During the nineteenth century, Europe 's period of most rapid industrial growth, Russia remained largely agricultural. While the Russian nobility interacted culturally with Europeans, the nation was a fragmented collection of fiefdoms spread across the territory of several ethnic groups, often perpetuated by the labor of serfs.
While Peter and later Catherine the Great initiated reforms during their respective rules, the reforms were not far-reaching enough to compete with European systems, and were hampered by serfdom, which made nobles reluctant to give up their laborers to production or infrastructural construction such as the building of roads and canals.
The true industrial growth of Russia began after the system of serfdom was recognized as inefficient and outlawed in 1861. This created an available labor supply, and gradually, factories came into being, producing industrial goods that most of the nation's population could not afford. Leo Tolstoy's retreat to village life around this time was probably a reaction to growing industrial processes.
After the revolution and civil war, Russia 's economic situation was a shambles. When the New Economic Policy was implemented in order to mitigate the situation, industry did not develop right away. Rather, this period involved a return to basic production needed for the subsistence of a nation while it was being reconstructed.
However, Lenin's program of electrification was eventually carried out. When he came to power after World War One, Stalin was determined to make the USSR a successful world power. He forcibly industrialized the nation, making it less of a revolution than an involuntary burden to some. However, the widespread use of propaganda made industrialization part of the national consciousness. At this time, Russia 's vast natural resources, including land as well as large mineral and oil deposits, fueled the heightened production. Nationalized agriculture was driven harder to support more people while roads and factories were built and production quotas were enforced according to the famous five-year plans. Scientific developments were being made constantly at the academic research centers established and funded by the government, making industry more efficient. While industrialization led to severe losses in life among laborers working in harsh conditions, especially during the years of military production during World War Two, this ultimately made Russia one of the world's most formidable industrial powers.
Mosk, Carl. " Japan , Industrialization and Economic Growth". EH.Net Encyclopedia, edited by Robert Whaples. January 19, 2004 . < http://eh.net/encyclopedia/article/mosk.japan.final >
Nash, Gary B. The American People: Creating a Nation and a Society. Pearson Education: 2004.
Interview with Professor Peter Howitt, 4. 25. 06