Why exactly didn't Russia pursue large-scale industrialization earlier?

Sep 2013
485
Colonia Iulia Augusta Faventia Barcino
#22
Why exactly were rivers unusable in this case, though?
Because there are no navigable waterways linking both areas, simple as that.

Here is a question, though--why exactly did Russia not try building more railroads earlier? After all, couldn't Russia's defeat in the Crimean War in the 1850s have served as a "wake-up call" in regards to Russia's backwardness?
That I don' really know, although the lack of strong capitalists in Russia and of a strong steel industry may have had a huge part in that. The Trans-Siberian railroad for example was financed 100% by the Russian state, and mostly out of strategic concerns about expansion in the Far East than economic considerations; the same is true for the Trans-Caspian railway. It would be interesting for example, in order to make a comparison with western Europe an the USA (were railroads arose mainly of private investment) to know the cost of building a km. of railroad in Russia at the time, and the time necessary to amortize it (and thus to start delivering a benefit), and also the magnitude of the expected benefit.

Very interesting points and information! :) Also, though, what about using the Trans-Siberian railroad to import shells from abroad? After all, the Trans-Siberian Railroad was already almost completed in 1914 and fully completed in 1916. :)
The port of Vladivostok was not exactly a huge emporium, and the Trans-Siberian railway was mostly a single-track railroad. And Vladivostok freezes in winter. I guess that the situation would've been similar to that of Arkhangelsk or Murmansk, with heaps of Allied supplies laying on the docks while the single-way railroad was absolutely incapable of dealing with the demand.

Also, it was one thing to ask the Allies to compensate for some material shortcomings and another for the shell supply of an army so large as the Tsarist one during WWI. In late 1914/early 1915 it was estimated that the production of heavy shells of the Russian industry in one month covered just the expenditure of a day and a half at the front. That was the kind of "shortcoming" we're talking about.

And all made worse by the general mismanagement of the economy during war time. By late 1916, there were still cosmetic factories open using essential resources (among them manpower and chemicals) but the worts mismanagement of them all was the way the Russian state financed the war. It basically resoted to print rubles on a massive scale, and the result was massive inflation. This inflation caused peasants not to accept official money in exchange for their product, they hoarded and the cities became hungry. The inaction of the Tsarist authorities in this field went as far as to allow the main Russian banks to hoard food and speculate with it on a karge scale, pushing food prices in cities up even more. Of course, what happened next is history. But I don't see any way in which Tsarism could have survived when the war exposed that it was a decrepit, obsolete state, unable to cope with the realities of the industrial era.
 

Futurist

Ad Honoris
May 2014
15,570
SoCal
#24
Because there are no navigable waterways linking both areas, simple as that.
What about having Russia build a naval and create such a navigable waterway, though? Would that work?

That I don' really know, although the lack of strong capitalists in Russia and of a strong steel industry may have had a huge part in that.
Couldn't having Russia acquire more foreign capital have helped deal with this problem, though?

The Trans-Siberian railroad for example was financed 100% by the Russian state, and mostly out of strategic concerns about expansion in the Far East than economic considerations; the same is true for the Trans-Caspian railway. It would be interesting for example, in order to make a comparison with western Europe an the USA (were railroads arose mainly of private investment) to know the cost of building a km. of railroad in Russia at the time, and the time necessary to amortize it (and thus to start delivering a benefit), and also the magnitude of the expected benefit.
OK, and thank you very much for sharing all of this information! :)

The port of Vladivostok was not exactly a huge emporium, and the Trans-Siberian railway was mostly a single-track railroad. And Vladivostok freezes in winter. I guess that the situation would've been similar to that of Arkhangelsk or Murmansk, with heaps of Allied supplies laying on the docks while the single-way railroad was absolutely incapable of dealing with the demand.
What about having Russia build a double-track Trans-Siberian railroad, though?

Also, it was one thing to ask the Allies to compensate for some material shortcomings and another for the shell supply of an army so large as the Tsarist one during WWI. In late 1914/early 1915 it was estimated that the production of heavy shells of the Russian industry in one month covered just the expenditure of a day and a half at the front. That was the kind of "shortcoming" we're talking about.
Wasn't the Russian shell crisis during World War I a myth, though?

And all made worse by the general mismanagement of the economy during war time. By late 1916, there were still cosmetic factories open using essential resources (among them manpower and chemicals) but the worts mismanagement of them all was the way the Russian state financed the war. It basically resoted to print rubles on a massive scale, and the result was massive inflation. This inflation caused peasants not to accept official money in exchange for their product, they hoarded and the cities became hungry. The inaction of the Tsarist authorities in this field went as far as to allow the main Russian banks to hoard food and speculate with it on a karge scale, pushing food prices in cities up even more. Of course, what happened next is history. But I don't see any way in which Tsarism could have survived when the war exposed that it was a decrepit, obsolete state, unable to cope with the realities of the industrial era.
How exactly should the Russian state have financed World War I, though?
 
Feb 2013
6,724
#25
The short version is that Russia was technically on a golden streak from 1812 to 1853 to a point that like the old Confederacy up to 1865, there were elements of industrialization and building railroads but overlain by a great deal of smugness and assurance that Russia's ever-victorious army could handle anything thrown at it. Ironically the Russian performance in Crimea was arguably better than Yeltsin's Russia in Chechnya, but the defeat on its own punctured the myth of the Great and Glorious Russia to force some belated modernization.

It would have taken a tremendous deal in the wake of the Decembrist Revolt to get Nicholas I to see that the answer to a mass insurrection of virtually the entire set of Russian gentry and most educated masses of the time would have been a major set of industrial reforms enacted in a period of strength beginning with the abolition of serfdom and going on from there. And given the kind of person Nicholas I was, it's improbable in the extreme minus a personality transplant.

And this is without factoring in the complexities caused by Russian rule of Poland and Finland and granting both more license than that given to Russians and why that didn't exactly lead Nicholas I to expect liberalization to work elsewhere.

Also, to put it crudely, like the Old South, Russia's wealth was in land and what were for all practical purposes slaves, with abolition requiring a full-fledged overhaul and not providing a ready source of capital to replace that which was lost. At least the North offered compensated Emancipation, there was no Union to bail out Alexander II in his own Emancipation.
 
Likes: Futurist
Feb 2013
6,724
#26
They had not enough engineers. The societal infrastructural level and education of Russian Empire did not make possible the earlier industrialization. However Russia did not become an industrialized country until the ww2, but it was an agricultural villager/rural society.
Unlike most of Western Europe Russia was and still is a vast and thinly populated country. Analogies really are better found in Asia or the Americas, where countries can extend over similar expanses and face some similar issues. The USA is actually surprisingly thinly populated outside the coasts, though even God would need help building cities on the Great Plain or the Deserts.
 
Likes: Futurist

pugsville

Ad Honorem
Oct 2010
8,497
#27
And all made worse by the general mismanagement of the economy during war time. By late 1916, there were still cosmetic factories open using essential resources (among them manpower and chemicals) but the worts mismanagement of them all was the way the Russian state financed the war. It basically resoted to print rubles on a massive scale, and the result was massive inflation. This inflation caused peasants not to accept official money in exchange for their product, they hoarded and the cities became hungry. The inaction of the Tsarist authorities in this field went as far as to allow the main Russian banks to hoard food and speculate with it on a karge scale, pushing food prices in cities up even more. Of course, what happened next is history. But I don't see any way in which Tsarism could have survived when the war exposed that it was a decrepit, obsolete state, unable to cope with the realities of the industrial era.

All nations resorted to printing money to varying extents and large amounts of inflation was part of all combatant nations ww1 experience. But Russia a massive agricultural society can only really get a surplus for other needs by extracting it from the peasantry, in peace time there was some exchange for this with manufactured goods, in a wartime with industry focused on war production there was very little return from the Nation to the increasing extractions from the peasantry, the whole economy had massive problems, the need for railways to support the war effort withdrew significant transport assets from the rest of the economy, the withdrawal of vast amounts of peasants into the army, and horses. You have an agricultural sector (which is vast majority of the nation) now getting not much in manufactured goods, with a lot less labour, horsepower and railway support now trying to carry the war economy.

I would say mismanagement did not help, but the general parameters of the Russian economy in 1914 was always going to massively struggle to support the strains of supporting a large army in the war.
 

Futurist

Ad Honoris
May 2014
15,570
SoCal
#28
The short version is that Russia was technically on a golden streak from 1812 to 1853 to a point that like the old Confederacy up to 1865, there were elements of industrialization and building railroads but overlain by a great deal of smugness and assurance that Russia's ever-victorious army could handle anything thrown at it. Ironically the Russian performance in Crimea was arguably better than Yeltsin's Russia in Chechnya, but the defeat on its own punctured the myth of the Great and Glorious Russia to force some belated modernization.
Good point! :) Also, though, isn't Crimea less mountains than Chechnya is?

It would have taken a tremendous deal in the wake of the Decembrist Revolt to get Nicholas I to see that the answer to a mass insurrection of virtually the entire set of Russian gentry and most educated masses of the time would have been a major set of industrial reforms enacted in a period of strength beginning with the abolition of serfdom and going on from there. And given the kind of person Nicholas I was, it's improbable in the extreme minus a personality transplant.
Yes, I certainly agree with this. :(

And this is without factoring in the complexities caused by Russian rule of Poland and Finland and granting both more license than that given to Russians and why that didn't exactly lead Nicholas I to expect liberalization to work elsewhere.
Economic liberalization does not necessarily equal political liberalization, though.

Also, to put it crudely, like the Old South, Russia's wealth was in land and what were for all practical purposes slaves, with abolition requiring a full-fledged overhaul and not providing a ready source of capital to replace that which was lost. At least the North offered compensated Emancipation, there was no Union to bail out Alexander II in his own Emancipation.
What about having France bail Russia out (after 1888 or so), though?
 

Futurist

Ad Honoris
May 2014
15,570
SoCal
#29
Unlike most of Western Europe Russia was and still is a vast and thinly populated country. Analogies really are better found in Asia or the Americas, where countries can extend over similar expanses and face some similar issues. The USA is actually surprisingly thinly populated outside the coasts, though even God would need help building cities on the Great Plain or the Deserts.
How exactly are you defining "thinly populated" here, though? After all, the U.S. appears to be pretty populated east of the Great Plains (as well as in eastern Texas), even in the interior :):

 

pugsville

Ad Honorem
Oct 2010
8,497
#30
I think the centre of Industry and Populations were much more compact when America was industrialising (mainly in the northern eastern corner) compared to the distances in Russia during the same period.