Russia's Missing Middle Class: The Professions in Russian History

By Harley D. Balzer | Go to book overview

nors was growing, they were not able to set the tone for the corps as a whole because the MVD continued to appoint and retain men who had dubious abilities and deficient morals. This inconsistent policy reflects the fact that to the very end of its existence the tsarist government remained unclear as to the kind of governors it really wanted. As in so many other areas, Russia's old regime hesitated at the threshold of modernity, realizing that members of a gubernatorial corps who were selected and disciplined according to professional standards could undercut both ministerial and monarchical power even as they enhanced the efficiency and good order of the state.

The fate of the governors and the governorship was thus analogous to that of other professionals and professions in the tsars' Empire. As had often happened, the government initiated the creation of cadres of educated, trained specialists, but then pulled back from the consequences of its action, unwilling to let the process of professionalization run its course. Consequently, the attitudes and administrative style of men such as Troinitskii, Osorgin, Koshko, Urusov, and others like them could not become the defining ethos for the Russian governorship. The gubernatorial corps never fully jelled, and the professionalization of this important office remained incomplete.


Notes

For a more complete discussion of the Russian governorship, see Richard G. Robbins Jr. , The Tsar's Viceroys: Russian Provincial Governors in the Last Years of the Empire ( Ithaca, NY: Cornell University Press, 1987).

1.
"Obshchee uchrezhdenie gubernskoe", vol. 2, articles 263-428, Svod zakonov rossiiskoi imperii ( St. Petersburg, 1892).
2.
Of course governors recognized that they were all in the same administrative boat, and as Frederick Starr has shown, governors could emerge as an effective lobby during times of national crisis. See S. F. Starr, Decentralization and Self-Government in Russia, 1830-1870 ( Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press, 1972), 122-37. But Heide Whelan's assertion that the governors constituted a special interest group within the bureaucracy is open to question. See H. Whelan, Alexander III and the State Council: Bureaucracy and Counter-Reform in Late Imperial Russia ( New Brunswick, NJ: Rutgers University Press, 1982), 132. Throughout the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries, governors communicated with each other on an individual basis, and the MVD called upon them to present their views collectively on various reform plans. See, for example, Svod mnenii gg. gubernatorov po predlozheniiam ob ustroistve mestnogo upravleniia, a volume in Materialy vysochaishe utverzhdennoi osoboi kommisii dlia sostavleniia proektov mestnogo upravleniia ( St. Petersburg, n.d.) and another summary of gubernatorial responses to ministerial requests for information, " Izvlechenie iz otzyvov gubernatorov po voprosu o preobrazovanii gubernskogo upravleniia," Rossiiskii gosudarstvennyi istoricheskii arkhiv (hereafter RGIA), f. Departament obshchikh del MVD (1284) (hereafter DOD), op. 194, d. 150, ch. 1, "Po gubernskoi reforme," 1-56. There was never anything like a regularly

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