How far do you agree that the economy of Tsarist Russia was transformed in the years up to 1914?
During Alexander III reign, the Country of Russia and its economy was in a very backward state. We saw the Country suffer with extremely low industrialisation, as many of their workforce focused on agriculture. They struggled to sell enough grain at export, in order to fund large scale industrialisation as the serfs were forced by lack of freedom to grow enough food simply to keep their families going. This way of farming meant there were few areas of industry, mainly Ukraine, Moscow and St Petersburg! As a result, they remained as the most economically undeveloped country in Europe.
However, between 1892, and 1914 during the reign of Tsar Nicholas II Russia experienced a “great spurt” under the influence of Sergei Witte. Under Witte’s control, things in Russia began to change. We saw an introduction of the Trans-Siberian Railway, which enabled more workers to move further away in order to gain income, and allowed them to flood into the cities each morning! It also meant that raw materials could be transported across the Country to be exported. All though, this was a breakthrough in terms communication, the other forms of transportation were disappointing which limited the industrialisation to a few areas round Russia. Only a few of the Road networks built in the city were sufficient enough to provide easy access into the Cities. Which meant this development was also limited. A small merchant marine also meant that once the produce arrived at the harbour, it was in too large a quantity to be hauled across the seas so we were forced to invest money into loading our goods onto foreign ships. This further decreased our progression. Witte’s policies, it appears showed the way for Russia’s industrialisation, but failed to finish what he started.
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The lack of progression is further shown surrounding foreign trading. There were in fact steady increases in both exports and imports, mainly through Germany and Great Britain, and the strong desire for agricultural produce was extremely beneficial to Russia. By 1900, half of the industrial workforces were based in factories which increased the levels of production, and in turn helped to transform Russia from an almost purely agricultural Country. By 1910, 40% of their industrial output was from the textiles industry, which was a promising turn from the farming side, however overall; only 30% of the output was industrial. Russia was still clinging on to the agricultural side of exportation which meant industrial transformation was still minimal. It also meant that Cities grew rapidly, and had a large impact on living conditions. With more workers, in a closer proximity to each other the social disruptions spread rapidly around the different Cities and caused many different strikes. For example, in St Petersburg thousands of workers in the Putilov engineering works began a series of strikes to improve their conditions.
These set off the sparks which lead to millions of strikes and disruption around the Country, these then had a major effect on the industrialisation as the workforce were unhappy. With an unhappy workforce to deal with, industrialisation remained slow, although trading carried on at a steady pace. Railway strikes, although effected the ability for troops to move around the country and stop other strikes, it also meant a large amount of produce would struggle to make it to the harbour to be exported to other Countries and be sold. So in turn, the “great spurt” resulted in an extremely steady increase in industrialisation but came with a series of strikes and disruption which added extra trouble.
Russia as a country has transformed significantly since the collapse of the Soviet Union. The economy has changed from a globally-isolated, centrally-planned economy to a more globally-integrated market based economy. The economy of Russia has gone through fluctuations since then to emerge as the eight largest by its purchasing power parity (PPP) in 2009 estimates (CIA, 2010). The Russian economy ...
Russia’s lack of funds meant that Wittes policies had to be funded from elsewhere, foreign investments and high taxes on the serfs was the way forward. Over half of foreign investment went into mining and metallurgical industries, which did help with the development of the coal and iron industries. Nevertheless, Agriculture remained the area that bought in the most money and help the Russian economy flourish; therefor the concentration of half of foreign investment should have been focused more on developing agriculture in order to help the economy further.
Following Wittes reforms, the introduction of Stolypin in 1906 to regain order after the 1905 revolution promised further economic change. Stolypins reformed concentrated their efforts more on modernising agriculture, rather than simply producing higher yields. Following these reforms, 20% of serfs now had full ownership of their own land, which implies an increase in there economy. It also meant that agricultural production rose from 45.9 million tonnes in 1906, to 61.7 million tonnes in 1913. He enabled peasants to move to Siberia to buy cheap land, which spread out the economic development and gave them the opportunity to increase their land space for a small amount of money and alleviate the land shortages which were limiting the economy pre reforms. Between 1906 and 1914 Russia has also been said to have had an economic boom, in relation to their countries size in which there was a growth in coal oil an iron. Factories continued to grow, and entrepreneurs and businesses were for the first time prosperous!
Stolypin was clearly doing something right, and many historians believe that without the War to disrupt things, the economy would have developed into a more stable foundation that he originally predicted.
Overall, I think that Russian economy was transformed in the years up to 1914. However, the largest increase came between 1906 and 1914 when Stolypin introduced his reforms. With Stolypins reforms, we see a concentration on the areas that Russia was best in, such as agriculture. We also see an increase in coal, iron and oil which at the time would have been the three most important raw materials to fund other Countries industrialisation as well as their own. At the time, they were funding their own economic development, as well as other Countries. Before 1906, during Witte’s reforms, the foundations were laid down for Industrialisation, but he struggled to follow through with any of his ideas for the long run. Such as his trans-siberian railway, which lead the way for future communications to be built, but did not suffice for the whole needs of a Country of Russia’s size. So, in all I think that the economy did transform greatly between 1906 and 1914, but lacked progression before this period.
Despite making a recovery after the 1998 market crash, Russia remains weighted with numerous holdovers from the Communist era that keep its economy from taking advantage of free-market reforms. In short, Russia has not prospered under capitalism because it has not yet discovered it. In order to do so, the Russian government must engage in extensive reform in several key areas: improving the rule ...