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Original article (peer-reviewed)

Journal Terra Economicus
Volume (Issue) 14(4)
Page(s) 84 - 91
Title of proceedings Terra Economicus
DOI 10.18522/2073-6606-2016-14-4-84-91

Open Access

Type of Open Access Publisher (Gold Open Access)


Nikolay Ivanovich Sieber was without doubt an influent scholar. But at the same time he was isolated, writing a big deal of his production from Switzerland. How is it possible, for a scholar that is not a Minister, not a popular professor among his students, not an applied economist all the time on the roads, but instead a library rat, a scholar sitting at his desk, an armchair economist, to have such an influence on the course of political economy? The controversy between Sieber and Chicherin on the significance of Marx as an economist is first taken as an example of Sieber’s influence. The paper then shows that what is known today on Sieber’s network is very lacunar. Especially, Sieber lived during a decade in Switzerland, in the cities of Bern and of Zurich, and his contacts at the time are only vaguely known. There was a vast diaspora of exiled Russians in Switzerland, including many Russian revolutionaries and Ukrainian activists. Russian citizens travelling legally in Switzerland, especially for education purposes, also commonly visited the cities in which Sieber lived. Sieber presumably met these people, and this is what suggests the scarce sources that we know. It is also difficult at this stage to ascertain his network of correspondents from Russia. And we know nothing about his links with local Swiss people. As a conclusion, Sieber’s characterization as a solitary scholar is perhaps to be retained temporarily only, and his network is to be investigated further to get a fuller picture of his influence among his contemporaries.