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ch33 - Chapter 33 Russia and Japan Industrialization...

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Chapter 33 Russia and Japan: Industrialization Outside the West. Chapter Summary. Russia and Japan defied the pattern of 19th-century European domination. By 1914 they launched significant industrialization and accomplished other changes that preserved their independence. Both achieved economic autonomy and were able to join in the imperialist scramble. There were differences between the two. Japan displayed more political flexibility than Russia. Change in Russia increased internal strains and led to revolution. Japan through its reforms pulled away from the rest of East Asia; Russia continued expanding its influence in eastern Europe and central Asia. Among the characteristics common to the two nations in their maintenance of independence was their prior experience of cultural imitation, Japan from China and Russia from Byzantium and the West. They were able to learn without destroying their own cultures. Both also had improved their political effectiveness during the 17th and 18th centuries, a situation allowing the state to sponsor change. Russia's Reforms and Industrial Advance. Russia moved into an active period of social and political reform in 1861 that established the base for industrialization by the 1890s. Immense social strain resulted as the government attempted to remain autocratic. Russia before Reform. The French Revolution and Napoleon's invasion of 1812 produced a backlash in Russia against Westernization. Conservative intellectuals embraced the turn to isolation as a way of vaunting Russian values and institutions, including serfdom. Some intellectuals remained fascinated with Western developments in politics, science, and culture. When Western-oriented army officers fomented the Decembrist revolt of 1825, Tsar Nicholas I repressed opposition. As a consequence Russia escaped the European revolutions of 1830 and 1848. Russia continued its territorial expansion. The Congress of Vienna confirmed its hold over Poland; Polish nationalist revolts during the 1830s were brutally suppressed. Pressure on the Ottoman Empire continued and Russia supported dissidents in Greece and Serbia. Economic and Social Problems: The Peasant Question. In economic terms Russia fell behind the West because it failed to industrialize. Landlords increased exports of grain by tightening labor obligations on serfs. Russia remained a profoundly agricultural society dependent upon unfree labor. The significance of the failure to industrialize was demonstrated by the Crimean War (1854-1856). Britain and France came to the support of the Ottomans and defeated the Russians because of their industrial economies. Tsar Alexander II was convinced that reforms were necessary, and that meant resolving the issue of serfdom. Many individuals believed that a free labor force would produce higher agricultural profits; others wished to end abuses or to end periodic peasant risings. Reform was seen as a way to protect distinctive Russian institutions, not to copy the West.
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