Pososhkov, Ivan

Pososhkov, Ivan Tikhonovich


Born 1652 in the village of Pokrovskoe, in what is now Moscow Oblast; died Feb. 1, 1726, in St. Petersburg. Russian economist and publicist.

Pososhkov was the son of a jeweler. He worked in various trades and subsequently became a merchant, an entrepreneur, and a landowner. His major work, On Poverty and Wealth (1724, published 1842), is important in the history of Russian social criticism. Here he brings together many ideas expressed in a number of his works. The language used is eloquent, yet simple. In this work, Pososhkov is concerned primarily with examining commodity production. He does not raise the question of value, but understands that price depends on the productivity of labor. In the absence of a concept of value, he reaches the erroneous conclusion that the value of money may be nominal in the national market but must be at full value in the foreign market.

Contrary to mercantilist theory, Pososhkov believed that profit is generated within the national market. He showed that the amount of profit depends on the productivity of labor and on the level of wages. He stressed the advantages of employing hired labor for piece-rate pay and proposed that factories be built “where bread and meals are cheapest.” Pososhkov correctly understood the relationship between the interest rate and the rate of profit, but erroneously thought that interest rates should be determined by law, depending on the rate of profit in enterprises.

Pososhkov believed that the main cause of poverty in the state was the backwardness of agriculture, which he attributed mainly to the severe exploitation of the peasantry. He did not attack the institution of serfdom, but his proposal to regulate peasant conscription was very progressive. A supporter of the reforms of Peter I, Pososhkov advocated the development of industry and trade, the intensified search for valuable deposits of minerals, and the increased construction of factories. He supported a favorable balance of trade, but unlike the mercantilists, subordinated it to the development of merchandise turnover in the national market. He suggested levying taxes on all classes except the clergy, taking into consideration the amount of property owned by each individual taxpayer. Pososhkov advocated the bourgeois notion of the formal equality of all individuals before the law. After the death of Peter I he was incarcerated in the Peter and Paul Fortress, where he remained until his death.


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