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Surowiecki, Wawrzyniec°


SUROWIECKI, WAWRZYNIEC ° (1769–1827), Polish aristocrat; the most celebrated Polish economist of the late 18th–early 19th century. In his book On the Decline of Industry and Towns in Poland (1810) he discussed the theory that the Jews had played a negative role in Poland, stating that certain characteristics criticized in them were caused by their bad living conditions and the influence of religious orthodoxy, and maintaining that these characteristics also appear in all groups engaged in commerce. The Jews, he considered, played a basic role in the historical development of the Polish economy and he concluded that they were bound to raise the level of Polish commerce, agriculture, and industry. In his view they had the necessary qualities to perform this task: industry, thrift, and the ability to learn new ways. The fact that they were able to survive difficult times was thanks to the close relationship between their personal and general interests which, Surowiecki averred, was a basic Jewish quality.

[Itzhak Goldshlag]

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