How far do you agree that the economy of Tsarist Russia was transformed in the years to 1914?
It can be argued that there was there was a change in the economy of Tsarist Russia in the years to 1914, but there is some debate to the extent of the transformation of the economy. It is undeniable that there is evidence which shows there was a degree of change within the USSR; this is shown through the actions of Sergi Witte, Stolypin and the four Duma’s from the years 1906 to 1914.
Firstly, it was well known that in 1881 the USSR’s economy was mostly agricultural based, and so from 1891 Sergi Witte proposed a number of changes which concentrated on the industrialisation of the nation, these focused on the railway network and foreign investment. The Trans-Siberian railway was started in 1891; this was a massive improvement to the economy because it opened up the Eastern Empire and advanced the growth of new towns and cities, whilst connecting new industrial centres which helped to stimulate the growth of iron and coal industries. In the case of foreign investment, Witte put the rouble on the gold standard which encouraged other countries to invest heavily in Russian industry. These policies had some beneficial outcomes such as heavy industry saw massive increases in production, and the economy grew 8% per year in the 1890’s, however, arguably there were also negative impacts of Witte’s policies. The Trans-Siberian railway was only partially built and therefore only the major cities were interconnected. Also in order to provide money for industrial developments, taxes were raised which squeezed the peasants and therefore made them penniless to buy consumer goods, resulting in the economy of Russia itself to stagnate. Witte’s industrial policies show that there was some development of the economy, but the changes were not completely beneficial to industry, and he had completely ignored the agricultural problems of Russia.
However, in 1906 the agricultural...