Alex Royt

Wolf Humanities Center Doctoral Fellow

20232024 Forum on Revolution

Alex Royt

Ph.D. Candidate, History

Alex Royt is pursuing doctoral studies in History at the University of Pennsylvania. Alex holds a Bachelor of Arts from SUNY Binghamton where he studied history and German. He also holds a Master of Arts from Columbia University and a Master of Science from London School of Economics, where he studied international history. His doctoral dissertation examines Stalinism as a financial revolution that sought to create an alternative financial system to the capitalist West. His research tracks the evolution of economic reforms and financial institutions under an anti-capitalist regime. His scholarly interests include financial regulation, state intervention, collective action, and democratization. Alex is a Benjamin Franklin PhD fellow, and a graduate fellow in the Business, Economic, and Financial History Project at the Wharton School, organized by the Wharton Initiative for Financial Policy and Regulation (WIFPR).

A Socialist Financial Revolution: Debt and Violence in the Soviet Union 1917-1941

In 1927, relations between the capitalist West and Soviet Union turned increasingly hostile. Soviet political elites felt encircled by imperialists and sought to rearm the country. There was no blueprint for financing rearmament in a largely agrarian country. In the process, the Soviet regime turned to Marx’s economic texts for inspiration. Doing so, it ushered in a financial revolution-from-above which sought not only to confront capitalism but overtake it. In seeking to overcome the historical capitalism described by Marx in his most famous works, Soviet elites used Marx’s critique as a template for socialist finance. Drawing on unpublished archival sources from Ukrainian and Russian archives, my dissertation explores the monetary and financial system the Bolsheviks brought into being during the 1920s and 1930s. It aims to show how Soviet economic reforms and financial institutions evolved in the context of the global financial meltdown of the inter-war period.