Russia and Western Society

A look at how, why and when Russia began to move away from traditional Tsarism and toward a more Western society.

This paper attempts to analyze how far Russia managed to overcome its perceived economic backwardness by 1914, the start of World War I. It provides an overview of the Russian economy between 1856 and 1914 and attempts to show why WWI was the reason for its rapid decline by also looking briefly at Russian reasons for going to war and what was hoped to achieve by doing so. It presents a picture of the Russian economy and its place in the world in order to show to what extent the Russian economy had “caught up” by 1914. It also looks at the way in which the Tsarist regime in Russia slowly lost the respect of the people, as they tried to compete with other developed countries.
“As the rail network expanded, there was a growth in urban areas and cities. This led to a build up of industrial areas, and urban populations. This in turn led to a growth in demand for more consumer goods, and created a demand for the food that was now being produced in vast amounts in the countryside. This was a definite improvement in the Russian economy, but still only provided a small amount of growth in comparison to other countries around the world. As well as improving the economy, but also led to social change by bringing people and ideas together and so created the intelligentsia that would become so influential in Russia’s future development. Despite the amount of change that was still going on, the peasants were not happy with the distribution of land, as they had been given the poorest, least productive plots. Because of the vast (and growing) task of constructing and maintaining enough rail line, there was little spare time or money left after financing the military to help the peasants.”