, Georg Friedrich Knapp, Emil Lederer and Gunter Schmolders; and that the Italian scholars considered comprise Costantino Bresciani Turroni, Gustavo Del Vecchio, Giovanni Demaria, Antonio Graziadei, Achille Loria, Angelo Messedaglia and Umberto Ricci.