An Economic History of Russia - Vol. 1

By James Mavor | Go to book overview

CHAPTER VI
THE FOURTH PERIOD OF RUSSIAN HISTORY

PART II
(b) 1682-1725
THE INDUSTRIAL POLICY OF PETER THE GREAT, AND THE EFFECTS OF HIS REFORMS

WHEN Peter came to the throne there were no large factories in Russia; when he died there were 233 State and private factories and foundries.1

These establishments were either founded by the State and managed by State officials, or they were subsidized by the State. In some cases the factories were established by the State, and afterwards were handed over to private firms. The existence of commercial capital and of an already assured market rendered the policy of Peter practicable so far as capital was concerned; but there remained the great difficulty of securing suitable labourers. Directive skill could be imported, but ordinary labourers could not be imported en masse. When a factory was established, the owner was permitted to employ Russian or foreign managers and assistants, "paying them for their services such salary as they might deserve";2 but under the conditions of Russian society in the early part of the eighteenth century, there was no class of free working men from which wage-paid labourers might be drawn. The labourers were practically all bondmen. The organization of industry in Russia at this time cannot, therefore, be described as capitalistic in the sense of the employment of wage-paid labourers by capitalists.3 Capital was employed, but it was used rather as commercial than as industrial capital, although it was employed in connection with industrial production.

____________________
1
Kirilov, The Flourishing Condition of the All-Russian State. St. Petersburg, 1831, ii. p. 133, cited by Tugan- Baranovsky, op. cit., p. 9.
2
Cited by Tugan- Baranovsky, op. cit., p. 20.
3
Cf. ibid., p. 24.

-124-

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