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Russia Was In Crisis At The Beginning Of The 20th Century

1719 words - 7 pages

Russia entered the 20th century headed by Tzar Nicholas II, the figurehead of a dynasty that had long since descended into absurdity and a decadent and self-indulgent use of power. This dysfunctional leadership was not only a significant cause of, but also representative of the greater crisis Russia was undergoing on a political, economic and social level as Russia was “An 18th century country living in a 20th century world” . Any historian studying this period of history would be forced to draw the conclusion that “Russia was in crisis at the beginning of the 20th Century”. This crisis was attributable primarily to three factors. Firstly the economic situation in Russia, and the ...view middle of the document...

The high fees that came with freedom forced many to remain under the control of wealthier land owners; never being fully self-dependent. This resulted in large class gaps, with 1% of the population controlling over 25% of Russia’s wealth. In 1904 the prices of essential goods were raised so quickly, and drastically, it caused wages to decline by 20%. Living space was inadequate for lower classes, as shown in Source B where a family of at least 6 is living in a one room khata with so little space for its inhabitants; one of them is forced to sleep on the stove. Source D shows that by 1913 the gross national product per capita was only approximately 100 Russian Rubles, but despite its considerable growth of approximately 20% between 1897 and 1913, compared with the other leading powers Russia was severely lacking - where by 1913 Britain was making up to 4 times as much as Russia per capita. Russia’s economy had almost always been agriculturally based, with less than 18% of the population living in cities. Tzar Nicholas II had inherited a nation undergoing enormous changes, and the industrialization of Russia was starting to create serious social problems due to Russia’s inability to accommodate to international industrial change, and momentum. Robert Service stated that “by 1916 output in large enterprises was between sixteen and twenty-two per cent higher than in 1913. But the increase resulted almost exclusively from factories producing armaments and other military supplies…production of goods for the agricultural sector practically ceased.” . Russia’s attempt at industrial change ended up being a largely military focussed effort, which not only wasted large amounts of money on the unorganised military effort, but led to severe famine within the country as it was unable to financially support itself. Service then continued to state that “Most people felt that a chasm divided them from the world” . By the beginning of the 20th Century Russia’s economic condition was unstable, and comparably outdated with that of the rest of the modern world. Russia was in crisis not only due to the poor condidtions within the country, but because of its lack of ability to interact sufficiently and equally as a global world power.
By early the 20th Century, Russia was suffering due to its inability to effectively hold power in relation to the social situation of the time. Peasants and the working class began to speak out and criticise the power distribution, but Nicholas was determined to “maintain, for the good of the whole nation, the principle of absolute autocracy, as firmly and as strongly as did my late father”. Nicholas was unmoving in his decision to centralise all power into his hands. Under feudalism the land owners and nobility had greater political power as they were entrusted with maintenance of order, but ever since Tzars came into power, and more specifically when serfdom was outlawed in 1861 by Alexander III, land owners...

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