How Successful Was Russia By 1914 1 Essay

Submitted By Tom-Marsh
Words: 1844
Pages: 8

How successful was Russia by 1914?
In 1914, Russia was involved in the First World War which was to severely undermine the popularity of Tsar Nicholas II. Historians have debated the extent of which on the eve of the outbreak of this conflict, Russia was in a strong stable state. This essay will examine that Russia was an economic success, but was a political and social failure by 1914. It will also stress the interlinked nature of these things as Nicholas II tried to recover his authority after the 1905 revolution.
In economic terms it can be argued that Russia enjoyed, overall, considerable successes by 1914. By 1909 the economy was booming again and the last few years of the tsarist economy were startlingly successful. Pig iron and coal production almost doubled from 1910 to 1913 as a result of industrial growth and a rearmament programme in 1912. An increase in production of these substances would result in Russia being more developed in its military (more material available for weapons etc.) and a creation of jobs for many industrial workers, resulting in economic growth as more people have more money to spend. Evidently, a rising industry creates great economic success. In addition, economic success in 1914 can also be seen in the increased production of cotton goods from 0.36 million tonnes (1910) to 0.43 million tonnes in 1913.The fact that the amount of cotton produced rapidly increased over 3 years suggests that there was heavy demand for items such as shirts, dresses, bed linen and other cotton based goods. Thus it suggests that ordinary Russian people had money available to spend highlighting the fact that not all Russians lived in poverty if they could afford cotton goods. This is evidence therefore, that the economy of Russia was getting increasingly better. Furthermore, in 1910 Russia was importing 1.084 million roubles worth of trade yet exporting 1.448 million roubles worth of trade. This suggests Russia’s economy was doing well because if a country spends less than it sells it is gaining money and making a profit and is generally the sign of a healthy economy experiencing economic growth. Potentially, if Russia was experiencing economic growth it would be able to invest money in improving the conditions for the peasants and the workers as well. The economic success of Russia by 1914 can be somewhat linked to a political success of Russia. Russia was to enjoy considerable improvements in many aspects of its economy by virtue of the leadership and direction of perhaps one of the Tsar’s most able minister Count Sergei Witte. Witte’s many industrial reforms helped achieve faster economic growth- industrial growth increase by 96.8% from 1898-1913. However, this statistic is less impressive when we consider that because Russia was such a backwards nation and had started from very low, it was still far behind countries such as Britain in terms of industry and economy. This corresponds to Gerschenkron’s theory that the more economically backwards a country was, the faster it would experience industrial growth. Generally the lower GDP per cap at the time of industrialization and the larger the % of the labour force in agriculture, the faster growth occurred if it did occur. However, overall Russia did indeed experience economic growth and advances as a result of increased industrial production though its economy was still nowhere near a match of countries in the west such as Britain.
However, in many ways it can be seen that Russia, whilst having some political advances, was a political failure by 1914. In 1913, celebrations of 300 years of the Romanov dynasty began and gave the tsarist government opportunities for spectacular pageantry: National holiday, free meals, fireworks display and many balls the Winter Palace. According to ‘A People’s Tragedy’, “everyone agreed that nothing quite so splendid would ever be seen again in their lifetimes”. This implies that people were happy with Tsar Nicholas II and loved and…