Scientist and economist, professor of international finance at MGIMO Valentin Katasonov assures that many of today's assessments of the economic situation of the Russian Empire distort the real situation, and on the eve of the First World War and the 1917 revolution, it was already quite difficult.
"Outwardly, everything seemed to be decent enough. But, you know, after all, any national economy can be thought of as the economy of a large company that has its assets and its liabilities. It seems that the assets were large - these are factories, mines, railways, trading network, ports, etc. But the fact is that there are liabilities - these are debt obligations on loans, on investments, that is, this kind of external well-being was achieved at the cost of making us more dependent on Western investors and western lenders ".
If we talk about numbers, on the eve of World War I, the debt of the Russian Empire was more than 10 billion gold rubles, during the war we were actively taking loans, and by 1920 year (along with interest) the debt reached 18,5 billion gold.
"As for the assets of this" company "called the Russian Empire, then, relatively speaking, these assets were very peculiar - mainly they were enterprises of the raw materials sector of the economy or enterprises for the primary processing of raw materials," said Valentin Katasonov. "This is coal mining, smelting steel and iron, this is oil production and some kind of oil refining, but to a lesser extent. There were, of course, elements of the processing enterprises, but on the whole, of course, such a skewed structure of the economy was conspicuous. "
However, today the idea is officially broadcast that industrialization began under Nicholas II. On the prevalence of foreign capital in the industry of the Russian Empire On the eve.RU wrote earlier.
“They understood that Russia was lagging behind the West, understood that Russia needed industrialization, although even the word was not used. The word“ industrialization ”was first sounded at the Bolshevik Party’s plenum in December 1925, and before that it was called in other words - they said that accelerated industrial development is needed, the same finance minister Sergei Witte spoke about this, "says Valentin Katasonov.
But Witte had in mind a qualitatively different "industrialization" - not the one that would become the basis for a powerful state, because it will be carried out at the expense of foreign capital.
"Foreign capital does not need the Russian Empire to have manufacturing enterprises that compete with the enterprises of Germany, France, the United States. That is, it was such a one-sided" industrialization ", a dependent type of economic development. Therefore, what can be said about all these distortions, about the "industrialization of the era of Nicholas II" - there was no industrialization. It was unhealthy development. Unhealthy, one-sided development of the economy in the interests of foreign capital, "- says doctor of economics Valentin atasonov.
The situation in the village
In the Russian Empire, 80% was occupied by peasants. And in the traditional, pre-industrial society, the peasantry always constitutes the overwhelming majority of the population. The number of peasantry in the country did not decrease - where is your praised "industrialization"?
The position of the peasants was not just bad, it was rapidly deteriorating. The community divided allotments on foodstuffs, which led to rapid population growth at the turn of the century and agrarian overpopulation at the beginning of the 20 century. More than half of the peasants had put on "below the subsistence minimum", that is, hunger was a permanent state of a significant part of the country.
Finance Minister Bunge wrote: "When the population grew, the land allocated was insufficient to feed the peasants and to deliver funds to them in paying taxes ... But when crop failures joined this ... then the position of the peasants in whole counties and even provinces became disastrous ...".
The reforms that Witte tried to introduce would delay the collapse, but would not cancel the catastrophe. The peasants did not have stabilizing grain reserves, so any crop failure led to famine. Many classics also wrote about the situation in the Russian countryside. Let us turn to the mastodon of Russian literature and social thought of the beginning of the century — to Lev Nikolayevich Tolstoy, he described his trip to different counties in the following way:
"The food consists of grass groves, whitened if there is a cow, and unbleached, if it is not present - and only bread. In all these villages, most of them sell and put all that can be sold and mortgaged. There are four horses and four horses on ten yards cows, almost no sheep, everyone is so old and bad at home that they barely stand. Everyone is poor and everyone is begging to help them. "If only the children have had a little rest," say the women. "And then they ask for folders (bread), but I have nothing to give, and it will not fall asleep for dinner "(...) I asked to exchange three rubles for me. There was not a ruble of money in the whole village. Besides t Go landless soldiers' children live in this village.The whole settlement of these inhabitants has no land and is always poor, now it’s with expensive bread and with a scanty supply of alms in terrible, terrible poverty. From the hut near which we stopped, a tattered dirty woman came out and She came up to a handful of something lying on the pasture and covered with a caftan torn and set off everywhere. This is one of her 5 children. A three-year-old girl is sick in a very hot heat with something like Influenza. Not that there is no talk of treatment, but no other food than the crusts of bread that the mother brought yesterday, leaving the children behind and running off with a bag of extortion. The husband of this woman left in the spring and did not return. These are approximately many of these families. "
The classic saw the problems of the Russian people and gave the reasons: poor earth — because half of the land remained with the landowners or was overbought by the rich; against laws that protect more factory owners and capitalist mechanisms than workers themselves; from vodka, to which peasants have been taught for years, because it constitutes the main income of the state; from the military system of the "soldiery" - taking young people healthy, young, but returning corrupted, old, sick. What else? Officials, tribute. What are these troubles? "From ignorance, in which he (the people) consciously support government and church schools," Tolstoy wrote at the beginning of the century.
Modern defenders of the empire write that, thanks to the reforms of Alexander II and the policies of Alexander III, the unprecedented rise of the Russian economy began in 1890's. Customs tariffs gave an inflow of foreign capital to organize production. The growth rate of the Russian economy over a quarter of a century exceeded that of all other developed countries. Agriculture on the eve of the revolution also showed a marked increase: only in 1908-1912 years, compared with the previous five-year period, has wheat production increased by 37,5%, and Russia became the main world exporter of grain.
Indeed, 1913 was the largest crop in the history of pre-revolutionary Russia, but this event did not cancel the famine. Starving in Yakutia and the surrounding territories (while the grain was exported abroad), hunger did not stop there at all from 1911 of the year. Local and central authorities were practically not interested in helping the hungry. The villages died out completely.
If you look at the numbers, then even the postulate that the Russian Empire "fed the whole of Europe" is doubtful, and our oil and eggs were filled up abroad. In this successful 1913 year, the Russian Empire exported 530 million poods of all grains, which amounted to only 6,3% of European countries (8,34 billion pounds). And where are we fed "all of Europe"? But such testimonies about the "world grain exporter" were left by witnesses - in particular, journalist and writer Viktor Korolenko:
"I know many cases when several families joined together, chose some old woman, together supplied her with the last crumbs, gave her children, while they themselves wandered into the distance, where their eyes were looking, with anguish of uncertainty about the guys left ... the stocks are disappearing in the population, - family after family goes to this mournful road ... Dozens of families joined spontaneously into crowds, which were driven to the main roads, fright and despair, to villages and cities. (...) Figures that are truly intimidating. In autumn, before the loan starts issuing, again whole clouds so x is hungry and the same frightened people out of destitute villages ...
When the loan came to an end, poverty became stronger among these fluctuations and became more and more common. The family that served yesterday, today went out with its bag itself. I had a hope that when I succeed in announcing all this, when I loudly tell the whole of Russia how, in Lukoyanov itself, a little girl asks her mother to "bury her living in the country house", then perhaps my articles will be able to render at least some influence on the fate of these Dubrovki, putting the question of the need for land reform, even at the very least modest at the beginning. "
To stop the flight of the poor from the villages, the authorities introduced troops and Cossacks, who blocked the way of the starving. Anyone who had a passport could leave the village in the free Russian empire, but not everyone had it. The document was issued only for a certain period, and after it expired, the person was considered a vagabond, and he could be beaten with sticks, put in prison or sent for expulsion.
When we are told today about a staggering export of bread, they forget to say that the tsarist government took confiscation measures - not only surpluses were withdrawn - but the peasants tried to hide the bread for themselves in order to escape from starvation in the winter. Sheltered zealously, because the future export of the world leader in the export of grain extracted by force. 1% of elitarians shared effective export revenues, effective managers — families of landowners close to the courtyard, small crumbs of industry (mainly they built railways to export more grain as far as possible), and you say industrialization ... Maybe it was all over the world? No, here are the data that the Academy gives geopolitical problems in its report.
The French, for example, consumed more grain in 1,6 than Russian peasants. And this is in a climate where grapes and palm trees grow. If, in a numerical dimension, the Frenchman ate 33,6 pounds of grain per year, producing 30,4 pounds and importing more 3,2 pounds per person. The German consumed 27,8 pounds, producing 24,2, only in the dysfunctional Austria-Hungary, which lived to the last years, the consumption of cereals was 23,8 pounds per capita.
The Russian peasant consumed meat by half as much as in Denmark, and seven to eight times less than in France. Milk Russian peasants drank in 2,5 times less than the Dane, and in 1,3 times less than the Frenchman.
The Russian peasant ate eggs in as much as 2,7 (!) G per day, while the Danish peasant eaten 30 g, and the French ate 70,2 g per day.
Another thing is that our contemporary is lazy to look at evidence from open sources, believes in the word that it is pleasant to believe in - about paradise in the Russian Empire. Yes - the tsarist advocates agree with us and explain for general development - the main branch of the Russian economy was agriculture, which gave 55,7% of income: "But apart from the" progressive "development criteria, it was also a considerable advantage, because the peasant way of life was more orthodox than industrial-urban. "
This is how this "more orthodox" way of life is described by a chemist and agronomist Alexander Engelhardt, he lived and worked in the village, leaving to descendants a fundamental study of the reality of the Russian village - "Letters from the village":
"Anyone who knows the village, who knows the situation and the life of the peasants, does not need statistical data and calculations to know that we sell bread abroad not from an excess ... In a person from the intelligent class, such a doubt is understandable, because they simply can not believe how is it that people live without eating? And meanwhile, it really is. Not that they didn’t eat at all, but were undernourished, live from hand to mouth, fed on all sorts of rubbish. We send good wheat rye abroad, to will not have any rubbish ... Our peasant-farmer is not x ataet wheat bread on a pacifier child pozhuet woman rye crust that she eats, put in a rag - suck. "
While the Russian tsar practiced shooting at the ravens, the ministers hoped to blind the laws on primary education, and 1% of the country's population crunched a French bun, February tried to prevent a social rebellion, a peasant war, which had been apprehended when reading reports on the state of affairs in the village future future workers.
After the storming of the Winter a hundred years ago, the first decisions of the Bolsheviks were the "Decree on Peace" and the "Decree on Land". The new government announced the nationalization of "land, mineral resources, water and forests."
"Russia was pregnant with a revolution, it is no coincidence that several years before his death, Leo Tolstoy wrote in his diary that he had a dream - in Russia there was a revolution not against private property, but against property in general," historian Andrei Fursov said in an interview with Nakanune.RU. - Well, that’s what happened, that’s why Lenin at one time called Leo Tolstoy a mirror of the Russian revolution. "