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Regular version of the site

Article

О сильных и слабых в экономике истории (размышления над новой книгой)

The article analyzes the content of the book by the professor A. Skorobogatov “Society as a Contract
between the Strong and Weak. Essays on Economics of History”. The author of the book set the task to apply
the economic method to the study of history, to look at it on the basis of the assumption of rationality of actors
and, based on it, to show history as a change in the forms of interaction of strong and weak participants.
The article notes that the author succeeded in many things: systematizing the hierarchies of institutions,
highlighting the special role of culture, the concept of conventional expectations as an explanation of the
stability of dictatorial regimes. The book correctly noted that economic activity ceases to be the lot of the
weak when the economy begins to determine military power. Then there are state guarantees of property
rights and force is subject to the rules. At the same time, the article has controversy with the author of
the book on a number of questions. The definition of the rationality in the book is so trivial (the choice
of the best means achieving the goal) that it describes any human activity. According to the author of the
article, there is an excessive propensity to geographical determinism in the book. The theory of young
and old dictatorships and especially its application to the history of Soviet Russia causes great doubts. A
rather primitive “economism” is used in determining the optimal size of the states. However, controversy
with the author does not mean at all that the book does not satisfy the interest in problems posed in. On
the contrary, this book will certainly become the starting point for all subsequent works in the field of the
economics of history because of its conceptual depth and new vision of many aspects of historical process.