BLIOCH (BLOCH), IVAN STANISLAVOVICH:
By: Herman Rosenthal
Russo-Polish financier, economist, and railway contractor; distinguished as an advocate of universal peace; born at Radom, Poland, July 24, 1836; died at Warsaw Dec. 25, 1901. He attended the Industrial High School of Warsaw, and then entered upon a few years of commercial activity, first with the banking house of Teplitz at Warsaw and later under the patronage of General Tiesenhaus at St. Petersburg. There he adopted Christianity in the form of Calvinism. With the banker Kronenberg of Warsaw, whose sister he married, Blioch participated in the construction of the railroads of the Great Russian Company; and, observing the faults of foreign methods, he published a monograph in 1864, showing how these could be improved, making particular application to Russian conditions. With the view of putting on a precise scientific basis the general system of railroad management, he wrote a voluminous work, published in 1875 at St. Petersburg, with double text in Russian and French, under the title "Russkiya Zhelyeznyya Dorogi, Otnositelno Dokhodov, Raskhodov Eksploatatzii, Stoimosti Provoza i Dvizheniya Gruzov"—treating Russian railroads with respect to their revenues and running expenses, freight rates, and the movement of freight. For this work he was awarded a medal of the first class at the geographical exhibition of Paris, and was heartily indorsed by the Imperial Russian Geographical Society.
Another problem of considerable importance which attracted Blioch's attention was the question of pensions for railroad employees. The subject was in a chaotic state, there being no general rules or regulations. At his suggestion a committee was appointed by the general assembly of representatives of the Russian railroads to draw up, under Blioch's supervision, a plan for the establishment of a system of pension funds. In 1875 Blioch, conjointly with Vishnegradski, published the results of the committee's labors, in a treatise that was received as an authoritative statement of the pension problem. On the same question he wrote in French "Calculs Servants des Bases pour des Caisses des Retraites" (Warsaw, 1875), and published an edition of the same in Polish. At the request of the Ministry of the Interior, he wrote a detailed monograph, published in 1876 under the title "Izslyedovanie po Voprosam Otnosyashchimsya k Proizvodstvu, Torgovlye i Peredvizheniyu Skota i Skotskikh Produktov v Rossii i Zagranitzei"—an inquiry into the subject of the breeding, sale, and transportation of cattle and cattle-produce in Russia and abroad.Results of Railroad Enterprise.
In 1877 Blioch published, in "Vyestnik Yevropy" (Sept.-Dec.), a series of essays on the economic condition of Russia, past and present, under the title "Ekonomicheskoe Sostoyanie Rossii v Proshlom i Nastoyashchem." The object of these essays was to calm the public apprehensions with regard to the financial embarrassments of Russia at that time. The rapid construction of railroads had absorbed enormous capital; and the public at large was inclined to see in this the chief cause of all financial trouble. Blioch endeavored to show that these enterprises were an absolute necessity, and that, although they made the financial crisis more acute for the time being, they would ultimately raise the productive power of the country, increase profits, and revive trade. The same subject is more extensively treated by Blioch in a massive five-volume work, published at St. Petersburg in 1878, entitled "Vliyanie Zhelyeznykh Dorog na Ekonomicheskoe Sostoyanie Rossii," which states more particularly the effect of railroads upon the economic conditions of Russia. This work, translated into French and Polish, was awarded a gold medal at the Paris Exposition of 1878. The above-named writings gained for him a membership in the socalled "committee of scholars" (Uchony Komitet) of the Ministry of Finances.Other Economic Works.
With the view of refuting the unjust attacks upon the financial policy of the government in the seventies, Blioch published in 1882 a work on the finances of Russia in the nineteenth century, entitled "Finansy Rossii xix Stolyetiya," in which he demonstrated the improvement in the condition of the country's finances as compared with those of the epoch of Nicholas I. This treatise contains interesting memoirs of the former ministers of finance, Reutern and Greigh. It has been translated into German, Polish, and French. In Polish, Blioch published "Przemysl Fabryczny Krolestwa Polskiego," on the industries of the kingdom of Poland; "Statistics of the Kingdom of Poland"; and, on financial and railroad topics, a series of articles in the periodicals "Biblioteka Warzawska" and "Ateneum." At the invitation of the president of the commission on agriculture, he composed a treatise on the policy, adopted by Russia and other countries, of giving governmental aid to agriculture by means of loans. It was published at St. Petersburg in 1892 under the title "O Selskokhozaistvennom Melioratzionnom Kreditye v Rossii i Inostrannykh Gosudarstvakh."Exposure of Anti-Semitic Charges.
When the Russian press took up the discussion of the rights of the Jews, Blioch published a work presenting a comparison of the material and moral welfare of the Western Great Russian and the Vistula provinces. This was entitled "Sravnenie Materialnavo i Nravstvennavo Blagosostoyaniya Guberni Zapadnykh, Veliko Rossiskikh i Privislyanskikh," and in its five volumes (with an atlas) are presented the results of an investigation into the conditions of life and industry of the divers regions. It contains a historical view of the fortunes of the Jews in Europe, as well as a sketch of the origin of anti-Semitism. In this painstaking publication (an abstract of which is given in his pamphlet: "Les Ouvrages Statistico-Economiques," pp. 22-41) the author adduces a mass of statistical evidence exposing the hollowness of the charges that had been brought against the Jews of Russia for the purpose of justifying the atrocities perpetrated upon them in the early part of the reign of Alexander III. The cruel measures adopted by the imperial government—measures that formed a sequel to the other atrocities—are also adduced. He sets forth the manner in which the cause of the Jews was invariably prejudged in the numerous official investigations that were conducted with the ostensible purpose of ascertaining the conditions and motives leading to the outbreaks. The modus operandi of these inquiries, Blioch contends, was regularly so framed as to invite testimony hostile to the Jews, and the very fact that such massacres had occurred was taken as evidence that the provocation for the measures existed. The notion, sedulously propagated, that the atrocities represented an uprising of the people against Jewish exploitation, is pronounced baseless, in view of the fact that the worst outbreaks originated not in the rural districts but in the cities. The charge that in those provinces where the Jews have resided in numbers, they have impoverished and brutalized the peasantry through liquor traffic, is met by Blioch with statistical evidence to the effect that the provinces closed to the Jews are in a worse condition as regards the evil effects of drink. He points out the gross manner in which the criminal statistics of the empire have been manipulated to arouse prejudice against the Jews in order to justify their expulsion from the villages. In like manner he exposes the unfairness of the statistical data adduced to show that the Russian Jew had shirked his military duties. Blioch arraigns the supineness, amounting to connivance, of the imperial government in the matter of the anti-Semitic massacres of 1881-82; and argues that a resolute attitude against them would soon have put an end to the outbreaks, as was evinced by their speedy suppression when Count Dmitri Tolstoi was entrusted with the Ministry of the Interior.
Concerning the Jews, Blioch makes the following statements: The value of land in the Pale of Settlement is 19 per cent higher than in the governments where Jews are not allowed to reside. Prostitution and crime are far less prevalent, there being 1 Jew criminal to 2,170 individuals, whereas among non-Jews the proportion is 1 to 715. In the Pale the arrears of taxes are less than in governments which have no Jews; and in the 25 governments of the Pale 8,000,000 rubles less are spent every year in drink, a saving which enables the peasants to improve their land and pay their taxes. The Jews in the Pale who carry on business form more than half of the trading population, but the total value of their income is 436 million rubles, against that of 489 million rubles of the Christian minority. The great majority of Jews are small retail dealers and artisans, who earn from 20 to 60 copecks a day; and in order to make even this small profit they must carry on their business from 12 to 16 hours daily.War and Its Solution.
In 1898 Blioch produced his famous work, in six volumes with atlas, on war in the future, "Budushchaya Voina," which has been translated into German and French and also into English. This is said to have inspired Czar Nicholas II. to issue his famous "peace" declaration, which resulted in The Hague Conference in 1899. The leading idea of the book is that the development and improvement of military art practically tend to make war altogether impossible or at least improbable. The destructive power of modern firearms and the radical dislocation of the economic and political fabric produced by war on a large scale are certain to make it such a calamity for the nations concerned that even the greatest success would not in the least compensate them for the desolation caused. Blioch then sets forth a scheme for the solution of all international conflicts by arbitration. Considered from a scientific standpoint, the work is not without grave faults. It represents a collection of uncritical, not always well-digested, material, striking in the manner of its presentation, but abounding in details that obscure the paramount problem. It contains a great mass of facts concerning the art of war, as well as political, economic, and financial reflections, and a discussion of means for preventing war. Unfortunately, in Blioch's consideration of the greatproblem he does not possess that tempered regard for expediency which is indispensable to the real efficacy of any reform. However, the work must not be underrated by applying to it a scientifically exacting criterion.
Blioch, who participated, as stated above, in the construction of the lines laid by the Great Company of Russian Railroads, built also the Landvarovo-Romny and Ivangorod-Dombrova roads, and organized the Company of the Southwestern Railroads. He has been president of various railroads, and has taken part in the work of railroad legislation. Shortly before his death he retired from business life and devoted himself exclusively to science and literature. The family testament left by Blioch begins with the words: "I was my whole life a Jew and I die as a Jew."
- S. Vengerov, Kritiko-Biograficheski Slovar, vol. iii., St. Petersburg, 1892;
- Entziklopedicheski Slovar, vol. iv., St. Petersburg, 1895;
- Hans Delbrück, in Preussische Jahrbücher, May, 1899, pp. 203-230;
- D. Slonimski, in Vyestnik Yevropy, May, 1898, pp. 778-792;
- Jean de Bloch, Les Ouvrages Statistico-Economiques, 1875-1900, Paris, 1900;
- N. Sokolov, in Jewish Chronicle, Jan. 24, 1902.