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Published online by Cambridge University Press:  11 August 2015

Ivan Boldyrev
Witten/Herdecke University; National Research University Higher School of Economics, Moscow, E-mail:
Martin Kragh
Center for Russian and Eurasian Studies, Uppsala University; Institute for Business and Economic History Research, Stockholm School of Economics, E-mail:


Research within the history of economic thought has focused only little on the development of economics under dictatorship. This paper attempts to show how a country with a relatively large and internationally established community of social scientists in the 1920s, the Soviet Union, was subjected to repression. We tell this story through the case of Isaak Il’ich Rubin, a prominent Russian economist and historian of economic thought, who in the late 1920s was denounced by rival scholars and repressed by the political system. By focusing not only on his life and work, but also on that of his opponents and institutional clashes, we show how the decline of a social science tradition in Russia and the USSR as well as the Stalinization of Soviet social sciences emerged as a process over time. We analyze the complex interplay of ideas, scholars, and their institutional context, and conclude that subsequent repression was arbitrary, suggesting that no clear survival or career strategy existed in the Stalinist system, due to a situation of fundamental uncertainty.

Copyright © The History of Economics Society 2015 

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