Johann Heinrich Gottlob von Justi

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Johann Heinrich Gottlob Justi , also: Anaxagoras vom Occident , (* 1720 in Brücken ; † July 21, 1771 in Küstrin ) was a German political and economic thinker and cameraist of the 18th century. His writings bear the author's designation Johann Heinrich Gottlob von Justi , but no basis for the title of nobility could be proven.


Justi was the son of a Saxon excise inspector , studied law and camera science from 1742 to 1744 at the University of Wittenberg , University of Jena and University of Leipzig , where he also received his doctorate. He then became regimental quartermaster in the Prussian army, entered the service of the Duchess of Saxony-Eisenach as a lawyer and converted to Catholicism around 1750. In this context, he received a professorship in camera studies at the newly founded Theresianum Knight Academy in Vienna . Later he took over the professorship of rhetoric. In addition, he also worked in the Austrian censorship court commission, dealt with mining and sericulture, became the imperial finance and mining ridge. There he was in close contact with Friedrich Wilhelm von Haugwitz , whose administrative reforms had a lasting impact on Justi's political ideas.

Compelled by failures in silver mining, he asked to be released in 1753. After brief stays in Erfurt and Leipzig , Justi became Bergrat and Police Director in Göttingen in 1755. In this position, he gave lectures at the University of Göttingen on political economy and natural history. In Göttingen, Justi began his systematic reception of contemporary French works, especially Montesquieu's Esprit des lois . From 1755 to 1757 he was an extraordinary member of the Göttingen Academy of Sciences . In 1757 Justi went to Copenhagen at the invitation of the Danish Minister Bernstorff , before settling in Altona in 1758 . In the hope of a permanent position in the Prussian service, Justi moved to Berlin in 1760 , where he was not appointed head of the Prussian state mines until 1765. According to Andre Wakefield's analysis, which is based on extensive archive studies, Justi's activities in the Prussian service were disastrous in every respect. After allegations of fraud, Justi was deposed, charged and arrested in Küstrin in 1768, where he died in 1771.


Treatise of which Manufactories and Factories (1758)

Justi's extensive oeuvre consists of more than 50 independent publications that deal with philosophical, literary, technological, geological, chemical, physical, political and economic issues. Since Justi had no permanent academic or government position for many years of his life, he tried to have at least two new publications each year at the book fairs in Leipzig and Frankfurt. This explains the textbook character and the numerous parallels (and sometimes literal repetitions) in his writings.

Justi's central concern was to reform the larger territories of the Holy Roman Empire so that they could keep up politically, militarily and economically with the great powers England and France. Against the background of the European power struggle in the Seven Years' War , Justi worked out a multitude of proposals in his main political and economic works on how a country's level of economic development could be raised quickly and permanently. Justi drew on the ideas of French thinkers such as Fénelon , Saint-Pierre, d'Argenson and Montesquieu .

In his political writings, Justi argues that a country can only achieve economic success under a moderate government that guarantees the inviolability of private property. Despotism, according to Justi, inevitably leads to impoverishment and military weakening of a country. Although Justi extensively discussed the advantages and disadvantages of various forms of government under the influence of Montesquieu, he considers a monarchy that has been modernized through numerous reform measures to be the only plausible form of government, since only it can centrally coordinate and implement far-reaching economic reforms.

The individual economic reforms are the main subject of Justi's economic writings. In addition to measures to increase population and to stimulate competition (suppressing guilds and guilds) as well as private consumption (lifting of luxury bans), Justi describes the promotion of manufacturing, foreign trade (through state-sponsored trading companies and the extensive lifting of export and import bans), the mining and agriculture as key elements of a comprehensive economic reform program.

According to Justi, all of these steps can only be successful if they are flanked by a tax reform. a. the excise must be abolished. For this purpose, Justi wrote the first systematic treatise on public finance in Germany, whereby, in addition to contemporary French writings, the influence of cameralistic thinkers as well as Wolff and Pufendorf is recognizable.

While Justi anticipates the ideas of Adam Smith on many points , his overall argumentation (comprehensive state intervention for the purpose of long-term economic liberalization) is more similar to the positions of thinkers like Sir James Stuart.

As a representative of enlightened absolutism , the Russian Tsarina Catherine II was involved in her reform policy - in 1767 she set up a commission to prepare extensive instructions on legal principles for the Russian legislative commission, the Nakaz ( Russian: Наказ , `` instruction '', `` mandate '') should - strongly influenced by the ideas of Justis. The central idea from the reform work of Catherine II was not to put the individual, Russian subjects at the center of the reforms, but about the concept of the Russian fatherland ( Russian отечество ), which is the highest level of welfare ( Russian благополучие ) and happiness ( Russian блаженство ) should represent to achieve a content life for everyone collectively. She adopted the term "bliss of the state" from Justi's texts. A state idea of ​​a communal, orderly and happy society that was committed to the welfare as a whole.

The main political and economic works by Justi are now well researched (see the overview studies by Ulrich Adam and Ferdinand Frensdorff). So far, only a few studies have been carried out on the other parts of Justi's extensive oeuvre.

The project maker's theory

His essay "Thoughts of Projects and Project Makers" (1761) has recently received special attention. In it he presents an apology - possibly also autobiographically motivated - of a social type that contemporaries disliked as notoriously unreliable and morally questionable. On the other hand, Justi sets the thesis he himself describes as possibly “ paradoxical ”: “All people are project makers” or should be. And he argues in detail that governments should definitely listen to project makers because “as adventurous as the people who do most of the projects are; sometimes a good invention can come to mind. ”Since the project form has gained great importance in business, science, education and many other areas of the present, Justi's theory of the project maker meets with current interest.

Works (selection)

  • Bibliography of Justi's works - Word document
  • State economy or systematic treatise of all economic and cameral science. 2 volumes. I + II, 1755
  • Principles of Police Science. 1756
  • The trading nobility, which is opposed to the warlike nobility. Two treatises on the question of whether it is in accordance with the welfare of the state that the nobility should be merchants? Goettingen 1756
  • Ground plan of the entire mineral kingdom in which all fossils are presented and described in one of their essential properties according to their context . Verlag der Wittwe Vandenhöck , Göttingen 1757
  • The chimera of the balance of Europe. 1758
  • Complete treatise of those manufactories and factories. 2 volumes. I, 1758 digitized and full text in the German text archive ; II, 1761 Digitized edition
  • The chimera of the balance of action and navigation. 1759
  • The blueprint for good government. 1759
  • Psammitichus , 2 volumes. I, 1759; II, 1760
  • Nature and essence of states. 1760
  • Life and character of the royal. Polish and Elector Saxon Premier-Ministre Grafens von Brühl , 3 volumes. I, 1760; II, 1761; III, 1764
  • The foundations of power and happiness in states. 2 volumes. I, 1760; II, 1761.
  • Scene of the arts and crafts, or complete description thereof: made or approved by those masters of the Academy of Sciences at Paris. Translated into German and annotated ... Rüdiger u. a., Berlin a. a. 1762–1805 (21 vols.) A translation of parts of the Encyclopédie ; Justi is the translator of volumes 1–4
  • Collected political and financial publications. 3 volumes. I + II, 1761; III, 1764.
  • Comparisons of the European with the Asian and other supposedly barbaric governments. 1762
  • Detailed treatise of those taxes and duties (1762) Digitized edition
  • The art of refining the silver or making the silver mixed with other metals against fine (1765) Digitized edition
  • System of finance. 1766
  • History of the earth's body derived and proven from its external and subterranean properties. 1771. Digitized and full text in the German text archive
  • Treatise on the iron hammers and high ovens by the Marquis of Courtivron and Bouchu. Translated and annotated from French. Berlin / Stettin / Leipzig 1763. (E-Book: Potsdam 2010, ISBN 978-3-941919-72-3 )
  • with the well-bored Imperial Count Mr. Johann Christian Count zu Solms-Baruth: Treatise on the iron hammers and high furnaces in Germany. Berlin / Stettin / Leipzig 1764. (E-Book: Potsdam 2010, ISBN 978-3-941919-73-0 )


  • Ulrich Adam: The Political Economy of JHG Justi. Peter Lang, Oxford 2006, ISBN 3-03910-278-8 .
  • Erhard Dittrich:  Justi, Johann Heinrich Gottlob. In: New German Biography (NDB). Volume 10, Duncker & Humblot, Berlin 1974, ISBN 3-428-00191-5 , pp. 707-709 ( digitized version ).
  • Dirk Fleischer: Church understanding from a police science perspective. Johann Heinrich Gottlob von Justis Understanding of the Church. In: Albrecht Beutel u. a. (Ed.): Christianity in transition. New Studies on Church and Religion in the Age of Enlightenment. Leipzig 2006, ISBN 3-374-02396-7 , pp. 71-83.
  • Ferdinand Frensdorff : About the life and writings of the economist JHG von Justi. (News from the Royal Society of Sciences in Göttingen; Historical-Philosophical Class 1903. 4). Göttingen 1903. (Reprint: Auvermann, Glashütten im Taunus 1970, DNB 720170745 )
  • Karl Theodor von Inama-SterneggJusti, Johann Heinrich Gottlob von . In: Allgemeine Deutsche Biographie (ADB). Volume 14, Duncker & Humblot, Leipzig 1881, pp. 747-753.
  • Marcus Obert: The natural law "political metaphysics" of Johann Heinrich Gottlob von Justi (1717–1771). Lang, Frankfurt am Main 1992, ISBN 3-631-44461-3 .
  • Erik S. Reinert: Johann Heinrich Gottlob von Justi (1717–1771) - The Life and Times of an Economist Adventurer. In: Jürgen Georg Backhaus (Ed.): The Beginnings of Political Economy: Johann Heinrich Gottlob von Justi. (=  The European heritage in economics and the social sciences. Vol. 7). Springer, New York, NY 2008, ISBN 978-0-387-09779-4 , pp. 33-74 (Ms., no year) ( MS Word ; 206 kB).
  • Friedrich P. Springer: Delius versus Justi - a brotherly dispute. In: res montanarum. 44 (2008), pp. 20-29.
  • Friedrich P. Springer: About Christoph Traugott Delius. In: The cut. Issue 4–5 / 2007.
  • Andre Wakefield: The Disordered Police State. German Cameralism as Science and Practice. University of Chicago Press, Chicago 2009, ISBN 978-0-226-87020-5 .

Web links

Individual evidence

  1. Erhard Dittrich:  Justi, Johann Heinrich Gottlob. In: New German Biography (NDB). Volume 10, Duncker & Humblot, Berlin 1974, ISBN 3-428-00191-5 , pp. 707-709 ( digitized version ). Here p. 708.
  2. Holger Krahnke: The members of the Academy of Sciences in Göttingen 1751-2001 (= Treatises of the Academy of Sciences in Göttingen, Philological-Historical Class. Volume 3, Vol. 246 = Treatises of the Academy of Sciences in Göttingen, Mathematical-Physical Class. Episode 3, vol. 50). Vandenhoeck & Ruprecht, Göttingen 2001, ISBN 3-525-82516-1 , p. 126.
  3. Volker Sellin: Violence and Legitimacy: The European Monarchy in the Age of Revolutions. Oldenbourg Verlag, Munich 2011, ISBN 3-4867-0705-1 , p. 146 f.
  4. ^ Johann Heinrich Gottlob von Justi: Thoughts of projects and project makers. In: JG v. Justi: Collected political and financial publications on important subjects of statecraft, war science and cameral = and finance. Vol. 1. At the expense of the Rothenschen Buchhandlung, Copenhagen / Leipzig 1761, pp. 256–281, citations p. 257, p. 268 ( digitized version of the BSB ).
  5. Markus Krajewski (Ed.): Projektemacher. For the production of knowledge in the form of failure. Kulturverlag Kadmos, Berlin 2004, ISBN 3-931659-56-9
  6. ^ Felix Klopotek : Project. In: Ulrich Bröckling, Susanne Krasmann, Thomas Lemke (eds.): Glossary of the present. Suhrkamp, ​​Frankfurt am Main 2004, ISBN 3-518-12381-5 , pp. 216-221.