Russia’s problems were vast. They stretched from pore agriculture output to the lack of industrialisation in Russia before 1894. The westerners suggested that the best way for Russia to reform was to adopt the best features of the political and economic systems that were being used in Western Europe.
The slavophiles, perceived this as invading Russia’s purity, and they regarded the western values as corrupting and they urged that the nation stay preserved as `holy Russia’.This led to political, social and economic unrest crippling the country. However the western solutions were not necessarily lausible for the reform of Russia, they needed a new structure of reform. Nicholas II faced all of these problems and more during his accession to the throne in 1894, I will study these to discover the main challenges that he faced in obtaining the throne.
Agriculture was a large problem for Nicholas II. Russia’s agriculture was inefficient and unsystematically patterned. The land of Russia could be better described as national weakness rather than strength. Even though four fifths of the population were peasants a thriving agricultural economy had failed to develop.
Also only 6 % of the land could be farmed on so the lack of land and increasing population did not help as more peasants needed work and there was a severe case of land hunger. However in 1861 the peasants were allowed to buy land under the emancipation decree. This caused more problems too as now families had debts to pay back the loans for the land that would take generations to pay back. The high price of land meant that families were unable to increase their land size and this caused problems, because as their family size increased the amount of land available decreased.
However grain exports increased as did the crop yields (By 50% between 1860 and 1910), this is good for the economy and finally shows some forwardness from Russian agriculture. Also now that the emancipation decree had been passed meant that more people and peasants will turn to farming leading to greater prosperity and also to less civil unrest if more peasants have money and jobs. Only 4 months of the Russian year could be farmed on and the weather was usually extreme, very hot or very cold. This meant that farming suffered, as only a small period of the year could be farmed on during he summer as in the winter the weather was too extreme.
Also communication and transportation was difficult, as Russia had not met an industrial revolution yet, this affects farming because transportation of goods, exports and imports would be difficult, and cost more money to travel them. Finally strip farming was still being used and this is not economically forward, this method was used in England many years before and more productive forms of farming had be found. Nicholas clearly faced vast problems with agriculture and I believe that this is his most important issue to tackle because arming also affects economical and social standards.Industrially Nicholas II seemed to be quite lucky in the timing of his accession.
In 1893 Russia entered a stage known as `the great spurt’. This led to the country growing rapidly in a short time, changing from an agricultural country to an industrial country. This obviously led to industrial expansion. Russia excelled on the world stage industrially; they had a growth rate of 8% per annum, the highest in the world.
This was good for the country as it led to a stable economy and more jobs, whilst also showing a forwardness and modernisation.However a large problem for the country was that the government viewed industrialisation as a means of improving the military strength of Russia. So the Russians still seem to think that expansion and a country’s power is based on the military and this could lead to the abandonment of other key features. Nicholas faced many problems through industrialisation.
Russia had a notorious backwardness, and lack of capital for industrial investment, so Nicholas had to ensure that industrially and at the same time financially Russia was safe due to the debts.To ensure economic survival Nicholas faced the rap of the public as he increased taxation, also with prices raised for the domestic customer. However the main industrial problem for Nicholas II and Russia was that they followed western ideas, when they needed brand new plans, as the west does not have the answers for Russia’s problems. Also Russia focussed too heavily on industrialisation ignoring other factors of need, like light industry and the social and political issues surrounding Russia.
Russia and Nicholas II faced industry problems, but in the early 1890’s the great spurt happened, mproving the industry in general, the economy and world trade. The Russian social structure also posed many a problem for Nicholas II, with early ideas of revolutions and unrest amongst peasants.The main problem socially was the social structure that placed peasants at the bottom and the upper classes at the top of a social pyramid. This meant that with the tsar wanting a dictatorship with one leader in an autocracy didn’t see the need for reform.
He had nobody challenging him, the various governmental bodies had little power and the only group with any power was the Orthodox Church, so they could confront he tsar. Russia contained many people of different race, language and origin; this caused conflict and proved hard for Nicholas to glorify Russia as this would lead to social unrest. Only 44 % of the people in the country were Russian, this was a problem, as Nicholas would have to control this many people over a wide and vast land.The tsar had total power and there was no power for the people, I think that this was a problem as the people of the country would felt that they have no say in affairs and lead to social unrest.
The government were very onservative and didn’t see the need for change; this is a problem as the autocracy is backwardness and democracy is the way forwards. Giving power to the people allows them to decide what the problems are and who they want to solve them and the tsar did not provide the public with any power and so they would be disliked and the public challenge Nicholas II due to his conservative views on the autocracy and the injustice of his social system. Socially and politically Nicholas’ biggest problem was to preserve the autocracy, as there was such a stigma against it from the people.Politically the tsar allowed no room for criticism, this meant that problems that were seen daily be the Russian people would be ignored by the tsar.
The most challenging factor politically is that Nicholas would not allow criticism leading to revolts. In Nicholas’ attempts to preserve autocracy he leads the country into frustration, violence and no outlet for criticism. He doesn’t see the need for reform but stays conservative in preserving the autocracy. Industrially Russia lags behind western countries like England, and agriculturally Russia suffers through land hunger.
The great spurt is clear step forward but is flawed by the redemption dues, money that the government borrowed to peasants. This causes tension between economic reforms. Challenging factors were based around, industrial, agricultural, economic, transportation and political ideas that face Nicholas II in his accession to the throne. The idea is that if you want a democracy and use western ideas then the whole system needs to change.
Nicholas’ conservative approach to the autocracy meant that Russia lagged behind politically, and also socially, meaning he faced more challenges by trying to `purify’ Russia than before.