Friday, July 17, 2020

The Importance of Property Rights

In sum, premodern Russia knew outright property neither in agricultural land nor in urban real estate: both assets were held conditionally. The landed aristocracy and the burghers - classes which in the West acquired in the late Middle Ages titles to their properties and all the rights that went with them - were in Russia servants of the state. As such, they had no guarantees of civil rights and no economic security. Their fortunes and social status were determined by their place in the government hierarchy and dependent on the crown's favor. Anyone who denies that medieval and early modern Russia differed fundamentally from Western Europe has to deal with these realities.

- From Property and Freedom by Richard Pipes

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