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Lecture 2

326 - Week 2 – Lecture 1 - Backwardness, Industrialisation and Witte.docx

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HIST 326
Katrin Bozeva

Week 2 – Lecture 1 History 326 – Russia from 1905 The Origins of Russian Backwardness; Industrialisation and the Witte System Office hours – 11:25 – 12:25 Monday and Friday, Leacock 614 Gerschenkron – author of a theory still applied in eastern Europe = ‘the theory of relative backwardness’ - acc. to him – and Laue supported this – the question of backwardness is badly pos▯dwe should ask the question why the European economy was so advanced or on such a path of development at such an early time (late 18thC) o because: western Europe historically was much more densely populated than Russia has ever been: in comparison to western Europe, the Russians did not experience pressure on the land until very late in time since there was too much arable (poor quality) land  factors encountered in Belgium and the Netherlands were not evident  dynamics of western Europe based on dense population = overpopulation leads to improvement of techniques re. production of food for survival, trade and accumulation of capital used to further improve techniques and market strategies  in the Russian case = explosion of population not relevant until late • 1800s = 40 million • 1890s = 100 million • 1914 = 165 million = one of the fastest population increases in European countries during this time period achieved mainly because of more birth over death  Russian peasant women would have around 10 children – although about half would survive o ALSO peasants did not face the state or the challenges in life as private producers = the mir; no private farming in Russia because of the severe climate; would face the world as members of the mir and the Commune ▯ egalitarian meaning there was not much sense for individuals to strive for progress in farming their land because in the end, it was the mir whom decided who would pay what and how the land would be distributed ▯plots were not in long-term ownership and so there was little sense for individuals to attempt enduring improvements  In the provinces of European Russia, improvement of techniques was not wholly encouraged  Against even the institution that dictated their everyday lives the most Sharp contradiction between the military prowess of the state and how things were done in the empire  Gerschenkron claimed it was in a class of it’s own - after the Napoleon wars it was a member of the concert of Europe BUT it had all the features and indicators of an underdeveloped economy o low lifespan (around 40 vs. above 50); - defeat in the Crimean War = economic underdevelopment was interfering in the status and the ability of the Russian empire to fight major wars o from Crimea to the end of the 19thC = sole enemy that Russia really defeated was the Ottomans whom were also perceived to be the ‘sick man’of Europe  when the Crimean War demanded that Russia fight the French and the English, they lost a major war on their own territory  1860s = dividing line in the thinking of the imperial elite: starting to lose wars and military campaigns and stand up for their interests led to the desire for serious changes 1880s – Sergei Witte’s programme was perhaps the answer to this… Russian empire was a stagnated organism in which to initiate reform – usually reform came – and still does come – from above due to the organisation of the Russian state = Russian reform could only be initiated from above and since there were no bureaucrats with the charisma and drive of Witte to persuade the Russian emperors to begin a campaign and policy of systematic industrialisation, things were not moving - between 1809 and the first talk of abolishing serfdom occurred and 1892 there were NO improvements o one of the reasons why Witte had to force such RAPID industrialisation  they had lost multiple years whilst the Europeans had moved ahead greatly Sergei Witte = the most capable imperial statesman of Imperial Russia - combined the best of Russian education and expertise with the drive of a modern day politician = even today, not all politicians have an internal drive (rare combination of vision and internal drive to finish things according to their understanding of what was good for their particular countries) o (3 one was Stolypin) - Witte = an imperialist in a good way: believed Russia had been destined for greatness and that Russia and Russia’s political elite had to do everything within their power in order to propel the nation to the greatness it deserved o He was also very stubborn – numerous audiences with the indecisive Nicholas II and would not give up until he had persuaded the other side that his vision was correct Witte = the architect of Russian industrialisation  unusual to be able to put together an individual man with one single group of policies that were his own brainchild – the programme was completely his Most important elements of Witte’s reforms: - Protectionism of local industries from the competition of fore▯gwhy, when reading sources of the time, there are high protective tariffs o Suggested that 30% on top of the price should be tax for protection of their interests = this was VERY high  after he had departed, the people who followed increased the protective tariffs to 80%  Protective tariffs stimulate the production of local goods BUT in the long-term, they harm the ability to purchase items which the Imperial economy was not creating 
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