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A large number of myths, including historical ones, are constantly living in the mass consciousness. In fact, the historical national myth plays an important role, because without it, society is doomed to disintegration.
In almost all countries the history of the state is embellished and is presented better than it really was - heroes are embellished, facts and events are specified. The country largely rests on this foundation.
Russia is a special country in this regard - a historical view of the past here most often denigrates the events that have taken place.
The year 1917 became a significant borderline for the country. On one side, the tsarist regime remained, on the other - a new, bright and happy life. From the very beginning, the Bolsheviks began to form a negative image of old Russia, in order to form their own image of fighters for a better lot of the people. This point of view lived for decades, and only at the end of the 20th century, historians set out to find out whether the Russian people lived so badly under the tsar that they happily threw off the old power? What do we know about Tsarist Russia? Bloodsuckers landowners ruled illiterate slaughtered peasants, tsarist generals lost battles, the secret police strangled all sorts of sprouts of freedom ... However, despite this, for some reason, economic achievements for a long time still were compared with the tsarist year 1913 ... Let us recall the history and debunk some pseudo-historical myths about that time ...
All advanced Europe has never known the horrors of serfdom, in this respect only Russia excelled. In fact, almost all European states, except Sweden and Norway, went through serfdom. It's just that this process began earlier and ended, accordingly, too. For example, in England this phenomenon appeared in the VII century, and ended in the XIV, however, a small part of the peasants were dependent on their masters for another three centuries. In Russia, as in most countries of Eastern Europe, the peasants were free all this time, and serfdom itself began later. Of course, this phenomenon is bad and shameful, but, speaking from the point of view of statehood, there was a need for it. At the end of the 16th century, such an order was established in order to maintain the nobility, which constituted the main military force of the country. Otherwise, Russia would simply be torn apart by its militant neighbors. The famous historian Soloviev wrote about serfdom in the following way: "the cry of despair of a state in a desperate economic situation." And this situation continued until 1861, when serfdom was abolished by decree of Alexander II. But in the states of the center of Europe closest to Russia, it disappeared not much earlier - in Austria for 12 years, and in Prussia - for 50. The era of serfdom in Russia has two and a half centuries, although the entire history of the state until 1917 was counted in a millennium. So only ¼ part of the entire history of the country was occupied by serfdom. In general, it is wrong to define the level of a country through the presence of any one feature. For example, in the United States, slavery was abolished a century and a half after the abolition of servitude in our country and 4 years after the abolition of serfdom. Remnants of slavery, the restriction of blacks in rights generally existed in America until the 60s of the 20th century. But after all, no one evaluates the United States as a country of slaves, although most of the history of this country was accompanied by this shameful phenomenon. With regard to Russia, our compatriots allow them to stigmatize serfdom, actually demonstrating their "love" for the Motherland.
The Russian people are imbued with the spirit of slavery, which is not surprising, because until 1861 all peasants were serfs. In addition to peasants and nobles, there were other estates, quite numerous - free Cossacks, service people, merchants, monks and others. And, as it turned out, not all peasants were serfs. According to the historian Gautier, according to the revisions of 1743, 1763 and 1783, serfs directly constituted about 53% of all peasants, and the rest belonged to the state. In Russia there were whole provinces in which there was no serfdom at all, and in area they exceeded entire European countries that were free from the oppression of the peasants. For example, Siberia or Pomorie. It is curious that in the European territories that gradually became part of Russia, the percentage of serfs was noticeably higher. An illustrative example is the Baltic States, where 85% of the total number of serfs belonged to the master. Throughout the 19th century, the number of serfs declined rapidly as they moved into other estates. For example, from 1816 to 1856 there were one million men. The last revision before the abolition of serfdom in 1857 counted that only 34% of the total population were serfs.
Of the European peasantry, it was the Russians who were the poorest. We had this opinion, but the Europeans themselves, who lived in Russia, had a different idea. For example, Croat Krizhanich, who lived in Russia for 15 years in the 17th century, noted that Russia is a country of great wealth and the standard of living of its population is better than that of its closest neighbors - Lithuania, Poland or Sweden. The states of Western Europe did live better, but this statement applies to the nobility and the rich. But the lower classes "live in Russia much better and more conveniently than in those rich countries." In Russia at that time even serfs and peasants wore shirts decorated with pearls and gold. Krizhanich notes that in our country at that time the poor and rich people differed little in the variety of food, the basis of the diet was bread, fish and meat. The historian's conclusion is unambiguous: "In no kingdom do ordinary people live so well, and nowhere do they have such rights as here." During the reign of Peter I, the difference between classes increased significantly, but in the 18th century, Europeans traveling across Russia noted that the standard of living of Russian peasants was better than in many European powers. The Russian officers themselves, who participated in the campaign of 1812-1814, were surprised to note the poverty of the Polish and French peasantry in comparison with the domestic one. Fonvizin, who traveled to France at the end of the 18th century, noted that the presence of a cow from a peasant is a sign of luxury, while in Russia the absence of a cow is a sign of poverty. And finally, a quote from 1824 by the Englishman Cochrane: "The situation of the local peasantry is much better than the condition of this class in Ireland. There is an abundance of products in Russia, they are good and cheap." It was also noted by him that Russian men live better than the same class in England and Scotland.
Serfs were completely powerless, the landowner could just torture and kill them. Indeed, the rights of the peasants were limited, but, for example, they could well participate in the court, both as a plaintiff and as a witness. Serfs swore allegiance to the tsar and could easily move to other estates, with the consent of their master. Legally, the peasants could well complain about their landlords, which, by the way, they used with success. The laws of Russia protected the peasants, their murder was considered a serious criminal offense. Even in the Cathedral Code of 1649, a nobleman was squeezed into prison for unintentional murder, but for a premeditated action against a peasant, a nobleman was executed, regardless of merits and origin. Under Elizabeth, the death penalty was virtually abolished, so the guilty nobles were sent to hard labor. But in neighboring enlightened Poland, the murder of a serf was not at all a crime against the state, the punishment was only from the church. The government closely followed the relationship between landlords and peasants. Catherine II punished the governors to punish the landlords for being harsh with the serfs, the punishment could be the confiscation of the estate. From 1834 to 1845 alone, 2,838 nobles were put on trial for cruelty, while 630 were convicted. Under Nicholas I, under the tutelage of the state, there were annually about 200 estates taken from landowners for their bad attitude towards their serfs. The government constantly regulated the balance of relations between these two estates. In the same period, 0.13% of the peasants were put on trial for disobeying the master and the same percentage of landowners for exceeding their power over their serfs.
Serfdom reform was carried out in the interests of the landowners themselves. This myth owes its vitality largely to the works of Lenin, who wrote that "the reform was carried out by the serfs in the interests of the serfs." However, the leader was not a historian; his view was rather political than scientific or historical. In reality, the reform of 1861 led to the ruin of a large number of landowners, the sale of tens of thousands of estates, so there is no need to say that the abolition of serfdom was for the good of the former owners. Prince Meshchersky notes that the reform ideologists not only did not think about the landowners, but, on the contrary, tried to destroy the foundations of the land nobility. True, there is also a one-sided assessment, in fact, the state sought to find a compromise between the nobility and the peasants. In the course of the reform, on average, a peasant received about 5 hectares per capita, which was quite enough for a living wage. The problems of the Russian countryside at the end of the 19th century were not the lack of land, but the rapid demographic growth. So, from 1858 to 1914 there were 2 times more peasants, naturally, the amount of land per capita decreased significantly. It is also worth noting the low culture of agriculture among the free peasants - the landowners harvested several times more on the same lands. French historians note that, despite all the restrictions, the reform was still very generous to the peasants. For example, in Austria and Prussia, the peasants were given freedom, but no land was given.
Until 1917, all land belonged to the landowners. It was this statement that was an important factor for the development of the revolution in the country. For several decades before the revolution, agitators cultivated the peasants, instilling that all their problems were caused by the dominance of landlord ownership. The victory of the revolution carried this myth into all history textbooks, existing there to this day. But scientists refute this myth. After the reform of 1861, it was the landowners who had 121 million acres of land at their disposal, and the rest of the territory belonged to the state. In the course of the reform, 34 million dessiatines went from the owners to the peasants. It must be said that the new conditions dealt a heavy blow to the landlords, who began to rapidly go bankrupt and sell land, mainly to the peasants. Almost a million tithes passed from hand to hand every year. Unsurprisingly, by 1905 the landlords had sold 42 million of their estates. Taking into account the land of all the peasants, as well as the Cossacks, they had a total of 165 million dessiatines, against the 53 available to the landowners. At the same time, a significant part of the landlord estates was also rented by peasants. By 1916, peasants owned 90% of all arable land and over 94% of livestock. The historian Pushkarev notes that "in terms of the composition of land ownership, Russia was already a completely peasant country in 1905 (to a greater extent than any of the European countries)." The division of landlord estates in 1918 naturally did not play any important role in the peasant economy, since 1 tithe of the nobility fell on 5.5 peasants. In response to this, the Bolsheviks then openly declared that under the slogan of seizing the land, the peasants were deliberately raised against the tsarist power. So, unlike European countries, Russia at the beginning of the 20th century was a classic example of a country of small peasant farms. Continuation of this policy would lead to farms like farms, to which we are just returning today. Ironically, after 1917, by forcible collectivization, the peasants were driven into collective farms, where their labor was exploited by the state, and those who resisted were sent into exile or killed. This is how the Soviet government took care of the peasants, taking that, much, I must say, what they had, and destroying up to 10 million dissenting people.
Tsarist Russia was an economically backward country. By the beginning of the 20th century, Russia, along with the United States, Germany, Britain and France, was one of the five largest countries in the world in terms of economic development. 9% of all world industry is concentrated in Russia, which was the 4th indicator. At the same time, the country's growth rates were the highest among all leaders. During the reign of Nicholas II alone, the country quadrupled its industry! Growth of 10% annually continued in wartime. But the revolution immediately brought a decline of 20%. And in agriculture, Russia has traditionally fed Europe, being the largest agricultural power in the world. From 1894 to 1914, the wheat harvest doubled, 25% of the world's bread was made from Russian grain. The growth in the well-being of the people was expressed in a demographic explosion - in 20 years the population grew by 40%. One of the greatest economists of that time, Edmond Tary, concluded in 1913: “if the affairs of the European nations from 1912 to 1950 go the same way as they did from 1900 to 1912, Russia will dominate Europe by the middle of this century, both politically and economically and financially. " Thus, the growth of the country's power was prevented by the war and the Bolshevik revolution, which threw the country back decades. That is why the achievements of the Soviet economy were compared for a long time to 1913.
The workers of Russia lived in poverty. One of the significant factors in the accomplishment of the revolution was the participation of workers, who, according to Soviet historians, lived extremely poorly, and working conditions were unbearable. In the early stages of the development of capitalist enterprises, it was indeed typical to use cheap labor. However, contrary to Marx's doctrine of the constant impoverishment of the workers, their wages rose steadily. Starting from the middle of the 19th century, capitalist enterprises began to emerge in large numbers in Russia, in some of them the owners actually tried to exploit the workers to obtain superprofits. However, the state has issued a number of laws prohibiting, for example, working more than 11.5 hours a day, and more than 10 hours on night shifts and Saturdays. In 1903, the law specified the responsibility of entrepreneurs for accidents with workers at work. But in most European countries, there were no such legislative acts at all. Thanks to the fact that the Russian government was independent of the influence of the capitalists, in 1912 US President Taft declared: "Such perfect working legislation has been created, which no other democratic state can boast of." Marxists in the textbooks introduced stories about how the workers became impoverished, but in their memoirs the data is completely different. Plekhanov recalled that the workers were smart enough, earned good money and ate well, lived in furnished rooms and dressed better than students, although they were mostly from bourgeois and noble families. Although the workers' wages were lower than in France or England, it was possible to buy more with it, due to the cheapness of products. Already in the 19th century, at the factories of the capitalist Maltsev, workers participated in profits, had an 8 hour day on some types of work, people were allocated 3-4-room stone houses with a small plot of land. And in the provinces, workers had a high standard of living. So, N.S.Khrushchev, recalling his work as a mechanic in a Donetsk mine, mentions that he was better off than when he worked in the 30s in the party work in Moscow. And ordinary people, of course, lived even worse than a state functionary. At the same time, Khrushchev was then only 22 years old, and his earnings were like that of an ordinary worker. The revolution plunged the country into collapse, industry by 1921 decreased 7 times, and the standard of living of workers - 3 times. It was only by 1970 that the standard of living of workers became comparable to that of the tsar. In 1913, a carpenter could buy 135 kg of meat for his salary, and in 1985 - only 75. Perestroika and economic turmoil again threw the country back. So it is still unknown whether today's workers live better in comparison with the times of heavy tsarist serfdom and oppression.
Russia was a highly moral country. It would seem that a large number of believers, churches - all this testified to the high morality in society. In 1917, when the Provisional Government by its decree canceled the obligatory attendance of the prayer service, 70% of all soldiers stopped going to church altogether. In St. Petersburg in 1913 there were as many brothels as there were in universities. It is worth remembering the story of Grand Duke Alexei Alexandrovich, who plundered funds for the construction of 5 battleships. There were indeed problems in the country, and in the field of education, medicine, and industry. You should not underestimate them, but you should not exaggerate either - voluminous historical works are devoted to this issue, which are worth trusting more than the above myths.