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Industrialization Process in Early 20th Century Russia

Russia in the early twentieth century faced great turbulence as it continued its industrialization process and struggled with both revolution and war. As Freeze writes, industrialization in the opening years of this century brought a tremendous growth to the cities of the nation:

The accelerated pace of urbanization and industrialization in post-reform Russia had a profound impact upon urban society--its size, structure, power and group cohesion. . . . Despite legal, economic and public health barriers, large numbers poured each year into the city in search of food or fortune (Freeze 248).

Just as the reforms of the 1860s were instituted by Alexander II in response to fears that the nation would otherwise lose its status as a world power, so were industrialization and modernization embraced by leaders in the early twentieth century in order to prevent the same loss of status. Cracraft calls industrialization "the most important of the major economic and social developments" of the end of the Imperial era (441). As in other nations, industrialization in Russia brought tremendous social and economic upheaval, bringing not only urbanization but also "the growth of new social classes--an industrial proletariat and a new class of capitalists" (Cracraft 441). Industrialization, modernization, Westernization and urbanization were forces which altered the nation irrevocably. The incompetence of the bureaucracy and the very viability of the autocracy were called into question as society was turned upside-down as it had not been since the era of reform some half century earlier. Once again, the prevailing question was how much of the old was going to be cast away for the sake of the new. In fact, the turmoil of the opening years of the twentieth century was the fruit of problems raised and unresolved in the era of reform. Freeze links the upheavals of the two eras:

The wave of strikes, rural disorders, pogroms and mutinies in 1905...

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