AHQ: How useful was Russia's land?

They started too late. Siberia has been turned into a punishment by the governments treatment of it as a place to exile criminals to and that was way before the 20th century. Agricultural practices in Russia were horrid. Absolutely horrid, to the point that Baltic’s in the same country outproduced Russians by factor of 5. Nonsensical hatred of Jews (I have no clue where that even came from) prevented the middle class from investing into themselves and becoming more than middle class. Pogroms prevented investments as well. The fact that Russia didn’t do all it can to mix Russians, Ukrainians and Belorussians at least to the point of indistinguishability is a symbol of incompetence.

Everybody knows that they started too late. That’s the whole point which makes references to the US irrelevant. You would need a fundamentally different Russian history to start making necessary changes at least century earlier. Russia was what it was and quoting Karamzin is pointless (I already quoted him): the Baltic nobility had historically different traditions before the area became part of Russia (and the area was much closer to the ports than most of Russia so they could sell their produce at a higher price).

Not sure what you are trying to say about the middle class not investing into itself and what this has to do with antisemitism but if you are familiar with the Russian history, you should know that until second half of the XIX the “middle classes” (aka, neither nobility nor peasants) could not become more then they were because their places (there were numerous categories of the “middle classes”) had been strictly defined by the regulations. What the middle classes had to do with the Russian agriculture is a little bit beyond my comprehension: they were predominantly city dwellers.

An idea of mixing Russians, Ukrainians and Belorussians to a point of indistinguishability would please Russian ultra nationalists of all periods but in a reality this did happen on the big areas (population of some of which is still trying to sort out who they are) and situation in Ukraine was seriously changed by Stalin’s annexation of the Western Ukraine for which Tsarist government hardly can be blamed.
 

JSchafer

Banned
Everybody knows that they started too late. That’s the whole point which makes references to the US irrelevant. You would need a fundamentally different Russian history to start making necessary changes at least century earlier. Russia was what it was and quoting Karamzin is pointless (I already quoted him): the Baltic nobility had historically different traditions before the area became part of Russia (and the area was much closer to the ports than most of Russia so they could sell their produce at a higher price).

Not sure what you are trying to say about the middle class not investing into itself and what this has to do with antisemitism but if you are familiar with the Russian history, you should know that until second half of the XIX the “middle classes” (aka, neither nobility nor peasants) could not become more then they were because their places (there were numerous categories of the “middle classes”) had been strictly defined by the regulations. What the middle classes had to do with the Russian agriculture is a little bit beyond my comprehension: they were predominantly city dwellers.

An idea of mixing Russians, Ukrainians and Belorussians to a point of indistinguishability would please Russian ultra nationalists of all periods but in a reality this did happen on the big areas (population of some of which is still trying to sort out who they are) and situation in Ukraine was seriously changed by Stalin’s annexation of the Western Ukraine for which Tsarist government hardly can be blamed.

19th century could see it happen agreed.
For most of the 19th century Jews formed the Russian middle class and had the potential to create companies but were prevented from doing so by rabid antisemitism. Industrialization.

Not really. Russians Ukrainians and Belorussians are incredibly similar, following the same religion and having almost the same language. They lived in the same empire for centuries and the level of mixing is minuscule all things considered. It could have been encouraged far more by the government
 
Would Russia have been better off, in the long term, not conquering Siberia and focusing on developing European Russia?

Until well into XIX efforts spent on Siberia had been minimal: gold extraction was done mostly by the private companies and most of the rest was about maintaining a trade route to China. In other words, not a major drain of the resources and perhaps even a source of income.

The real factor was foreign policy. Russia was too often involved in the expensive conflicts on its “Western flank” and, unlike conquest of the Black Sea coast, most of these conflicts had been producing little except for the huge expenses. Even conquest of the Caucasus was a huge drain of the resources which started making economic sense only after the oil became useful commodity.

Peter I had approximately 80% of the budget spent on the military (plus unofficial extortions from the civilian population). 7YW gave Russia nothing (and was not expected to) but left Russia with an empty treasure (by admission of CII). Napoleonic Wars had been terribly expensive and the list goes on. A short but peaceful reign of AIII was the 1st time in many decades when state budget ended up with a surplus.
 
19th century could see it happen agreed.
For most of the 19th century Jews formed the Russian middle class and had the potential to create companies but were prevented from doing so by rabid antisemitism. Industrialization.

Not really. Russians Ukrainians and Belorussians are incredibly similar, following the same religion and having almost the same language. They lived in the same empire for centuries and the level of mixing is minuscule all things considered. It could have been encouraged far more by the government


For most of the XIX century the Jews did not “form” Russian middle class and most of them were not even a part of the existing middle class(es) so you are talking about exagerrated potential, not a reality. There was a numerous non-Jewish middle class and it kept growing. Quite a few Jews had been joining it and without restrictions there would be more but they would be a part of what was there. An idea that all Jews, if restrictions were lifted, would become the members of the middle class and/or industrialists is not supported by the reality of the areas where restrictions did not exist. For example, in Odessa region the Jews had been represented on all levels of society from the rich businessmen and all the way down to the manual labor (and professional criminals of all types). In Warsaw thousands of them had been factory workers, etc. Even after the revolution not all Jews joined the middle class: quite a few of them remained in the rural areas both in the SU and Poland.

Those who had been enough capital (and business abilities) for creating companies or starting individual businesses usually had been doing so because (a) the restrictions did not exist on approximately 20% of the territory of European Russia and (b) they did not apply to the people with money (capable to pay 500 rubles annually) and people with education or technical profession. Of course, these restrictions were idiotic but to say that they were the main obstacle to the Russian industrialization is plain silly.

As for your ideas regarding Russians, Ukrainians and Belorussians, it does not look like you understand the subject. Of course, peasants (majority of the population) were not mixing too much: they lived and worked on their land so how would they mix? However, the educated classes did adopt the Russian language and culture. The languages may look similar to you but they are distinctively different and in the mixed areas (modern Eastern and Southern Ukraine) at least city population had been using a mixture of Russian and Ukrainian language (so-called “surgik”). “Classic” Ukrainian is substantially different from Russian and the same goes for the noticeable cultural differences. As far as I can tell, more or less the same situation exists in Belorussia. So, unless you are preaching a massive forced resettlement of the people or forced Russification your point does not make sense.
 
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Everybody knows that they started too late. That’s the whole point which makes references to the US irrelevant. You would need a fundamentally different Russian history to start making necessary changes at least century earlier. Russia was what it was and quoting Karamzin is pointless (I already quoted him): the Baltic nobility had historically different traditions before the area became part of Russia (and the area was much closer to the ports than most of Russia so they could sell their produce at a higher price).
Was distance from the sea, among others, the reason for the divergence in traditions between the Baltic and Russia (ie. extensive vs. intensive agriculture, individual vs. communal property)? Was it ever possible for Rus to adopt traditions more akin to the Baltic?
 
Was distance from the sea, among others, the reason for the divergence in traditions between the Baltic and Russia (ie. extensive vs. intensive agriculture, individual vs. communal property)? Was it ever possible for Rus to adopt traditions more akin to the Baltic?

Distance from the major export ports was a considerable cost factor. Travel from any point in Latvia to Riga would take at most couple days. Compare this with the time and expenses required to reach Riga or St-Petersburg from the Central Russia.

OTOH, it seems that the German nobility of the Baltic provinces routinely paid more attention to their estates than their Russian counterparts. Probably this was a combination of many historic, social and cultural factors which contributed not only to this issue but also to the fact that the Baltic nobility was playing disproportionally high role in the Russian military and civic administration. Perhaps “moderation and accuracy” were among the factors.
 
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