States of Obligation: Taxes and Citizenship in the Russian Empire and Early Soviet Republic

By Yanni Kotsonis

© 2014

Beginning in the 1860s, the Russian Empire replaced a poll tax system that originated with Peter the Great with a modern system of income and excise taxes. Russia began a transformation of state fiscal power that was also underway across Western Europe and North America. States of Obligation is the first sustained study of the Russian taxation system, the first to study its European and transatlantic context, and the first to expose the essential continuities between the fiscal practices of the Russian Empire and the Soviet Union.

Using a wealth of materials from provincial and local archives across Russia, Yanni Kotsonis examines how taxation was simultaneously a revenue-raising and a state-building tool, a claim on the person and a way to produce a new kind of citizenship. During successive political, wartime, and revolutionary crises between 1855 and 1928, state fiscal power was used to forge social and financial unity and fairness and a direct relationship with individual Russians. State power eventually overwhelmed both the private sector economy and the fragile realm of personal privacy. States of Obligation is at once a study in Russian economic history and a reflection on the modern state and the modern citizen. 

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Product Details

  • World Rights
  • Page Count: 504 pages
  • Illustrations: 6
  • Dimensions: 6.3in x 1.4in x 9.3in
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  • PUBLISHED JUL 2016

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    Regular Price: $84.00

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Quick Overview

States of Obligation is the first sustained study of the Russian taxation system, the first to study its European and transatlantic context, and the first to expose the essential continuities between the fiscal practices of the Russian Empire and the Soviet Union.

States of Obligation: Taxes and Citizenship in the Russian Empire and Early Soviet Republic

By Yanni Kotsonis

© 2014

Beginning in the 1860s, the Russian Empire replaced a poll tax system that originated with Peter the Great with a modern system of income and excise taxes. Russia began a transformation of state fiscal power that was also underway across Western Europe and North America. States of Obligation is the first sustained study of the Russian taxation system, the first to study its European and transatlantic context, and the first to expose the essential continuities between the fiscal practices of the Russian Empire and the Soviet Union.

Using a wealth of materials from provincial and local archives across Russia, Yanni Kotsonis examines how taxation was simultaneously a revenue-raising and a state-building tool, a claim on the person and a way to produce a new kind of citizenship. During successive political, wartime, and revolutionary crises between 1855 and 1928, state fiscal power was used to forge social and financial unity and fairness and a direct relationship with individual Russians. State power eventually overwhelmed both the private sector economy and the fragile realm of personal privacy. States of Obligation is at once a study in Russian economic history and a reflection on the modern state and the modern citizen. 

Continue Reading Read Less

Product Details

  • World Rights
  • Page Count: 504 pages
  • Illustrations: 6
  • Dimensions: 6.3in x 1.4in x 9.3in
  • Reviews

    States of Obligation is destined to emerge as a classic not only for historians but also for political scientists and economists with an interest in imperial and Soviet Russia.’


    Scott Gehlbach Kritika
    Explorations in Russian and Eurasian History vol 17:03:2016

    ‘Kotsonis’s work offers much food for thought. For specialists or fellow travelers in Russian business history and economic history, this book is required reading.’


    Steven Nafziger
    EH.Net January 2016

    ‘With its unique focus on taxation, States of Obligation makes an important contribution to the field of Russian and Soviet studies… It should be of interest to those examining issues concerning the modernizing state and definitions of citizenship.’


    Sharon A. Kowalsky
    Canadian Journal of History vol 51:02:2016

    ‘Yanni Kotsonis has given us an erudite book, rich with insight. It is well worth reading.’


    Frank Wcislo
    Journal of Modern History vol 89:01:2017

    ‘Yanni Kotsonis provides a stimulating and important history of the transformation of state obligations in nineteenth and early twentieth century Russia.’


    John Randolph
    Slavic Review vol 75:02:2016

    "Yanni Kotsonis has written an original and magisterial work that will change the way we understand and teach Russian and Soviet history … Like all great books, it will be read and referenced by generations of historians … This is a superb work of scholarship – comprehensive, meticulously researched, illuminating, and humane."


    Golfo Alexopoulos
    The Russian Review

    ‘As a study of both reformist and revolutionary state fiscal policy, an important area that has been much neglected, this is an intellectually sophisticated and stimulating work.’


    Steven Hoch
    American Historical review, December 2015

    ‘This book opens the door to new questions related to the means by which state, population, and economy intersect in Russia and elsewhere. The author and press are to be congratulated for blessing us with these intellectual provocations.’


    David W. Darrow
    Revolutionary Russia November 2015

    “This is an important book, and one that transcends the field of Russian history. It is learned, mature, highly comparative – and very readable and entertaining. Not so much a financial history as a study of political economy through the prism of taxation, States of Obligation demonstrates the nexus of taxation and citizenship – and shows that the contemporary actors thought and spoke in precisely those terms.”
    Peter Holquist, Department of History, University of Pennsylvania

    States of Obligation is a profound meditation on the Russian state, comprehensively researched and sure-handedly comparative. Revelation follows revelation – for example, direct taxes on Russia’s peasants accounted for a mere 1 per cent of state income in 1913. Textbooks will have to be rewritten.”
    Stephen Kotkin, John P. Birkelund '52 Professor in History and International Affairs, Princeton University

    “Those who are familiar with the work of Yanni Kotsonis will know that they have a treat in store. His latest book breaks new ground. It provides an authoritative, articulate, and subtle account of the politics of taxation in Russia at a crucial juncture. But it does more than this. It demonstrates that debates around taxation speak to fundamental issues of social organization, economic behaviour, and political authority. States of Obligation is wise, provocative, and illuminating in equal measure. I am certain it will stand the test of time.”
    Peter Gatrell, Professor of Economic History, University of Manchester
  • Author Information

    Yanni Kotsonis is an associate professor in the Departments of History and of Russian and Slavic Studies and founding Director of the Jordan Center for the Advanced Study of Russia at New York University.
  • Table of contents

    Introduction. A Short History of Taxes: Russia and the World from the Eighteenth to the Twenty-First Centuries

    Part 1. People, Places, Things: The Old Regime, Economic Knowledge, and the Coming of the New Order

    1. The Fiscal Instruments of Regime Change from the Eighteenth to the Nineteenth Centuries

    2 Three Tax Reforms, Three Visions of the Polity

    Part 2. The Politics of Visibility, the Technologies of Intimacy: Taxes and the Remaking of Urban and Commercial Russia

    3. Wealth in Motion: New Money, New Taxes, and a New Bureaucracy

    4. Systematic Intimacy: Business Taxes and the Disciplining of Commercial Russia

    5. Mass Taxation in the Age of the Individual: The New Personal Taxation in Russia and the World

    6. The Income Tax as Modern Government: Assessment, Self-Assessment, and Mutual Surveillance

    Part 3. The Politics of Obscurity: Peasant Taxes, Excises, and the Vodka Monopoly to 1917

    7. Everyone and No One: Indirect Taxes and the Vodka Monopoly to 1917

    8. The Peasant and the Fisc: The State Budget and the Persistence of Collective Tax Apportionment

    9. The Local Practices of Peasant Taxation

    Part 4. The State and Revolution, the State and Evolution: Fiscal Practices and a New Regime, 1917–30

    10. Soviet Russia and the Continuing History of the Russian State

    11. The Meanings of Utopia: Taxes, Urban Unities, and the Several Assaults on Peasant Separateness, 1917–21

    12. The Economy of Licences: Taxes and the New Economic Policy

    Afterword. Russia, Socialism, and the Modern State

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