The railways, particularly the Trans-Siberian railway, also gave Eastern Russia a link to Europe and Western Russia a link to the Pacific Ocean, which made it easier to export Russian goods. Therefore the Russian governments’ investment in railways was extremely successful in promoting economic growth. The Russian government was also successful in improving Russia’s heavy industry through the introduction of tariffs on imports. This clearly helped Russian heavy industry to expand as steel production increase eightfold from 1880 to 1905 and petroleum production increased over 2500% during the same time period. These tariffs, introduced by Vyshnedgradsky and continued by Witte, both increased revenue for the government and made
In addition, the railway cost the country a lot of money and a lot of time to build, so it can be argued that the railway was not even worth building in the first place as that money could have gone to other important industrial plans or improving conditions for workers. Secondly, Witte took out numerous large foreign loans from more industrialised countries to bring in more money for the country. This temporarily solved Russia’s economic problems, however later resulted in a lot of debt, especially to the French, which caused huge economic problems for Russia, whose
Tariffs making goods scarce and heavy taxation meant prices for Russian consumers increased, whilst their wages stayed low. Workers had poor living and working conditions, and their discontent was severely repressed.
While it has been argued that an exceptional economic growth caused some problems, the advantages that came with it, outweigh the negatives. Germany’s economic growth was exceptional, industries such as the production of coal and iron doubled in the years up to 1914. By 1900, Germany’s particularly strong steel industry had exceeded that of Britain’s and by the beginning of the first world war, Germany‘s share of trade in the world was equal to Britain’s. Therefore, the power of the elites was not being threatened, as the country was benefitting from the money that the economic growth had brought in, to a high extent. Germany led the way on Europe with the creation of new industries such as chemicals, pharmaceuticals, electrics and motor manufacture.
In addition, World War II introduced change through industrialisation, which was key to Russia’s success in the war. These key reforming leaders and other factors of change saw Russia grow from a very deprived country in 1856 to an industrial superpower in 1964. Alexander II became known as ‘Alexander the Great Reformer’ and ‘the Tsar Liberator’ which suggests that his work and reforms changed the nature of Russian government and society to a large extent. The emancipation of the Serfs in 1861 initially appeared to have major benefits for the serfs. As Alexander II said: “We vowed in our hearts to fulfil the mission which is entrusted to Us and to surround with Our affection and Our Imperial solicitude all Our faithful subjects of every rank and condition”2.
Though collectivisation may have had short term boosts to the economy but the effects of collectivisation were disastrous. For that the harvest of 1933 was nine million tons less than that of 1926 and the number of pigs dropped by 65%. These are the results of the peasants rebelling against the soviets forced collectivization. These peasant rebellions were damaging to the economy as its effects emanates to the city
Other changes Stalin made were to increase production in agriculture by the collectivization policy. Document 4 shows how he planned to do this by joining small peasant farms together and eliminate the Kulaks who were wealthy farmers. During the First Five Year Plan, livestock went from 33 to 16 million. During the Second Five-Year Plan, livestock went up slightly from 16 million to about 17 million. Wheat production yo-yoed from 25 to 18 million between the years 1928-1937.
Document 2 is also a chart showing cotton yarn production in the same years as document 1, but in Japan. It was also gathered by a government power, making it trustworthy as well. As in document 1, it shows a huge increase in machine-spun yarn production, jumping from 5 million to 666 million pounds per year in 30 years. This shows how Japan also had a huge increase in production of cotton materials starting in 1884. Document 6 restates the idea in document 1 of the increase in machine textiles and the decrease of hand-weavers due to unmatchable competition with industry.
The Five Year Plan tried to eradicate free trade which meant that people could not afford what they wanted. Furthermore, there were shortages of consumer goods because of the state control of private industries. As a result it encouraged an illegal trade in products such as vodka, cigarettes, footwear and food. Furthermore, the black market was so widely spread that it was difficult t police effectively. This illustrates that the economy worsened in terms of consumer goods.
The decrease in agricultural production also affected the soviet government. Since 1921, Russia’s government had been selling grain surpluses abroad in order to gain foreign currency necessary to provide resources for industrialisation. Clearly, if there were no grain surpluses there was no money to build up Russia’s industry. Collectivisation aimed to hold out the prospect of many economic benefits. First, large farms would increase efficiency.