RUSSIAN INDUSTRIALISATION PART 2 BY NANDINI MAHARAJ
Alexander Il and The Crimean War: Alexander Il came to the throne in 1855 during the Crimean War. His reign represents the pattern of reform and repression used by his father and grandfather, Alexander I and Nicholas -The Crimean War had broken out after Russia tried to seize Ottoman lands along the Danube River. Britain and France stepped in to help the Ottoman Turks, invading the Crimean peninsula that juts into the Black Sea.
The war, which ended in a Russian defeat, revealed the country's backwardness. Russia had only a few miles of railroads, and the military bureaucracy was hopelessly inefficient. Russian factories were unable to produce sufficient amounts of weapons, munitions or machinery. -There was very little technical innovation; most of Russia's new technologies were imported from the West. -And the empire's railway system was woefully inadequate, with insufficient rail lines and rolling stock to move men or equipment in large amounts.
Freeing the Serfs: -A widespread popular reaction followed. Liberals demanded changes, and students demonstrated, seeking reform. Alexander II finally agreed to reforms. -In 1861, he issued a royal decree that required emancipation, or freeing of the serfs. -The reforms embraced by Alexander Il in the early 1860s were partly designed to stimulate transitions in the Russian economy
-Emancipating the serfs (1861) was not just a social reform, it was also intended to release them from the land and the control of conservative land-owners. Alexander and his advisors anticipated that a large proportion of freed serfs would become a mobile labour force, able to relocate to areas where industrial workers were needed -They also believed that given greater freedom, the peasants would develop more efficient and productive ways of farming But freedom brought problems. Former serfs had to buy the land they had worked, but many were too poor to do so.
o, the lands alloted to peasants wereoftn o smalil to farm efficiently or to support a family. .Peasants remained poor, and discontent festered The emancipation had significant social outcomes but it failed to contribute much to Russia's economic development. Still, emancipation was a turning point. -Many peasants moved to the cities, taking jobs in factories and building Russian industries. -Freeing the serfs boosted the drive for further reform. -One of the anticipated outcomes of 1861 was the emergence of a successful peasant class, the kulak.
The kulak would be proto-capitalist: he would own larger tracts of land and more livestock or machinery; he would hire landless peasants as labourers; he would use more efficient farming techniques; and he would sell surplus grain for profit. -But while the 1861 emancipation did release millions of peasants from their land, the strength of peasant communes prevented the widespread development of a kulak class.
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MA in Applied Human Rights from Sheffield Hallam University, BA (Hons.) History from LSR, reader, dancer, love to teach, AIR 42 in 2018 UPSC